Freedom of Speech in Universities : Islam, Charities and Counter-terrorism book cover
1st Edition

Freedom of Speech in Universities
Islam, Charities and Counter-terrorism

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 8, 2021
ISBN 9780367257828
March 8, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
160 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Freedom of speech and extremism in university campuses are a major source of debate and moral panic in the UK today. In 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights in Parliament undertook an inquiry into freedom of speech on campus. It found that much of the public concern is exaggerated, but identified a number of factors that require attention, including the impact of government counter-extremism measures (the Prevent Duty) and regulatory bodies (including the Charity Commission for England and Wales) on freedom of speech.

This book combines empirical research and philosophical analysis to explore these issues, with particular focus on the impact upon Muslim students and staff. It offers a new conceptual paradigm for thinking about freedom of speech, based on deliberative democracy, and practical suggestions for universities in handling it.

Topics covered include:

  • The enduring legacy of key thinkers who have shaped the debate about freedom of speech
  • The role of right-wing populism in driving moral panic about universities
  • The impact of the Prevent Duty and the Charity Commission upon Muslim students, students’ unions and university managers
  • Students’ and staff views about freedom of speech
  • Alternative approaches to handling freedom of speech on campus, including the community of inquiry

This highly engaging and topical text will be of interest to those working within public policy, religion and education or religion and politics and Islamic Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Freedom of speech: understanding the ideas

2. Populism, freedom of speech and human rights

3. The Prevent Duty and the views of university Prevent Leads

4. External agitators and students’ views about freedom of speech and Prevent

5. Charity law, political activism and speaking freely in students’ unions

6. The Charity Commission’s interventions in students’ unions

7. Improving conversations about difficult topics

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Alison Scott-Baumann is Professor of Society and Belief at the School of Oriental and African Studies, UK.

Simon Perfect is a researcher and tutor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, UK.


"This important book is both timely and necessary. Freedom of Speech in Universities is a very thoughtful and incisive response to the manufactured panic about free speech in universities and the supposed restrictions on right-wing self-expression. As Scott-Baumann and Perfect show, academic freedom is best thought of as a condition for testing arguments and a means by which we learn from others. Instead, it has become a weapon through which to attack the speech of others. The advocates of academic freedom are happy to decry the idea of Islamophobia, while supporting increasingly restrictive measures against Muslim self-expression as potentially extremist."

John Holmwood, University of Nottingham, UK

"Despite vast internal differences over the centuries, advocates of participatory democracy have always agreed on one point: education plays a decisive role in promoting an active citizenry. The university is, or should be, an educational establishment but also a vibrant community. It is, or should be, an exemplary democracy within a democracy. In this book Alison Scott-Baumann and Simon Perfect probe the problems but also the possibilities that arise around that mission. Drawing upon ongoing controversies regarding such matters as hate speech and identity politics, the authors show how the status of free speech within higher education crucially mirrors its status within the broader society."

Eric Heinze, Queen Mary University of London, UK.