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Extremists shouldn’t be banned from preaching at British universities, Oxford chief says

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EXTREMIST groups should not be banned from speaking at British universities, Oxford University’s new vice chancellor has said.

Universities across the country have come under fire for inviting extremist organisations to speak on campus in recent years.

But Professor Louise Richardson said controversial groups such as Cage should be welcomed provided they “can be countered”.

She added that students should confront views they find “objectionable” rather than attempt to ban them.

She said: “We need to expose our students to ideas that make them uncomfortable so that they can think about why it is that they feel uncomfortable and what it is about those ideas that they object to.

“And then to have the practice of framing a response and using reason to counter these objectionable ideas and to try to change the other person’s mind and to be open to having their own minds changed.

“That’s quite the opposite of the tendency towards safe spaces and I hope that universities will continue to defend the imperative of allowing even objectionable ideas to be spoken.”

Christ Church, Oxford

Christ Church has produced a staggering 13 Prime Ministers

Asked if groups such as Cage should be allowed to speak, she said: “Provided that they can be countered, I think that we should let them be heard.

“In that way we model to our students how you counter ideas you find objectionable.”

Asim Qureshi, the research director of the human rights outfit, last year described Islamic State terrorist Jihadi John as a “beautiful young man”.

David Cameron

David Cameron was a member of the Bullingdon Club

Prof Richardson, who is seen as a modernising figure, also branded the all-male Bullingdon Club “completely unacceptable”.

The group boasts David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Boris Johnson, the London mayor, among its former members.

She said there was no formal link between Oxford and the Bullingdon Club but stressed: “If it had I would sever it or I would do my best to sever it.”