Secularism and Religion clash at UCL.


March 8th saw the World celebrate International Women’s day. The empowerment of women worldwide, battling both religious and political, as well as patently institutional misogyny and oppression for centuries, honoured with a day of remembrance for those who fought, and a day of thoughtfulness for the reasons why the battles for empowerment were fought and continue to be fought. It’s a battle that has been waged for centuries and is still a key issue. Over the course of the 21st Century, women in Parliament has been a major issue. John Stuart Mill’s wonderful essays on women’s rights paved the way for women in Parliament. There are currently 143 female MPs in the Commons. That means, of the 650 MPs, 507 of them are men. There is still a way to go, but our society is moving in the right direction, and has been for decades, albeit, too slowly. We must support the forward direction of equality, we must not succumb, or accommodate pointless gender inequality in public life.

During a debate between Hamza Tortzis and Lawrence Krauss at University College London, the people putting on the event – Islamic Education and Research Academy – enforced a policy of gender segregation for the seating in the theatre, based on Islamic ‘values’. A male section, a female section, and a mixed section. Krauss got up and refused to debate until the segregation policy was dropped. Male students sitting in the female only section in protest, were forcibly removed. One of the students said:

“It was clear that the segregation was still in effect as when I sat in the same aisle as female attendees I was immediately instructed by security to exit the theatre. I was taken to a small room with IERA security staff and an organiser named Mohammad who told me that the policy was actually given to IERA by UCL. Shocked, I said that I would like to return to my seat but was told that security would now remove me from the premises for refusing to comply with the gender segregation.”

Mohammad Ansar, of “Muslims found America, and interbred with the Natives, before the Europeans got there… there are ancient Mosques in Texas to prove it!!” fame, told twitter, that to deny the right of Muslims to segregate according to gender, was an attack on the rights of Muslim women. Here:


– Yes. The right of Muslims to walk into a secular lecture theatre, in UCL, a beacon of secular thought, and demand special treatment by refusing access for others to certain areas based on their particular brand of ‘faith’, regardless of whether or not a person is Muslim (apparently, non-muslims must succumb to the ‘rights’ of Muslims to tell them to sit where they’re told, or leave), areas that aren’t their’s to decide who gets to sit within in the first place. I’m not sure why we must put Islamic values ahead of any others. Why not ask the room if there’s anyone who wishes to segregate based on shoe size? Or race? Or eye colour? Why must Islam be given the distinct pleasure of enforcing who may sit where in a public space? Why weren’t non-believers given the apparent ‘right’ to choose how the room should be segregated?

Contrary to what Ansar seems to be suggesting, UCL did not tell Muslim women that they MUST sit next to men. There was no “dictating” to Muslims at all. It was Muslims attempting to dictate to everyone else, and then complaining when people weren’t going to stand for that nonsense. UCL simply have a free seating policy. Sit where ever you wish. They do not base seating, or any other policy, on religious demands. There is no infringement of any right going on here. if UCL were forcibly telling Muslim women that they must sit next to a man, that they have no choice, then yes, rights would be abused. That wasn’t the case. Ansar is manipulating the situation, to appeal to the victim mentality espoused by the faithful when they don’t get to force their principles upon the rest of us.

The outward display of faith; the public enforcement of inner faith, is dangerous, anti-secular by definition, and must be rejected in a free and secular society.
A Muslim man or woman should be allowed to choose where they wish to sit, in a public theatre. They cannot enforce it on others,

Other arguments for accepting gender segregation came thick and fast from those defending systems of apartheid:

– The issue is quite simple. Firstly, who gave Muslims the special right to decide how seating should be arranged, in a secular university, in a public space? The rules of the institution, and the rules of secular, liberal democracy dictate that you cannot take over the setting, and create a little Theocratic haven for your faithful.

