In the run-up to Cliteur’s lecture, several lecturers and students at the Faculty of Philosophy protested. They were conflicted about the RUG providing a platform for the chair of the scientific bureau of the FvD, because of his ‘controversial viewpoints’ about the ‘leftist indoctrination of universities’, among other things.
Twenty students protested on the steps of the Groninger Forum, where the event was held. They handed out flyers with the FvD’s political programme and statements made by FvD members.
‘We want to make people aware of the hateful ideology behind Cliteur’s pretty philosophical words’, organiser Veerle Ros explained.
Some of the protesters held up signs, some of them depicting angry smileys, others with statements such as ‘Stop funding Nazis’ and ‘Freedom of speech doesn’t equal a right to a platform’.
The atmosphere in the room where Cliteur was giving his lecture was slightly tense. Cliteur entered the room around nine thirty, flanked by two security guards. The organisation hired them because of the protesters. The security guards took up position on either side of the room.
Catarina Dutilh Novaes, who had the slot after Cliteur with her lecture on ‘white ignorance’, told him that many FvD voters had harassed her about her subject and had told her to go back to her own country.
She didn’t feel safe, she said, correlating the feeling to a statement by Cliteur that ‘some people shouldn’t feel safe at the university’. Cliteur apologised for how people had treated her.
By the time the lecture was done the protesters had left.
The Night of Philosophy is a joint initiative by the Faculty of Philosophy at the RUG, Studium General, and the Groninger Forum. The subject of Cliteur’s lecture was his new book, Theoterrorism v. Freedom of Speech.