Jo set for topical Oxford Union debate


The Oxford Union has a long history of debating free speech

Jo Swinson MP will be a guest of ‘the world’s most prestigious debating society’, when she visits Oxford Union this week.

Jo will participate in a debate on freedom of speech on Thursday, 25th May, joining fellow MPs and experts, including the Danish journalist responsible for the publication last year of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Commenting ahead of the visit, Jo said:

“It is a great honour to be invited to speak in a debate at Oxford Union. The Union is steeped in history, and thinking of the luminary figures in whose footsteps I will be following, such as the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa, is very humbling.

“The subject up for debate – freedom of speech in the context of respect for religion – is highly topical. It is a question central to one of the great challenges we face today, namely reconciling people from different cultural backgrounds under single national identities and legal frameworks.”

Jo’s visit to Oxford Union follows appearances as a panellist on BBC2′s Question Time last year and BBC Radio 4′s Any Questions, in April.

In Thursday’s debate Jo will be opposing the motion that “This house believes that freedom of speech should be moderated by respect for religion”. Other participants in the debate are: MPs Edward Leigh, Nick Palmer and Jamie Reid; the Rt Revd James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool; Askhar Bukhari of the Muslim Council of Great Britain; prominent British Humanist activist Barbara Smoker and Flemming Rose, cultural editor of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published the Muhammad cartoons in September last year.

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