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#Comment: Cancellation of Dr Swamy lecture exposes Oxford University's hypocrisy

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

Following a series of meetings between prominent and influential members of Oxford University's academic faculty and members of the Oxford India Society, on Friday 20th a decision was taken to cancel a lecture by Mr Rajiv Malhotra and Dr Subramaniam Swamy, citing "logistical and internal issues". 

We have asked for further clarification as to the reasons and justification and await clarification. In light of this very significant development Shri Rajiv Malhotraji, who had been battling health issues to ensure his participation at the events, has now bowed to his physicians recommendation not to travel.

However, he will be participating fully in all of the remaining events organized by the National Council of Hindu Temples – UK and other organizations via live video conference.

Dr Subramanian Swamy remains undeterred and unsurprised and will be present and will join the other speakers at the remaining events as planned. 

From this surprising cancellation, effectively banning Dr Swamy and Shri Malhotra from speaking at Oxford University, we might reasonably conclude that the faculty of Oxford University, tasked with the responsibility of educating young impressionable minds, are incapable of communicating by personal example, the fundamental need for observance and protection of Human rights, especially the right to Freedom of Speech.

A statistical review of who has been barred and who has been welcomed may reveal an uncomfortable correlation and point to a persistent phenomenon concerning the clarity of vision and "discrimination-free" credentials of the senior members of the Oxford Academic Faculty, particularly it would seem when the rights being trampled underfoot are those of "brown skinned Hindus".

It must be asked whether we are to conclude that in Oxford, Hindus are most welcome as long as they adhere to and preserve the underlying subliminal "colonial Christian supremacist" ideology and contribute generously to the coffers of "EuroCentric perspective fixated" colleges.

The evidence before us may indicate that when this dominant theme and the western world view is challenged by any academic Hindu of stature - unfettered racism and religious discrimination seem to arise and completely obscure the otherwise pristine vision of the principles of "freedom of speech".

Is this merely the latest expression of a residual bigoted, deeply anti-Hindu strand of the colonial psyche, a psyche which has overseen the destruction of all other indigenous religions and cultures and now appears to have its focus on India and Hindus?

Oxford University's reputation as a bastion of unemotional reasoning coupled with fearless, rigorous academic interrogation has suffered a possibly mortal blow.

As for being the pinnacle of learning and wisdom and guidance on the application of these highest human values in times of turmoil, those faculty members responsible for this decision risk tumbling to join the ranks of closet religious bigots and racists such as Wendy Doniger and her ilk; peddlers of simply old fashioned white supremacist rhetoric masquerading as erudition.

Recent persons welcomed to speak or given a platform at Oxford University include the French far-right politician, Marine Le Pen, Wendy Doniger, Tony Blair of WMD fame, Irish Republican Gerry Adams, Holocaust denier David Irving and the extremist Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik. 

Only two weeks ago a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in Parliament Square as a celebration of the triumph of the Truth and the power of "Freedom of Speech" over prejudice and racist, colonial oppression and as an act of tacit recognition that the British oppression of the Indian, predominantly Hindu, nation was a gross crime against humanity.

The very same Mahatma Gandhiji stated: "Many People, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth for being correct, for being you.  Never apologise for being correct or for being years ahead of your time, If you are right and you know it, speak your mind.  Even if you are a minority of one the truth is still the Truth"

It would appear that it may take another 50 years for the Mahatma's message to travel from Parliament Square to the hallowed spires of Oxford University.

- Satish K Sharma is General Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)

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