Charlie Hebdo staff win top NSS award

Charlie Hebdo staff win top NSS award

The National Secular Society yesterday awarded the staff of Charlie Hebdo the annual Secularist of the Year prize for their courageous response to the terror attack on their Paris office.

Just one week after the attack on January 7, 2015, in which 12 people were killed, the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo published an edition of the magazine featuring a depiction of Mohammed and an editorial making a passionate defence of secularism and the right to free expression.

NSS president Terry Sanderson said:

Since the events of January 7 in Paris, Charlie Hebdo has become more than a magazine – it has become an ideal, a symbol of democracy, a rallying cry to those who value freedom and openness in public debate.

The Charlie Hebdo horror has now joined the endless stream of other outrages committed in the name of Islam. The difference is that it prompted a commitment to free speech and secularism on the part of millions of people.

Looked at objectively, blasphemy is a ridiculous concept, transparently invented to protect eminently arguable ideas from challenge.

Ridiculous it may be, but it is also lethal.

He added:

From the forty or so nominations that we received, there was one that could not be ignored, that was the obvious and only possible winner.

The award was presented at the annual Secularist of the Year event, hosted by the NSS at a lunch event in central London. The lunch was attended by members, supporters and honorary associates of the National Secular Society, including Professors Richard Dawkins and AC Grayling.

Also present were a number of progressive Muslim campaigners and representatives of organisations working to combat Islamic extremism.

Martin Rowson, the Guardian cartoonist, pictured top, accepted the award on behalf of the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

Charlie Hebdo said it would donate the £5000 prize money for the award to the fund supporting the families of the murdered cartoonists.

In addition to the main Secularist of the Year award, the NSS also acknowledged a number of others for their work in the past year.

Lord Avebury was recognised with a special award for his invaluable support of the NSS, and for being a tireless advocate for secularism. Lord Avebury recently tabled a Bill to abolish chancel repair liability and has spoken out in Parliament against collective worship in schools and new legislation allowing prayers to be held as part of council meetings.

Maajid Nawaz, who couldn’t attend the event, was recognised for his work at Quilliam, countering Islamic extremism and promoting secularism.

Helen Bailey and Elaine Hession were acknowledged for their efforts in helping the National Secular Society campaign to abolish chancel repair liability.

A number of previous Secularist of the Year winners attended the event, including Peter Tatchell, who was awarded the prize in 2012, and Safak Pavey, the Turkish opposition MP who was named Secularist of the Year in 2014.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

8 responses to “Charlie Hebdo staff win top NSS award”

  1. Broga says:

    Imaginative choice and well deserved.

    OT: Archbishop of York upset because customers are not buying Christian chocolate Easter Eggs with leaflet “explaining” the Resurrection. They prefer Darth Vader Easter Eggs. Both subjects equally fictional.

  2. sailor1031 says:

    Just been reading up on that chancel repair liability. What an appalling example of religious privilege in 2015. I think if we had that here in Virginia a lot of churches would be mysteriously destroyed by fire…

    Broga: seems to me the ABY is always upset about something or other. Must be very bad for his episcopal digestion – or maybe that’s the cause.

  3. Angela_K says:

    Good choice of the NSS award for Charlie Hebdo who have done so much to help us laugh at religion.

    @Broga. I sent a link about the Easter Egg story to Barry earlier today, hopefully he’ll feature it.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Great decision. And we all know that Easter is named after the Easter Beagle, who comes from the same planet as the Great Pumpkin. Long live all satirists and cartoonists!

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    Would that the bravery shown at CH – and at The Freethinker – were also shown by our leaders in the face of “Islamic extremism” (translation: traditional Islam as practiced for centuries by billions of Muslims).

  6. Broga says:

    @Angela_K: I think Yorkie can’t quite get over not being the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. He is always around with a whine about what is lacking in the treatment of his religion.

  7. dennis says:

    LLAP, Charlie Hebdo

  8. Cali Ron says:

    Please try and show some respect for the coming hallowed holiday. Why must people be so cruel. I for one believe, in spite of no scientific evidence, in “Zombie Jesus Day”. And for Zombie’s sake, it’s pronounced hay, suess, not gee, sus. I mean, he’s from east LA, drives a ’69 Impala with fuzzy dice on the mirror and a chromed, chain steering wheel (made small so you can drive with handcuffs on). And the tacos, man the tacos are out of this world. Pure heaven! OPPS!! Wrong Jesus and wrong holiday. I got a real Jesus mixed up with the imaginary one, but it’s OK, cuz I’ll take tacos over eggs any day!

    Seriously, kudos to NSS and regards to Chalie Hebdo’s staff.