I Speak for Oxford University and This Is What Free Speech Sounds Like

Alpesh Patel Wednesday 03rd March 2021 06:13 EST

Last week, it was a proud moment to represent my College, St Anne's, Oxford, as an alumnus in University Challenge, against existing students. It was a proud moment too, a couple of years ago to host the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University at an Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies Dinner. 


It was a prouder moment in my 20s to be elected a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College – supported by Margaret Thatcher's former Special Economic Advisor and separately by the Economics tutor to the former Leader of the Labour Party. And then at that College, to host Vikram Seth, a fellow Fellow of Oxford at a fundraising dinner at High Table. All proud moments.


So I am especially protective of the traditions and values of the University of Oxford. I have a talk to make to my old school next month, and they reminded me that my speech must by Government regulation adhere to British values.


I am immensely proud of the traditions of British values of free speech and free thought. However, tell me, when a faculty member of the University of Oxford makes comments like the ones you see in the images, is that not incitement to religious hatred contrary to the laws, let alone Britain's values?


So Mr. Sarkar, if you're reading this, I speak for the values of Oxford University, not you. I am British, and I stand up for, and speak for British values of tolerance, not you. I understand you are here on a visa – your vile hatred is not what I want in my country.


When you write, "clearly breaking Saraswati statues have not had any bad effect on my education" – I don't have a right not to be offended. You have a right to free speech. You claim to be atheist yet target one faith – that is religious bigotry. You proclaim it, that is incitement to religious hatred.


When a girl is hounded out of her position at the Oxford Union, and the British Free Speech Union writes they regret she was so hounded and returns to India in tears;  you write 'Tell Zee News that Oxford students are still not ready for "Sanatani"' with a picture of Lord Ram, that is bullying and harassment of an Oxford student by Faculty.


I care not that you are atheist, that you believe faith to be superstition – so do billions. I care you incite religious hatred. I care you do this from a privileged position at Oxford University. I care you bring disrepute to my University. 


You make me think twice about the donations I made last week to the University – a University whose students rely on goodwill based on a reputation you are trashing. Were I to protest by closing the cheque book and encouraging others to do the same, I would sadly be hurting those members, unlike you, who deserve all Oxford has to offer and who respect that enormous privilege. 


I care that Oxford's standards for Faculty are embarrassing if you're an example. However, I suspect this is an uncharacteristic slip of some regret and shame for them.


And because words must be met by action, this article and a letter of support from Members of the British Parliament, the home of free speech, goes to the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, to the Proctors, to your College Head, your Head of Department and the Home Office regarding your visa, and the Police regarding potential criminality on your part. And the British High Commission in India on your visa application plus the Indian High Commission in London.


And if you're wondering;  I am Oxford. I am British. I don't look up at you because you are Oxford Faculty (you don't deserve it), and I don't look down on you because of caste (something you mention as repeatedly as your Oxford post) – I look down on you because of your lack of intellect, and well because you're not one of us as we might say at Oxford – in Britain.

Finally, I remind you, the very crest of the University of Oxford states, “The Lord is my Light”, it was built on the basis of religion and faith, it’s Colleges are called Jesus, Christ Church, Corpus Christi. But again, it is Hinduism you have a problem with so you seek to ignore that Mr Sarkar. The Goddess of Light, Saraswati’s statues you desecrate and revel in it. Your ancestors weep and your descendants will laugh at the fool. 

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