Quantcast

«

»

Mar 29 2012

Seriously, we are intolerant!?

Below is my speech at my first ever QED Conference in Manchester.

It’s a real pleasure to be here. It’s my first QED and for that matter skeptic event. I’m grateful for the things I have learnt this weekend. I have to admit that I would most probably never have attended a talk about werewolves (by Deborah Hyde) but I am really glad that I have.

It made me realise that I and many like me are Islamism’s witches and werewolves – the heretics and blasphemers of our age.

In this talk I want to focus on why secularism is so important – not just for us heretics and apostates – but for everyone, including the religious.

In that sense – secularism is not anti- the religious. In fact it’s a precondition for freedom of religion and atheism because private beliefs are not the concern of a secular state. It’s not for the state to enforce religion or atheism. The state is not involved in the business of religion (and it is a business).

Whilst secularism is good for people – even religious people, it’s not good for the religion industry because don’t forget religion in the state, and educational and judicial system has nothing to do with personal belief; it has everything to do with political power. And therefore, the fight for secularism is also a battle against religion in political power.

Let’s be frank. There is a demand for the separation of religion from the state because it is harmful when it is part of the state, or judicial and educational systems. Because as I often like to say, like cigarettes religion should come with a health warning: Religion Kills. It kills. And Islam is central to this debate on secularism.

The Conservative Minister Warsi’s recent message to the pope (like he needs convincing) is that ‘militant secularism at its core and in its instincts is deeply intolerant and demonstrates traits similar to totalitarian regimes.’

Militant really!? If only.

For the record, I think militancy is a very good thing. We need more militancy against religion.

But secularism intolerant!? Rather it’s religion that is intolerant and totalitarian when in power and why it must be kept out of the state.

If you look at the examples that Warsi is referring to as ‘intolerant’ the absurdity of it all become clearer.

It reminds me of a recent Jesus and Mo cartoon:

Here’s some of the things Warsi is referring to as ‘intolerant’:

* A court ruling in favour of the National Secular Society which says that there should be no prayers at the start of a council meeting. Of course you can pray – just do it on your own time – not during a local government meeting!

* A ruling that owners of a Bed and Breakfast cannot discriminate against a gay couple because it is part of their Christian beliefs! Of course you can still be Christian and believe anything you want – you just can’t discriminate because you’re an idiot.

* France is another example where the banning of conspicuous religious symbols in courts or hospitals or schools is immediately labelled totalitarian as if any ban is such. There’s a ban on smoking in public places because it’s good for social health. Banning religious symbols is also very good for societal health! It ensures that there is no proselytising. Your beliefs are yours; if you promote them, you can’t do your job well.

Secularism is a framework to level the playing field because of religion’s intolerance – not the other way around – otherwise religion would be free to discriminate and abuse and worse…

And by the way, it’s amusing how the powers that be take on victim status – Islamists do this all the time – when it is they that are violating rights.

With regards Islam, it’s what I call an Islamic inquisition. Islamism hangs people in Iran from cranes in city centres for apostasy, blasphemy, heresy, witchcraft, being gay, and enmity against god as we speak. Just recently, there have been reports of the morality police in Iraq stoning dozens of Iraqi youth to death because of their haircuts and tight jeans. It wants to execute 23 year old Saudi Hamza Kashgari for tweeting about Mohammad and status of women in Saudi Arabia. He has Tweeted women in Saudi Arabia can’t go to hell twice – they are already in hell. And it imprisons women for ‘morality’ crimes in places like Afghanistan. Most women prisoners in Afghanistan for example are there for moral crimes. The case of Gulnaz is better known. She was given a 12 year sentence after being raped. After much protest, she was pardoned by Karzai so she could to marry her rapist! And it’s not just in countries under Islamic rule but right here in Europe and Britain with Sharia courts, which discriminate against women and legislate misogyny without so much as a peep from the British government. The government believes it is ‘discriminatory’ to address the courts or Islamic madrasas. It is only so if one prefers to defend Islam over the lives and rights of women and children.

If you look at the Sharia courts here – they are no different from sharia courts in Iran. They deal with the family aspects of Sharia law but just because there are no amputations and stoning and the courts are denying women’s rights in the family, it doesn’t make it any less scandalous. Under its rules, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s, a women can’t sign her own marriage contract, men have the unilateral right to divorce whereas a women have limited rights to divorce; child custody goes to the father at a preset age; girls get half of the inheritance boys do and so on.

The Islamic Sharia Council explains why this is so: ‘with regards to women’s testimony, ‘If one forgets, the other can remind her.’ It’s the difference between a man and a woman’s brains.’ ‘A woman’s character is not so good for a case where testimony requires attention and concentration.’ And this also applies to divorce. ‘Women are governed by emotion; men by their minds so he will think twice before uttering talaq [divorce].’ It goes on to say it is not ‘derogatory’ but ‘the secret of women’s nature.’ As I said, a scandal that is ignored because respect for culture and religion takes precedence over real live human beings. And by the way there is now ‘scientific’ evidence from Time magazine to prove why women’s testimony is half that of a man.

And yet we have people up and down the country attacking ‘militant’ secularists and many of them secularists and atheists themselves who are more concerned with attacking Richard Dawkins than religion’s adverse role in society.

Philosopher Julian Baggini has said for example that the ‘very extremity of the language – the comparisons with Nazism and the way in which such claims are increasingly being seen as self-evident truths – tells us that something has gone wrong with secularism in Britain’. This is like saying the extremity of the language used by Islamists against women – that we are ‘whores’, and ‘dirty filthy kafirs’, and that according to Islam there is ‘no greater calamity than women’ and so on – tells us something has gone wrong with the women’s rights movement…

Tellingly, his article has a photo of Richard Dawkins that is captioned: ‘Richard Dawkins … Often seen by those of vague faith as an aggressive pest.’ And Baggini represents a whole slew of humanist organisations and publications that have this very same viewpoint.

I suppose this is what happens when one is so busy defending secularism as mere ‘neutrality’ and a humanism that is but one of many other religions and beliefs via inter-faith coalitions and the like in order to gain mainstream access, that one ends up in the same camp as those that wish to ensure that religion remains firmly in public sphere to do as it pleases… It is this very position that also sees Sharia courts as people’s right to religion and association. Nonsense.

Baggini says his outlook is pragmatic. This is the problem with pragmatism –to justify it, it soon becomes a matter of principle. Baggini says: ‘It may be unfair to criticise secularists for being “militant” or “aggressive”, but we are often ham-fisted and heavy-handed. If secularism has come to be seen as the enemy of the religious when it should be its best friend, then we secularists must share at least some of the blame.’ Again secularism is not an enemy of the religious; this is the propaganda of the religion industry which some secularists have bought into. Secularism is an enemy of religion in power. The religious right has so confused the two that some secularists have also come to believe it to be true. It’s like Islamists conflating criticism or even mockery of Islam as an attack on Muslims with the bogus concept of Islamophobia – a political term used for scaremongering and to silence people.

My take on the whole ‘militant’ secularism is that it’s not militant enough but even so, it is making enough inroads for the religious right to feel the pressure and it’s about time! I would have to agree with A C Grayling that ‘its hold is weakening’ and that ‘there’s such furore because ‘it is that the cornered animal, the loser, starts making a big noise.’

I say kick it while it’s down not just in Europe but also in the Middle East and North Africa where we saw revolutions that had nothing to do with Islamism’s aspirations and demands. That Islamists take power is as a result of a counter-revolution, and a win for the establishment, not the other way around.

And seriously, the secularists are ‘intolerant’!?

We are not the ones threatening people with death and hanging them in city squares.

As I mentioned before, the right to a religious belief is not the same as the right to a religious state, religious school or religious court, which imposes misogyny and discrimination and barbarity.

Also when people speak of a right to religion, they forget there is also a corresponding right to be free from religion and also to be free to criticise religion. The minute you criticise religion though, you have a long list of overseers telling you not to do so. But that is why I want a secular state. So I can also speak and not have religion bulldoze over me. These are key as well and always seem to be sidelined and forgotten.

Also it is not just about free expression for atheists. Don’t forget, even for the religious, there is not only one way of doing religion, particularly when you live under an inquisition, any transgression is seen as a criticism and an act of disbelief or apostasy punishable by death or threats and intimidation.

The problem is that multiculturalism– not as a positive lived experience – but as a social policy – has created false homogeneous communities – like a ‘Muslim’ community – whereby Islamist values and sensibilities are seen to be the values of all who are deemed to be part of that community.

This doesn’t allow for a personal religion – you can’t pick and choose as it suits you; it’s dictated from above by parasitical, self-appointed leaders and imams.

In this situation, there are no real choices, just impositions.

And it affects Muslims just as much as it affects ex-Muslims or non-Muslims. Alex Aan, an atheist, Asia Bibi, a Christian, Hamza Kashgari, a Muslim – all facing imprisonment and or execution for transgressing Islamist norms.

This is not a question of denying identity as Warsi states. It’s about politics. There are many ‘Muslims’ who are more secularist than a large majority of people in Britain. The greatest opponents against Islamism are people living under, suffering under, and resisting Sharia law day in and day out or who have fled it. But this viewpoint of a homogeneous Muslim community fails to see the resistance and dissent. It doesn’t see the girl who doesn’t want to be veiled, the young lovers who don’t want to be killed in the name of honour, the Muslim who is also gay, the ex-Muslim, and the many closet atheists who walk the streets in Britain wearing a burqa or hejab.

What multiculturalism does is shrink the space to breathe and think and live for anyone deemed part of the ‘Muslim’ community and hands over masses of people – citizens – to the Islamists.

Of course it is not just Islam as the far-Right says. All religions are equal and equally bad.

Warsi says ‘secularism is ‘attacking Christian foundations’ of the society but society today is the result of the fight against religion and Christianity not because of it.

And the same fight has to take place against Islam.

Secularism is a precondition for basic rights and freedoms. It’s inclusive unlike religion. And it’s essential for a plural society. When there are countless beliefs, you need to keep beliefs out in order to include people. Inclusion, rights, equality, and respect are for people not beliefs. Secularism doesn’t deny religious belief as a private matter; in fact it’s central to protecting it and all beliefs or lack thereof. But as I’ve said before; it does make a value judgement on religion in power and so it actively ensures that religion isn’t privileged but also that it doesn’t encroach on the public space.

As a minimum secularism calls for the banning of all faith schools. Religion in general and Islam more so because of the rise of Islamism, indoctrinates children – often violently. Religious schools by nature must teach the superiority of their belief system and the baseness of non-believers and kafirs. Unfortunately, the debate on faith schools has for too long focused on scrutiny, monitoring, and changing admission codes and employment practices rather than that they are fundamentally bad for our children. Again this is the pragmatism of this movement at the expense of principle. This is because they are more concerned with the inclusion of religion – the religion of the child’s parents – than the inclusion, wellbeing and educational needs of the child.

Schools and faith are antithetical to each other. Education is meant to give children access to science, reason and the advances of the 21st century. It is meant to level the playing field irrespective of and despite the family the child is born into. It is meant to allow children to think freely and critically – something that religion actually prohibits and punishes. Education can only truly be guaranteed by a secular educational system and by ending faith schools once and for all.

Secularism also means that religious symbols in schools and public institutions must be prohibited. What secularism does is require that at minimum government offices and officials from judges, to clerks to teachers to doctors and nurses are not promoting their religious beliefs and are instead doing their jobs. A teacher mustn’t be allowed to teach creationism instead of evolution and science in the classroom; a pharmacist can’t refuse contraceptive pills to a woman because of his beliefs; a female doctor can’t refuse to treat a male patient or vice versa.

Banning religious symbols is sometimes portrayed as restrictions on religious beliefs or freedoms and religious intolerance but again this is not so. One’s religious belief is a private affair; public officials cannot use their positions to impose or promote their beliefs.

