Mark Duell — Daily Mail May 31, 2016
Jesus Christ would be banned from speaking at universities if he was alive in 2016 along with other ‘non-violent extremists’, a leading Oxford professor warned yesterday.
Professor Timothy Garton Ash complained that Britain has become ‘too feeble’ at supporting free speech and insisted that the public must stand up against self-censorship.
The European Studies expert told the Hay Festival in Powys, Wales, that UK universities are now encouraged by Home Office legislation to block even non-violent extremists from appearing on site
And 60-year-old Mr Ash said this could have included leading thinkers of centuries past such as Karl Marx, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Darwin, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and even Christ.
According to Daily Telegraph reporter Hannah Furness, Mr Ash said: ‘In the new counter-terrorism legislation, the securocrats in the Home Office are trying to impose on universities a so-called prevent duty, which would call on us to prevent event non-violent extremists speaking on campus.
‘Now, non-violent extremists? That’s Karl Marx, Rousseau, Charles Darwin, Hegel, and most clearly Jesus Christ, who was definitely a non-violent extremist.
‘The Home Office wouldn’t want him preaching on campus. This is a real threat I think to free speech and one we have to fight back against.’
Mr Ash’s speech comes a week after a Higher Education Policy Institute survey found most students believe that speakers with offensive views should be banned from giving talks at universities.
Almost three quarters of students support the National Union of Students’ ‘No Platform’ policy which prohibits those on a list put together by the union from speaking at universities.
A number of universities now pledge to create a ‘safe space’ for their students, inspired by similar policies in the US, in order to protect them from language or behaviour which could be considered offensive or threatening.