Enforcing religiously motivated apartheid, does not fit in with the society in which it is attempting – unsuccessfully – to place itself. Regardless of the completely backward and immoral sentiment of segregation based on gender; the policy of gender segregation is not permitted in our society, it is something we have grown out of. Deal with it. The argument was that Muslim women may feel uncomfortable sitting next to a man. As if that’s an acceptable argument. We would be rightly shocked if a white man declares he wishes an enforced policy where by he doesn’t have to sit next to a black man, because he feels uncomfortable around him, and that if a black man does sit next to him, he be removed. We should say, either deal with it, or leave. If a woman feels uncomfortable merely sitting next to a man, then shouldn’t we be addressing that issue sensibly rather than giving in to it as a fact of life? Isn’t giving into that feeling of ‘uncomfortable’ as a fact of life that should be appeased rather than educated against, anti-gender equality in itself?

You have no right to impose your religious ‘beliefs’ on others, nor do others have any necessity to accommodate your religious ‘beliefs’. They are personal to you, and you alone. And secondly, by accommodating outdated and irrational ‘fears’ or dogma without questioning it, or protesting it, we perpetuate it. If you feel you might be too uncomfortable sitting next to a male in a public setting; where it’s likely that there will be males, freely sitting where ever they wish, because, you know, this isn’t Saudi Arabia, then you’re going to struggle leaving the house at all. Should buses be segregated in case a Muslim woman feels uncomfortable? Should we have Muslim and non-Muslim shop entrances? Should we consult Mo Ansar and other apparent ‘moderates’ whenever the government makes policy, to ensure it is agreeable to the doctrines of Islam? We are told it is just a ‘small group of extremists’ who demand such special treatment. It isn’t. It is the faith. Like Catholicism, Islam is not a private system of spirituality. It demands public intervention and special treatment. Ansar agrees:

When your “public” faith demands special treatment within a society that is built on not allowing any special treatment to religion, and it imposes itself on a public space, and forces those who do not belief in your horrid little myths to comply by your standards, with the threat of removal…. you simply act to knock down an important factor within a liberal secular democracy; that of gender equality. Must you comply by those standards? Yes. This is a secular nation. In public, your faith has no right to impose itself.

It doesn’t matter if you provide a “mixed” section. The idea of a “mixed” section itself, is abhorrent. There should be no need for it. The fact that you have segregated areas perpetuates the notion that men and women are fundamentally to be treated differently, even within a public arena, for the most absurd reasons. This is a notion that has been fought against, and at great loss to those fighting for it over the centuries. It is a Western tradition we should be proud of, and suspicious of any sect that wishes to dismantle it. Gender equality has been a central theme in the fight for equal rights within our system. And so to have a dictatorial, misogynistic cult demand special treatment, shouting “you’re attacking our rights!” (usually this translates to; you’re attacking our perceived right to impose our public display of faith on the rest of you) at not getting their way, is a slap in the face of everything a decent, free and equal society strives to fight for. It is a step backward. A regressive move.

A second issue, is that it really does not do Islam any favours in its attempts to integrate into a Western, liberal society. We are already tremendously suspicious of the treatment of women in Islamic nations, that any sort of replication of those policies in a liberalised Britain, greatly increase those suspicions and I think we absolutely have a right to feel completely offended by such attacks on the fabric of a secular and liberal democracy that finds gender discrimination to be totally unacceptable.

Another grave problem is that there is no room for argument. The fight for female equality has been one based on reason. We progress when we engage in reason and when those points of reason are stronger, and more self evident than previous. With Islamic segregation based on gender; it is absolute. The is no willingness to accept they may be wrong. And so we must always give in to gender segregation, regardless of how irrational it is. This is totalitarianism and it has no place.

Up until 1979s, the Mormon Church preached and taught that being black meant that you were Satan’s representatives on Earth. This stems back to the 2nd President of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young saying of mixed race marriages:

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain” (Black people were considered the descendants of Cain), “the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so”

– If we are to be consistent in our requirement to suspend secularism in favour of religious bigotry, we must argue that if the Mormon Church had not changed their position (they did so, only to accommodate mixed-race converts in South America), it would be acceptable, in a debate between a Mormon and an Atheist, to split the room between black seating, white seating and mixed seating. The problem is obvious. We further perpetuate the racial divide, if only psychologically, by ensuring that in a public space, in a nation that does not base its politics or its institutions on race, there is a clear divide based on race. If we were to put on, in a public space, an event that whites could only sit with whites, and black with black, along with a mixed area, because a few white supremacists do not feel comfortable with the possibility that they may have to sit next to a black person, we would tell them to grow up, modernise their horrendously regressive views, and either accept it, or stay at home. It is absolutely no different with gender.