Secularism also requires the banning of burqas because they are straitjackets for women and mobile prisons. Of course you can’t ban the veil for adult women but you can still criticise it without attacking women who are veiled. The veil is a symbol like no other of what it means to be a woman under Islam – hidden from view, bound, and gagged. It is a tool for restricting and suppressing women. Of course there are some who choose to be veiled, but you cannot say it is a matter of choice because – socially speaking – the veil is anything but. There is no ‘choice’ for most women. In countries under Islamic rule, it is compulsory. Even here, in Britain, according to a joint statement about the veil from ‘Muslim groups, scholars and leaders’, including the Muslim Council of Britain, Hizb ut Tahrir and Islamic ‘Human Rights’ Commission, it is stated that the veil ‘is not open to debate’. The statement goes so far as to ‘advise all Muslims to exercise extreme caution in this issue since denying any part of Islam may lead to disbelief.’

As I have said before, take away all the pressure and intimidation and threats and you will see how many remain veiled.

When it comes to the veiling of girls in schools, though, child veiling must not only be banned in public institutions and schools but also in private schools and everywhere. Here the issue extends beyond the principle of secularism and goes straight to the heart of children’s rights. While adults may ‘choose’ veiling or a religion, children by their very nature cannot make such choices; what they do is really what their parents tell them to do. The state is duty bound to protect children and must level the playing field for children and ensure that nothing segregates them or restricts them from accessing information, advances in society and rights, playing, swimming and in general doing things children must do.

Whatever their beliefs, parents do not have the right to impose their beliefs, including veiling on children just because they are their own children, just as they can’t deny their children medical assistance or beat and neglect them or marry them off at 9 because it’s part of their beliefs or religion.

Secularism also requires the banning of religious and Sharia courts because it is inherently unjust, discriminatory and unfair to have different and separate systems, standards and norms for ‘different’ people.

The concept of an Islamic court adheres to a principle of separate but equal similar to that promoted by the former Apartheid regime of South Africa. It was clear then as it is clear now that separate is not equal. In fact it is a prescription for inequality and discrimination.

These are secularism’s minimum demands. However, atheists and free thinkers need to call for a lot more on the religion industry than secularism alone.

According to the Marxist Mansoor Hekmat:

Secularism means the separation of religion from the state and education, the separation of religion from a citizen’s identity and the definition of a citizen’s rights and responsibilities. Turning religion into a private affair. Where a person’s religion does not enter the picture in defining their social and political identity and in their interaction with the state and bureaucracy. In view of this, secularism is a collection of minimum requirements.

I, for example, cannot fit my entire stance regarding religion and its place in society into this concept. I do not just want secularism, but also society’s conscious struggle against religion – in the same way that a segment of society’s resources are spent on fighting malaria and cholera, and conscious policies are made against misogyny, racism and child abuse, some resources and energy ought to be allocated to de-religionisation.

By religion I of course mean the religious machinery and defined religions and not religious thought or even belief in ancient or existing religions.

I am an anti-religious person and want society to impose more limitations, beyond mere secularism, on organised religion and the ‘religion industry.’… I am referring to organised religion and ‘religion industries’ and not religious beliefs. Anyone can have any beliefs, express them, publicise them and organise around them. ‘The question is what regulations society puts in place to protect itself.

Today society tries to protect children from the tobacco industry’s advertising. The religion industry’s advertising could be treated in exactly the same way. Smokers have all their rights and can establish any association and institution to advertise the benefits of tobacco and unite all smokers, but this does not mean giving a green light to the tobacco industry.

The machinery of Islam and the other main religions (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.) are not voluntary societies of believers of specific ideas; they are enormous political and financial institutions, which have never been properly scrutinised, have not been subject to secular laws in society and have never accepted responsibility for their conduct. No one took Mr. Khomeini to court for issuing a death fatwa against Salman Rushdie; notwithstanding that inciting to murder is a crime in all countries of the world.

And this is only a small corner of a network of murder, mutilation, intimidation, abduction, torture, and child abuse. I think that the Medellin drug cartels (Escobars), the Chinese triads, and Italian (and American) mafia are nothing in comparison to organised religion.

