Conference of a life-time on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights
11-12 October 2014
The Tower Hotel, St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1LD, UK
The global rise of the religious-Right, including but not limited to Islamic State (or ISIS), and their efforts to gain political power and control the state apparatus and public institutions has meant that organised religions’ role vis-a-vis the state as well as secularism and the complete separation of religion from the state have become critical political and civil rights matters.
At this unprecedented conference, prominent women and men on the frontlines of opposing the religious-Right and defending secularism, including those of faith and none, will come together to discuss the religious-Right, its attacks on civil rights and freedoms, and the role of secularism for 21st century humanity.
Speakers from countries or the Diaspora as diverse as Algeria, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Senegal, Sudan, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, UK, USA and Yemen will reflect on the struggle for secularism in both regional and thematic ways and will discuss the specific forms that attacks on secularism – and on secularists themselves – take in various parts of the world. They will also discuss how these attacks are linked to the rise of the religious-Right in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East and its confluence in countries of emigration such as Europe and North America.
The conference aims to highlight the voices of the many persecuted and exiled, address the challenges faced by activists, elaborate on the links between equality, democratic politics and secularism, promote secular and rights-based alternatives to the religious-Right, establish priorities for regional and international collective action and influence policy and practice locally, nationally, and internationally.
The conference will result in the establishment of an international front of secularists against the religious-Right.
(Subject to Change)
Saturday 11 October 2014
9:30-9:40 Welcome and Housekeeping with MCs Amal Farah, Mahal Kamal and Nahla Mahmoud
9:40-9:50 Maryam Namazie: Opening Address
Maryam Namazie will give an overview of the conference aims, the political necessity for such a conference during the rise of the religious-Right and the need for secularism as a minimum precondition.
9:50-10:05 Marieme Helie Lucas: Attacks on Secularism
Marieme Helie Lucas will look at the shifting meaning of ‘secularism’; the political consequences of this shift and how it enhances and legitimises both the rise of fundamentalist theocratic ideologies and the fragmentation of people into ‘communities’ with unequal rights.
10:05-10:10 Ouachdek: 20 Ans Barakat
10:30-12:00 Secularism Panel
This panel will discuss the definition of secularism and whether secularism is a minimum precondition for a democratic society.
Chair: Peter Tatchell
Panellists: Caroline Fourest (“Secularism against Fanaticism”), Faisal Saeed Al-Muttar (“The Need for a Global Secular Humanist Movement, My Journey from Baghdad to Washington D.C.”), Hamid Taqvaee (“Rise and Fall of Secularism”), Pragna Patel and Sue Cox (“The Isolation and Alienation Caused by Clergy and Why Secularism is Important”)