On Wednesday 22nd September, Quilliam co-hosted a fringe event at the Lib Dem party conference in Liverpool. In partnership with Centre Forum, one of the leading liberal think tanks, the event discussed the topic ‘Tolerating the Intolerant: What should be the Liberal approach’? The four speakers on the panel were Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrats MP, Berwick upon Tweed, Evan Harris, former Liberal Democrats MP, Oxford West and Abingdon, Gita Sahgal, Founder, Women against Fundamentalism and Maajid Nawaz, Co-Director & Co-Founder, Quilliam. The event was chaired by Julian Astle, Director of CentreForum.
All discussants agreed that the liberal approach should be to tolerate the intolerant, so long as intolerance does not step over the line by calling for, or justifying, acts of violence. Within this agreed framework, the discussants debated the practicalities of ‘toleration’. They agreed in the need to publically challenge viewpoints that were intolerant, and that impinged upon others’ civil liberties. They also discussed the importance of ensuring that intolerant ideas do not lead to discrimination against women, homosexuals, or other groups in the public space. Further discussions revolved around ideas of a ‘civic challenge’, the nature of government engagement with non-violent extremists, and the right to be offended.
A lively question and answer session followed, including questions on the role of the burqa, Shari’ah, faith schools, and politicians sharing public platforms with known Islamist extremists.
Quilliam will be holding events at the Labour party conference on 28th September (with Progress) and at the Conservative party conference on 5th October (with Policy Exchange). For full details, please see here.