The Oxford Union debating society raised ire among student groups and activists on Thursday after its president announced that he had invited Holocaust denier David Irving to come speak at the university, The Guardian reported Friday.

The society's president, Luke Tryl, told The Guardian he had also invited British National party chairman Nick Griffin and Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukoshenko to speak. He added that the group has not yet formalized its invitation list.

"The Oxford Union is famous for is commitment to free speech and although I do think these people have awful and abhorrent views I do think Oxford students are intelligent enough to challenge and ridicule them," Tryl said.

The announcement has sparked controversy among students and anti-fascist activists, according to The Guardian.

"It will be a disgrace if these discredited speakers are allowed a platform at a forum on free speech. They have an embarrassing history of disregard for legal restrictions on it. It will certainly go down as a black mark on the reputation of the Oxford Union," Oxford Jewish Society co-presidents Daniel Bloch and Steven Altmann-Richer said in a joint statement.

According to the report, Irving denied having been formally approached by anyone from the Oxford Union but said he would accept such an invitation if offered.

"I have had many invitations to speak there in the past but they normally get withdrawn after threats of violence and intimidation. It is a pity because I think there are a lot of students who would like to hear what I have to say," he said.

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