I am speaking of a legitimate and organised struggle by a free and open society against these enterprises and institutions. At the same time, I regard believing in anything, even the most backward and inhuman doctrines, as the undeniable right of any individual.’

Thank you.

23 comments

7 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Sarah AB

    I just wondered whether you were going to write up the panel discussion you took part in with Inayat Bungalawala? Or did you, and I missed it?

    1. 1.1
      Maryam Namazie

      No sorry I haven’t had a chance yet…

      1. Ophelia Benson

        You did a panel with Bunglawala! I didn’t know this. Exciting.

        1. Maryam Namazie

          Yes very exciting… It was at the National Theatre and they did a recording of it, which I hope becomes available soon.

  2. 2
    ashleybell

    ” A ruling that owners of a Bread and Breakfast cannot discriminate against a gay couple because it is part of their Christian beliefs”

    Ug. I hate to go here, but a B&B is a private business. The owners have a right to refuse service for whatever reason…However, the age of the internet allows for such discrimination to be a REALLY REALLY bad idea. I know two gay couples that are absolutely bonkers for B&Bs. Gelato anyone?

    1. 2.1
      Martyn

      @ Asleybell:

      You may be right in that the Bed and Breakfast in question is privately owned, but it operates to serve the public. People cannot decide who they will or will not offer goods, business and services to. That will lead to anarchy. American style.

      For example, when the B&B owners applied for a licence to serve food, they signed a contract with a local health authority.

      In order to even serve sandwiches the owners would have to comply with food health and safety regulation and any breach of such hygeine standards could see them close.

      If their food premises were not up to standard and the owners were asked to resolve the issue you would not hear them saying it is *their* food premises, therefore can have it any way they want.

      They can’t and it’s in the public interest for it to be this way.

    2. 2.2
      Anri

      Would you support a ‘Whites Only’ sign?

      If not, why a ‘Straights Only’ sign?

      And discrimination like that is only an economic mistake for the business if the commerce they lose by excluding gays is greater than the commerce they gain by advertising that they exclude gays. If the free market could take care of this, we would never have had to pass Civil Rights legistation in the first place, because all of the bigots would have gone out of buisness.

      Business owners not interested in serving the public should not go into business serving the public. That’s really not a difficult concept.

    3. 2.3
      Walter

      Au contraire, at least in the US. Once they open it up as a place of public accommodation, they have to obey the rules. If they kept it a private club, members only, then they can be as hateful as they want to be.

  3. 3
    ashleybell

    Oh, is Bread and Breakfast the same as Bed and breakfast? I’m not being facetious, it could be a UK thing and I could have it wrong. And also refusing board…that could be like refusing medical attention or food…Well, I take back above. It should simply be put that it’s just a really bad idea in the age of the information superhighway

    1. 3.1
      Maryam Namazie

      Nope – my mistake – fixed it now.

