‘Blasphemy!’ – blasphemy, religious hatred, and human rights: who speaks for the sacred?
|Venue||Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL||Starting at / on||28th January 2012|
|Start time||Registration 10.30am for a 11.00am start – Finish -16.30 pm|
Introduced by Dr Stephen Law of Heythrop College, University of London and Editor of Think (Royal Institute Philosophy) Provost of Centre for Inquiry UK.
This event focuses on the criminalization of religious hatred, defamation, and insult under European human rights, and how this functions as a de facto blasphemy law.
General: £10 general public
Members and students: £8 BHA, AHS and SPES members and students with valid ID
Free to members of the Centre for Inquiry UK. Register below.
Directions to Conway Hall http://www.conwayhall.org.uk/#Find-us
11.00 am Kenan Malik – Title TBA
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a presenter of Analysis, BBC Radio 4’s flagship current affairs programme and a panelist on the Moral Maze. He used to present Nightwaves, BBC Radio 3’s arts and ideas programme. He has written and presented a number of radio and TV documentaries including Disunited Kingdom, Are Muslims Hated?, Islam, Mullahs and the Media, Skullduggery and Man, Beast and Politics.Kenan Malik’s latest book is From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy. The book was shortlisted for the 2010 George Orwell Book Prize.
12.00pm Andrew Copson – Blasphemy laws by the back door
Andrew Copson has been chief executive of the British Humanist Association since 2010 before which he spent five years coordinating the association’s campaigns work including on blasphemy and free speech issues.
After decades of campaigning the criminal offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel have been abolished but censorship of blasphemous content and even threatened prosecution of blaspheme’s continues in the UK. Andrew explores how corporate interests, opaque advertising regulations and new criminal laws continue to stifle free expression, free criticism and mockery of gods and religions.
1.30pm Austin Dacey – The Future of Blasphemy
Austin Dacey, Ph.D., is a representative to the United Nations for the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the author of The Future of Blasphemy:
If blasphemy is an affront to values that are held sacred, then it is too important to be left to the traditionally religious. In the public contestation of the sacred, each of us—secular and religious alike—has equal right and authority to speak on its behalf and equal claim to redress for its violation. Laws against blasphemy and “religious hatred” are inherently discriminatory because they give traditional faith communities a legal remedy that is not available to religious minorities and secularists when their sense of the sacred is violated.
2.30pm Jacob Mchangama – Between blasphemy and hate speech: How hate speech laws are being used to enforce blasphemy norms
Most European states have abolished or ceased enforcing blasphemy laws. Yet “controversial” criticism of religion still risk falling afoul of speech restrictions in the form of hate-speech laws prohibiting incitement to religious hatred. A term which is defined differently in many jurisdictions and may include anything from satirical religious cartoons to harsh criticism of religions. Rather than securing tolerance and social peace modern hate speech laws reinforce group identities and illiberal religious norms to the detriment of freedom of expression and conscience.
3.30pm Maryam Namazie – Blasphemy, Offence, and Islamophobia limiting Citizen Rights
Maryam will be speaking on how accusations of blasphemy, offensive speech and ‘Islamophobia’ censor and restrict free speech, limit citizen rights, and aid and abet Islamism. Maryam Namazie is Spokesperson of the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran. She is also National Secular Society Honorary Associate and the NSS’ 2005 Secularist of the Year award winner and was selected one of the top 45 women of the year 2007 by Elle magazine Quebec.
A variety of interesting books will be on sale at the event, provided by Newham books.