Everyone, in public life, in a public arena has a right to sit where ever they wish. The imposing of unchallengeable dogmas on public spaces, is the absolute antithesis of a free and open society.

A public forum, in a secular institution, should not give special attention to any system of belief. As an Atheist, I am under no obligation to bend to the rules of Islam, in a public place. I am not under any obligation to be told where I can and cannot sit. It is wrong. In the same way that as an Atheist, I have no right to go into a private place of worship, and start reciting The Origin of Species.

Ansar continued:
– “Inalienable human right”. A bit of a play on Jefferson there. And yet, sadly, about 1500 years behind even the 18th century. I am not sure if Ansar is commenting on privately segregating yourself, or it being enforced through public policy, as was the case at UCL. How is it anyone’s human right, to enforce human segregation based on gender, in a public space, in a nation that is not built on gender equality? And what is immodest about sitting next to a man during a debate? It is your right, to sit where ever you wish, based on your private decision. Not on enforced Theocratic values. And it’s always something to behold, that the ‘modesty’ really only ever seems to apply to the treatment of women. And how modest it is, for a person of faith to hijack secular institutions and enforce policies based on their faith alone. How very modest.

And why is it just the idea of faith that is allowed to segregate? Why not other ideas? In a debate between Socialists and Capitalists, why not split the room in two between them? In a debate in which one of the participants is ginger, the other auburn, split the room according to that? Why is it only one ‘idea’ we must all capitulate to? If, during a debate between Nationalism and Liberalism, the Nationalists wish to split the room along what they weakly consider to be “homogeneous British” lines, we would rightfully call it unacceptable, racist, xenophobic, and fascist. But they base it on their ‘faith’ in their ideology. So what is the difference?

Mo Ansar is not as moderate as he likes to think. His vision of a society is one that permits Islam a special dispensation from secular notions, is incredibly dangerous. He does not understand, that not getting his way; not getting his principles installed within a religious-free environment, is not an attack on his rights. This should be opposed by every right thinking person.

But it isn’t just Islam.
Students and parents at Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Indiana have decided they wish to have a prom in which gay couples are not allowed. One of the special education teachers Diana Medley, said:

“We don’t agree with it (homosexuality), and it’s offensive to us.”

– This bigotry and a belief in apartheid based on faith alone, should be offensive to us all. It should be fought at every opportunity. They then tend to tell us that by stopping this sort of apartheid-in-practice, we are trampling on their rights as Christians. It is of course, nonsense. The slow and methodical imposing of Theocratic principles, on everyone other than themselves, is totalitarian, and represents the epitome of the denial of rights, and imperialism. What for the rights of gay men and women not to be bullied, or viewed as different, and somehow unequal, stigmatised and told they are unnatural? What about those rights? The only reason gay people have been so badly mistreated, and continue to be, is religion. Sexuality, as pointed out in a previous entry, has many genetic elements. So, exchange the word “homosexuality” for “black” or “people with brown hair” or “women” (not a problem for Islam) and you will notice just how bigoted it becomes. For a school to say “We don’t want anyone with blue eyes coming to the Prom, they offend us” would have no place in a decent society because it perpetuates such a vicious notion, that they are different and should be viewed as such, simply for whom they choose to love. We must be be afraid to say that we find systems of social structures based on race, gender or sexuality (genetic) apartheid to be wholly wrong. Cloaking your bigotry behind outdated myths that have no basis in reality, and are refuted by genetics, does not make you any less wrong, nor your beliefs any less wrong.

