Today was the first day of the London Secular Conference 2014.
It was incredibly informative and inspiring!!! So many amazing speakers, my head almost exploded… reminded me so strongly of why I want to be an artist and to help spread important ideas. I included the days program beneath the video. You can follow the conference twitter handle on #secularconf2014


9:30-9:40        Welcome and Housekeeping with MCs Fariborz Pooya and Nahla Mahmoud

9:40-9:50        Maryam Namazie: “Secularism is our Challenge to Islamism and the Religious-Right”

Maryam Namazie will give an overview of the conference aims, the political necessity for such a conference during the rise of the religious-Right and the need for secularism as a minimum precondition.

9:50-10:05      Marieme Helie Lucas: “Attacks on Secularism”

Marieme Helie Lucas will look at the shifting meaning of ‘secularism’; the political consequences of this shift and how it enhances and legitimises both the rise of fundamentalist theocratic ideologies and the fragmentation of people into ‘communities’ with unequal rights.

10:10-10:20    Tribute by Karima Bennoune to those Fallen Fighting the Religious-Right

10:20-12:00    Secularism Panel

This panel will discuss the importance of secularism as a minimum precondition for a democratic society.

Chair: Peter Tatchell

Panellists: Caroline Fourest (“Secularism against Fanaticism”), Gita Sahgal (“Who’s Afraid of Secularism and What they Won’t tell you About it”), Hamid Taqvaee (“Rise and Fall of Secularism”), Sue Cox (“The Isolation and Alienation Caused by Clergy and Why Secularism is Important”), Safak Pavey (“The Turkish Experience”) and Sultana Kamal (“Fate of Secularism in Bangladesh”)

12:00-13:00    Lunch

13:00-13:30    Nadia El Fani, “Neither Allah nor Master”

13:30-15:10    Religion in State, Law and Politics Panel

This panel will look at religion’s role in the state, law and politics and discuss why organised religions must be kept out the state.

Chair: Terry Sanderson

Panellists: Fariborz Pooya (“Production and Reproduction of the Myth of Moderate Religion”), Fatou Sow (“Religion and Politics in Sub-Saharan Secular States”), Homa Arjomand, (“Children have no Religion: One Secular Education for All”), Nina Sankari (“In the Shadow of the Church:  Failed Democracy in Poland”), Pragna Patel (“Religion, Law and the State in the UK: The Human Rights Implications of Accommodating Religious Legal Codes”) and Randa Kassis (“Political Situation in Syria”)

15:10-15:40    AC Grayling, Secularism and Education

1610-16:20      Comedian Kate Smurthwaite

16:20-18:00    Multi-faithism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship Panel

The panel will look at problems related to the erroneous conflation of people, religions and the religious-Right and why multiculturalism and multi-faithism undermines notions of citizenship.

Chair: Rumy Hassan

Panellists: Aliyah Saleem (“My Experience at an Islamic Boarding School in Britain”), Chris Moos (“The Fox, The Hen House, and The One who Let Him in: The Religious Far-Right and its Enablers in Higher Education”), Elham Manea (“Islamic Law in the West: The Essentialists”), Kenan Malik (“What’s Wrong with Multiculturalism?”), Marieme Helie Lucas (“Communities, Conflicting Rights and Hierarchy of Rights in Non-Secular States”) and Taj Hargey (“Banning the Burka: Religious Intolerance or Secular Imperative?”)

18:00-18:30    Pervez Hoodbhoy, “Has the Islamic State ever been a Historical Reality?”

18:30-19:30    Regional Sessions

19:00-19:30    Cocktails for Dinner Guests

19:30-23:00    Dinner with Entertainment

21:30 onwards with MCs Maha Kamal and Ramin Forghani

Gita Sahgal interviews Taslima Nasrin

Pianist/Composer Anne Lovett

LCP Dance Theatre

Singer/Songwriter Shelley Segal. Shelley will perform and present the winner of One Law For All’s international song competition, ‘Sounds of Freedom’. -postponed for tomorrow

Sound checking at the conference