By Adi Chowdhury
After a largely successful event in Kitchener, Ontario, last year, one of the most enormous annual conferences for secular freethinkers has announced its highly anticipated return in 2016. The Non-Conference, as it is named, has officially stated that it will be held in Niagara Falls this August, on the 12th and 13th. Click here for tickets!
Here is a concise description of this prestigious conference from its very own homepage:
The Non-Conference is Ontario’s largest annual conference that is specifically geared for non-believers, non-theists, the “nones”, atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, materialists, rationalists, secularists, pantheists, skeptics, empiricists, naturalists, friendly theists…well, you get the idea.
The Non-Conference got its start in Toronto. We had a hugely successful event recently in Kitchener. Now look forward to #NonCon2016 in beautiful Niagara Falls.
We are talking to a slew of new notable speakers from across the globe for a day of discussion and debate on topics relevant to secularism, human rights, and free-thought in Canada and beyond.
The 2016 conference will be held at American Conference Resort Spa & Waterpark, 8444 Lundy’s Lane.
And this year’s theme? Jihadism.
Ex-Muslims, moderate believers, and a former jihadist are scheduled to deliver speeches and offer insight into the mechanisms of the global phenomenon monopolizing the minds and media of the world: religious radicalism. Wait, a former jihadist? Yes, that’s right.
Maajid Nawaz, the conference’s keynote speaker, was radicalized by the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir while a young man in the United Kingdom. Eventually, his involvement with the group landed him in an Egyptian jail for five years. Since then, he has repudiated his former radical vehemence and adopted a secular, liberal mindset determined to combat the forces of barbarism that he had once been mired in. His insightful take on jihadism is not to miss.
The event will also feature Ali A. Rizvi, author of The Atheist Muslim; Raheel Raza, president of the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow; and Armin Navabi, a Muslim apostate and founder of the Atheist Republic website.
Spencer Lucas, organizer of the Non-Conference, said that beyond jihadist terrorist attacks, there are other real world issues about the intersection between Islam and human rights that Canadians need to be aware of.
He pointed to the cause of Saudi Arabian writer Raif Badawi whose blog Free Saudi Liberals resulted in his arrest and 10-year prison sentence for apostasy. He faces regular lashings.
“These are things that are happening now and have to be dealt with,” Lucas said. “Raif Badawi’s wife took refuge in Canada. So these are issues that touch on the lives of Canadians.”
Although the Non-Conference is billed as a conference for non-believers, Lucas said it is not closed to the religious.
“It’s about having a conversation with each other,” he said. “We have believers attending the event, we have believers on stage speaking.”
Be sure to be there.