The problem is the difference between private spirituality, and an outward public enforcement of religious belief. The latter, being completely unacceptable. The religious have uncompromising, unquestionable faith that transcends the ages and is rooted firmly in ancient myths and ideals which they believe to be unchallengeable. Islam is an ideology as well as a faith, as Ansar makes clear; it is public, private, and defines their lives entirely. There is no room for questioning. We apparently must accept that Islam deserves a special place in a secular society. Hamza Tortzis refers to this as his “objective” anchor for morality. Mehdi Hasan thinks any slight criticism to be “Islamophobic” yet he himself has no worry referring to non-believers as unintelligent cattle, who live like animals. It is his right to think and to say such insulting things, and I accept that. And I have always accepted, It is your right to be as bigoted as you wish, in your own personal space. You may debate in open, your bigotry, you may argue your point. You have the freedom of expression to allow that. The moment you start to force it upon others in the public arena; taking over public spaces in secular societies and institutions and imposing your fundamentalist anti-humanist principles like telling people where they can’t sit based on your myths, then you become a Theocratic danger. You do not have an inherent right to do that. And if you think we therefore trample on your rights for that, fine, i’m happy to accept that.
Gender segregation cannot and should not be tolerated, and applying the phrase “But it’s my religion” is not an acceptable excuse for perpetuating an inequality that has been, and is being fought against.

The World Health Organisation defines Gender as:

“the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.”

– We know that Islam is far more distinct with gender roles, in far more ways than the Western World, based entirely on their horrific notions of ‘modesty’. We know that women are not equal to men, in Islamic societies. But that is not the ‘given society’ that they inhabit, in the UK. The ‘given society’ in this case, is secular, with no preference in a public space given to a religion, nor to gender inequality based on archaic religious texts. We inhabit a society based, among other qualities, on equality of gender (though it still has its flaws in that department). That equality is built into the framework that all cultures must adhere to, and not try to break down. We are not an Islamic society. Public space in a secular setting is not given over to Islamic demands, nor special treatment of that sort, nor should it be. If you think this attacks your rights to privately practice your faith, and that you do not like an institution within that ‘given society’ telling you that you do not have any inherent right to disregard that system at the behest of your particular faith; then you really do not belong in a secular society. You are attempting to pervert it, for Theocratic principles. We only defeat outdated and irrational views on race, or gender, or sexuality, by not giving into them and openly debating them. The fight for gender equality has a long and tremendous history. Religious regression and bigotry is just another obstacle that it must over come.

When a show of public faith so firmly contradicts the basis of secular, liberal society; then it must not be tolerated nor accepted.


16 Responses to Secularism and Religion clash at UCL.

  1. NotAProphet says:


    To the best of my understanding, ‘security’ is not permitted to remove you physically for peacefully sitting in place, and to lay hands on you would constitute common assault, an indictable offence. They may summon the police to effect your removal, if the owner of the venue or their delegate require it.

    If I am indeed correct in this then it would bear considering should such an issue arise again, as it no doubt will.

    ‘Not giving in’ is not restricted to debate.

  2. Reblogged this on Idleness and commented:
    Well worth a read. Insane demands grasping for respectability by cloaking them in so called religious rights. And in the UK as wel. Eck…

  3. wildmystic says:

    So the event was organised by “Islamic Education and Research Academy”. . .

    – – –

    When did UCL become “beacon of Secular thought”?

    – – –

    “It was Muslims attempting to dictate to everyone else, and then complaining when people weren’t going to stand for that nonsense.”

    Krauss was their guest – it was NOT up to him – to dictate . . . looks like he did!

    – – –

    “The outward display of faith; the public enforcement of inner faith, is dangerous, anti-secular by definition, and must be rejected in a free and secular society.”

    huh? Really? In other words – one should pander to your secular ideals. . .and THEY should be enforced. Why?

    – – –

    “the policy of gender segregation is not permitted in our society, it is something we have grown out of. Deal with it. The argument was that Muslim women may feel uncomfortable sitting next to a man. As if that’s an acceptable argument.”

    In other words – the society IS NOT FREE. Face the hypocrisy. It is either one or the other.

    – – –

    “You have no right to impose your religious ‘beliefs’ on others, nor do others have any necessity to accommodate your religious ‘beliefs’. They are personal to you, and you alone. And secondly, by accommodating outdated and irrational ‘fears’ or dogma without questioning it, or protesting it, we perpetuate it.”

