Over 7,000 sign petition against Exeter University pro-life group

Pro-life students at Exeter University say they have received death threats over their views on abortion.

Christian Concern, which is supporting Students for Life, has warned of an escalation in cancel culture after 7,000 people signed a petition demanding that the group be "abolished". 

The society exists to equip pro-life students with the tools they need to share their views "in a sensitive and respectful way".

The petition against it has been sent along with an open letter to university authorities, but Christian Concern says it follows a "campaign of abuse" against the Students for Life Instagram page.

Members of the group say they have received chilling threats with one message telling them they would "end up at the bottom of the quay". 

The threats have been reported to university authorities and Devon and Cornwall police.

Alireza Ghazi-Torbati, President of the Exeter University Students For Life, is calling on the university to take immediate action. 

"The death threats made against members of our society are completely unacceptable and deeply disturbing," he said. 

The University of Exeter Students' Guild has responded to the threats by defending the right of students to share "unpopular opinions within the law".

"As your Students' Guild, we support freedom of speech," it said in a statement.

"We want to foster an environment where our members can participate fully, feel able to question and challenge, express new ideas, discuss controversial and or unpopular opinions within the law- all without fear of intolerance or discrimination."

Ghazi-Torbati spoke of his fears for the rights of pro-life students.

"The UK has traditionally been a bastion of free speech, but in recent years that has been eroded and the trend has been reflected in over 100 of our universities," he said.

"Pro-life groups in particular have been targeted and faced attempted censorship for valid beliefs held by many across the world.

"Exeter University must be a marketplace for free thinking, which is what universities are designed to be. As George Orwell said: 'If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear.'"

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "It is disturbing that we appear to be living in a world where students advocating on behalf of our pre-born children, are being subjected to death threats.

"A pro-life society has just as much right to enjoy its freedom of association as any other society at the university. The treatment the society is receiving at the hands of cancel culture activists is very disturbing.

"It's a relief that the University of Exeter is defending the pro-life students' freedom to speak."