Category: Diary

Terrorism: Firebomb attack on London book publisher |The Observer

The London home of the publisher of a controversial new novel that gives a fictionalised account of the Prophet Muhammad’s relationship with his child bride, Aisha, was firebombed yesterday, hours after police had warned the man that he could be a target for fanatics. A petrol bomb is believed to have been thrown through the door of Martin Rynja’s £2.5m town house in Islington’s Lonsdale Square, which also doubles as the headquarters of his publishing company, Gibson Square.

Don’t be careless with free speech, NSS tells police conference

KpwThe Police should be as enthusiastic about protecting free speech as they are about protecting the sensitivities of religious minorities, the National Secular Society told a conference of police officers and the Crown Prosecution Service in London yesterday (18 September).

BHA takes legal action on GCSE exclusion

The British Humanist Association has issued legal proceedings against the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) over their decision not to allow the study of Humanism in a Religious Studies GCSE in the same way as religions are studied. The exam board OCR had included Humanism alongside religions in its proposed GCSE in Religious Studies, announced in April 2008, but a decision by the QCA has meant that it could not be included.

Letter: Richard Dawkins on the Royal Society row | New Scientist

DawkinsRichardThe Reverend Michael Reiss, the Royal Society’s Director of Education, is in trouble because of his views on the teaching of creationism. Although I disagree with him, what he actually said at the British Association is not obviously silly like creationism itself, nor is it a self-evidently inappropriate stance for the Royal Society to take. Scientists divide into two camps over this issue: the accommodationists, who ‘respect’ creationists while disagreeing with them; and the rest of us, who see no reason to respect ignorance or stupidity.

Mickey Mouse must die, says Saudi Arabian cleric – Telegraph

Sheikh Muhammad Munajid claimed the mouse is “one of Satan’s soldiers” and makes everything it touches impure. But he warned that depictions of the creature in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, and Disney’s Mickey Mouse, had taught children that it was in fact loveable. The cleric, a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, said that under Sharia, both household mice and their cartoon counterparts must be killed

Teachers should tackle creationism, says science education expert

Creationism and intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons, according to a leading expert in science education. The Rev Prof Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society, said that excluding alternatives to scientific explanations for the origin of life and the universe from science lessons was counterproductive and would alienate some children from science altogether. He said that around one in 10 children comes from a family with creationist beliefs.

Pub lunch at The Beagle

Meet like-minded people for lunch in Sproughton. Let us know if you’re coming by 20th October, so we can grab a space – you can’t book at The Beagle.

We’ll be discussing whether or not you’d say you’re anti-religious.

A fishy story

I’ve been tipped off that a nasty atheist has been making trouble locally. My source informs me,

A self-confessed atheist took issue with a Christian neighbour who had placed a metal fish on the rear of her car. He went on to subject her to months of harassment and intimidating behaviour.

The anti-social atheist was in court today.

In anticipation of any “There, you see! Atheists are all nasty people!” stories in the local media, with indignant Christians queueing up to say they told us so, here are a few points you might raise, if necessary:

The problem of organ donation

TPM onlineThe recent debate in the UK about organ donation was surprisingly heated. People complained about a “nanny state” infringing on their post-mortem rights; some threatened to tear up their donor cards if the proposed change to an “opt-out” system went ahead.

Attempts to shut down criticism of Islam still on the table at the UN

UN-LOGOThe National Secular Society, together with the International Humanist and Ethical Union, has been working over the past year to try to raise the alarm about the concerted efforts by Islamic groups to write blasphemy laws into international human rights legislation. Our efforts seem to be paying off, as other countries and organisations begin to appreciate the profound dangers to free speech posed by proposals from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).