My name is Mohamed Aly, I am a member of Oxford Humanists and an Ex-Muslim atheist from Egypt. It is extremely dangerous for people like me in my country and other Muslim majority countries. Many end up attacked or in prison on trumped up blasphemy charges or worse. I applied for asylum in April 2016 and, although they accepted that I was a genuine Ex-Muslim atheist, they advised me to go back to Egypt and “live discreetly”. This would be extremely dangerous for me and is tantamount to being against my human rights. It would be living in oppression, always afraid of being found out.
There are many useful resources around online to help anyone who wants to strengthen their arguments about atheism, humanism, and secularism and we try to maintain links to the best of these on our website Resources page. YouTube, for example, provides a useful collection of videos, produced by organisations or individuals on a variety of topics, and Oxford Humanists have set up playlists to collect the best, or most engaging, of these on subjects of interest to Humanists. These provide a quick and easy way to watch some great thinkers discussing or debating with apologists, or to see erudite speakers presenting an interesting perspective on
Fortunate to visit New York this summer, one morning we set off through Central Park to visit the memorial to John Lennon known as Strawberry Fields. As we climbed the path to the spot its first manifestation came in the form of a lady selling John Lennon and Beatles badges, with a slew of anti-Trump badges on the side. ‘Have you got any pro-Trump ones?’ our friend teased, receiving a good-natured but firmly negative response. Then, round the corner, we came across the actual roundel, made by Italian craftsmen from Naples in the style of a Roman mosaic, with the word IMAGINE at its centre.
I was born into Wesleyan Methodism. On my mother’s side there were Methodist ministers going back for generations, one was President of the Conference which is the Methodist equivalent to the Archbishop of Canterbury. My maternal grandmother was a formidable and gifted woman who when quite young would preach outside factory gates warning the workers about the evils of drink. When she came to stay my parents hid the sherry! For complicated reasons my grandmother and I, just 3 years old, went to Canada at the outbreak of war to live with relatives in Montreal. We always attended C of E church on a Sunday but
The recent death of Aretha Franklin has meant that the song called Respect, which she made famous, has received a lot of attention. Respect is a concept that, rightly or wrongly, is generally held in high esteem, but it is sometimes used as a weapon to discredit people who are deemed to show ‘insufficient respect’ over some matter or another, even though respect being deserved or not depends on your viewpoint. There are words I have a natural liking for, others that I don’t. For example, even among people who have no religious belief, the word ‘spiritual’ often receives a high degree of respect. Personally
As you are probably aware, we set up our gazebo and table of leaflets about humanism and secularism, on Saturdays in the warmer lighter months, on the same busy pedestrianized shopping street as do groups of Muslims and Christians of various hues, faith healers and political groups, gymnasts and high wire violin players. People walking past can be seen to read our banners with definitions of humanism and secularism. Many stop briefly just to say they are glad we are there providing an alternative view. Others are well informed, maybe religious or perhaps wanting to have an intense discussion or brief debate. For all of
Having completed the Humanists UK accreditation training last year, OxHums member, Jan Skelton, was invited to talk on humanism at Didcot Girls’ School and did such a good job that the school requested another talk as part of their World Religions Day project on 8th February this year. Groups of around 30 pupils were sent out to review various religions, their beliefs, rituals and traditions, and the co-ordinator was thankfully keen to include the humanist worldview. Our initial concern was choice of venue – finding somewhere that allowed us to provide a presentation to such a large group in an environment which reflected our ethos.
Well! It’s less than a week since we were all wishing each other a very happy / fulfilling / prosperous New Year. So, on the related theme of togetherness – and as a life-long ‘no faith’ humanist, I’d like to tell you [today’s Radio Oxford’s listeners], that I consider OxCoF (Oxford’s Council of Faiths) deserves to be respected by humanists and other non-believers. Indeed, given that I’ve been an active participant in OxCoF activities for the past 18 months or so (i.e. ever since I was welcomed as their first “Associate, no faith, Member”, sometime in 2016), I’m fairly confident I’m right! Let me expand: