Reply to emails questioning my decision to speak at the Symposium on Islam and Liberty
An email exchange showing criticism of my speach on Islam and my reponses.I am publishing this because the attitudes expresesed are typical of many atheists. I certianly wish to encourage debate on these issues.

I previously (see below) described the attitude of many atheists towards Islam as "compliant and 'complacent'. Unfortunately in view of this response, I am inclined now to add the words "naive", and perhaps even "negligent" "callously indifferent" and "anti-atheist". I have already used the word "reprehensible" elsewhere in a similar context. For explanation, see my comments below.

In view of this, I am now more convinced that despite my distaste for the right wing aspects of the Q Society, my decision to participate in their forum was correct. May I refer again to the final sentence of my disclaimer? "Before engaging in such behaviour, apologists for Islam are invited to consider first the relevant aspects of Islamic doctrine and their implementation." By apologists I particularly include atheist apologists.

best wishes


NB: Below, my original comments are in italics, ans by responses are in bold.

At 10:00 AM 13/03/2014 +1100, ... .... wrote:
Hi John,

I have shared your response with ...  for their information and consideration.  I also stated in my email to them that "I am skeptical of some of John's claims and premises and disagree with his strategy of addressing human rights concerns and will now spend some time responding to John with my concerns."  I am also including .... this correspondence.

As atheists, freethinkers and humanitarians I think it essential that we address these issues together and develop our position - mainly because "united we stand, divided we fall" (feel free to de-construct that phrase if it is at all flawed).

= "I did not represent the Secular Party and my association with it was not mentioned." =

But your involvement has caused an issue in the Freethinking community.  This should matter to you as an atheist, freethinker and humanitarian.

See again my comment above, and my disclaimer in The Growing Problem of Islam.

= "The doctrine of Muslim emigration, Hijrah, in emulation of the prophet, is a strategy to spread Islam and is a jihad tactic. Recognising facts in not paranoia, it is awareness." =

Sure.  But in stating this fact you give it more credence that I think is due.  I do not believe that the majority of Muslims who come to Australia are primarily driven by wanting to spread Islam as part of a jihad.  I might be wrong and I welcome evidenced based research to confirm your hypothesis, although I appreciate that this might be hard to come by.  The meaning of what you are saying seems to imply that Muslims wish to convert others to Islam - which is normal with Christianity at least also.  I would go so far as to say that all humans believe themselves to be correct in their worldview and have some wish for others to share their views - otherwise they would surely change their views?

In terms of anyone's capacity to spread their own world-view - we are all constrained by the natural order - there is only so much a person can do in terms of influence.  I understand your concerns about the nature of our Australian culture and how that might be vulnerable to be taken advantage of by proponents of Islam - but I still don't see this as a threat in the way you seem to think it is.  I do support more open discussion on Islam and sharing about the facts of Islam and public conversations and debates about Islam so that we are all more informed about the religion - in the same way I support knowing more about all religious beliefs.

Ask any Muslim if they would like to see Australia more Islamised. If they don't say yes, they are practising taqiyya.
On Hijra, read this:

= "The threat to secularism from Evangelical Christianity is trivial compared to the threat from Islam, particularly due to the compliant and complacent attitude towards this threat including by many atheists." =

I disagree because we actually have ACCESS ministries in our public schools sanctioned by government.

The number of children being opted out of SRI is increasing rapidly. The influence of ACCESS is fading. Of course atheists should oppose SRI and all forms of religious indoctrination in schools.

However, adherents of Evangelical Christianity do not:
* coerce women into wearing oppressive and debilitating garments (from Koran)
* engage in genital mutilation of girls (from Hadith)
* attempt to subvert civil law and replace it with their religious law
* seek to subvert the institutions of society to impose their religion by stealth
* reject democracy and seek authoritarian theocracy
* produce societies where basic human rights are rejected and prohibited
* produce societies that are increasingly typified by violence, turmoil and dysfunction

This is surely obvious. Why do I need to point it out? Are people disinterested? How do you justify this callous disregard of the above?

