Secularism and freedom of religion or belief – the global view
In 2017 we hosted the book launch for Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (right) by our Chief Executive Andrew Copson. As well as being a historical survey of secularism’s development, his book identified today’s threats to secularism and the big debates raging around it. The book was republished a year later by Oxford University Press as Secularism: a Very Short Introduction.
Over three years later, secularism is still a hot topic in public, political, and religious debate across the globe. It is embodied in the conflict between secular republics – from the US to India – and the challenges they face from resurgent religious identity politics. In the last few years we’ve seen the resurgence of evangelical ethnonationalism in the US, Hindu nationalism brought to the fore by the BJP in India, and an ever louder drumbeat of horrors inflicted on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang by the authoritarian Chinese government.
Join us for an important discussion on where these trends are heading, of the rise of religiously intolerant states, and the threats to secularism around the world.
Samira Ahmed is a multi-award winning journalist and broadcaster and a visiting professor of Journalism at Kingston University with a special focus on culture, politics and social change. She won Audio Broadcaster of the Year at the 2020 British Press Guild Awards for her work as a presenter of Front Row on Radio 4 and her podcast How I Found My Voice.
Andrew Copson is Chief Executive of Humanists UK, President of Humanists International, author of Secularism: politics, religion, and freedom and, with Alice Roberts, The Little Book of Humanism.
Dr Nazila Ghanea is Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. She serves as a member of the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Nazila’s research spans freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, women’s rights, minority rights and human rights in the Middle East. She has been invited to address UN expert seminars on seven occasions. Nazila has acted as a human rights consultant/expert for a number of governments, the UN, UNESCO, OSCE, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, and the EU. She has facilitated international human rights law training for a range of professional bodies around the world, lectured widely and carried out first hand human rights field research in a number of countries including Malaysia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. She is a regular contributor to the media on human rights matters.
Professor Tariq Modood is founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, and is a Fellow of the British Academy in 2017. He is the co-founding editor of the international journal Ethnicities. His publications include Still Not Easy Being British: Struggles for a Multicultural Citizenship (2010); Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship (2009); Tolerance, Intolerance and Respect (2013); Religion in a Liberal State (2013); and Essays on Secularism and Multiculturalism (2019). He has been Adviser to the Muslim Council of Britain and has served on the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life (2013–16).