Open Letter - QMUL

Letter to Queen Mary University of London in response to the cancellation of the Festival of Communities, due to have taken place on the 8th June 2024, due to concerns that a pro-Palestinian rally might take place.


Dear XX 

I’m writing to share Wen’s (Women’s Environmental Network) concerns about the cancellation of this year’s Festival of Communities. 

We recognise that the Centre for Public Engagement team have been working very hard over the past few months. We understand that the cancellation must be extremely disappointing for you, XX, XX and XX who have likely put many hundreds of hours into making the festival happen.  We also understand that this may not have been within a decision made solely by this team. 

However, the Festival of Communities has been an important opportunity for communities to come together in Tower Hamlets. It has been a meaningful event where QMUL can put into practice the respect and mutual value it seeks to cultivate in their relationship with local people.  

It’s for this reason we are so disappointed by the news of your decision to cancel the Festival of Communities this Saturday. Our position is that this was the wrong choice and indicates a misalignment of values with local people. As an organisation seeking to represent the community priorities of the borough we are writing to raise the following concerns with you.  

Firstly, we do not agree with QMUL’s premise that any rally ‘targeted’ at the Festival of Communities would have posed a danger to attendees.  Tower Hamlets residents have shown themselves overwhelmingly in solidarity and in support of the liberation of Palestine and the QMUL encampment. We can see no reason why if a protest took place it would not be received by attendees in solidarity and peace. We also cannot understand the reasoning implied in your correspondence that far right extremists could come to Stepney Green to counter protest.    

Secondly, your statement of concern about this raises the question of whether you are trying to actively suppress the expressions of solidarity with Palestine from your students and the wider community of Tower Hamlets. This is a worrying trend in universities in the UK and abroad, whilst some universities such as University of Leicester choose to take seriously these acts of global solidarity from their own community. .  

Finally, words are important. Referring to the current war crimes, mass murder, and genoocide in Gaza, as “the Middle East conflict” evades the transparency we need from institutions to collectively stop the ongoing genocide.   

We have had a good working relationship with QMUL and have ourselves invested many hours into preparing for this years’ festival.  However, we cannot continue to do so if our values are not aligned.  We hope you can clarify QMUL’s position on our above three concerns.  

We would also be interested to know if you sought any advice from your community partners when making this decision as we were certainly not consulted. 


The team at Women’s Environmental Network 


This letter was sent via email on Thursday 6th June 2024

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