Tag Archives: Featured

No, Westminster University Isn’t ‘Shredding All The Qur’ans’ Because Of ‘Prevent’

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The popular monotheistic religions have an established history of violent outbursts in response to perceived transgressions. One faith in particular stands out at this moment in time for its refusal to join the enlightenment.

Some may recall the reports of Qur’ans being desecrated by U.S guards at Guantanamo in 2005. This sparked deadly riots throughout the Muslim world.

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Iggy The Stockholm Dog

 

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Twitter’s ability to bring you the latest news before ‘the news’ gets around to it can be mentally (and emotionally) hazardous if your areas of interest are religious fanaticism and global terror.

Shortly after the Stockholm truck attack which left 4 people dead and many more injured, images of the carnage began to burn themselves into our brains, tweet by tweet. Scenes that belong in the 6th century were now being captured on the streets of Europe via 21st century technology. Some things cannot be unseen.

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‘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.

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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.

West Midlands Police Do Not See ‘Benefit’ In FGM Prosecutions

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Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an utterly barbaric practice that has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Despite its legal status, there were 5700 recorded cases of FGM between 2015 and 2016 alone. As of today there is yet to be a single prosecution for this debilitating crime.

For those unfamiliar with this life-changing ‘procedure’.

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