Mina Ahadi Named Secularist of the Year

Richard Dawkins says that it is “the awakening of women” that will solve the problem of “the worldwide menace of Islamic terrorism and oppression”.

His remarks came while praising the winner of this year’s “Secularist of the Year” award from the National Secular Society. The £5,000 prize went to Mina Ahadi, an Iranian woman who was forced to flee her native country after leading a campaign against the compulsory veiling of women. Because of her resistance to the clerical regime, her husband and four of her colleagues were executed, and she only narrowly escaped the same fate.

She now lives in Germany and has founded the Committee of Ex-Muslims, a movement that is rapidly spreading across Europe. She has also founded the Committee Against Stoning, which now has 200 branches worldwide.

Richard Dawkins said: “I have long felt that the key to solving the worldwide menace of Islamic terrorism and oppression would eventually be the awakening of women, and Mina Ahadi is a charismatic leader working to that end. The brutal suppression of the rights of women in many countries throughout the Islamic world is an obvious outrage. Slightly less obvious, but just as outrageous, is the supine willingness of western liberals to go along with it. It is worse than supine, it is patronising and condescending: “Wife-beating is part of ‘their’ culture. Who are we to condemn their traditions?” A religion so insecure as to mandate the death penalty for apostasy is not to be trifled with, and ex-Muslims who stand up and fight deserve our huge admiration and gratitude for their courage. Right out in front of this honourable band is Mina Ahadi. I salute her and congratulate her on this well-deserved award as Secularist of the Year.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “We are proud to have been able to give Mina this honour – she is a woman of incredible courage and tenacity. The suffering she has endured has not dimmed her determination to improve the lot of women oppressed by Islam and other religious traditions.”

Posted October 21 2007

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