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NSS donates £7,000 to education charity

NSS donates £7,000 to education charity

The National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year prize fund was awarded to Plan UK in honour of Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban in October for campaigning in support of female education.

Malala Yousafzai’s story sparked outrage around the world after the Taliban said they shot her for “promoting secularism”.

The prize was collected today at the National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year event by Debbie Langdon-Davies, whose father John founded the charity in 1937. The prize was handed over by NSS honorary associate Michael Cashman MEP.

The money will be used to support Plan’s Girls Fund which, as part of its ‘Because I am a Girl‘ campaign, helps girls to claim their rights and access life-changing education.

Malala Yousafzai was nominated for Secularist of the Year by NSS supporters for campaigning for girls’ education in the face of violent and brutal Islamist opposition.

News of the award in Malala’s honour will not please Islamic hardliners. Towards the end of last year a group of fanatics said they planned to gather at the notorious Red Mosque in Islamabad to denounce her as an apostate, accusing her of turning her back on Islam.

Anjem Choudary, the lunatic London-based Muslim hate preacher who is one of the founders of al-Muhajiroun, which was banned in the UK in 2010, said the gathering would announce a fatwa against the teenager.

But although apostasy carries the death sentence according to Islamic law, he insisted he was not calling for Malala’s death.

It’s not a death sentence. It’s about what is the reality of what’s taking place and how she is being used as a tool for propaganda by the US and Pakistan, and for the crimes they are committing.

Later, the Freethinker received an email from Iftikhar Ahmad, of the London School of Islamics, who laid the blame for Malala’s shooting on the girl herself and the BBC.

In it he asked:

What is so special about this Malala, that she has been honoured with a peace prize, and nominated for Noble (sic)?

Ahmad continued:

At the age of 11 Malala began writing, under a pseudonym, for the BBC. Did the BBC encourage Malala, knowing she was only 11? If that is the case, what an irresponsible, unethical act!! I am sure that the BBC feels somewhat remorseful that this story ended the way it did, and they are the ones who are paying for Malala’s treatment in England. I wonder if Malala’s parents were aware of their daughter’s blog.

As a matter  of fact they were, and very proud of the fact too. With the encouragement of her father, Malala began blogging in her own name and revealed her face to the world.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said:

Plan UK does fantastic work campaigning for girls’ education so we are delighted to be able to offer this award. It is also important to honour the incredibly inspiring Malala Yousafzai, who risked everything to stand up for her, and others’, right to an education.

Secularism will always champion human rights above religious discrimination and oppression – which is precisely why secularism offers hope to oppressed women and minorities everywhere.

Leo-Igwe

A special achievement award was also presented to the Nigerian Human Rights campaigner Leo Igwe, above.

Leo has campaigned at much risk to himself against the naming of children as “witches” and “warlocks” by manipulative and fanatical evangelical churches. Children branded in this way are often abandoned by their parents or become the subject of mistreatment or even violence.

Sanderson said:

Leo Igwe is an incredibly brave and tenacious fighter for human rights in very difficult circumstances. He has been harassed and threatened by those he has opposed, and so has his family. We were very honoured to have him at this occasion and to honour him in this way. Few people deserve it more.

An award will also be presented to Queen Mary University of London Atheism, Secularism & Humanism Society for their efforts to promote secularism on campus and in particular their defiant and robust response to attempts to close down free expression on campus.

The Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year award is sponsored by NSS honorary associate Dr Michael Irwin and is presented annually in recognition of an individual or an organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the secular cause.

Previous winners include Peter Tatchell, Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Southall Black Sisters, Maryam Namazie, Professor Steve Jones, Mina Ahadi, and Evan Harris MP with Lord Avebury.

Plan UK is the UK branch of the global children’s charity Plan International. It is a registered charity in the UK (number 276035) and has no religious or political affiliations. As part of its “Because I am a Girl campaign”, Plan UK’s Girls Fund helps girls to claim their rights and access life-changing education.

Malala Yousafzai pictured last year recovering in hospital, surrounded by her family. Photo: Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham via GETTY

39 Responses to “NSS donates £7,000 to education charity”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    They shoot an 11-year-old girl in the head, fuck up her assassination and then say that the fatwa they are proposing to pass on her is “not a death sentence”? Just how stupid do they think people are?

