Category Archives: atheism

Warwick Student Union Will Allow Maryam Namazie To Speak

Warwick Student Union has admitted that it’s procedure regarding external speakers was not followed, and that Maryam Namazie would never be excluded from talking when it was. 

In a statement released late tonight, they wrote:

Warwick SU has a process for assessing any potential risks or legal issues associated with any external speaker, and it is now very clear to us that in this case that process has not been followed. Speaker invitations that may involve such issues are routinely considered by the SU President, who will also take advice from senior SU staff. This did not happen on this occasion. Neither the SU President, nor senior SU staff, were consulted as they should have been. This is a significant error for which there can be no excuse. There is a great deal that we now must put right, …

Among these things to put right, is to ensure the event goes ahead as planned by Warwick Atheist Secular and Humanist Society, and issuing an apology to Maryam.

They ended on a positive note:

We want to assure everyone of Warwick Students’ Union’s continued commitment to free speech. We also want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who has expressed concern, or disappointment, or who has been hurt by this significant error and, as we said above, we will be issuing a full and unequivocal apology to Maryam Namazie.

Maryam, thank you for all the hard work you have put into secularism, equality and freedom. It was the very least any of us could have done in appreciation, to mention how important it is for your voice to be heard on these issues.

Update: As The British Humanist Association point out (follow link for more), this incident is hardly unique:

The Warwick incident is the latest in a long line of overly censorious actions by universities and students’ unions. Other incidents in recent years include UCL Union banning a ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon from appearing on a UCL AHS [Atheist Humanist Society] Facebook event poster; a talk by an anti-sharia activist at Queen Mary AHS being cancelled as a result of death threats; Reading University AHS being ejected by their Union from their freshers’ fair as a result of a pineapple being labelled ‘Mohammed’; LSE AHS being threatened with election from their freshers’ fair by their Union and University if they did not cover up Jesus and Mo t-shirts; and London South Bank AHS having posters taken down by their Union that featured the flying spaghetti monster.

In every case after the incident, the Union and/or University has backed down and apologised after the relevant incident.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Maryam Namazie Blocked From Speaking By Warwick Student Union


From Harry’s Place:

If you haven’t yet caught up with this story an excellent summary of Warwick Student Union’s disgraceful decision can be read on Student Rights. Briefly, Namazie had been invited to speak by Warwick’s Atheists Secularists and Humanists society [WASH] on 28 October, but her invitation has now been blocked by the SU on the grounds that ‘she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus’.

Although Warwick University is not a serial offender when it comes to extremist speakers, the SU’s position is clearly inconsistent. As Student Rights points out, Ken O’Keefe was given permission to speak earlier this year

(Read more of Sarah’s post here)

Nick Cohen has retweeted an article on Maryam he did some years back. As he says, liberals should be supporting her:

… Maryam Namazie’s obscurity remains baffling. She ought to be a liberal poster girl. Her life has been that of a feminist militant who fights the oppression of women wherever she finds it. She was born in Tehran, but had to flee with her family when the Iranian revolution brought the mullahs to power. After graduating in America, she went to work with the poor in the Sudan. When the Islamists seized control, she established an underground human rights network. Her cover was blown and she had to run once again. She’s been a full-time campaigner for the rights of the Iranian diaspora, helping refugees across the world and banging on to anyone who will listen about the vileness of its treatment of women.

There is a petition to sign, started by the WASH President Benjamin David. As he mentions, quoting George Benard Shaw:

Lest we forget: “censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship” (George Bernard Shaw)

It is absurd. Maryam has campaigned against theocracy and Islamism not least because it kills and oppresses so many Muslims; not just ex muslims or others. It is not a crime, nor an offence, to be an atheist. It seems being an outspoken one may insult others; yet that same quality makes a speaker appropriate for what WASH stands for. Question and challenge her if you disagree with her. 

Critics of theocracy are imprisoned and flogged.  A state executioner will behead, or an indoctrinated extremist will machete on the public street. This does not happen in the UK, where free speech and religious freedom walk hand in hand.

The Warwick Student Union are in danger of joining hands with the oppressors of free thinkers and religious minorities in other countries by suppressing an event one of their society has organised. 

It is not too late for them to support feminism, secularism and freedom – however laid bare and outspoken it might be. 

