There's no doubt that the views expressed by radical Islamic group Hizb-Ut-Tahrir will be repugnant to anyone in Birmingham of a liberal disposition.
The organisation, said to advocate executing gay people and Muslims who reject their religion, was recently given a public platform in Small Heath at a meeting attended by Professor John Holmwood, the head of Birmingham University's sociology department, who put the case for a secular society.
The event, endorsed by the University's Black and Minority Student Officer, attracted about 100 people, 10 of whom were Hizb-Ut-Tahrir members.
Is this a matter of concern for Birmingham, a city fast approaching 50 per cent minority ethnic population? How do the views of Hizb-Ut-Tahrir sit with the maxim generally attributed to Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to death your right to say it?"
One rule of thumb in deciding where to draw the line on freedom of speech must be the propensity of the argument being put forward to prompt disorder and violence. But Hizb-Ut-Tahrir, while clearly advocating a course of action that would be regarded as disgusting in most Western communities, has not been outlawed by the UK Government and is free to organise and hold meetings in this country. It is, in this respect, in the same category as numerous organisations in Britain operating at extreme ends of the political spectrum.
Those seeking to stifle the activities of Hizb-Ut-Tahrir, on the grounds that Birmingham University has a large Jewish student population, are missing the whole point of debate and discourse. The dangerous alternative to engaging verbally with those we find obnoxious is to run the risk of driving such organisations underground, raising their profile and promoting martyrdom status.
Birmingham is a city mature enough to take these matters in its stride.