    In other words – again – imposing WHAT you believe

    – – –

    You contradict yourself . . .at one claim to support a free society – on the other hand – seek to impose your own values.

    How hypocritical!

  4. wildmystic says:

    UK is still a a country where the majority belief system is “Christianity”. And it is THEY who chose a secular system of politics.

    Secularism can mean one of two things. . .

    1. All are equal – IRRESPECTIVE of faith.

    2. An Ideology.

    – – –

    You ascribe to Secularism as an active ideology. And look to impose YOU belief on others.

    – – –

    “When a show of public faith so firmly contradicts the basis of secular, liberal society; then it must not be tolerated nor accepted.”

    Faith BY its very existence is opposite to “secular”.

    This is why you were so keen to be rude in tweets. . . your “acquired views” when challenged fall down. . .

    When it was discussion about an “Islamic society” having the right to protect its fundamentals – I said – a secular society does the same. . . but you denied it.

    Now read the above quoted line of yours. . .

  5. 1950s skirts on 1990s attitude. says:

    Segregators = The sort of mindset that would make Rosa Parks sit at the back of the bus, not for being black but for being a woman.

  6. @Wildmystic Krauss may have been iERA’s guest, but it was UCL’s public lecture venue and they have a policy of no enforced segregation. Thus they complain, indeed ban iERA for this breach of policy. Moreover, Krauss was misled beforehand that there would not be forced segregation. Now was there enforced segregation? Yes. First the separate doors policy, and secondly, if reports are correct, the so called mixed area allowed women only if they were in couples. But even if there had been a plentiful (not just 2 rows) mixed area for anyone who wanted it, I think there’s a good case to argue that there is still enforced segregation. Unenforced segregation would argueably be where people can separate themselves from the opposite gender if there is suitable space, but if someone of the opposite gender wishes to sit in the same row, then tough luck.

  7. “UK is still a a country where the majority belief system is “Christianity”. And it is THEY who chose a secular system of politics.”

    – Who are “they”? And why does it matter what religion “they” are, if the system itself is Secular? Regardless of religion, the Christians who you seem to think “chose a secular system of politics” (as if it matters) have the same fundamental rights, in law as anyone else. What a pointless thing to say. But please inform me why equality of gender and faith and race under the law, is something you’d prefer to be able to opt out of, in the UK?

    “1. All are equal – IRRESPECTIVE of faith.
    2. An Ideology.”

    – Of course it’s an ideology. Your point 1, is encompassed by point 2. “All are equal, irrespective of faith” is ideological by nature. So, when applied to seating arrangement, there is no, and should be no enforced rules set by a faith. You sit where you wish. If you wish to sit next to a man, sit next to a man. If you don’t, then don’t. You’re free to choose. As I am free to choose to sit where ever I wish. It is an all-encompassing ideology that allows for freedom of thought and expression, but does not permit its over throw via totalitarian means. To “allow” a political system based on religion, would be to allow the demise of secularism. In the same way as to “allow” nazism to resurface would be to allow the demise of secularism. Secular, democratic, liberal society is a form of protection against extremes. Most religious people accept that they have protection, via secular liberal democracy, to be considered equal to everyone else regardless of faith, in the eyes of the law. You apparently don’t like that idea. You apparently think one faith should have special privilege. Yet you haven’t yet explained why.

    “Faith BY its very existence is opposite to “secular”.”

    – No it isn’t. It doesn’t necessarily follow that faith, requires it to be enshrined in Government and law. That’s ridiculous. The separation of Government institutions from religious institutions, is not opposing faith in general. Separating Government from Church, is in no way telling you you cannot believe that Jesus existed. Believing Jesus was divine, in no way means that you oppose secularism. Plenty of US Founding Fathers were Christian, but thought Government and State should remain Secular. That anyone, regardless of Faith should be a part of the political process, and that faith should not be a pre-requisite for proposing legislation.

    Your arguments are all very child-like.

    “When it was discussion about an “Islamic society” having the right to protect its fundamentals – I said – a secular society does the same. . . but you denied it.”

    – That would suggest that Islamic fundamentals are under attack, within a secular society. What fundamentals do you believe existed in the UK, and are now under attack in the UK? Because this can only follow, if Islamic society within the UK preceded secular society. Otherwise, it is self inflicted, and you believe you have rights through your faith, that should be placed above equal rights as offered by secularism. It is like knowing that the USSR was Communist, but going to it anyway, and then complaining that your right to private property is being withheld. You have a right to believe what you want, within a framework of secularism that preceded Islam in the UK. Islam has no right to “protect its fundamentals” when its fundamentals so clearly defy the historical secular framework upon which it exists in this country. You appear to be suggesting that you don’t believe in equality, unless it is ordained by your religion, and you wish to impose that on others, and if you are not “free” to enforce that upon others, you quite weirdly claim a lack of freedom.

    “In other words – the society IS NOT FREE. Face the hypocrisy. It is either one or the other.”

    – The contradiction is entirely with you. I’m not sure why you needed to capitalise “IS NOT FREE”. I suspect to try and add weight to your funny little point. You said this, in response to me saying:
    “the policy of gender segregation is not permitted in our society”
    – I find it incredible, that you wish to be free, to withhold the rights of others. Your “IS NOT FREE” claim, is based entirely on wishing to be free to segregate along gender lines. This, given that we are all equal under secular law, is basically wishing to be a dictator. If you wish the word “free” to encompass the right to withhold rights, which is the antithesis of free, then no, your curious version of the word “free” was thankfully argued out of existence in our culture, hundreds of years back. Your views really are coming through quite clearly, and are genuinely quite unnerving.
    I restate it: You are free to believe whatever you wish. In that, you are absolutely free. You are free to tell me that you think secularism is shitty and that Western values are awful. You are not free to enforce those totalitarian views onto others. I don’t see how you find this so difficult to understand. You seem to wish to be free to rule over others, and prevent their freedom.
    You seem to be saying “Omg! You’re imposing your evil belief that we should all be free to believe what we wish, and equal under the law, without being oppressed by people who think they’re right, based on their particular faith. You’re so hitler!!!” – I am lost as to what you’re trying to suggest secularism is, because so far, it sounds like you think it is on an equal basis with totalitarian systems.

    ““You have no right to impose your religious ‘beliefs’ on others, nor do others have any necessity to accommodate your religious ‘beliefs’. They are personal to you, and you alone. And secondly, by accommodating outdated and irrational ‘fears’ or dogma without questioning it, or protesting it, we perpetuate it.”

    In other words – again – imposing WHAT you believe”
    – No. Reaffirming the qualities this country is built on, as opposed to giving in to the totalitarian bullshit that your horrid little myths quite obviously demand, and which you are currently demanding the right to protect and perpetuate. You are now suggesting that not only do you wish to have the right to forcefully segregate, you also want the right to impose your beliefs on others, and you for some odd reason think this is true “freedom”. What a disgrace. You are Islamist, you are dangerous, and I think anyone reading your comments will notice just how underhandedly dictatorial you and your awful faith are. You wish, like every other Islamist, the right to place Islam above any other consideration, not content with being free to believe; you wish the right – which you claim to be ‘free’ – to impose it upon others. This desire to withhold rights, and to forcefully demand segregation, and to run society based on one single religious “belief” (not based on any form of reason) is not of equal weight to proposing secularism. Stop suggesting the two systems are equal. They are far apart as liberal democracy and fascism.

    “Krauss was their guest – it was NOT up to him – to dictate . . . looks like he did!”

    – No. The University is secular. It has secular guidelines. If you wish to segregate by gender, you are breaking not only hard fought gender battles for equality (which doesn’t surprise me, given just how totalitarian you have proven yourself to be) but also the rules of the University. Contrary to how you wish society to be run; Islamic rules do not overrule the rule of the land. In that case, it was the University’s rules. You are free to segregate yourself. Go sit somewhere else. You are not free to enforce your rule onto others. This is the UK. It’s how it works. This is not an Islamic country, thankfully.

    ““The outward display of faith; the public enforcement of inner faith, is dangerous, anti-secular by definition, and must be rejected in a free and secular society.”
    huh? Really? In other words – one should pander to your secular ideals. . .and THEY should be enforced. Why?”

    – Huh? Yes. Really. And this is exactly the same thing you said in the last point, just reworded. In this country, you should abide by secular rules. We do not have a system of human emancipation that offers a greater level of freedom, that secular, liberal democracy. If you wish to argue that Islam offers more so, you need to thoroughly explain why. The ‘secular rules’ are simple. Believe what you want. Do not try to impose a religious framework on a non-religious country. Everyone has the right to belief in whatever they wish, but belief in a religion itself should not be the basis for how a society is run. Secular society is run on reason (the justice system, for example, is a wonderful mix of psychology, and evidence based rehabilitation as well as punishment…….. not on a 6th Century Middle Eastern tribal version of Justice). If you feel reason and evidence is “forced” on you, then you really need to leave secular society. It isn’t for you. You’re more suited to vicious dictatorships. You do not have the right to enforce faith onto others, the moment you do this, you are totalitarian. Faith is yours, it is private, and a secular society allows you the right to believe whatever you want, and still be equal under the law to everyone else, you cannot be discriminated against or have fundamental rights removed, simply for believing something different. It’s policies are based in reason and free inquiry, not dogma and motivated by religious prejudice. You are even free to debate legislation using religious values if you wish. This is not “force” as you suggest quite flippantly, as if it is comparable to the vicious dictatorship you wish to impose, via your faith. It is humanistic, it is based on rational thought, it allows for free discussion of religion, science, politics, economics without fear of oppression, and it is our way. If you wish to create a little Theocratic haven, restricting rights based on one religion, and wishing for the right to impose your faith on others, as well as ruling by dogma rather than thought; leave the country.

    Please explain your objections to secularism, and if you reject secularism…. what do you propose in its place? What are the laws to be based on? What are the rules to be based on? Who can be involved in decision making? Are they bound by a certain framework? Is free expression acceptable? Must it conform to the viewpoint you wish to have controlling the show? Please, elaborate….

  8. NotAProphet says:

    It’s really rather straightforward wildmystic; not being allowed to impose on others who do not want your imposition is not the same as you being imposed upon. Is this such a hard concept to grasp? Let’s try an analogy, not allowing you to hit me in the face is not the same as me hitting you in the face. Geddit?

    Also, I suggest you look up ‘ascribe’ in the dictionary, you’re using it wrong.

  9. And what I get from that, from UCL, from Christian America, from racist Hamas in Gaza; religion is poisonous.

  10. Johnny says:

    Duh huh, yeah, coz Hitchens says so. Daft little parrot.

  11. Oh we’re playing that little fallacious game are we?
    Okay, well, you just picked out five words from my entire article, “But it isn’t just Islam”; five words that argue the point you’re trying to make anyway, and so wholly unnecessary to pick on them….. but you did anyway…. and both of the articles you post, are about Jews. Unnecessary comment, purposely targeting Jews. There’s a few little fascists I could like you too. Hitler. Hamas. Fatah. Henry Ford, he found any excuse to attack Jews. Bobby Fischer. All of which are hugely discredited for their random and pointless attacks on Jews. And then there’s you. Silly little anti-semitic, parrot.
    We can both play your hideously moronic fallacy game.

  12. Yunus says:

    You my dear friend, have written a very lengthy ‘thought-filled’ article on this issue, which seemed superfluous to me. It’s simple. Gender segregation cannot be enforced by anyone in a secular environment; even by Muslims who feel they are duty-bound to their religion, because they are bound by the law of the land.

    I’m a muslim, maybe pragmatic, but you also need to see why they did that. I assume you know very well about your own country, and if you’re going to censure someone or people, at least delve a little
    deeper to know why they tried to do what they did.

    If you say you’re secular, then doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t read about a bit on Islam, and then try to understand why Muslims do half the things that others can’t seem to accept. Perhaps it’ll help you even more to counter what bigots want to do or enforce.

    Now I am from India, and I see lots of shit happen in the name of religion, and this by far is a very small issue, which can be perhaps corrected with just a bit of dialogue.

  13. Amer says:

    Interesting article FD – you make your points well and I’d like to offer a rebuttle to a couple if I may?

    I don’t think it’s a valid comparison to link a gender issue to a race issue because our society (of which I am a huge fan) is already immensely segregated along gender lines from obvious things such as bathroom facilities to more subtle things such as…say…women’s only night at the gym. I have been involved in this debate for a while (i believe I was discussing it with you on twitter last week) and others have pointed out that the gym example is not valid as we have private contracts with gyms but it is still a ‘segregation’ (to use your term) based on a prejudiced policy.

    It assumes (or at least implies) that women have the right to exercise away from the prying eyes of men even though in other circumstances the gym is open to the public regardless of gender, race and sexual orientation.

    The point i’m trying to make is that our society accepts such prejudices and can only do so on the understanding that in these cases, the seperation has nothing to do with equality, merely accepting a difference.

    Now I don’t object to these policies because I don’t see it as an attack on my rights. I believe that if I wished to walk into the gym and use the facilities that I consider within the public sphere, facilities for which I have paid the same amount as the women who wish to use it exclusively, there could be no sustainable legal challenge bought against me. I however do not wish to impose my right to do this and would like to make a reasonable consession to those ladies who wish to exercise privately.

    Now as a muslim man I firmly and utterly believe that women are equal to men. I will concede that many Islamic regimes around the world are repressive and do not demonstrate this and …well that just very sad and something that must be improved upon. In Eastern cultures, the seperation of men and women is again not an equality issue but an ingrained cultural practice that can be seen as a extension of our practice of seperating male and female bathroom facilities. In other cultures, and not just Islamic ones, the seperation of men and women in public spheres is a matter of course. It becomes objectionable when you approach that idea from the thinking, ‘oh men and women are sitting seperately ergo the women here are being oppressed’. But if you come at it from the idea that men and women are equal in the first place, it just becomes a cultural practice.

    Now for the UCL example in particular. From what I understand of the situation (i’d i’ve heard about a dozen conflicting reports at this stage) the Islamic society booked a room to hold a lecture. They wished to have a seperate section for women who wished to observe their religious/cultural practice.

    To me I see this as no different than say a women’s society booking a room in a university to hold a women’s only meeting a practice which happened in my university a lot. Again it is well within my right to attend this meeting, I just choose not to because I want to respect the women’s privacy in that sphere. In the act of booking the room for thier function, the room no longer can count as a public space. I can book a room for a poety recital and I don’t expect a squash game to take place in it. Theres nothing to say the squash players don’t have the right to use that room, but I would ask them not to.

    If my argument above is valid then it holds that the example of UCL cannot be extended to other public spheres such as busses or the tube because they cannot be booked out.

    Now I will happiliy concede that the Islamic society handled things very poorly at the actual event. They clearly didn’t let people know what the situation was going to be, misled the good Profressor Krauss and forcibly removed men from their seats which is totally wrong. The point i’m arguing here is whether the spirit of what they were doing is as outrageous as it immediately seems? If you approach it with the idea that most people (including muslims) believe that men and women are indeed equal, would you come to the same conclusions in your article? You see a minority imposing its beliefs on others, I see a liberal institution making a resonable consession to that same minority.

    In a way i’m playing devil’s advocate here because i’m a big supporter of societal integration and encourage many closeted muslims I meet to go out and enjoy the society they live in. I wouldn’t have a women’s section at a meeting I’m holding. I just wonder out loud if we’re all getting worked up about the right thing here.

    thanks for taking the time to read

    p.s I like your photoes – the diana mini is a stonkingly great camera.

  14. Shmegel says:

    So who lost out here? I believe Lawrence Krauss. A few hundred Muslim students could have taken away with them some good, contemporary, scientific ideas from the talk had Krauss kept calm and encouraged the interfaith dialogue to continue. The fact that he was even there showed that these people were interested in exchanging viewpoints with him. I don’t agree with the segregation per se, but it wasn’t hurting anyone, especially if the separated sections were side-by-side and did not have women sitting in the back to reflect their status as being below men.

  15. Shmegel says:

    Haha, sorry I just read the article and I realised all the information I wrote in the post above was completely false. Should have read the article prior to making that comment! Sorry again!

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