But you cannot shut us up

It was a good day for free expression. Hundreds turned up in the freezing cold in London to defend it and there were solidarity rallies and actions in various parts of the world. A report will follow soon, including videos on Youtube and photos, but in the meanwhile you can hear the brilliant speakers on the Pod Delusion.

To start with, here’s the Jesus and Mo author’s statement for the rally. More speeches will follow.

When was the last time you rushed into a place of worship while a service was taking place, and told the preacher to shut up? My guess is that you have never done this while sober.

Because you know that it is impolite to butt in to other people’s conversations and demand that they stop talking.

And yet that is what would-be censors are always trying to do. At St Mary’s College, on other people’s Facebook pages, at literature festivals, and on the website of Jesus and Mo, they have butted in with their rude – and sometimes menacing – demands for silence.

It is the height of bad manners. Those of us who understand the value of free expression wouldn’t dream of being so discourteous.

In fact, far from telling believers to shut up, we WANT them to keep talking. Because that is how their ideas are exposed to light and – inevitably – laughter. [Read more…]

Free Expression Day: Today I go for Hamza, Alex, Asia, Zaniar and Loghman

I go today to the 11 February Rally in London for Free Expression for all those who cannot be there because of efforts to silence them. Their lives are intertwined with ours and this day is about them more than anything else. It’s about putting people first not religions and beliefs.

I hope you will all join me – if not in London than wherever you are across the globe – to defend this right.

For more information on the events today, or to post reports of your own, go to One law for All.

If we are really a majority, which I believe, can we please see it on the streets for a change?

One Law for All spokesperson Maryam Namazie was interviewed for this week’s Pod Delusion at the recent Centre for Free Inquiry conference on Blasphemy. She spoke about the need to support Atheist societies on campus and called for people to take to the streets to defend free expression on 11 February.

“I think the rally is important for two reasons. One is that Atheist student groups don’t feel alone, because they are being bullied, they are being intimidated, and they’re being called all sorts of things, for merely posting a ‘Jesus and Mo’ image on their Facebook page, or expressing their beliefs. I want to give them a sense that they’re not alone. There are a lot of people who support them, who’ll defend their right to free expression. [Read more…]

We give this kuffar the right to speak

Bruce Gordon has written about the attacks on free speech and 11 February Day for Free Expression in the South African Times Live. He ends by saying:

These are direct attacks not only on the freedoms and rights of atheists and skeptics, but on everybody, everywhere. These are attacks on the basic human right to disagree, the right which is fundamental to all the others.

For too long fear has been treated as not simply a valid alternative to argument, but a superior one. For too long authoritarians of every stripe have told us, “Your facts are rendered irrelevant by our fists” and caused chaos, destruction and war through their violence.

As South Africans, of every faith and none, of every alignment and none, we stand against this privately in our everyday lives. We know that our rights begin in the rights of others, because we have seen what happens when that principle is cast aside.

On the 11 of February, One Law for All is arranging a rally to stand up against this. What do you intend to do? Are you prepared to stand up and say “We give this kuffar the right to speak”?