Secularism2012 Conference Report
Saturday 22nd September played host to the NSS’ Secularism2012 conference in London, which featured a full day of speakers, stalls and workshops. Six hundred attendees were treated to first class talks from, amongst others, Nick Cohen, Maryam Namazie, Peter Tatchell, and as well as keynote speaker, Richard Dawkins, all very well known for their work, political views, and opinions on Secularism.
Your President and Treasurer, Jess and Matt, were there manning a stall to promote the work of the AHS. Over 100 student tickets had been sold for the event, many to members of AHS societies, and many to those keen to form new student societies.
Nia Griffith MP tried to answer the question of why we don't already have a secular society. Her answer was that although most politicians aren't anti-secularism, they are worried about supporting secularist legislation. One of the suggestions we liked was that politicians usually only get letters when people disagree with something, so we should send letters in support of secular laws.
The most impassioned talk of the day was given by Maryam Namazie, whose attack on the use of Sharia law within the UK, impinging on women’s rights, earned a standing ovation from the audience. Nick Cohen was fantastic in his explanation of how blasphemy based restrictions of free speech operate not by the law, but by fear of violence and the status quo, and urged people to be bold in speaking out in protecting Secularism.
Peter Tatchell spoke on the importance of placing the freedom rights offered by Secularism into the broader context of human rights, whilst urging secularism as the best method to defend both the rights of believers and non-believers alike.
Richard Dawkins was keenly anticipated, who delivered a fantastic case for dismissing Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential candidate, as at very least gullible for his Mormon beliefs, and satirised The Tony Blair Faith Foundation with characteristic wit and humour.
Special thanks should go to NSS Vice President Gerard Phillips, who organised the conference which ran extremely smoothly from start to finish. In summary, the conference was a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring day, and should be heavily recommended for 2013.
Written by Matthew Power