Update: latest response by WASH on what they comment is a misleading statement by the Student Union claiming only reviewing if Maryam can speak. 

They include screen shots from their correspondence with the Student Union, that a decision had been made to ban her.  

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Rushdie Responds to CJ Werleman Comparing His Book To His

CJ Werleman has decided to use the criticism of his latest book, and responses to his threatening legal action for Godless Spellcheckers review, to make this comparison:


As Spellchecker pointed out, spelling the names of people is something much absent in the book, as the tweet hints at. The brazen comparison though is breathtaking when we know atheist bloggers are being killed by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh. Let alone comparing his book to The Satanic Verses

A massive ego, for someone that had to self publish such a book. 

CJ’s tweet was brought to Rushdie’s notice, and his response says it all.  

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CJ Werleman threatens legal action against Godless Spellchecker


Stephen Knight, otherwise known as Godless Spellchecker on his blog and Twitter, has written a review on CJ Werleman’s new book: The New Atheist Threat. Knight charges headlong into the hypocrisy and false arguments made by CJ.

CJ has responded by threatening legal action. This attempted bullying of bloggers, who clearly are giving an honest opinion while demonstrating reasonable conclusions by citation of evidence, is intolerable.

In solidarity, I am reblogging Knight’s post and hope other secular bloggers and free speech advocates do the same. It is a must read so do please read the link at the bottom of the excerpt that follows:

“Like all cults, New Atheists believe that “the best human beings, as defined by them as ‘rational’ and ‘enlightened’ should become powerful enough to dictate to the rest of the planet a new way of being…they not only espouse white supremacy but they also speak in a language that is every bit as crude and racist as fascist, neo-Nazi, movements”- CJ Werleman, The New Atheist Threat

I suppose I’ll start this latest (and hopefully last) blog post on CJ Werleman in the same spirit with which I approached the others: by rattling off an ever-expanding list of curiosities. The greatest hits compilation includes; misrepresentation, serial plagiarism, probable sockpuppetry, outright lies, a suspicious Twitter follower count, false accusations and the latest entry: a history of anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. And unfortunately, some new entries to follow below.

Werleman’s rabid anti-‘new atheist’ vitriol finally culminated in the release of his latest self-published book ‘The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise Of Secular Extremists’. It would be more fitting were it titled ‘Quotes From People Who Hate Sam Harris’ – as without quotations from others, I’d wager that only a quarter of this book is actually Werleman’s own original writing. If I ever get the time, I’ll complete a word count with and without quotations/extracts. The fact is, if you’re familiar with the output of Reza Aslan, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Karen Armstrong, Nathan Lean, Max Blumenthal and Robert Pape, then you have read this book already, which is nothing more than a love letter to them. “Why pay for this?” I hear you ask. Well, I didn’t. Special thanks to Kindle Lending Library.

Do read more of the review, and expose of CJ Werleman on The Godless Spellchecker’s Blog.

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Religion Is Dying To Have The Last Word – reply to Giles Fraser

Reading Giles Fraser “At a Christian funeral all are equal before God – even Cilla Black” reminds me why I want no priests doing my service. I want an exclusion zone round my service just to make sure they cannot slip a few words in.

Mentioning Cilla Black’s service:

But few mentioned the dramatic core of the service she chose – the sharing of bread and wine and the anticipation of that eternal feast to which all are called. And it was here, in this, the religious part of the service, that Cilla was not a celebrity standing before an audience, but a human being standing naked before God. There is a basic democracy in this aspect of religion that is often absent from the secular funeral.

The equality of humanity is served by being stripped naked before an all powerful believe-in-me-and-you-won’t-suffer-in-hell supreme being that is beyond questioning by us mortals why we are essentially unequal in natural abilities, health and circumstance. As Paul wrote, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

Democracy is not present in us all being stripped naked before the one that rules us all in death. This is the apologia for the celestial dictatorship which judges against us that would dare to question their divine authority, one given to priests to lecture secularists about their memorials for the dead. The fear of death, of the undiscovered country, is the last sanctum of religion. The last roll of the dice for Pascal’s Wager, of what if there is a maker to be met?