= "During Q&A, a bearded man, raised his fist and shouted "Islam will conquer the world!", at which the entire Muslin audience cheered wildly." =

 This is quite a normal reaction from a group who feel bonded and righteous.  I wonder if we would benefit from a strong bonding in our own "community" and how that might come about?  The atheist convention had some of this feeling about it when listening to Marion Maddox (Christian theologian) talking about teaching religion in schools - attracting cheers and applause from the audience of 4,000.

No it is not "normal". Other religions do not behave in such an aggressive, intimidating and frightening manner. That is the whole point. The atheists in the audience were genuinely afraid, as was Hossain Salahuddin, my co-debater. See the reports in Australian Atheist. We had a security detail escort us off campus in a convoy.

The use of the word "conquest" (def: the subjugation and assumption of control of a place or people by military force) was not accidental. This is not a kindergarten playground. What other groups champion the word "conquest"?

I find your response indicative of anti-atheist Islamic apologism. I find it incongruous and disappointing that so many atheists appear to have this attitude. It is why I have described cultural relativism as a scourge.

= " I wonder how many words, or pages of the Koran they have to go through before they say: Bingo, it's a miracle!"  =

A cheap shot.

This is in reference to the debate at Swinburne in which the most esteemed UK Islamist, Hamza Tzortzis, presented as his prime argument, that the reason that 1.2 billion Muslims believe that Islam is true, is because the Koran is a self-evident miracle, which is apparent from reading it. I made the above remark in the talk because I did not have the presence of mind, or perhaps the courage, to make it at the debate, to an overwhelmingly partisan Muslim audience shouting "Allah Akbar"

To call it a "cheap shot" is absurd (definition: an unnecessarily aggressive and unfair remark directed at a defenceless person). The remark is neither aggressive, unfair, nor directed at the defenceless. To accuse me of this, it is not just personally upsetting to me, but it is really quite disturbing to realise the extent to which atheists would go to, to side with a misogynist, anti-democracy, child rape-defending Islamist, against a fellow atheist: me. What motivates atheists to defend Islamists in this way? A serious examination of the motivation of why atheists should take such a stand against me is surely warranted.

= "for example the fact that the number of books that are translated into Spanish each year is one thousand times the number that are translated into Arabic." =

I'm interested to know if the books translated into Spanish are only English or from all other languages?  Also how many Arabic books are translated into English or other languages.

I suggest that you read the UN report (written by Arabs) that I quote. It is simply a question of supply and demand, with the implication being what is says about the societies in question.

= "We must not only stop the Islamisation of nations. These nations desperately need to be de-Islamised.. Eventually it must come to a point where the dangers of Islam have to be recognised." =

This is starting to sound like Bush's calls to take down Saddam Hussain and install democracy in Iraq.  I am very skeptical that aiming to force democracy through war is a wise approach.

I was totally opposed to the illegal invasion of Iraq which was a war crime. Bush was not an advocate of atheism. The comparison is ludicrous. If Muslims were not deluded by the belief in Islam they would not be suffering as they do. I have made this point tirelessly for the last decade, including in my Q talk. Obviously I am not getting through, even to fellow atheists. Yet I struggle to comprehend how I could state it any differently.

= "Violent jihad, in emulation of the Prophet Mohammed, is a sacred duty of the Muslim." =

I have not read the Koran, but I am lead to believe that jihad isn't clearly stated as violent acts, but more about a personal journey.

Yes well it is certainly clear that you are naive, you don't know what is in the Koran, and that you have been misled by Islamist advocates. But it is extraordinary that those who would be sceptical about the words of Evangelicals, yet in total gullibility, take the words of Islamists at face value. Why? I know the answer. It is cultural relativism, which I have already analysed and debunked, yet all my efforts apparently falling on deaf ears. Rather disheartening. See Secularism and Relativism

= " for psychological reasons people believe what they want to believe, not what is actually true. It is willful blindness." =

Couldn't we say the same about your interpretation of Islam?  I see it more that there are millions of Muslims in the world and they don't all go about committing violent jihad.  We could take aspects of the Bible and interpret them as Christian men sleep with their daughters and slaughter their sons.  But we know this is ridiculous.  We are all human and our shared humanity is first.  Religion is often used by many to perpetrate their evil acts.  Think Bush with his Christian message and Iraq and all the collateral damage caused with 112,667123,284 civilian deaths from violence from March 2003 to March 2013. (

I am trying hard not to feel insulted by this. I am not wilfully blind. Why would I be? Do you think I have some malicious intent? If so, what?

