Sydney Opera House bans Islamist speech

Sydney Opera House bans Islamist speech


norman lebrecht

June 25, 2014

An inflammatory speech by Uthman Bader, a justifier of honour killings and other outrages, has been dropped from a ‘Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House.’

Bader tweeted: ‘Hysteria wins out. Opera house cancels my session at . Welcome to the free world, where freedom of expression is a cherished value.’

Festival co-curator Simon Longstaff tweeted: ‘Have not the ‘Islamophobes’ already won the day when a person dare not speak on controversial matters because he is Muslim?’




  • Eliza F says:

    “Nothing is gained by censorship except the closing of minds. Evil exists in this world and art must seek to confront it” – Norman Lebrecht, referring to the Met’s decision to cancel it’s simulcast of the Death of Klinghoffer.

    In which case, what is your view of this “inflammatory speech”? Should it have been dropped?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      The suppression of incitement to murder is not censorship; it is the prevention of murder.

      • Eliza F says:

        Well, you may be right that it ought to have been stopped, but it is still “censorship”. You simply mean that it is justified censorship.

        As to whether it is incitement to murder or not, we don’t really know because he didn’t actually get to deliver the talk. We only know the title of the speech. It may have been intended in an ironic manner. Or he may have contradicted it during his talk. That is one of the problems with censorship, of course. We don’t get to make our own minds up about the things people say and think because we don’t get to hear them.

        Incidentally, we don’t always censor people for “inciting” murder. Plenty of people are currently “inciting” Obama to bomb Iraq, for instance. No-one has suggested that this ought to be censored.

      • Dave T says:

        How is this censorship? An organization, a venue chooses not to have this individual speak. It is under no obligation to do so. It may be uncomfortable that they announced him, then cancelled him. Had they never signed him at all would that be censorship?

        This man can go elsewhere (other hall, internet, Facebook, street corner, etc) and say anything he pleases…. at least in a free country like Australia. Now on the other hand, try saying anything you please in a country like Saudi Arabia or Iran, then you will learn what is actual censorship.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    I wonder what the benefits are of a “Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House”? Just asking….

    • william osborne says:

      The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is presented in association with St James Ethics Centre. Ethical philosophers often explore and debate the paradoxes and contradictions of extreme ideas for the insights they provide about moral systems. Several of the talks have ironic titles, like Elizabeth Pisani’s “Corruption Makes the World Go Round” and Alissa Nutting’s “Women Are Sexual Predators.” In 2011, a member of the Bush administration gave a talk about why the administration thought the torture of prisoners was necessary.

      Badar’s talk was to address why honor and killing are linked in many cultures. (The U.S. places great honour on killing enemies.) He categorically denies that he endorses “honour killings or any form of violence against women.” (After watching videos of him speak, I’m not sure I believe him.) He says he agreed to discuss the topic after the organizers provided the title “Honor Killings Are Morally Justifiable.” Muslim groups in Sydney that work to oppose honour killings were largely responsible for the cancellation.

      BTW, one of the reasons Europeans made mass rape an instrument of war in the Balkans is because of the dishonor they knew it brought upon Muslim women.

  • David Boxwell says:

    I propose a safer “Festival of Modestly Upsetting Opinions at the Sydney Opera House.”

  • James Inverne says:

    I don’t think it’s true to say that “the US places great honour upon killing enemies”. The killing of Bin Laden was met with a divided reaction and the official photo showed, not a grinning, triumphant President, but the situation room where Hilary Clinton looked suitably grave and shocked at the whole thing. The killing of Saddam was done by the Iraqis, you may say conveniently for the Americans, but it was not greeted with rabid triumphalism by the regime or the US media. These are not hallmarks of a society that associates killing with honour. Sorry, I know this is of topic in terms of music and arts, but a important point I feel.