  4. 4
    A_Free_American

    OK, I hope you are doing well today on the other side of the world, Maryam Namazie. As a Right-winger devouted to his beliefs just like you are your left-wing beliefs, I compliment you for the eloquent and intellectual manner that you express your views THAT I AGREE WITH 80% WHICH IS MUCH MORE THAN I DISAGREE WITH!
    One thing, Maryam Namazie, while I find some of your views about denying people and groups their liberty and rights to promote their spiritual beliefs to be too extreme, I MUST HONOR YOU FOR THE COURAGE THAT YOU HAVE THAT AS A DUDE WHO MUST BE CONCERNED ABOUT BEING ABLE TO BE GAINFULLY EMPLOYED IN COMMERCIAL, GOVERNMENTAL AND PRIVATE SECTORS, I DON’T DARE HAVE! YOUR WILLINGNESS TO WALK THE WALK AND EXPOSE YOUR SKIN IN NUDE PROTEST MUST ALWAYS GIVE YOU A SPECIAL PLACE AMONG THOSE WHO, LIKE MYSELF, CAN ONLY TALK THE TALK RELATED TO POLITICAL/WORLD EVENTS AND SOCIAL LIBERALITY!
    Like Lao Tzu observed, HARMONY, PEACE AND PROGRESS IS IN THE MIDDLE! Therefore between profound thinkers on secularism, Julian Baggini, Richard Dawkins and Maryam Namazie, I’m in the middle, agreeing with one or the other DEPENDING ON THE ISSUE AT HAND! One thing, as much as I hate to have anything in common with ignorant, Sharia-believing Islamics, I MUST AGREE TO THEIR RIGHTS IF CITIZENS TO HAVING FAITH BASED SCHOOLS IN ORDER TO SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF OTHER FAITH BASED GROUPS TO THEIR SCHOOLS! I also must agree that folks SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONDUCT AND PREACH THEIR VALUES IN THEIR PERSONAL BUSINESSES AS OPPOSED TO GOVERNMENTAL OFFICES AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS!
    Being a leftist, Maryam Namazie, you seek to use governmental power to change society too much, too quickly by violating too many personal liberties! As much as I detest the veils, THE SHARIA MUSLIMS HAVE A RIGHT TO WEAR THEM! I AGREE WITH YOU TOTALLY, MARYAM NAMAZIE, THOUGH, REGARDING SHARIA COURTS WITH REAL LEGISLATIVE POWER? In the USA, THE SHARIA ISLAMICS ARE TRYING TO GET RECOGNITION OF THEIR OWN LAW CODES IN STATE JURISDICTIONS AND I LIKE THE ANTI-ISLAMIC MOVEMENT YOU DENOUNCE WHILE REPEATING WHAT WE ALSO SAY, ARE OPPOSED TO IT WHILE MANY AMERICAN LEFTISTS ARE GOING ALONG WITH IT!
    As much as I hate the Sharia Islamic Codes and disagree with the social views of the Catholic Religion, I RECOGNIZE THE JURISDICTION OF THE PARENTS TO THEIR CHILDREN UP TO THE CHILDREN TURN 16 WHICH I THINK SHOULD BE MAJORITY AGE! At that time, young adults should be free to do as they wish outside the parents’ home and come under the civil protections of the state! IF A BRIGHT CHILD DOESN’T WISH TO WEAR A VEIL, THEIR PARENTS SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO MAKE THEM OUTSIDE THE HOME!
    It isn’t the business of the state to play social engineer with people AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE BARBARITY OF MOHAMMAD, LENIN, STALIN, MAO TSE-TUNG, POL POT AND HO CHI MINH, THEY MURDERED THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THE NAME OF PROMOTING A SOCIAL GOOD THAT EXCEEDED THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS TO PRACTICE THEIR FAMILIES’ SPIRITUAL NORMS, ETC VIA GOVERNMENTAL POWER! The cost of some of the social progress, you promote, Maryam Namazie, is too high WHEN YOU GIVE ANY STATE GOVERNMENT THAT KIND OF AUTHORITY BY TAKING AWAY INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP FREEDOM OF CHOICE IS MY GREATEST CRITICISM OF THE 20% OF YOUR SPEECH THAT I DISAGREE WITH!
    The state is supposed to serve the taxpayers not the taxpayers the state by having it dictate to them who, if private owners, they can rent their bed and breakfast rooms to, their choice of the offering of religion in the scholastic education OF THEIR CHILDREN IN A PRIVATE SCHOOL AND IF A PRIVATE GROUP WANTS TO PRESENT A CHRISTMAS SCENE ON PUBLIC PROPERTY IN A MAJORITY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AS LONG AS THEY ALLOW A SECULAR GROUP THE RIGHT TO POST A SIGN EXPRESSING THEIR NEGATIVE OPINION TOO! I BELIEVE IN FREEDOM OF CHOICE NOT DENIAL OF THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE TO CHOOSE!

    1. 4.1
      baal

      Use of all caps reads like screaming @#5 A_Free_American. Please never ever do it again.

      I also want to echo and underscore that secularism helps the religious. My favorite example are the early colonies in the U.S. prior to the current constitution. Most States had a State religion and each State did discriminate among the various Xtian sects to greater or lesser degrees. That history of Xtian on Xtian discrimination was part of why the 1st Amendment does has the “no establishment” or religion language.