    The religion of peace. It speaks again.

  2. Stonyground says:

    I think that it is very informative to compare the people who receive these awards with the religious block-heads that oppose them. Malala Yousafzai is accused of turning her back on Islam as if that is a bad thing. In fact, the things that she said as she was recovering suggests that she still has some way to go. That is in no way a criticism, she is a victim of her upbringing and she is a far far better person than I am.

    Leo Igwe is another guy who just puts my pathetic attempts to promote secularism to shame. I do what I can but I do not have to put my balls on the line the way that he has.

  3. AgentCormac says:

    Hear, hear, Stonyground. Leo Igwe is an unbelievably brave guy.

  4. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    On the NSS website the story about Malala is directly above one about David Cameron telling religious bodies that they should stand up against, as he put it, aggressive secularisation. I just wonder if he thinks that Malala was being aggressive in asking for secularisation in Pakistan and maybe that was why she was shot?

    What a prize idiot he is and this shows why a secular state, in which politicians don’t have to bend the knee to religious types, is a prize worth fighting for.

    I’m with Stonyground in regards to Leo Igwe, to go up against religion in a country like Nigeria is a very brave step.

  5. There are countless women who are promoting education in Pakistan, but they don’t promote via BBC, or any other foreign channels—There has never been an incident of violence by any, leave alone the Taliban’s, on any of these women from Pakistan—What is so special about this Malala, that she has been honoured with peace prize, and nominated for Noble?—Yes of course she needs to come back to Pakistan, or how else will she spread mischief about Taliban’s sitting in Britain—

    At age 11 Malala began writing, under a pseudonym, for the BBC. Did the BBC encourage Malala, knowing she was only 11? If that is the case, what an irresponsible, unethical act!! I am sure the BBC feels somewhat remorseful that this story ended the way it did, and they are the ones who are paying for Malala’s treatment in England. I wonder if Malala’s parents were aware of their daughter’s blog. The Taliban extremists are against any Western ideas that encourage women to reach their potential. This attitude exists all over the world, not just in the Middle East. It’s not an attitude readily palpable, but if you scratch the surface, the idea of women being subservient objects exists even in so-called “civilized” societies. Americans shoot little girls and boys and babies also and yes, the ones doing so are ALL evil whether they are Taliban or American.

    Malalla Yousufzai is used by the CIA, Pakistan’s corrupt Govt and Kabul’s rogue regime as a child soldier to carryout their propaganda work against their Taliban ‘enemies’ who is at war with them against occupation. Her parents foolishly sacrificed their daughter for fame and money or whatever reason. The result is another of our daughters is attacked. It could be by Taliban or it could be by their own mercenary gang to tarnish Taliban. End result is yet another life. She was used as a pawn in the dirty war of occupation.

    If Taliban attacked her because she attended school then there were many who were attending the same school along with her … why didn’t they shoot all of them … Why only her? This is the way Americans work … They brought an idol and shot her or got her shot …. they killed their own Ambassador to kill Zia-ul Haq. They killed 3000 of their own people in the Twin Towers on 911 to achieve their goals. Don’t be fooled when they say … ‘Taliban admitted” or Osama admitted. or Khalid Sheik Admitted.

    The commotion is too high all over the world for this child soldier … but when Afia Siddeeqi was tortured and her children were killed and prisoned many of our hypocrites didn’t have a voice to cry … when hundreds of Malallas are killed by drones on daily basis no tears are shed … no protests, no songs in dedication to them … but for the child’s soldier of CIA there is so much of sympathy ..

    British and American troops have killed and wounded thousands of Afghan men, women and CHILDREN. Its not just the Taliban doing all the killing of civilians is it? Taliban have said she was shot for promoting ‘Western thinking’ Because Taliban thinking is so much more enlightened and attractive. Yes, we have gangs and we have drugs. Sin and depravity, vice and violence. We have whole subcultures with no future, and no hope. But you actively seek to destroy those with hope, and condemn people to have no future. What about the other innocent people shot by US and British soldiers? And those in Palestine? Or is it cruel only when Taliban does it? This girl is being used by the British to keep the unwinnable war in Afghanistan going. Are British troops really dying so that girls can go to school in Afghanistan

    Reading all the other Malala stories, there was a strong sense that people were stereotyping all Pakistanis, and all Pakistani men, by the Taliban. They conveniently forgot that millions of Pakistani girls are attending schools, and that’s because their parents, fathers included, want them to have an education.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  6. jay says:

    Has she actually identified herself as a secularist? or perhaps she is a progressive Muslim?

