This tribute to Sheila Solarin, matron of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, was published in The Nation, Nigeria.
On Sunday, October 21, the co-founder of Mayflower School, Sheila Solarin passed away. Sheila like the late husband, Tai Solarin, was an educationist. She devoted her entire life to working and campaigning to improve the quality of education in Nigeria. And through her Mayflower Schools, she provided that high quality education to Nigerian children. I encountered Sheila not so much in her capacity as an educationist but more in her role as the matron of the Nigerian Humanist Movement(NHM). Very few Nigerians know about Sheila’s humanist credentials especially that she continued the tradition left behind by Tai of supporting secular education and also promoting the humanist outlook.
The influential thinker known as the "father of secular humanism", Paul Kurtz, died on 20 October 2012 at age 86. His numerous book, articles and talks substantially contributed to the development of secular, humanist values as an alternative worldview to religion, and encouraged people to think critically about religion and its impact on society. This valuable work will be continued by many organisations that Paul Kurtz helped develop, including the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Atheist Alliance International offers its condolences to Paul Kurtz' family, friends and colleagues.
Audience at the Congress AAI President Carlos A. Diaz
Last month, with AAI Director Alexandre Shimono, I was very pleased to represent AAI at the First Secular Humanist Congress in Brazil. This was an important event hosted by AAI's Affiliate, LiHS, as it was the first time a group of atheists, humanists and secularists had gathered for this kind of occasion in Brazil. The IHEU and HIVOS supported the Congress and over 200 people attended, including 88 students sponsored by Atheist Alliance International. Attendees enjoyed interesting speeches and were head to say "this is historical!' and 'this is amazing!'. A report from LiHS is below.
I was very pleased to see that the Congress (and AAI's support for it) received coverage in Estado de Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's most important newspapers. Congratulations LiHS on a successful event I hope the enthusiasm from the Congress assists your work in Brazil! _____
LiHS report: The 1st Secular Humanist Conference of Brazil was a remarkable success More than 200 people from all over the country attended to the conference in Porto Alegre
"Getting together and showing to society that it is possible to live ethically and to find meaning in life, without God." This was only one of the objectives of CHS 2012 – a two day, tour de force towards a more rational, more humanist and more secular Brazil.
One Law for All's 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival will be held dring 3-10 November 2012 showcasing the work of 40 artists from 20 countries worldwide. The artists will be addressing crucial issues related to freedom and religious laws.
The viewing and festival will be held at UNIT 24 Gallery, 20 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0FD (Closest Underground station: Southwark).
Recently, Atheist Alliance International was contacted by an atheist in an Islamic country. He had made a video criticising his government's position on human rights and posted it online. We received this email from him today and publish it with his permission, with identifying information redacted, to illustrate just one more example of the threat to freedom of expression and thought posed by Islamists.
Hi, I have previously contacted you and submitted a video on [redacted] government and its human rights violation. Unfortunately, after much pressure from my family and the prospect of my getting a heart attack because of my Atheism, I have decided to pull the video down. I have to close down all of my email and twitter account and Atheist Nexus account as well. I just wanted to apologize to you because I would have continue leaving the video up but the pressure is so much that I have succumbed. The lesson that I have learn is, Muslims will never tolerate Atheism, Atheist, Apostate even basic human rights - freedom of faith. I guess I really have no choice but to remain hidden and under the radar and just let my rights taken away from me. It is hard, especially when I am feeling all alone and I don't even have any real friends here in [redacted]. My family still hoping that I will repent and become a Muslim again but after our heated debate on human rights and Atheism, I don't think I will ever look at Islam the same way again. I apologize again for the trouble I have caused.
Obviously, it is not this man who should be apologising.
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to make public its support for Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary 'Islam: The Untold Story' . We are indignant to learn that due to threats made on Holland, Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of the historical inquiry into the origins of Islam similar to the kind of inquiry that has been applied to other religions and histories in Britain for many years.
The threats and concerted attempt to stigmatise the documentary and its producers by attacking its credibility and even legitimacy as a field of inquiry is nothing less than an attempt to impose a blasphemy taboo by stealth and coercion against programming that scrutinises Islam.
Caving in to the coercive pressure of Islamists will have catastrophic effects on free inquiry and expression where it pertains to Islam. It would not only further silence academic, historical and theological scrutiny of Islam but would also have the chilling effect of exerting added pressure on Muslims and ex-Muslims who wish to dissent from and question Islam.
CEMB spokesperson Maryam Namazie says:
“Here’s my question to Channel 4: what about the threats on our lives for being apostates, ex-Muslims, atheists, freethinkers, secularists, 21st century human beings?
“What part of our thoughts, lives, and bodies do you recommend we cancel to appease the Islamists?
“If only there was such an ‘easy’ ‘solution’ for those who are languishing under Islam’s rules.
“You may accept censorship and cowardly silence in the face of Islamist threats and intimidation but we cannot afford to do so. And we never will.”
Attention atheists in Argentina! The Congress of Free Thought of the Americas will be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina 16-18 November. Enjoy a full weekend of rational thinking, including a talk by Carlos A. Diaz, President of Atheist Alliance International. For more information: Congress website (English) / Congress website (Español).
There is growing evidence that young children – some as young at 5 years old – are being “married” to older men in Sharia courts across Britain. This is increasingly being sanctioned by the Islamists who run Britain’s network of Sharia courts, and there is evidence that this practice is growing.
A recent undercover investigation by the Sunday Times found imams in Britain willing to “marry” young girls, provided this was carried out in secret. The imams had been approached by an undercover reporter posing as a father who said he wanted his 12 year old daughter married, to prevent her from being tempted in to a "western lifestyle".
One important way to tackle this matter is to galvanise support for the Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Bill introduced to the House of Lords last year by crossbench peer, Baroness Caroline Cox. The Bill is due for a second reading in October.
The Government has so far declined to support Cox’s Bill. They do not believe there is a parallel legal system in operation. They also insist that everyone has full right of access to the British courts. This is simply not the case. There are many with little or no English language skills, trapped by community pressure, who believe Sharia courts operate as real courts and who regard their decisions as legally binding. The idea that they can easily instruct a high street solicitor to help them access their full rights under UK law is far from reality.
The Government must be pressured into taking immediate action, including by supporting Cox’s Bill, and shutting down Sharia and religious courts. If child welfare takes precedence then the Government is duty-bound to take action.
Sign our new petition in support of Baroness Cox’s Bill; tell the Government that enough is enough! Please sign it now.
On 30 August, four Brazilian atheists - including AAI Director Alexandre Shimono - met Michael Shermer at the release of his new book "The Believing Brain" in São Paulo, Brazil. Mr. Shermer kindly answered the following question:"What do you think of religious influence in Brazil?". You can see his answer in the video below (Portuguese subtitles).
No dia 30 de Agosto, quatro ateus brasileiros - incluindo o diretor da AAI Alexandre Shimono - compareceram ao lançamento do novo livro de Michael Shermer "Cérebro e Crença" (The Believing Brain) que ocorreu em São Paulo, Brasil. Shermer gentilmente respondeu a seguinte pergunta: "Qual sua opinião sobre a influência religiosa no Brasil?". A resposta pode ser conferida no vídeo abaixo (legendas em português).
Atheist Alliance International thanks everyone who has supported Alex Aan, the Indonesian atheist assaulted and arrested after posting 'God does not exist' and cartoons and articles about Islam on Facebook. In June 2012 Alex was jailed for 2 1/2 years and fined Rp 100 million (c. US$10,600).
A friend of Alex in Indonesia was able to visit Alex in jail in early July and provide him with all the messages of support AAI has received from around the world - including from Russia, Mauritius, Australia, Colombia, the United States of America, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Denmark, Scotland, Sweden, Canada, India and the Philippines. Alex greatly appreciates the support he continues to receive, saying in his note "Thanks for support and love, without this I feel alone."
Please support Alex
sending a message of support to Alex - email info [at] atheistalliance [dot] org with "Message for Alex" in the subject line. (Please remember that Alex is not a native English speaker and note that prison authorities will review any materials provided to Alex.)
sharing this page and posting "God Does Not Exist" on your
tweeting a message of support with hashtag #goddoesnotexist
signing this petition to urge US President Obama to call on the Indonesian government to release Alex [update: petition now closed]