      1. A_Free_American

        I use caps for emphasis! The slogan of this blog is “Join the Scream” so please get over it!
        The problem leftists tend to have is they want to stifle any public expression of all spirituality AND IN EFFECT MAKE ATHEISM THE STATE RELIGION WHEN THE STATE SHOULD SIMPLY BE IMPARTIAL AND TOLERANT OF ALL EXPRESSION! IN TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES THERE CAN BE PUBLIC EXPRESSION OF THE DOMINANT CULTURE WHICH HAS HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE TOO!
        It is really the right of the majority of the taxpayers to authorize this expression that doesn’t suppress the rights of others to their beliefs! We Americans owe Free Masons for our heritage as a secular country that publicly recognizes a Supreme Being! A Supreme Being CAN BE ANYTHING YOU WISH IT TO BE! Thus we Americans have the national motto “In God We Trust!”
        The UK on the other hand was founded on the Magna Carta with monarchy an indigenous part of its cultural traditions. For The UK to drop that and the Anglican overhangs that are part of this tradition would be denying their heritage which is really all they have left! If I was British, I wouldn’t do that! After all, WHAT WOULD THE UK BE OTHERWISE-A SMALLER GERMANY?

        1. Walter

          RE CAPS: THEN LET ME POINT OUT THAT FOR DECADES IT HAS BEEN CONSIDERED RUDE IN THE INTERWEBZ. YMMV. ALSO, IT IS HARDER TO READ.

        2. Who Knows?

          I use caps for emphasis! The slogan of this blog is “Join the Scream” so please get over it!

          I don’t read things written in all caps and your use of the technique means I didn’t read what you had to say, I only read the comment critical of your use of it.

          Anyone who thinks screaming is a valid communication tool can’t be too bright and whatever they say is not worth my time.

          1. Tony! The Queer Shoop

            I lost interest right after “make atheism the state religion”…SIGH. I’ve yet to hear any believer articulate *how* atheism could even be a religion. Of course, they’d likely have to define religion so vague as to be meaningless. Which, given that there’s not much truth to any religious belief wouldn’t help believers out much.

        3. Gribble the Munchkin

          Oh dear. In no particular order.

          The Uk was not founded on the Magna Carta. It was founded on violent conquest by the English of the Welsh, Scots and Irish. There is little to be proud of regarding the formation of the UK. Everything since then has been pretty much trying to be less evil than the people that founded our nation. Your nations founders were, by and large (ignoring the slave thing) forward minded wise men. Ours were savage despots.

          The In God We Trust was not the national motto of the USA until 1956. Before that it was “E Pluribus Unum” (latin for “Out of many, One”) a much better motto.

          Atheism cannot be a state religion since it is not a religion. Its not even a philosophy. It’s a denial of other peoples religions.

          The UK monarchy really isn’t something you should think of as an indigenous tradition. It is the remnants of despotic rule. Some of our monarchs were better than others, none governed through consent of the governed. Don’t glorify something that is essentially bad, no matter how nice our current queen might be.

          As for a smaller Germany. What is wrong with that? Germany have a great economy (better than ours) are more left wing (of which I approve) and by and large are the bedrock of the European Union. I’d rather a small Germany than a small USA, and I don’t mean to be rude in a snarky fashion by that. I actually prefer the German system of government and business to the cut throat Laisse Faire system the states uses.

          1. S. Bots

            “The Uk was not founded on the Magna Carta. It was founded on violent conquest by the English of the Welsh, Scots and Irish”.
            That is quite a very poor summary of English history. It would likely be the same as to summarize American history by just saying that America was founded by ethnic cleansing of the original Indian people. The Tea Party at Boston in 1773 was not an unqualified blessing for native Americans to put it mildly.
            The first parliament in modern times was founded in England.
            The Reformation Acts of 1534-59 gave parliament unlimited power over the country, and authority over every matter, be it social, economic, political or even religious. It was far from perfect in our 21th century sense but it was a bigger step forward away from middle age systems then the further steps set by e.g. the parliament of the United Provinces (nowadays Holland) or the American constitution. It’s often more difficult to set on from nothing to something then from something to more.
            Although I agree on most parts with Mariam Namazie, I think that problems with secularism in America are more likely related to Christian fundamentalism (creationism and Tea Party) then Islam.

