In a weirdly ironic twist, The Sydney Opera House has cancelled speaker Uthman Badar’s talk “Honour killings are morally justified.”
In a statement the Opera House appeared to blame the talk’s title for giving the ‘wrong impression’, while announcing that it had decided not to proceed with the session.
‘The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is intended to be a provocation to thought and discussion, rather than simply a provocation,’ the Opera House wrote on Facebook.
‘It is always a matter of balance and judgement, and in this case a line has been crossed.’
‘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 Centre, nor Sydney Opera House in any way advocates honour killings or condones any form of violence against women.’
Mr Badar told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that the session’s cancellation is revealing of the extent and influence of Islamophobia in Australia.
He blamed ‘baseless hysteria’ for gagging the expression of ideas.
‘It also highlights, once more, that freedom of speech is a tool of power and nothing more,’ he said.
It appears that the title of the talk was grossly misleading as Badar’s speech wasn’t meant to condone honor killings, but rather “argue that such acts are seized on by Westerners as a symbol of everything they dislike about another culture.” This lead to some critics denouncing the talk and its title as an attention-getting mechanism and a weak attempt to prove that the festival really is about dangerous ideas.
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