09 January 2015

As a result of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations Leicester Secular Society has issued this press release.

Leicester 9th January 2015

Leicester Secular Society along with secularists around the world condemns the religiously motivated brutal attack in France on a free press and freedom of expression. This is a terrorist attempt to silence criticism and divide society

We are not unique in stating our disgust at these brutal attacks and we all unite in strongly urging people and Governments to remember the crucial importance of the right to free expression.

Following these unprecedented attack carried out in the streets of Paris, we would like to express our sympathies to the victims and condolences to those who knew the murdered.
Gush Bhumbra, President of Leicester Secular Society, said:
“We must stand for our right to free expression or we will lose that right. The only rights we can ever have are those we are prepared to take a stand over. Totalitarian ideologies will take for themselves the right to rule our lives, to tell us what we can do or say or even think, if we let them.

This barbarous attack on the free press deserves only our contempt and commitment to maintain freedom of expression.

The passive acquiescence of our media and politicians in self-censorship has been part of the problem. We must not be afraid to criticize, parody or ridicule any organization or ideology we disagree with (from whatever our perspective) and oppose ignorance, superstition and pompous behaviour.

This is particularly important in such a religiously diverse city as Leicester. The claims and images of one religion are regarded as blasphemies by another. 

Unless we accept the right of others to express their views in the public square, no matter that we find them offensive, then we cannot have freedom of religion and belief.

Those who advocate further censorship of cartoonists and writers in the wake of tragedies like this will only embolden the murderous outrages of these criminals.”

The right to free expression is a universal one, and it lies at the foundation of our every liberty. It must always be defended.

In that same spirit of solidarity, the Society has republished some notable Charlie Hebdo cartoons which can be viewed together with this press release here.

Leicester Secular Society (the oldest secular society in the world – founded 1851) is the leading organisation in Leicestershire advocating and campaigning for an inclusive and plural society free from religious privilege, prejudice and discrimination.
The Society is committed to:
  • creating a civil society that is for everyone equally, that promotes respect for individual human rights and encourages trust and co-operation between those sharing these values;
  • opposing policies that emphasise religious identity and allow religious discrimination or indoctrination in education and social services;
  • opposing religious privilege and the promotion of any religion by the state.
The Society is affiliated to (but independent of) the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society.
The Society aims to provide a stimulating atmosphere, nurturing debate and creativity. Regular lectures, meetings and events continue to be held at Leicester Secular Hall, one of the world's last surviving Secular Halls, built in 1881. The Hall and Society together provide a local base for loosely bound groups and individuals to join forces with a view to creating a better world.

Images from the BHA press release https://humanism.org.uk/2015/01/08/humanists-united-condemnation-charlie-hebdo-assassinations-support-free-expression/