Free speech

The Satanic Verses thirty years on

Submitted by AWL on 2 March, 2019 - 8:56 Author: Matthew Thompson

It is thirty years since the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, partly based on the life of the founder of Islam, Muhammad, sparked protests across the Muslim world, with riots in India and Pakistan in which dozens of Rushdie's fellow Muslims were shot dead, book burnings on the streets of Britain, and ultimately an Iranian death sentence which sent its author into hiding under armed police guard.

Students vote “no confidence”

Submitted by AWL on 6 February, 2019 - 12:16 Author: Natalia Cassidy
no confidence

The National Union of Student (NUS) Trans Students’ Conference, on 30-31 January in Manchester, unanimously passed the Student Left Network motion of no confidence in NUS President Shakira Martin. Earlier in January, an NUS UK board meeting had voted to scrap the trans students’ campaign, budget, officer and committee.

Free speech is a left-wing issue

Submitted by cathy n on 13 November, 2018 - 9:26 Author: By Shamsun Effendi
Banned books

Above: the Catholic Church's Index of Banned Books, 1640

In the past few years the press has had a number of semi-sensationalist stories about student unions banning or wanting to ban something deemed offensive. And in some cases the issue has been real.

Now an essay by the late Marxist academic Norman Geras on the ethics of revolution has been flagged up by the University of Reading as potentially subversive, so that students reading it must sign a form and pledge not to leave the text around where others might scan it.

Satanic Verses, thirty years on

Submitted by AWL on 10 October, 2018 - 11:31 Author: Matt Cooper
Down with Satanic Verses placard

Last month saw the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie’s sprawling novel defies summary: interlinking stories meld scurrilous fantasies, dark humour and cutting political satire directed not only at Islam, but British racism and Indian immigrants’ attempts to adapt. It is an honest attempt to deal with the warping pressures of racism, religion and cultural dislocation.

Solidarity with Bookmarks - from three AWL comrades hassled at 'Marxism 2018'

Submitted by AWL on 13 August, 2018 - 3:06
The stall, turned over

Dear SWP,

We are Workers' Liberty supporters who ran a stall at 'Marxism 2018' last month.

We read about and watched the video of the far-right invasion of your bookshop Bookmarks on Saturday, and are writing to express our solidarity.

When the far right attacks anyone in the labour movement or left, we must all rally round. And the attack on Bookmarks shows the need for us all to get better prepared for self defence, as well as organising to defeat and marginalise the far right.

Statement: No to violence in the labour movement!

Submitted by AWL on 7 August, 2018 - 11:27
Image of the AWL stall after being overturned, and literature on the floor.

This statement appeared in Solidarity 245, out on 18 July, referring to events at 'Marxism 2018', on 7/8 July. For our initial report, see here. For witness statements describing what happened in more detail, see below. To add your name to the statement please email

EU left refuses to condemn Russian abuse

Submitted by SJW on 21 June, 2018 - 11:52 Author: Dale Street
Oleg Sentsov

On 14 June the left bloc in the European Parliament voted against a motion demanding Russia release Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and 70 other Ukrainian political prisoners.

It was official policy of the left bloc, GEU/NGL, to vote against the motion. Only six members of the 52-strong faction rebelled: five by voting for, and one by abstaining. The GUE/NGL has not issued a statement explaining its opposition to the motion.

485 MEPs voted for the motion. 76 voted against. And 66 abstained.

NUS Conference 2018: defeat the right, fight for left-wing, militant leadership

Submitted by AWL on 27 March, 2018 - 12:09 Author: AWL Students
Demo pic

At last year’s National Union of Students conference, NUS’s broadly leftish leadership was displaced by a new, mostly more right-wing team of officers. President Malia Bouattia, whose re-election we critically supported, lost to incumbent Shakira Martin.

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