Muslim Action Committee

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

786
DEBATE HIJACKED BY VOTE RIGGING

We regret to inform you that the debate between the learned Scholars of the Muslim Action Committee and the organisers of the March for Free Expression will not be proceeding tomorrow as planned but will have to be rescheduled for a future date.

The primary reason for this is that there is clear evidence to suggest that this debate is a set up, ensuring that the final outcome of the vote would landslide in favour of the MfFE. There is also circumstantial evidence to suggest that the organisers of the March for Free Expression are working in close partnership with the Oxford Secular Society to the exclusion of MAC.

It was known at the outset that the Oxford Secular Society was ideologically allied with the positions of the MfFE, however it was decided by the organisers of MAC to allow OSS to organise the debate based on trust and in the hope that there would be total transparancy.

It does seem however that that trust has been misfounded. From day one there has been a lack of transparancy in the organisation of this debate.

  1. An agreeable venue was not disclosed until 5.45pm the day before the debate. What was being intimated by the OSS until the last minute was that the numbers of guests allowed to MAC would be restricted to 20. This was based on an initial venue capacity of 40.
  2. Even at the 11th hour the capacity of the final venue has not been disclosed. The final location was withheld and was only disclosed to MAC when the organisers of MAC threatened to pull out. Even then the venue that was disclosed does not specify the particular hall and the numbers that it can accommodate. The site that has been selected houses a number of rooms with varying capacities.
  3. There was assumedly a poster campaign by the OSS without even disclosing a venue for the debate.
  4. It seems however that MfFE have known the capacity of the venue for some time. It is also clear that the MfFE and the OSS have been discreetly canvassing students of their persuasion from the campus and outside guests without any restrictions. Of course the organisers of MAC have not been afforded such facility but have been restricted to the numbers they can invite by OSS.
  5. If we view the comments section on the Making Headlines blog we find the following informative comment on the behind the scenes rigging that has been going on:

Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Steve said...
Doesn't this show how far we still have to go?The MAC have publicised the debate to get their supporters along. There is sod all on the MfFE site.We need to get better at mobilising our supporters.
At Monday, 01 May, 2006, Alison said...
i thought peter said he had it covered at oxford with students, fully booked.

This explains why it was not until yesterday that OSS informed MAC that they could bring twenty people maximum and the rest of the attendees would have to be Oxford Students who would be allowed to bring a single guest each. As the exact venue has not been confirmed until today, how many non-partisan Oxford Students do you imagine will show up?

It is also not coincidental the the OSS were seeking to restrict the speakers to a time limit of 5 minutes each and make the body of the debate to questions and answers, thus suiting the planted audience. Whilst MAC is not afraid of Q & A's, the said forum has to be balanced with people questioning on what was presented to them and not what they assume from their prejudicial pre-disposition.

Organisers of MAC are stunned that such practices have been allowed at the seat of world renowned learning at Oxford. The Vice-Chancellor will be invited to investigate this under handed dealing of people supposedly underpinning the virtues of secular society.

On this basis, the learned Scholars of MAC find it repugnant to attend this clearly rigged debate, and thus will not be attending tomorrow. The organisers of MAC openly challenge the MfFE and OSS to a free and transparent debate and will make every efforts to ensure that such a debate is scheduled shortly. The rescheduled debate must involve representatives of both sides of the motion throughout the organisational process with neutral hosts. The organisers of MAC invite the Oxford Union to host such a debate after a short adjournment.

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