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‘Islamophobia Isn’t Real’: Tweets from Scheduled Speaker at KCL Israel Society Event Spark Outcry

The facade of King's College London's Strand Building
Outside the Strand Building. Photo by Emma Carmichael, Photography Lead

Posts on X (formerly Twitter) made by Kiyah Willis, a speaker scheduled for an event hosted by King’s College London (KCL) Israel Society on Wednesday 20 March, questioned the veracity of Islamophobia.

Willis’ post on X came to light after it was shared to KCL Confessions, a popular Instagram account in the university’s student community, prompting outcry from followers of the page.

In the post, Willis states that Islamophobia “isn’t a real thing” arguing that “the more accurate term for criticism of Islam would be ‘common sense'”. The post was uploaded in November 2023, around four months ago.

KCL Students for Justice for Palestine (KCL SJP) uncovered and shared further posts by Willis. In early November 2023, Willis posted on X that “the West has been fighting for centuries against Islam and every ideology that has tried to destroy it”. She continued “and no matter what our enemies throw at us, we will continue to persevere”.

Willis referred to several tropes in other X posts, stating that she is not Islamophobic since “a phobia is an irrational fear and opposing a religion that condones pedophilia, oppresses women and gays, and wants to kill all non-believers is completely rational”, in a post just over two weeks ago. Replying to another X user who commented under the post, Willis said “Muhammad married and raped a child”.

Willis’ invitation may violate KCLSU’s External Speaker Procedure, which requires that external speakers “must not incite hatred” through their speech. According to the Procedure, external speakers must also adhere to KCLSU’s Safe Space Policy, which asserts that “all students should be free from” religious discrimination at KCLSU events.

KCL’s External Speaker Policy also states that the right to freedom of speech and expression must “be balanced” with the university’s duty to ensure students are not subjected to “discrimination and incitement to hatred [and] violence”.

In a joint statement on freedom of expression, KCL and KCLSU noted that it is “the university’s role is to ensure that all parties feel confident and safe in expressing their views except when this speech discriminates based on race, class, disability, sex, age, gender identity, transgender status, religion or sexual orientation”.

KCL Israel Society’s promotion for the event states that Willis “is a fellow at Objective Standard Institute focusing on cultural trends and their causes and consequences”.

The other speaker, Ely Lassman, is the founder and chair of Prometheus on Campus, a “UK-based educational nonprofit focused on promoting philosophy for freedom and happiness”. The post also noted that Lassman is “a British-Israeli IDF veteran of the 401st brigade”.

According to KCL Israel Society’s Instagram post, the event will “focus on how to approach conflict resolution in light of Israel-Gaza“.

A KCL Israel Society spokesperson told Roar:

“The KCL Israel Society has followed all relevant guidelines and security procedures as requested by the KCLSU. Our speakers were reviewed and approved, and we have a right to host them.


Ely Lassman is an IDF veteran who has been faced with numerous defamatory and unproven claims of being a “war criminal” since we announced the event. The notion that every former or current member of the IDF is guilty of war crimes is completely absurd.


We condemn ongoing campaigns to eliminate our right to freedom of speech and assembly on campus. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring much-needed civil discourse and productive debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We refuse to be silenced.”

In response to the event, KCL SJP, SOAS Palestine Society and KCL Palestine Action, a student society unaffiliated with KCLSU, have announced a joint rally in protest against the speakers’ presence on campus.

KCL Palestine Action also sent a letter to the Rev. Dr Ellen Clark-King, KCL’s Dean, and Vice-Chancellor Professor Shitij Kapur. The letter included several demands including that “the university calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza/Palestine” and an educational and financial divestment from Israel.

The letter also ends with the line “If you do not respond to our demands by Wednesday, we have no choice but to escalate our actions”.

To read Roar’s coverage of the conflict in Israel-Palestine, follow this link.

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