29 May 2012
Me with Taslima Nasrin, PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson
I had a great time in Cologne at the 2012 European Atheist Convention The Atheist Perspective & Our Future last weekend. The speakers were entertaining and informative, with the emotional highlight being Taslima Nasrin's talk about her life in Bangladesh and subsequent exile from her home - it received a well-deserved standing ovation. PZ Myers encouraged us all to be part of the "third wave" of atheism plus social justice, Rebecca Watson talked about all the different ways women's rights and status are under threat in the US - with the stupidity spreading to Europe - Leo Igwe informed us about witchcraft, superstition and human rights abuses in Africa, Dan Barker entertained with stories of his life as an evangelical preacher, Annie Laurie Gaylor updated us on campaigns to enforce church/state separation in the US and Valentin Abgottspon (who kindly did his talk in English for us monolingual types) talked about his experience of being fired for opposing a cross in his Swiss classroom (I liked his line that played to the stereotype "I don't get angry....I'm stoic."). Add the amusement and disgust at the descriptions of tantric and exploitative sex practices of a certain Bhuddist sect, Phillip Moller's stories about his experiences as a non-believing German teacher - I really wish I had understood the German, but it was entertaining just to watch him speak! - lots of other interesting talks and the fun buzz of hundreds of rational people enjoying each other's company - and it really was a fun weekend.....and all with the beautiful city of Cologne and stunning weather as the backdrop!
Congratulations to IBKA and the organising committee for hosting such a successful convention!