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Bad news on academies

Thank you if you emailed your MP about the Academies Bill in response to an urgent appeal a few days ago, but it doesn’t look as though we’ve had much success. One of our members had an email from his MP, as follows:

Thank you for your email … and I note your concerns.

However, I have a different view to you on this matter and am a great advocate of faith schools.

I think you will find that there are safeguards for a balanced curriculum and I will not be tabling any amendments.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Therese Coffey MP
Suffolk Coastal

The Academies Bill is being rushed through Parliament with undue haste to try to get it sorted before the summer recess, which starts on 27 July. Amendments tabled by Dr Julian Huppert MP, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, would have prevented or restricted religious discrimination in the new Academies’ admissions policies.

Fictional TV character drops Qur’an, Muslims incensed

Muslims deficient in a sense of humour or proportion are upset about a scene from BBC TV’s Eastenders in which a gay Muslim character handles his copy of the Qur’an rather roughly, upset about his love life. He probably didn’t even say “Oops!”, though I wouldn’t know because I never watch it.

Oh please! Taking offence has become a full-time occupation for some people.

Why our welcomings aren’t free

Just did a radio interview about baby-naming or welcoming ceremonies. Didn’t get a chance to say a lot but was asked how much we charge. I said £130. One of the other contributors, a clergyman, said theirs are free. Of course they are – he’s paid a salary by his church. We’re self-employed. I asked the presenter, James Hazell, to point this out.

To hear the item, wait until the programme is available on Listen Again on the BBC website, and listen from about 11.45am.

To find out more, read about our ceremonies.

Help defend Leo Igwe

Leo IgweIHEU is seeking donations to its Human Rights Defense Fund to help cover legal fees for Leo Igwe, IHEU’s Representative in West Africa. Mr. Igwe and members of his family have been subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment by local police involving multiple arrests on unsubstantiated charges since he began a campaign to bring to justice a powerful local man accused of raping a ten year old girl.

Read more here and please donate if you can.

Talking about baby-namings on BBC Radio Suffolk

Humanist Celebrant Margaret Nelson will be talking about baby-naming ceremonies on BBC Radio Suffolk. Not sure how long for – tune in before 11.30 to be sure. If you’re not in Suffolk or N Essex you can listen online.

Note: This has been changed from Tuesday 13th.

IHEU News

The latest International Humanist & Ethical Union News email:

This is the regular update of news from International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). You can find the full versions of these news stories on our web site. We are also on twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Tell your friends about this newsletter: you can forward it (visit this link) or ask them to visit www.iheu.org/newsletter to subscribe.

Read more…

One Law for All anti-Sharia news

An email from One Law for All:

Several hundred people joined One Law for All on 20 June at Downing Street to show their opposition to Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and to demand universal rights and secularism.

A new report “Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights” was published on the day to coincide with the rally. Human rights activist Gita Sahgal said of the report: “I think it is highly significant that in Britain there has been silence where there should have been condemnation. There is active support for ‘Sharia laws’ precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can’t be a problem. Unfortunately for us, senior law officers will find that human rights expert bodies often have a similar attitude. They have done little research on the impact of family laws and the denial of justice caused by parallel systems of justice. That is why the findings of this report are so important. It is such dedicated work that changes the thinking of the experts.”