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Student groups against Holocaust denier's arrival at Oxford Union

Several student groups, including Oxford University's Jewish and Muslim societies, are joining to stage a demonstration against the arrival of a historian that refutes the Holocaust took place and British National Party leader.

Hundreds were expected to protest the arrival of author David Irving and British National Party leader Nick Griffin, who are appearing at a free speech forum Monday at the Oxford Union, the university's debating society.

Several students' groups, including the Oxford Student Union and the university's Jewish and Muslim societies, have teamed up with Unite Against Fascism to organize the protest.

"It's our way of showing that we all stand together ... opposed to racism, opposed to hate," said Steven Altmann Richer, the co-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society.

"Obviously we think the issue of free speech is very important, but it's very irresponsible to use the union's prestigious platform to lend legitimacy to the views of people like Nick Griffin and David Irving."

Union members voted Friday to allow the men to speak, despite calls to have the invitation revoked. The union's president, Luke Tryl, has said he invited the men to talk about the limits of free speech, not expound their views.

"The reason the Oxford Union was founded 184 years ago was to promote and defend freedom of speech. This is what this debate is about," he told Sky News on Sunday. "It is about an opportunity to challenge David Irving and Nick Griffin."

Irving was arrested in November 2005 in Austria on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in 1989 in which he was accused of denying that the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Austria, which was occupied by the Nazis.

Irving was convicted in February 2006 and sentenced to three years in prison. He served 13 months and was released on probation.

Irving has refused to use the term Holocaust, calling it a concept that "became cleverly marketed."

Griffin runs a party that campaigns on a fiercely anti-immigration and anti-Muslim platform.

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