Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Parched Voices In A Religious Desert



Anne-Marie Waters, council member of the National Secular Society, begins the case for the opposition by denying that she and her fellow opposition speakers cause fear of Islam and blames instead "the actions of Islam itself".

She lists "9/11, 7/7, Mali, Somalia, gender discrimination, forced marriages, polygamy, amputation", and many more. To the opposition's claim that these acts belong to an "extreme fringe" which has misunderstood the words of the Qur'an, she described the executions for blasphemy and apostasy in Saudi Arabia, and asks "has there ever been a more spectacular misunderstanding?"

Waters concludes by arguing that it is the moderate Muslims who must "dance around meanings" and "stretch interpretations" when confronted with the fundamentally violent ideology of the Qur'an.

ABOUT ANNE-MARIE WATERS:


ANNE-MARIE WATERS is a council member of the National Secular Society and a spokesperson for the One Law For All campaign, which argues Sharia law is incompatible with Western liberalism. She is a prominent journalist and campaigner, and is a member of the Labour Party.




Daniel Johnston, journalist and editor of what he calls the "not very right-wing" magazine Standpoint, called Islam "the most direct threat to Western civilization in the world today".

Johnston deplores the lack of "freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, equal rights, and separation between church and state" in Islamic countries, emphasizing that "all these ideals emerged in the West."

Johnston claims that a university like Oxford, with its tradition of free academic inquiry, could not exist under the conditions of an Islamic state and that "there is no university in this sense in the Islamic world".





Peter Atkins, former Professor of Chemistry at Oxford, concludes the debate by describing Islam along with all other religions as a "supermarket of ideas and instructions" from which good and bad men can select what they want "according to their taste."

However, he claims that Islam "does in practice inspire more violence than the other Abrahamic religions".

Taking on Adam Deen's metaphor of a 'golden thread', he argues that "the opposite of peace is woven into the fabric of the Qur'an."

Atkins declares that "all the seas incarnadine cannot wash the blood from a religion's hands", because "when evils destroy a human life, as they did yesterday, that life cannot be restored". He calls on the audience to oppose the motion "for the sake of humanity."

ABOUT PETER ATKINS:
PETER ATKINS is former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and now a fellow of Lincoln College. A fervent critic of all religions, he is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He claims "science is almost totally incompatible with religion."


ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: 
The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

MOTION: 
THIS HOUSE BELIEVES ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE.
Yes's: 286
No's: 168





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