  5. 5
    Mriana

    Seems to me Islamists are the most intolerant of them all, yet they try to turn the tables and accuse everyone else of being more intolerant. They seem to forget that three fingers point back at them.

  6. 6
    Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic

    Agreed times a MILLION.

    I was there at QEDcon for your talk, and agree wholeheartedly that we need to be more militant, more outspoken, and more firm in our demands for the removal of religious privilege in society.

  7. 7
    Andrea - Butterflyist

    Very eloquently put Maryam. I love reading your site and this speech would have been excellent to hear too, I’m sure.

    I find it shocking that people are willing to tolerate such extreme intolerance – where other people’s lives and suffering under a regime means less than being ‘respectful’ of a religion? Where their fear of being ‘politically incorrect’ matters more than speaking out for those who may not have the power to do so within the oppression of their communities? I feel like shaking them to wake up!

    I think that when I link to your posts or circulate them through social media, the majority of people think I am extremely non-PC. As a feminist, ethical vegan, this is is far from the truth! I just wish they would look into the issues with some depth, and truly open their minds.

  8. 7.1
    Alan Mason

    My view of Mariam Namazie is that she is an articulate, intelligent voice of our time; and that she must be promoted and encouraged by everyone who agrees with the importance of issues that have been raised by her! It was obvious from the outset that opponents of her position would be launching the usual characteristic vitriolic attacks alongside the predictably pathetic attempts at
    ridiculing her! But the overriding message is clear and stands by its own merits of truth and reason! Now is the right time to move forward and insist on having secular societies all over the world; creating a universal sense of social responsibility and a truly sustainable future for the whole planet! Dreams have to start somewhere! One world! One people! No religions! Love and peace!

  9. Maryam Namazie

    Yes secularism all the way!

  1. 8
  2. 9
    Can we at least talk about banning the burqa? | andrewt.net

    [...] Maryam Namazie’s speech at QED was very powerful and left a lot of people needing a couple of days to think over their response to it. I urge you to read it in full, right now. [...]

  3. 10
    Case studies in religious false victimhood | The Heresy Club

    [...] compared it to opium. So did Nietzsche, who compared it to alcohol. So does Maryam Namaziee, who compares it to smoking. So do I.) The thing about addictions is they take over your life; once dependent enough, you can [...]

  4. 11
    Secularism is important, but (for me) it’s not enough | The Heresy Club

    [...] – specifically the NSS – and not focusing on criticising superstitious modes of thought. As Maryam Namazie puts it, ‘Secularism is a precondition for basic rights and freedoms. It’s inclusive unlike [...]

  5. 12
    Efat -a song about modesty | Shelley Segal

    [...] Earlier this year I attended QED Conference in Manchester and it was the first time I met Iranian-born activist, commentator and broadcaster Maryam Namazie. Maryam lives in the UK and is the spokesperson for One Law For All, who campaign against faith based laws there. She is also spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. The council’s members are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam as well as standing for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism. I heard Maryam speak twice during the conference. Once on a panel and once alone. I was very inspired by her action, passion and her wisdom.  I wrote this song after hearing her speech ==> (Maryam’s Talk) [...]

  6. 13
    England March 2012 | Shelley Segal

    [...] was for me, the most influential talk of the conference. You can see her speech here: Seriously, we are intolerant . I found myself to be moved by her eloquence, passion and fearlessness to stand for secularism, to [...]

  7. 14
    A secular state is important, but (for me) it’s not enough » Godlessness in Theory

    […] – specifically the NSS – and not focusing on criticising superstitious modes of thought. As Maryam Namazie puts it, “Secularism is a precondition for basic rights and freedoms. It’s inclusive unlike […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: