Monday, 7 March 2011

Upcoming public inter-faith panel discussion

The Birmingham City University Islamic SocietyBirmingham City University Debating Society  and al Hakima Media, (a group who hold Islamic conferences/conventions in the Midlands and Greater Manchester regions) have teamed up to hold a public “Question Time-style” inter-faith panel discussion. There are representatives from the Christian, Sikh and Muslim faiths on the panel and members of the Aston Humanists and the University of Birmingham Atheist, Secular and Humanist Society have been asked to represent ‘non-religious based organisations’.

The event will be open to the public, with around 70-80 people expected, and will cover a number of different themes including:
  • Women, society and religion, 
  • Freedom of speech and religion, 
  • The world with or without religion 
  • The contribution of religion, if any
  • Current issues faced by the Middle Eastern countries
As Chair of the Aston Humanists I’ve gladly taken up the offer to take part. Whilst I’ve spoken in front of bigger audiences before, it has been in academic settings, where the audiences have definitely been less religious or partisan. The chosen topics cover a lot of controversial ground and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into some juicy discussion but I’m quite nervous having never had been part of a formal public discussion before. By a very happy coincidence, however, I’m attending the National Federation for Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies annual convention this weekend where there is a workshop on debating held by BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson and European Humanist Federation President David Pollock. Hopefully the advice on debating will stand me in good stead not just for this event but also my PhD viva voce a week later!

These are all the details of the event as I have them so far:

When: 5pm to 6.30pm, Thursday the 17th of March
Where: Baker Building room 508, City north campus, Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 2SU
How much: Free!

I’ll update with more information as and when I get it. It should be a cracking event so please do come if you can!


  1. Good news? Possibly.
    When the BBC produce Question Time the audience has to fill in a questionnaire so they can ensure a balanced audience is invited. I doubt this audience will be a cross section of the overall community but more likely 65/70 hard core Islamists. Enjoy. But try to take as many supporters as you can.

  2. I surprised at the top two discussion points. I'd have thought Muslims would try their hardest to avoid debating those issues

  3. If you have ever entered a debate with a 'true believer' you will find that it is rarely a debate where one party is open to persuasion with facts and evidence.

    An example of the kind of discussion is 'peer reviewed evidence proves the world is millions of years old' True believer refers to myth book (the only book they have). Myth book says World is few thousand years old. Myth book is correct.

    Peer reviewed evidence says Earth revolves around Sun. True believer refers to myth book. Myth book says world is centre of universe. Myth book is correct.

    Basically they accept scientific explanation of everything until it contradicts with myth book and then myth book explanation trumps all other evidence.

    How can you debate this? In some parts of the World if you even try to challenge the 'facts' myth book it can get you murdered.