Yes, not all Muslims are extremists, obviously. Who said they were? But they all are supposed to follow the Koran. Thankfully not all do. Simplistic comparisons between the Bible and the Koran are inappropriate. Believers are motivated quite differently. I quote my disclaimer again: "Before engaging in such behaviour, apologists for Islam are invited to consider first the relevant aspects of Islamic doctrine and their implementation."

= "Ten years later the situation in the Arab world is immeasurably worse. Violence has increased. The Arab spring revolutions have come and gone. Multi-faceted civil war in Syria, all in the name of Allah, has led to the destruction of a third of the housing stock and 2.2 million refugees, a tenth of the population.  In Egypt an Islamist government has been replaced by a military regime. Islamist governments are intolerable, even for Muslims. These events are not new. This turmoil is something that has occurred repeatedly in Muslim countries throughout Islamic history. Karl Marx said that history repeats first as tragedy, second as farce. But the endless repetition of this cycle of violence is becoming catastrophic.  What if we project this worsening trend forward for another ten years? We may be looking at many more Muslim countries descending into chaotic violence and failed-state status. These are governance issues that affect the entire world community. We must not only stop the Islamisation of nations. These nations desperately need to be de-Islamised.. Eventually it must come to a point where the dangers of Islam have to be recognised." =

In terms of your comments about countries with high Muslim populations - is it really our role to interfere with their development?  Our government does have political responsibility, but I don't agree with a Bush type strategy of invading a country and taking over.  I just can't see how violence will stop violence?  The old two wrongs don't make a right (again feel free to unpack that phrase if a flawed concept).  Of course diplomatic advice and supporting of those who are victims.  In terms of humanitarian assistance we can only do so much.  But we can't prevent the harms caused - we are not gods - we are human and are limited to what we can achieve.  I don't agree that using violence can lead to addressing humanitarian problems.  Violence just seems to cause more humanitarian problems and political ones too.  What sort of action do you propose in terms of addressing Islam in these countries?

Where on earth do you get the impression that I advocate violence? What I advocate is atheism. Why don't you? You are supposed to be an atheist, aren't you?

Interference? Post Rwanda, the United Nations has "adopted" the policy of R2P: responsibility to protect. The point I make is that extrapolating the trend, the international community is going to be called upon, increasingly, to devote economic resources do deal with the conflicts and humanitarian disasters caused by Islam. Yet not one country has yet named the cause of the problem: Islam. They all suffer from the "religion of peace" delusion. I find it frustrating and dismaying that so many atheists also suffer from this delusion. Atheists with this attitude are part of the problem, not part of the solution,

It seems to me that you wish to attack Islam head on.  I can't see how this is beneficial.  I would like to attack human rights violations head on.  It is possible that the majority of Muslims value human rights?  If you attack Islam then straight away you put Muslims on the defensive.  If you address human rights violations then you ask Muslims to develop moral reasoning regarding the issues you present.  There are many groups of Muslims who are concerned about human rights violations.

It is not my intention to attack anyone. This must surely be apparent from my talks and articles. It seems that you have ignored everything I have ever said, including the words of the very speech you are now attacking me for making. The human  rights violations of Islam are exactly what I am trying to address. I do advocate moral reasoning: as an alternative to religious moral bigotry.

Human rights: please refer to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. As Ayaan Hirsi Alai and others have said, humans do not have rights, only Allah has rights.

Don't put Muslims on the defensive? From what you say, Christians, who want pregnant rape victims to be forced to have their babies as evidence, should not be criticised for their religion, because they might become defensive. It is ridiculous. What is the point in you being an atheist? You appear to be an anti-atheist atheist.

Please circulate this reply. I am also going to put it on my blog (names removed) as a classic example of what I am up against.