    While we certainly support her in her goals of rights and education for women, we need to be careful not to put words in her mouth (especially in this climate).

  7. barriejohn says:

    What is so special about this Malala, that she has been honoured with peace prize, and nominated for Noble?

    She was shot in the head by one of your Mohammedan mates, you ignorant jackass. I didn’t read any more of your insane ramblings as you are obviously totally divorced from reality!

  8. Marky Mark says:

    (said the gathering would announce a fatwa against the teenager.)
    …These fu*ken people, they really piss me off.

    (Leo has campaigned at much risk to himself against the naming of children as “witches” and “warlocks” by manipulative and fanatical evangelical churches.)
    …And these Christian are no better, they should be classified as a HATE cult and locked-up in padded cells.

  9. Robster says:

    These religious despots with god/allah/baby jesus/wholly ghost thing on their team fail in everything they do. Fail is what they do best. I’d have thunk that with the god fantasy onside that it would be no contest, god apparently created the universe in a week but can’t do anything else successfully, even stop girls getting an education, helping the pope live forever or stopping pro contraception legislation in the Phillipines. The whole deity family is a dismal failure and should be put out to pasture, they do like offering pastoral services apparently.

  10. tony e says:

    Malala has shown more courage in her short life than I could ever muster.

    Truly humbling.

  11. JohnMWhite says:

    @Iftikhar Ahmad – how old are you? Also, why do you link a young woman’s desire to be educated in Pakistan, and her cooperation with the British Broadcasting Corporation, with the United States and its foreign policy? Also, why do you bring up US foreign policy and violence waged against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine as a rebuttal to a young woman being shot in the head?

  12. barriejohn says:

    I don’t know how reliable these reports are, but the article is featured on the NSS site this morning:

    http://www.bosnewslife.com/27330-breaking-news-pakistan-blasphemy-girl-facing-prison-mother-death-sentence

  13. Nelmonster says:

    Just did a quick google search of the name, ‘Iftikhar Ahmed’.
    All sorts of unsavoury stuff came up!
    I realise many people have that name but it has been said that there is no such thing as coincidence!
    Also, what is this guys thing with the, ‘It’s your fault we shot you’ crap? What a numpty.

  14. barriejohn says:

    He’s posted here before, Nelmonster, – or someone with the same nickname has. It’s all absolute bollocks, and not really worthy of a reponse!

  15. barriejohn says:

    Also featured by the NSS today:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2298203/Revealed-The-NHS-imam-opposes-organ-transplants-employed-hospital-years.html

    I know that it’s the Mail stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment again (would they say the same about an Anglican chaplain?), but the facts are undeniable.

    PS The BBC News Channe is broadcasting from St Peter’s again this morning!

  16. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: I just keep away from the BBC News Channel. Whenever I switch on religious junk appears. I used to trust the BBC. I don’t now and that is down to the religious propaganda. It is so selective, so overwhelming and so obviously tendentious that I have to wonder to what extent I can trust anything else they are putting out. If the BBC had set out to damage their reputation for providing objective news they could scarcely have done better than the recent religious output.

  17. Angela_K says:

    @Broga. I’ve just endured The Big Question on BBC while scoffing a full English. The topic was “Should the UK become a secular state?” And as you’d expect the usual assortment of religious wackos were allowed a disproportionate amount of time to spout their nonsense; the only reasonable speaker was Prof. A.C. Grayling.

  18. Broga says:

    Angela_K: The BBC are desperate to suggest that the christian faith is usual in the UK. This was part of the reason for the hours of turgid airtime given to the circuses around the election of the Pope and the Archbishop. The fact is that secularism is not only mainstream but, to their panic, increasing by the day. However, the BBC insists on the pretence that its constant pushing of religion and the unctuous clergy to whom it offers the airwaves reflects what people believe.

    David Cameron, an increasingly pathetic figure, seems to have either bought into the pretence or thinks that there are votes in going along with it.

    They can’t win this one because the religious nonsense, via the internet and best selling books by atheist authors, is clearly exposed for what it is: bollocks. Talking snakes, virgin mothers, the cannibal practises the RCs, a world created 6,000 years ago, miracles (but no replacement limbs) and prayer (the asking of an omniscient being to change his (he is male) mind) just don’t wash any more. Its the end game now for religion but with privileges and sinecures they don’t want to let go.

    Gotta go. The dog wants a walk. He is an atheist.

  19. Broga says:

    Angela_K: The BBC are desperate to suggest that the christian faith is usual in the UK. This was part of the reason for the hours of turgid airtime given to the circuses around the election of the Pope and the Archbishop. The fact is that secularism is not only mainstream but, to their panic, increasing by the day. However, the BBC insists on the pretence that its constant pushing of religion and the unctuous clergy to whom it offers the airwaves reflects what people believe.

    David Cameron, an increasingly pathetic figure, seems to have either bought into the pretence or thinks that there are votes in going along with it.

    They can’t win this one because the religious nonsense, via the internet and best selling books by atheist authors, is clearly exposed for what it is: bollocks. Talking snakes, virgin mothers, the cannibal practices the RCs, a world created 6,000 years ago, miracles (but no replacement limbs) and prayer (the asking of an omniscient being to change his (he is male) mind) just don’t wash any more. Its the end game now for religion but with privileges and sinecures they don’t want to let go.

    Gotta go. The dog wants a walk. He is an atheist.

  20. Stuart H. says:

    Great news, and a well deserved award, but does anyone happen to know the answer to a question posed to a schoolteacher friend of mine by one of his pupils – who like a lot of kids is quite inspired by Malala? As it’s a reasonable question raised by an average kid who’s taken an interest, my teacher friend would like to be able to answer it.
    When the original story of Malala’s shooting broke, it was reported that she was one of TWO girls shot – the other possibly because the thugs mistook her for Malala and none of the kids on the bus would identify Malala. Do we know the other girl’s name, and come to that, do we know what has happened since to all the other girls on the bus, who obviously shared her idealism but didn’t have any powerful friends to kick up a fuss, get them to a hospital or out of the country?
    This isn’t to belittle Malala and her family, just I’m a little worried we’re in danger of creating secularist martyrs and not doing enough to support ordinary kids and adults who fight back against this awful shit in whatever small way they can, away from the TV cameras.

  21. Don says:

    Stuart,
    Try this link.

    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-forgotten-malala

    Your friend’s pupils might want to do some fund-raising.

  22. barriejohn says:

    Stuart H: Two other girls were injured.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai#Assassination_attempt

    As Nelmonster says, such a shame that they were “forced” to take this action!

  23. remigius says:

    Stuart H. There were actually two other girls injured in the shooting, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan. Both are doing well but neither will condemn the Taliban.

    Here is a report on Kainat…

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/494078/kainat-riaz-slowly-picks-up-the-pieces/

  24. remigius says:

    Iftikhar Ahmad, I find it offensive that you have any involvement with the education of children. You, and people like you, are a fucking disgrace.

  25. barriejohn says:

    Hahaha – Iftikhar wouldn’t know the meaning of the word “education”!

  26. Stuart H. says:

    Thanks everyone, those links duly passed on and we hope to do something with them in local secondary schools after the Easter break.

  27. Malala started school again just this last week. The BBC and others ran a video of her walking to school with her father, and talking to camera. At the beginning of the BBC video she is saying to her father, “I can walk, I can even run!” She looks robust, and alert, and happy.

  28. barriejohn says:

    I believe that this is the video:

    http://youtu.be/KFKpcyDKLX4

  29. AgentCormac says:

    barriejohn

    That’ll be Musharraf bumped off by the end of the month, then.

  30. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: What might be called the Stalin Solution. Stalin just had murdered anyone he wanted out of the way. Job done, no further problems.

