12 June 2007

The Wrong Target.

Ken Livingstone is an atheist. He has come out with such wonderful quotes as this;

"It is easy for me to be fair to all religions because I don't believe in any of them"

But Ken also recognises when a group is being unfairly targeted by the media, he recognised this with the Irish community in the 1970s and 1980s and he also has been a continuous and staunch defender of the gay community when such actions were attacked vociferously by the press. Ken is now defending the rights of Muslims and once again the media are in full attack mode.

I have become increasingly disenchanted at elements within the National Secular Society that are showing obvious signs of joining in with this media Islamaphobia and the right wing inspired Kenophobia.

What has got their latest ire is Ken's new coalition on this subject which they have effectively labelled a front for promoting Islam.

What the NSS needs to understand is that while we see religion as absurd - to be able to say this out loud we need to tolerate religious freedom of expression (no matter how absurd their actions) - not try to supress it - that will only harm our own expression.

The aim of the new coalition is the following;

"The new coalition will bring together people of all faiths and none, to counter these assaults and to actively make the case that all communities should be allowed to express their culture or faith, as long as this is within the law and does not impact on the rights of others to express themselves similarly".

The crucial point is 'within the law' and 'not impact on the rights of others'. The NSS cannot object to that wording - they make the point that no secularists or atheists are represented in official form - (i.e the NSS have not been invited) - but with their current attitude it is no wonder. There are plenty of atheists on the steering commitee (including Ken) and the aims of the coalition explicitly state to involve 'all faiths and none'. So there seems little danger of athests being ignored. The NSS need to get their act together and not fall into the trap of intolerence - it is what secularism is all about and it is about time they consulted a dictionary about it what it means and acted on it - rather than pursue petty agendas against Islam.

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