Durham Union Society forced to apologise after using picture of ISIS to announce debate on Islam

By Charlie Taylor-Kroll 

The Durham Union Society has come under criticism after using a picture of ISIS terrorists whilst publicising a debate about Islam’s relationship with the western world.

ISISThe first event of the year entitled “This House Believes that Islam is Incompatible with the Western Liberal Democracy” was advertised on Facebook accompanied by a picture of members of ISIS.

The picture was removed from the event page within 24 hours.

Many have complained about the use of the photo with some demanding a formal apology from the well respected debating society.

Zainah El-Haroun spoke to The Daily Mirror, saying “I think most people are expecting a statement of apology.”

“I certainly am”, he finished.

Napat Rungsrithananon, President of Durham Union Society, later posted on the event page apologising for any offence that may have been caused.

He said “I would like to sincerely apologise to everyone for the offence that may have been caused by the picture posted for the upcoming Islam debate.

“I recognise that it was a poor choice of image, however no malice was intended, and I regret any unintentional harm it has caused.”

The event will host high profile speakers including The Telegraph’s Defence Editor Con Coughlin, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, Head of Islamic Finance at Norton Rose Fulbright Europe Farmida Bi,  Muslim public intellectual Adam Deen and former Church of England spokesperson Right Reverend Tim Stevens.

A third year Politics, Philosophy and Economics student from St Mary’s College, in conversation with Palatinate, said “the implication that a supposedly unbiased and free debate on Islam may be represented by a photo of an extreme minority, to which no Muslim would identify, is ignorant, disrespectful and offensive.”

“I wonder also what the speakers may think of this, I would imagine that many might change their minds if they knew how the talk was being represented.”

03/10/15 – A former student at Durham University has encouraged others to send an email to relevant university bodies calling for Durham Union Society to offer a formal apology.

Osha Al has constructed a template email, which she encourages others to send to Vice Chancellor Stuart Corbridge, Students’ Union President Millie Tanner and Equality and Diversity Manager Sarah Winship.

The email mentions the unprofessional and unapologetic-sounding statement publically posted by Durham Union Society President yesterday. The letter also disagrees with the title given to the debate.

Osha also argues that the the national coverage by the Daily Mirror of the controversy is damaging to the University’s reputation.

The letter urges Durham Union Society to issue a formal apology to be issued, both publically and directly, to all those who subscribe to the mailing list of the debating society.

The introduction of training to all university societies as a means to avoid such matters happening again has also been called upon.

Osha Al said, ‘’Hopefully, if enough of us send this email on, we can try and ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again and that we are issued with a proper apology’.’

Photograph: Durham Union Society

One Response

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  1. Helen Jane on Facebook
    Oct 02, 2015 - 06:58 PM

    This is most definitely something to debate … Debate… Debate… O.O the loop continues !!!


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