Thoughts from the World Atheist Convention and AAI's launch in Dublin
I'm just back from the World Atheist Convention held in Dublin, Ireland; and congratulations to Atheist Ireland for putting on a fantastic event! Excellent speakers, interesting panel discussions, great audience participation and the wonderful feeling of being in the company of hundreds of rational, like-minded people. Michael Nugent, Chair of Atheist Ireland opened the convention noting that atheism is "the arrogant belief that the entire universe was not created for our benefit". Love it! The keynote speech by Maryam Namazie from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was a highlight of the weekend and received a well-deserved standing ovation. Make sure you are there for the next convention!
It was exciting to launch the new Atheist Alliance International in Dublin - I'm pleased that my talk was well received!
Thank you to the people from the convention who have already signed up as members of AAI.
But one person who wasn't at the Dublin convention was Kirumira Mgapi Michael, one of the new Board members of AAI. Kirumira was supposed to be a speaker in Dublin but could not get a visa to attend. Stuart Bechman, new Treasurer of AAI, read out some of Kirumira's words (I will add the video when I can) and it really showed that as big as the problems with religion in the West are, things are a lot worse for atheists in some other countries. That's a point that's really been brought home to me as we've been gathering new members of Atheist Alliance International - I'm very pleased that AAI's members include Indonesian Atheists, Pakistani Atheists and Agnostics, Gambia Secular Assembly, Organisation of Atheists in Columbia, the Atheist Association of Uganda and Jahwar Amber Humanist Fund (JAF). Led by new AAI Board member Boaz Adhengo, JAF hosted the first ever atheist conference in Kenya on 4 June 2011 and it was a big success! However, Boaz was sacked from his job last week for his work with atheism and the conference, clearly illustrating the discrimination that atheists face in some countries. It is vital that atheist/freethought groups in developing countries have a voice and Atheist Alliance International is proud to help to provide that voice.