Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Secular Islam Summit" to convene

Kuwait News Agency reported The first ever "Secular Islam Summit," to be convened in St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 4-5, will bring together hundreds of thinkers and activists worldwide to counter the voices of reactionary Islam which have been speaking on behalf of all Muslims, the organizers of the event said late Monday.

It's about time. Good Luck
About 500 people from all over the world are expected to attend, including speakers and government guests from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Europe, Canada and the US. Iranian Banafsheh Zand, one of the organizers, told KUNA that people in Islamic countries were taken into the "dark ages by the politicization of Islam." "An age of reformation is upon us that needs desperately to be responded to by people who embrace not only the faith as a personal and private matter, but who also wish to see their countries and nations move forward in a progressive and prosperous way to catch up with the 21st century," she added.

She indicated that the Summit will become a "sanctuary for a lot of people who have been intimidated by the Jihad and radical Islamist forces, and to essentially create an atmosphere of embracing the ideas of enlightenment, of greater understanding of science, reason, secular ideas, such as separation of religion and state, and of embracing their own cultural and national heritage, their historical identities and the formation of a solidarity movement that will help the Middle East and South Asian countries to have a leap forward in societal growth." Another organizer Austin Dacey also told KUNA that the most important thing for participants is the hope that this Summit will be the "beginning of a coherent cross-culture movement for secularism in Islamic societies." "There are countless individuals who are standing up for critical reasoning and freedom of conscience and secular values, but until now there really hasn't been a global movement that brings them together as a force for change, " he argued.

He explained that the "forces of reactionary Islam have their own global networks, which are very well established and well funded. These secular Muslims hope to do the same." "We do think it is important that these alternative voices from the Muslim World are heard by policy makers and government officials in the US," he stressed.

The Summit is expected to adopt a declaration at the end of the two-day meeting demanding from governments, for instance, "the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy." The Summit, organized and sponsored by the Centre for Inquiry, a global federation committed to science, reason, free inquiry and secularism, will be held in partnership with the International Intelligence Summit, a non-partisan and neutral forum that brings together members of the international intelligence community to discuss issues of terrorism.

The organizers said this will be an opportunity for this community to listen to and learn from each other and to share ideas in the common war against terrorism. Both Summits will be held simultaneously in the same hotel, in order to share costs, the organizers explained.

Gateway Pundit blogged Warraq started off talking about the Free Speech Manifesto that was signed last year in Jyllands-Posten by 12 intellectuals.

The 12 individuals who signed the Manifesto of Free Speach were soon threatened with death by radical Islamists.

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