In this opening programme six empowering and independent women around the globe unite their strengths to speak about freedom of thought, freedom of expression and women’s dissent.
Women are seen as the typical bearers of authentic culture and religion. From birth onwards their bodies are considered property of the community, their voices silenced and thoughts detained. With the rise of the religious-Right, criticism of religion has become more difficult and dangerous, especially for these women who lead the battle for universal rights, freedom of expression and women’s rights.
During the evening speakers discuss the ways in which women’s dissent is silenced, how cultural relativism, identity politics, the religious-Right and far-Right attack dissent and how women dissenters are fighting on multiple fronts.
Shelley Segal is a singer-songwriter involved in secular activism. Her first record, “An Atheist Album” is a passionate response to dogmatic belief, inequality and religious oppression. She has released seven recording projects and runs an independent record label True Music where she works with other artists.
Victoria Gugenheim is an award-winning body artist. She is passionate about merging art with science, as they share the common ancestor of human imagination. Victoria’s art has been a lifelong quest of “de-othering” people through art, public speaking and personal aesthetic choice.
Inna Shevchenko is the leader of FEMEN, topless activists against various manifestations of patriarchy, including dictatorship, religion, and the sex industry. She was kidnapped and threatened by the Belarus KGB in 2011 and was given political asylum in France. During her speech on 14 February 2015 a terrorist opened fire in the lobby of where the debate took place. Surviving the attack, Shevchenko later said, “Liberal voices should be louder than Kalashnikovs”.
Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born writer and activist. She is the Spokesperson for Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. The Islamic regime of Iran’s media outlets has called Namazie ‘immoral and corrupt’ and she has been barred and no platformed for speaking out against Islam and Islamism and defending the right to apostasy and blasphemy. .
Taslima Nasrin is an award-winning writer, physician, and activist, known for her powerful writings on women oppression and unflinching criticism of religion, despite forced exile and multiple fatwas calling for her death.
Zineb El Rhazoui is a Moroccan-born French journalist. She used to be a journalist of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where she was absent on the day of the murderous attack. After that she became the most protected woman in France. She is a passionate critic of Islam and a prominent secularist.