Thursday, 14 May 2015

Reply to atheist arguments on BBC Big questions programme

On the 10th May 2015, the BBC broadcast a pre-recorded program, ‘The Big Questions’ celebrating 800 years of the Magna Carta (an agreement between wealthy Barons and the English Monarchy, to limit his powers). The program’s title for discussion was ‘Has Human Rights Law Achieved more than Religion?’, and features a lively one hour discussion on whether Human Rights is possible without religion, and whether religion is an obstacle to Human Rights – and does Secular understanding of Human Rights suffer from causing differences in interpretation, application and at times, injustice.

The guests invited to discuss and debate this question were:

Shami Chakrabarti (Liberty)

Abdullah al-Andalusi (Muslim Debate Initiative)

Peter Tatchell (LGBT and Human Rights campaigner)

Major General Timothy Cross, retired British Army officer 

Andrew Copson (Director of British Humanists Association)

Reverend Lynda Rose, spokesperson for ‘Anglican Mainstream’

Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Reformed Judaism

Lez Henry, Poet and Writer and Lecturer in Criminology

Adam Wagner, Human rights and public law barrister

Michael Mumisa, Cambridge Scholar and Academic on Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Maryam Namazie (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain)


Brother Abdullah Andalusi did a good
job every time he replied but unfortunately he did not get enough time. 
Below are a list of some of the arguments
which the atheist promoters of human rights advocate against religion and since
I am a Muslim I would
  reply back keeping
Islam in perspective. Please note these replies are not a full thorough
rebuttals or refutations; rather these are some points which muslims could
grasp from and further elaborate or formulate their answers on.
  More so I am fully aware that these can be
answered in a variety of ways , even better but I hope this effort serves to be
useful in some ways at-least.

You can also find this debate on the
Bbc website.

Please email your feedback to

Or via our website :

Table of  Contents 

Argument # 1  by Peter Tatchell (LGBT and Human Rights campaigner) : “For a Millennia, Organized religion has been complicit in the mass oppression of women, Gay people,
responsible for slavery, the inquisition, and many other abuses. “ Page 3

Argument # 2 by Andrew Copson (Director of British Humanists Association) One
of the best thing about human rights in particular about the universal
declaration (law) which you mentioned in the beginning is precisely that it is
not dependent on one particular culture, I think it is untrue to say it stands
from a Judaic Christian culture. One of the best things about the Universal
Declaration formed in the late 40’s (1940) that it draws in cultural
inspiration and authors from on all over the world, there are Confucianists
scholars there, there are Christian scholars there, there are humanists, legal
scholars and that blending of all that is best in human culture to produce this
[speech unclear] right is what is best and universalism about this human right
Page 5

Argument # 3 :
By Mariam Namazie (Ex Shi`a now atheist – Council of Ex
Muslims)- “…..If you look at organized religion, if you are a shi`a – let’s say
as I was born into – the sunnis are not good enough ; If you’re a Muslim women…
their testimony is worth half that of a man; If you’re gay you should be thrown
off the building – I am talking about the tenants it is the tenants of the
organized religion – the death penalty for apostasy it is in Muhammad’s hadeeth
for example . So what I am trying to say is that the difference between
religious law vs Human rights law is that Human rights law puts human beings at
the center whereas religious laws puts God at the center “   Page 6

Argument # 4 by Andrew Copson (Director of
British Humanists Association)“….. If you’d just listen you’ll hear that I am
agreeing with you. I am saying that, that (historic imperialism) was wrong.. I
am saying that human rights comes after in the 20th century as a reaction to
that and against other evils that have occurred , If you look at the Universal
declaration there is an amazing moment in the late 1940’s when people from all
over the world have come together and said ‘Look in the tab of thinegs of
what’s happened, just in the last few decades.. this is a brilliant line (in
the declaration that says) “These things have outraged the conscious of
humanity “ and its people saying what happened in the past was wrong (such as)
racism has occurred, religious discrimination has occurred, all these
violations of dignity they’ve happened so fast especially in Europe after
centuries of religious Anti-Semitism – all these things are wrong….” Page

Argument #5 By Mariam Namazie (Ex Shi`a now atheist –
Council of Ex Muslims) “I think this is another good example of what’s wrong
with using religion as a basis because a lot of it is upto interpretation and
that is a fundamental problem. If you’re going to wait for someone to interpret
women’s rights better than the interpretation of the Islamists, you can’t wait
around for interpretations. The other problem is the people who are in power that
decide what the interpretation is; the one that’s going to be law and therefore
it is really crucial that we have a basis that human rights and people are
equal irrespective of their religion and beliefs …. “  Page 9

Argument # 6 by Peter Tatchell (LGBT and Human
Rights campaigner) : “… let us recognize the reality
that half the world’s population are women, they are pressed on a massive scale
and face the most humiliating degradation and discrimination and in nearly most
cases that is supported by organized religion…”  Page 11

Argument # 7 By Mariam Namazie (Ex Shi`a now atheist –
Council of Ex Muslims)“…The fact of the matter is if we agree that it was
written for times before (only) then therefore human rights culture needs to go
beyond religion, If we agree however great it might be for that period but…..
when you have to rely on divine law you have to get into a lot of trouble like
in Iran you have women still being stoned to death, you have gay people being
executed . If you have societies that rely on religion you get into a lot of
trouble..” Page 12

Argument # 8 by Adam Wagner, Human rights and
public law barrister“…and they (religion) do come to an extend from tribalism
and therefore your tribe gets better rights than another tribe and human rights
says something like the opposite which is like we don’t recognize this some
sort of racial or tribal or religious hierarchy in human society and in fact we
are going to create liberal societies where all the different tribes and races
and what have you have been mixed together peacefully and with dignity and that
is what human rights is… we have to be honest, religious society now, forget
about 2000 years ago but now societies governed according to what God says
whichever god it is  tends to be less
liberal less free than societies that are governed by liberal principles and we
have to ask is that because of religion or dictatorial leaders using religious
principles to justify their awful rule….” Page 13

Argument #9 by Shami Chakrabarti
“..Yes it is our business (to critique or object to what others
do such as flogging someone for abusing god) because you see I believe in
Multiple identities , there are people in this room here who are my fellow
women there are people in this room with faith, without faith and we are
entitled to those multiple identities but the ultimate identity is that of
being a human being and why do we care about other people’s daughters because
if you believe in human rights you believe in other people’s children and love
them as you should love your own. And so somebody else’s daughter on the other
side of the planet is not fit for torture and rape and genital mutilation any
more than a daughter of anyone in this country…”  Page 14

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