Oxford

Oxford Union criticised for Steve Bannon invite

Steve Bannon Image copyright PA
Image caption Steve Bannon spoke at the European Broadcasting Union's News Xchange conference in Edinburgh

The Oxford Union has been criticised for inviting Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon to speak to its members.

The former White House adviser's scheduled visit on Friday has been met with anger on social media, with protests planned by students.

Oxford Students Stand Up To Racism said the union was "giving credibility to racism and fascism".

The union president said it was a chance to "critically question" him.

Mr Bannon was one of President Trump's closest aides until he quit the White House last year.

He took part in the News Xchange conference in Edinburgh earlier, where a 56-year-old demonstrator was arrested and charged with threatening and abusive behaviour.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pulled out of the conference over his "far-right views".

Image caption About 100 protesters gathered outside the conference in Edinburgh

On Facebook, the Oxford Students Stand Up To Racism group described Mr Bannon as "the white supremacists' link to Donald Trump's White House".

"The Oxford Union is once again giving a platform to a far right speaker, and by doing so legitimising racism," it said.

The Hope Not Hate campaign tweeted that Mr Bannon was "whipping up hate and division".

"This might be a game to those running the Oxford Union, but this invite only serves to further Bannon's cause," it added.

Union president Stephen Horvath said it was an opportunity for members to "hear from an individual who has been at the centre of the rise in right-wing populism, as well as to critically question and debate the ideas and rhetoric of Mr Bannon".

He added: "It is only through listening to the opinions of others that we can fully understand those opinions.

"There is a profound intellectual value in critically thinking through why it is that we agree or disagree instead or just rejecting them out of hand."

In September, Mr Bannon was disinvited from the New Yorker Festival after a backlash.

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