As we commence 2012, AAI looks back at the Top 10 stories for the international atheist community in 2011.
Journalist, author, iconoclast and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens died in 2011 after struggling against esophagal cancer for over a year. Hitchens was not only well-known for his fiery rhetoric and incomparable wit, he was also celebrated in the atheist community as one of the best-known to take religion to task for its harm to society.
Hitchens first became known in much of the atheist community with his release of The Missionary Position, a scathing expose on Catholic nun "Mother" Theresa and the community center she ran in Bangladesh. Hitchens followed this work a few years later with God Is Not Great, a more comprehensive tome on the failings and corruption of religion over the centuries.
He will be missed.
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Atheist Alliance international (AAI) calls on the National Transitional Council (NTC) to establish Libya as a secular state that respects the rights of atheists, freethinkers and other non-religious citizens.
The official declaration of the liberation of Libya on 23 October 2011 is welcomed by AAI as an important symbolic step towards a democratic, free society in the country. Libya's NTC will prepare a new constitution for the country within the next few months.
Tanya Smith, President of Atheist Alliance International, said "While the underlying motivation for the Libyan people to fight against Gadhafi's forces was a desire for freedom, the NTC has ignored a crucial aspect of freedom: the draft new constitution states that "Islam is the state religion" and "the Islamic Sharia law is its principal source of legislation."
Consistent with the draft constitution, the head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has stated that Sharia law would be the “fundamental source” of authority in Libya and that any existing laws that contravened Sharia law would be immediately revoked. During his speech in Benghazi on 23 October, Mustafa Abdel Jalil stated that “We are an Islamic country,” and that “We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion.”
2012 European Atheist Convention to be held in Cologne, Germany
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Atheists from Europe and around the world will meet in Cologne, Germany on 25 - 27 May for the “2012 European Atheist Convention: Perspectives of Atheism - national, regional, global”, co-hosted by Internationaler Bund der Konfessionslosen und Atheisten (IBKA, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists) and Atheist Alliance International (AAI).
The conference will cover a broad range of topics relevant to atheists, freethinkers, humanists, rationalists, skeptics, agnostics and secularists. Attendees will interact with leading personalities from the worlds of science, activism, literature, entertainment, philosophy and the media.
Confirmed speakers include:
This Saturday, 17 September 2011, thousands of people will rally in central London to demand secularism in Europe. Supporters of the rally include British biologist and author of The God Delusion Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers, an American biologist and author of the science blog Pharyngula.
Atheist Alliance International, with its UK Affiliates, Atheism UK and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, is proud to support the Secular Europe Campaign and congratulates the event organisers and sponsors.
Tanya Smith, President of Atheist Alliance International said: “Secularism is the only approach that treats all citizens equally and fairly, whether they are religious or not. Public policy should be based on reason, evidence and compassion – and not whichever religion happens to be the strongest in a certain country at a certain time. Religious privilege affects all of us – through our taxes and through its influence on issues like end-of-life choices, women’s reproductive rights and equality for same-sex oriented people. If people want to live in a fair society they need to stand up and be heard.”
Mark Embleton, President of Atheism UK added: "It is no longer sufficient just to be a passive atheist. Atheists everywhere need to be active in protesting the growing influence and power that the various religions are gaining in every corner of Europe. Religious lobbyists are putting pressure on a weak European Parliament to seek even more privileges through legislation that, if enacted, will lead to further restriction of free speech for everyone.”
Hassan Radwan, Management Committee member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, also called for action saying: “It's critical to make public our support for the separation of religion from the state and educational and judicial systems. The simple act of showing public dissent to religion that enforces conformity through fear, is the most empowering thing one can do. It erodes that fear and emboldens others. This is what the Islamists dread the most. They know that when people lose their fear, they gain their reason.”
Atheist Alliance International, Atheism UK and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain encourage all people concerned about the privileged place of religion in Europe to attend the London rally this Saturday and have their voices heard in support of secularism.
For immediate release
Atheist Alliance International (“AAI”), a global network of atheist and freethought organisations, launched today as prominent atheists, including British biologist Professor Richard Dawkins and Danish science writer Dr Lone Frank, gathered at the World Atheist Convention in Dublin, Ireland.
With membership comprising 19 atheist/freethought groups plus individuals from Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia, Atheist Alliance International will: