International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights


Watch videos from the conference here

The two-day International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights held in London during 11-12 October 2014 was a rousing success. A broad coalition of secularists, including believers, free-thinkers, agnostics and atheists assembled from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora at the unprecedented and historic gathering to discuss resistance against the repression and violence of ISIS and other manifestations of the religious-Right, including in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Israel, Libya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Tunisia and Yemen. 

They also discussed the urgent need to defend secularism, universal values and citizenship rights. The 250 delegates made an unequivocal stand with the brave women and men of Kobane saying: “Their struggle is ours. Their fight is a fight for us all. We are all, today, Kobane.”

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Marieme Helie Lucas speak on "Attacks on Secularism".

Prominent figures from the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) network were among the conference's speakers and organisers. Marieme Helie Lucas, founder of WLUML helped open the conference with her presentation “Attacks on Secularism” which looked at the shifting meaning of 'secularism' and how this shift has aided both the rise of fundamentalist theocratic ideologies and the fragmentation of people into ‘communities’ with unequal rights. Helie Lucas later spoke on “Communities, Conflicting Rights and Hierarchy of Rights in Non-Secular States” during a panel on Multi-faithism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship. Karima Bennoune, WLUML Board member gave a tribute to those Fallen Fighting the Religious-Right on the first day of the conference, and on Day Two presented insights from her recent book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here.  

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Karima Bennoune discusses "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here".

Fatou Sow, WLUML's International Director spoke on  “Religion and Politics in Sub-Saharan Secular States”, drawing on her experiences and research in Senegal and Mali. Chulani Kodikara and Faizun Zackariya, WLUML Council Member and previous Board Member respectively spoke on “Sinhala Buddhist Ethnonationalism: Implications for women and minorities in post war Sri Lanka”, as part of the panel on the Religious Right.

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Chulani Kodikara and Faizun Zackariya on Buddhist Ethnonationalism in Sri Lanka.

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International Director Fatou Sow speaks.