Organizers of a panel discussion that was scheduled at the Sydney, Australia, Festival of Dangerous Ideas fielded so much public outcry on their talk — titled “Honor Killings Are Morally Justified” — that they were forced to cancel it.
Uthman Badar, a spokesman for the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, was going to give the speech on honor killings at the Sydney Opera House in August. But he was informed Tuesday the event was cancelled, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The justification for removing it was simply the level of public outrage,” said one of the festival organizers, Simon Longstaff, in AFP. “We took the view that it was so strong and overwhelming that the ability of the speaker to even open up the question for some discussion and reflection would be impossible.”
The Sydney Opera House, meanwhile, said the festival is supposed to be thought-provoking not simple “provocation,” and that “in this case, a line has been crossed,” AFP reported. “It is clear from the public reaction that the title has given the wrong impression of what Mr. Badar intended to discuss. Neither Mr. Badar, the St. James Ethics Center, nor Sydney Opera House in any way advocates honor killings or condones any form of violence against women.”
Mr. Badar, meanwhile, said his planned presentation had been along the lines of remarks given at last year’s festival on the topic of “A Killer Can be Good,” AFP reported.
“In this respect, my presentation is no different,” he said, in defensive comments posted on Facebook. “What is different is that I’m Muslim — one willing to intellectually challenge secular liberal ideology and mainstream values — and that says a lot about the true extent of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ in modern western liberal democracies such as Australia,” AFP reported.
After he was informed of the cancellation, he tweeted: “Hysteria wins out.”