  31. 1859 says:

    @Iftikhar Ahmad. So this is what goes on inside the ‘london school of islamics’? Shame on you and all who think as you do.The amount of obscene, inverted logic in your piece is stultifying. Every opportunity you get you turn reality on its head: if you are bombed because of your views – it’s your own fault: if a defenceless girl is shot in the head – it’s her own fault for daring to demand an education: if 3000 innocent people are incinerated by fanatical muslims – it’s their own fault for belonging to the wrong culture: if someone writes a book or draws a cartoon that remotely criticises your god – it’s their own fault when they are machine gunned to death in the street and their family killed. And you call what the Taliban stand for ‘more enlightened and attractive’. You people cannot call yourself civilised.You are religious gangsters. You are so stuffed with obsolete propaganda you can turn the truth into anything you want – so long as it meets your own bigoted prejudices. About Malala and the Taliban. The unvarnished truth is that you are scared shitless at the idea that women should be your equals. You shot Malala in the head for two reasons 1). Because you want all your women to remain subservient and enslaved to men. In your eyes they are second class entities, chattels, and must remain so. By being educated there is the clear danger they will eventually revolt against your medieval dominance; 2) An educated person – man or woman – might one day begin to THINK FOR THEMSELVES – thus making it more and more unlikely they will tolerate being brainwashed by idiotic, religious clowns. A thinking, independently-minded person – like Malala – is the biggest danger any totalitarian system can face. And Islam is a form of totalitarianism, a form of religious gansterism that keeps its grip on its people by violence or the constant threat of violence. I hold ALL muslims who think like you as guilty of pulling the trigger of the gun that shot Malala. Shame on you and may you rot in your islamic version of hell – Pakistan!

  32. charlie says:

    Thanks to all who posted links to the other girls who were shot when Malala was. Their stories need to be told also. They are still living in fear and yet are so brave.
    Leo Igwe is a very brave man. The xtians are as bad as the Taliban and al-Qaeda (or as many call them, al-CIAda). ALL religious fundies are very dangerous.

  33. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Iftikhar Ahmad’s post is very similar to the argument used by misogynistic bullies when discussing domestic violence. It was all the woman’s fault, she deserved it! She made me beat her up.

    How pathetic.

  34. barriejohn says:

    GMR: Like ALL bullies, actually.

    “He made me hit him”!

  35. Lazy Susan says:

    Iftikhar Ahmad – Just to answer your first point, namely:

    There are countless women who are promoting education in Pakistan, but they don’t promote via BBC, or any other foreign channels—There has never been an incident of violence by any, leave alone the Taliban’s, on any of these women from Pakistan—What is so special about this Malala, that she has been honoured with peace prize, and nominated for Noble?[sic]

    Firstly, I don’t believe that “there has never been an incident of violence” – women all over the planet are treated like shit. My dog has a better life. Like your women, he is not allowed out except under someone else’s control. Like your women, he has no education. But he is not a slave, and the law in this country protects him better than your women are protected. But that is not the main point.

    It should not be necessary to explain to you that a child who is hunted down and shot for wanting to learn, and who refuses to be cowed, is special. Does the Koran not say that learning is admirable?

    Why was Malala shot when “countless women who are promoting education” were not? Can you explain that? Unless it’s just that you have started with Malala and will shoot the others when you have a free moment, the answer is that these “countless women who are promoting education in Pakistan” don’t exist. Malala was an exception, and that is why she was targeted. I am sure there are countless women who wish for an education, and who do what they can to get one. By shooting a child, your friends have lifted her high over your miserable selves.

    I fear or Malala’s life, but she is an example to us all. All strength to her and her fellows.

  36. JohnMWhite says:

    @barriejohn – and like all bullies, the coward has turned tail and fled the moment he is challenged.

    Prove us wrong, Ahmad. Try engaging in a conversation.

  37. barriejohn says:

    Before we castigate the evangelicals too much, what about this load of bollocks being force fed to children at public expense?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religion/christianity/easter.shtml

    After Jesus was crucified on the Friday (now known as Good Friday), his body was taken down from the cross, and buried in a cave tomb. The tomb was guarded by Roman Soldiers and an enormous stone was put over the entrance, so that no-one could steal the body.

    On the Sunday, Mary Magdalene, followed later by some of Jesus’ disciples visited the tomb and found that the stone had been moved, and that Jesus’ body had gone.

    Jesus himself was seen that day by Mary and the disciples, and for forty days afterwards by many people. His followers realised that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

    I haven’t read every word, but where is the prominent disclaimer that these are all ancient myths and legends?