Ep#97 – Secularist Of The Year 2017 – Yasmin Rehman

This week on The #GSPodcast I bring you some coverage from the Secularist Of The Year Awards in central London, hosted by The National Secular Society. The main prize went to Yasmin Rehman. You can support the National Secular Society at http://www.secularism.org.uk

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Information on speakers:

03:15 – Terry Sanderson:

Terry Sanderson is the President Of The National Secular Society https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Sanderson_(writer)

04:34 – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a British Journalist and Author https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasmin_Alibhai-Brown

11:28 – Scott Moore

Scott Moore and Let Pupils Choose, a Northern Ireland Humanists campaign,for challenging compulsory worship and religious privilege in Northern Ireland’s schools. http://strabanechronicle.com/2017/03/teenager-shortlisted-top-secularist-award/

15:35 – Houzan Mahmoud

Houzan Mahmoud and the Kurdish Culture project, for their initiative to provide a platform for Kurdish writers, feminists, artists and activists to advance gender equality, freedom and universal rights. http://kurdishcultureproject.org/author/houzanm/

22:40 ? Barry Duke

Barry Duke is a journalist and gay rights activist. Barry currently edits The Freethinker magazine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Duke

31:00 – Yasmin Rehman ? Winner Of Secularist Of The Year 2017

From the NSS website: ‘Yasmin has spent much of the past two years working to get the Government to recognise the dangers faced by ex-Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims from Islamic extremists. She has used her own home as a shelter for women at risk of domestic abuse’ http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2017/03/yasmin-rehman-named-secularist-of-the-year-2017

Andy Kindler Doesn’t Know What (Or Who) He’s Talking About

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I wouldn’t know the name ‘Andy Kindler’ had I not noticed his bizarre Twitter obsession with Ricky Gervais some time ago. It appears Andy has a problem with vocal critics of religion and is unable to separate dislike of ideas from bigotry towards actual people. He’s also a comedian, I’m told.

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It seems Sam Harris has also been on the receiving end of the same sort of treatment for quite some time too:

Read more

Michael Nugent Debates William Lane Craig

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Chairperson of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent debated Christian Theologian William Lane Craig on Tuesday. You can now see the debate it in full below by clicking on the image (YouTube):

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I’ve not been able to watch it yet, but plan to do so this weekend. From what I have read of Michael’s opening statements, it seems like he came incredibly well prepared.

I was fortunate enough to speak to Michael Nugent on my podcast back in April 2016. I have a huge amount of admiration for the clarity and compassion you will consistently find in his writing and speaking.

I have long been frustrated with the way in which people engage William Lane Craig’s arguments in debate. I don’t believe he has particularly good arguments, but rather he is able to employ them in a manner that is very effective in the eyes of an uninitiated audience.

I’ve noticed Craig leans heavily on ‘gish gallop’ and cherry picks quotes out of context in service of his claims. Sean Carroll did a fantastic job of exposing the latter technique in a debate from 2014:

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

‘Muslim’ Woman Singled Out In Viral London Terror Photo

 

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Details are still coming in after yesterday’s terror attack in Westminster and the official investigation is only just underway. I suspect I’ll be blogging and podcasting a considerable amount in the coming days and weeks about this devastating act of Islamic terror.

At the time of writing this we know that at least 4 people are dead and many more are injured. The suspect is said to be British-born and the attack has been described as ‘Islamist’ in nature by the British Prime Minister.

In the meantime, as we wait for all the details to emerge, one particular injustice caught my eye which is worth pushing back against.

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BBC Asks “What Is The Right Punishment For Blasphemy?”

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Earlier this week it was reported that Facebook were sending a team to Pakistan to discuss the concerns of Pakistani officials regarding ‘blasphemous’ content on the social media platform. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has previously described ‘blasphemy’ as an “unpardonable offence”.

The fact that Facebook is even entertaining this sort of thing deserves no small amount of opprobrium, but it should come as a surprise to no-one that Pakistan would be heavily engaged in this area.

Read more

Reporting From Secularist Of The Year 2017

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I’m currently en route to London for the National Secular Society’s ‘Secularist Of The Year Awards 2017’.

It’s a fantastic occasion celebrating the dedication and bravery of secular activists. I was on hand in 2015 and 2016 to bring you audio coverage of the event and hope to do so again today.

You can keep an eye on my Twitter account ( @Gspellchecker) or Facebook (facebook.com/gspellchecker) for updates throughout the day. If I can snag a wi-fi connection, I may attempt to live stream some of it.

This year’s shortlist of nominees:

Professor Steven Kettell, for co-ordinating a secular response to the Commission on Religion and Belief. His work helped rebut calls for more religious privilege, and set out the urgent case for a new secular constitutional settlement in the UK.

Professor Kettell said it was “a great surprise and a genuine honour to be shortlisted for the Secularist of the Year Award.” He said his own research had convinced him that “secularism is the best means of ensuring equal rights and freedoms for all citizens, regardless of their religion or belief.”

Professor Ted Cantle CBE has been nominated for his advocacy of integrated education and social cohesion. He has been particularly vocal in his opposition to the Government’s plan to allow a new wave of faith schools free to discriminate in 100% of their admissions.

He said it was “crucial that we support the secular principle of the separation of governance from religious doctrine.”

Asma Jahangir, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion,for her principled advocacy of universal human rights and her commitment to secular justice. She spent much of her career defending women’s rights, the rights of children and the rights of minorities in Pakistan.

Asma has campaigned against Pakistan’s deadly blasphemy law and has been a vocal proponent of human rights in her home country.

Houzan Mahmoud and the Kurdish Culture project, for their initiative to provide a platform for Kurdish writers, feminists, artists and activists to advance gender equality, freedom and universal rights.

Houzan said, “For the work in activism that I have done for nearly two decades against Islamism and Sharia Law in Kurdistan, Iraq, the UK and beyond, to be recognised by the NSS is one of the greatest honours I could be conferred.”

Scott Moore and Let Pupils Choose, a Northern Ireland Humanists campaign,for challenging compulsory worship and religious privilege in Northern Ireland’s schools.

Scott said “The Let Pupils Choose campaign wants to let over 16s/post-GCSE pupils opt out of collective worship without parental permission. Children of all ages are guaranteed religious freedom under UK, European and international human and children’s rights laws.”

He said he was “very grateful to the NSS for recognising the work I and others have been doing.”

Yasmin Rehman, for her advocacy of a secularist approach to tackling hate crime and promoting the human rights of women. She said, “I am incredibly honoured and humbled to be included in the list of nominees for this award particularly given the work being done across the world by so many brave and courageous people fighting against the hatred and violence being perpetrated by the religious Right of many faiths.”

Good luck to all the nominees. I’m looking forward to learning all about their work.

Online tickets sales are now closed, but if you can still contact the NSS office on 020 7404 3126 or email events@secularism.org.uk to enquire about availability.

You can support the National Secular Society by becoming a member here.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

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