A radical Islamic spokesman has been stopped from delivering a speech defending honour killings at a cultural festival at The Sydney Opera House, Australia.
The event — part of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas — was slammed as a cheap stunt that could have put women’s lives at risk.
Federal and state MPs condemned the Opera House for its decision to host Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar in a speech titled “honour killings are morally justified”.
Honour killing involves murdering a woman who is considered to have shamed her family.
The speech, scheduled for August 30, was removed from the festival’s playlist last night following widespread outrage.
The state government is understood to have put pressure on the Opera House with New South Wales Arts Minister Troy Grant asking for an urgent explanation on why the event was scheduled.
“The NSW government is proud to support programs that enrich our society and culture, but I am concerned this program does not meet that criteria and I have sought an urgent explanation,” Mr Grant said.
“Where these ideas have the potential to spark racial tension, they move from dangerous to stupid.”
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a banned radical organisation in Germany and The Netherlands and, before becoming prime minister, Tony Abbott said he would also outlaw it in Australia.
Promotional material for the speech said that historically “parents have reluctantly sacrificed their children — sending them to kill or be killed for the honour of their nation, their flag, their king, their religion. But what about killing for the honour of one’s family?”
Festival of Dangerous Ideas co-curator Ann Mossop denied Mr Badar was promoting honour killing, despite the event’s title, saying: “There is a distinct line between discussing ideas … and advocating violence, he is not saying people should perpetrate honour killings,” Ms Mossop said.
But when cancelling Mr Badar’s speech last night, the Opera House stated it believed it crossed a line between provocation to thought and simply provocation.
“The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is intended to be a provocation to thought and discussion, rather than simply a provocation,” the statement read.
“It is always a matter of balance and judgement and in this case a line has been crossed. Accordingly, we have decided not to proceed with the scheduled session with Uthman Badar. “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 the Sydney Opera House in any way advocates honour killings or condones any form of violence against women.”
Mr Badar hit back last night, tweeting: “Hysteria wins out. Welcome to the free world, where freedom of expression is a cherished value.”