Guests heard from philosopher AC Grayling, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, writer Gita Sahgal, singer/songwriter Shelley Segal, dancer Maryam Freeflower, DV8 Physical Theatre Director Lloyd Newson, and poet Lilith. Magician Neil Edwards also performed whilst CEMB founder Maryam Namazie gave the closing address.
In his keynote address, AC Grayling said: ‘…The history of the world and not just the western world but of the world in the last 3-4 centuries has turned on the very crucial fact – the fact that there were people who had the courage to think for themselves…’
Lawrence Krauss said: ‘…We are all ex-Muslims… it’s true in the sense that all of us are fighting ignorance and superstition and a world where policies are made and people are oppressed on the basis of these things…’
Writer Gita Sahgal said: ‘…Council of Ex-Muslims is particularly important because it is dangerous to declare yourself having lost faith even in Britain and in fact in some places it is getting more dangerous. One of the reasons it is getting more dangerous is because …there is virtually no support from any public source for people who have actually left their religion.’
The CEMB also received many wonderful messages of support and solidarity to mark its fifth anniversary, including from Richard Dawkins, Taslima Nasrin and Mina Ahadi.
In her closing address, Maryam Namazie said: Whilst CEMB is many things to many people... it is first and foremost a challenge to political Islam. It is meant to shock and provoke. Throughout history that is how barbarity has been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.' She went on to say: 'Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.' You can read her full speech here.
The CEMB is grateful to all those who have volunteered their time, and supported or donated to the organisation over these five years.
We look forward to your continued support and another successful five years!