 …The secular memorial service began as something for important statesmen and was then adopted by the increasingly Godless bourgeoisie as a way of celebrating their personal achievements. But it’s often poorly designed for those of us who are not a part of the great and the good.

Or did not want the church, which offered fees to say prayers to reduce the suffering of loved ones in purgatory or to prey on widows by suggesting how helpful for the deceased if they were to give a donation, or persecuted fellow free thinkers through the ages anywhere near their corpse. Such was the fleecing of the poor, unable to make their way in this life, to at least get a better start in the next by passing copper and silver to the clergy. Thus was “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate/he made them high and lowly and ordered their estate” in All Things Bright And Beautiful. Your place as celebrity or otherwise was so ordained “as a part of some cosmically wider story” that Fraser does not point out in his piece. But then again maybe God does nothing, like almost not being there at all.

Fraser mentions what if the deceased was a total shit. You cannot say anything bad about them apparently at a memorial service whilst religion is ready to say how wretched, worthless and devoid of meaning we all are without God’s forgiveness – thus celebrities are equal with their audience in the cosmic story. We are all shits really, but through Grace, Christianity offers to make of us manure that our souls will bloom out of.

When you die religion is desperate to have the last word. It is more important we have the last laugh at its pretensions, and celebrate life which is so fragile, so delicate and so short. Make it beautiful, make it count.

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When An Apostate Eats Blood


Blood is a life force that belongs to Jehovah. You might be under the impression as it whizzes through your veins it belongs to you. That giving some of the red stuff to save another’s life was a good thing. 

Not if you are a Jehovah’s Witness. Obeying God’s command not to eat blood, would mean better dead than have a blood transfusion. The loop hole is the courts ordering it; Caesar has spoken and must be followed. The important thing is to relent before the law rather than consent willingly – and to do so hopefully in time. It is that farcical. 

I have broken plenty of taboos of the old faith from my childhood. I’ve thrilled to holding chess pieces, or other exciting things in my hand which were frowned upon. Mating, in every sense, is not approved of. 

Unless your destiny is to be a serial wanker or fornicator. Then marriage is the lesser of two evils. Ideally nothing should distract you from saving others. As ever, Paul’s letter to a congregation suggesting to eschew marrying has become the gospel. Regrettably. 

Anyway back to blood …

Attending the Hay Festival this year I spied a pizza called Magna Carta. Among the various ham toppings (read Alom Shaha’s excellant Young Atheist Handbook for eating bacon) there was black pudding. Why I waited so long to try, I will explain later.

Now though was my chance to eat blood. Blood no less commemorating the idol that Magna Carta has come to be revered as. Man’s law is nothing compared to the divine. Handy, if you do not want to stop sex offenders knocking on doors and giving bible studies. Nor reporting such to the authorities. 

I looked at the pizza, like Christopher Lee at a white virginal neck. I sunked my teeth into it. The similarities ended with a vampire. It was agreeable, but overwhelmed by the sensory taste of other things. 

My quest for blood not sated, the morning after I went to town.  I had breakfast where black pudding was served, round the corner from an ISIS coffee shop. A fundamentalism of a different kind; if only they just tried to flog a magazine sending people door to door, not shore to shore killing people.

This time eating the black pudding was wonderful – this should have been my first time moment. What fans of this dark food had told me on twitter made sense now. I licked my fangs clean with relish. 

This ended a journey of a chess captain, a lover, a blood donor, a Darwinist, an onanist, tree decorating gift wrapper. The Birthday cake, Christmas pudding muncher had now feasted on the black pudding. Ingesting blood – the last of the taboos that made no sense.

I had enjoyed it. Not because I was now dammed, or because it was two fingers up at a past childhood.

Rather because the act felt normal. Unlike all those other times, when there had been an illicit thrill at the breaking of a taboo, the act was enjoyed as part of dining. A culinary experience.

I had waited this long to see if I had got over how I felt about my childhood in a cult. To not feel anger or sadistic joy at doing things once proscribed. 

What I had hoped for with this taboo was an experience never experienced before. Feeling normal.

That is what I longed for as a child apostate. 

Kid, I only wish I could have whispered in your ear: one day you will feel normal doing these things.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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(Unpdate: thanks to Robert McLiam Wilson have ironed out a few grammar issues in original piece) 

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Blogger Washikur Rahman Murdered In Bangladesh

Bangladeshi blogger Washikur Rahman was not just killed. His head was cut wide open in several places. The madrassa students accused of murdering him were sending a message. That a brain thinking thoughts against theocracy, denouncing the use of politics to enforce Islam on others, would not be tolerated. They literally tried with meat cleavers to get at Rahman’s mind. To cut away the thoughts he held.

This was not just murder. This was butchery to silence a mind that was against the use of political power to enforce religion on others. Secularism cannot be tolerated by extremists because it defends all citizens to have the religious views they wish.

Some get very offended when their ideas are denounced. When those they love are belittled. To show off how important, some ideas get called religion, and those they love become the most beloved of God. Some popes say insulting their idea is like insulting their mother, so expect a punch. To love the prophet beyond your own children, beyond your own self, is the exaltation of the koran.

The madrassa students declared their love by killing an infidel. They are extremists. The moderate political islamists just want the state to hang atheists. You will recall how they rioted while demanding atheists could be hanged, while some bloggers were held for blasphemy, a few years back

Two students from a local madrassa took meat cleavers into their own hands to show how offended they were that anyone could think differently from them. It follows a few weeks from the brutal murder of blogger Avijit Roy. The fundamentalists are making it very clear.

A free inquiring mind will be hacked to pieces.

I would like to think the world would stand with the atheist bloggers of Bangladesh. We know that is not the case. Charlie Hebdo showed that, with articles denouncing how offensive, racist and bigoted they were. People that could not be bothered to learn the satirical lampooning nature of the magazine, or its left wing progressive and anti colonial stance, did not care they were pissing on the bloodied dead in their ignorance.

At the National Secular Society awards ceremony this Saturday gone in London, Charlie Hebdo won Secularist of The Year. No one from the magazine could be present because of the astronomical fees that security would entail. Even the nominations were kept a lid on. The fear in the world is having its impact.

Martin Rowson – the cartoonist who led a campaign for caricaturing Erdogan due to his attempts to imprison illustrators that insulted him – received the award on their behalf. He made a very offensive speech, one that Hitchens would have been proud of, in defence of free speech and the right of anyone to feel insulted.

For as he said, the greatest offence of all is the taking of another human life. The first person killed at Charlie Hebdo was the building maintenance guy. No one is safe from the rage of fundamentalists.

At the ceremony a very affable person approached me when I first arrived. That is as much of a description as I am prepared to give, because of the known lethal sensitivities in this world. They are the illustrator of the Jesus and Mo cartoon strip. One day I hope it will be safe for them to be personally recognised for their talented satirising and lampooning of religious pomposity.

When Rowson on stage mentioned their attendance, the biggest roar and cheer was heard of the night. The risks faced were brought home when the President of National Secular Society explained the prize money for Charlie Hebdo was going to a benefit fund helping the families of the dead.

It is not enough for us to mourn and be outraged for those killed. We have to be passionate supporting the rights of people to speak out against religion, against privileged Gods, clerics and leaders anywhere in the world. There is no limit to where an inquiring mind may go, and no offense that can demand it does not go there.

I find it very offensive seeing a man with his head cleaved into. I hope you do not need to see the photo I have to feel the same way. You better believe this feels personal. People I know are threatened, people I have spoken to have been shot at, people who think the same as me have had meat cleavers embedded in their skull.

I am not ok with this happening in the world. I am fed up with having to be told murderous passions must mean we should never give our opinions. That it is too dangerous to say this, draw that, or republish this. That theocracy is what others want over there, when the people saying they do not want it that live over there are being hacked to death. That this is too offensive to see the light of day.

I have restored the Scarlet B on twitter for this week. It is a small gesture. If enough of us show we will speak out against fundamentalists, we can show that some of us will promote a free inquiring mind against murderers that would deny our right to think freely.

A free thinking mind, is the idea to love. You celebrate it with discussion, inquiry, debate, argument, humor, art. Not only are people prepared to kill to stop this, even more are prepared to limit the celebration of what makes us truly human. It is the requirement that we die inside, so other’s views are not challenged.

That is why the argument must go on.


My thanks to the National Secular Society for hosting the event, and to all participants that made the event very welcoming.

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