On Saturday 25 March 2017, Conway Hall – the oldest surviving freethought society in the world – will play host to the AHS Convention 2017, for a fun-filled day of fascinating talks, in-depth discussion, brilliant comedy, and entertainment.
The AHS Convention is the standout event each year for atheist, humanist, and secular students across the UK – and 2017 is no different. Be sure to buy your ticket now. In the past we’ve heard from speakers such as AronRa, A C Grayling, Shappi Khorsandi, and many more at our events, and we have a great line-up for 2017.
Salah al-Ansari is a Senior Researcher in Quilliam’s Theology and Outreach department and a lecturer in Islamic studies, having studied Classical and Modern Islamic Studies in Cairo. Sheikh Salah was appointed an Imam and teacher at the Central London Mosque and then worked in a number of mosques in London, Margate, Woking, and Basingstoke, where he has led extensive dialogue activities on national and international levels. Salah is featured in Arabic and mainstream media outlets including BBC Arabic TV, Sky New Arabic, France 24, TRT, Al Jazeera, al-Ghad al-Arabi, BBC Radio 4, The Independent, and The Times.
Clive Aruede was the son of Nigerian parents who immigrated to Britain. He spent his childhood and a large amount of time as an adult as a practicing Catholic, but became an atheist having started to research science online. He then went through the difficult process of having to tell friends and family that he no longer believed. He is now one of the key organisers of London Black Atheists.
Stevyn Colgan is an author, speaker, artist and teacher. He is one of the ‘elves’ that write the BBC TV series QI and the BBC Radio 4 series The Museum of Curiosity. He worked for the Metropolitan Police service for 30 years and is an expert on problem-oriented policing, and has lectured on the topic throughout the UK and US. He is also an artist, illustrator, and author of a variety of novels. He regularly appears on TV, radio, and various podcasts, as well as speaking at a variety of universities, events including QEDCon, TEDx and the Ig Nobel Prizes, speaking on science, art, creative thinking, his own experiences, and of course comedy.
Siobhan Fenton is the Social Affairs Correspondent at The Independent, where she writes about gender, race, immigration, law, housing, and austerity, among other issues.
She has previously written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The New Statesman, and The Spectator, as well as appearing as a commentator for the BBC, Sky News, and RTE. She trained as a journalist, having previously studied English at the University of Oxford and gained a Masters degree in Gender Studies from the University of Cambridge.
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer, and broadcaster. He regularly appears on BBC radio, and has written and presented a number of TV documentaries. His published works cover a wide range of topics, having studied both neurobiology and the history and philosophy of science. His main areas of academic interest are the history of ideas, the history and philosophy of science and religion, the philosophy of mind, theories of human nature, moral and political philosophy, and the history and sociology of race and immigration.
He has also been involved in a variety of campaign work, with particular emphasis in recent years on freedom of speech, secularism, and scientific rationalism.
Nourhan Nassar is the founder of Arab Humanists, and works between London and Cairo. She has given several talks about Humanism in the Middle East and scepticism in the Islamic world. She also acted as a spokesperson in a joint statement to the UN presented by the BHA and Arab Humanists, which was critical of the human rights violations in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Sarah Peace is a Nigerian art and politics student at Goldsmiths University. She writes articles for The Huffington Post, and in 2010 created artwork, featured in national media, to commemorate the kidnap of 230 Nigerian school girls. She is a committee member of Conservative Humanists and is the founder of Fireproof Library, a platform for using art and literature to counteract censorship and blasphemy laws. The organisation advocates for freedom of expression and human rights through its Secular Voices campaign.
Arifur Rahman is a Bangladeshi secular blogger. Although helives in the UK, his writing held to inspire a new trend of atheistic blogging in the Bengali language. Being based in the UK gave allowed Arif to feel safe and gav him the courage to write without fear, not an option open to many in the Bengali diaspora. While many Bengali writers, intellectuals worry about hurting religious sentiment or causing offence to the government, he still continues to raise concerns, and speaks up about the path nominally secular Bangladesh has taken. He works closely with the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the National Secular Society, the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, and the British Humanist Association.
Aliyah Saleem is an ex-Muslim atheist who attended an Islamic school in Britain for five years and studied the Qur’an in Pakistan, growing up being expected to become a Qur’anic scholar. Having left Islam at 19, Aliyah has since spoken about ex-Muslim issues as well as advocating for secular education. She is the co-founder of Faith To Faithless (with Imtiaz Shams, below), an organisation that raises awareness of the discrimination and prejudiced faced by people who leave religion. Aliyah is an ex-hijabi and ex-niqabi who has also written about her work and personal experiences for The Times. She is also a board member of the AHS.
Jonny Scaramanga was raised in the UK as a fundamentalist Christian, and attended a school that taught the Accelerated Christian Education scheme. He later started to question religion and spent his twenties ‘trying to separate fact from fiction while worrying that [he] could be condemning [himself] to eternal damnation.’ He went on to study for a PhD looking at the experiences of people educated under the same scheme and has campaigned against it, as well as against ‘faith’ schools more generally. He has previously appeared on Newsnight, The Jeremy Vine Show, The Big Questions, and BBC Radio 4’s Sunday, and maintains a blog on Patheos called Leaving Fundamentalism, as well as working as a musician.
Imtiaz Shams is an ex-Muslim atheist who grew up in Saudi Arabia and came to the UK with his family as a devout Muslim. Growing older he began to question his faith, but was uncertain that it was possible to stop being a Muslim. Finding a community of ex-Muslims online meant he was able to finally leave Islam behind. He is a co-founder of Faith To Faithless (with Aliyah, above), and regularly speaks at events on his experiences as ex-Muslim, and campaigns on issues associated with the cause. He is a trustee of the BHA and works in the technology industry.
Peter Tatchell has been campaigning for human rights, democracy, LGBT freedom, and global justice since 1967. He is a member of the queer human rights group OutRage!, and the Green Party. Through the Peter Tatchell Foundation, he campaigns for human rights in Britain and internationally. Peter’s key political inspirations are Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankurst, Martin Luther King and, to some extent, Malcolm X and Rosa Luxemberg. He has adapted many of their methods to his contemporary non-violent struggle for human rights – and invented a few of his own.
Lola Tinubu is of Nigerian descent and has a similar story to Clive Aruede, of losing faith and having to confront the fear and stigma associated with leaving religion. It was only on coming to the UK that she found the freedom to leave religion behind, but she still had trouble finding a community to talk to about her experiences. Now, she is one of the organisers of London Black Atheists.
Brian Whitaker has been a journalist for The Guardian since 1987 and was its Middle East editor from 2000 to 2007.
He studied both Arabic and Latin and is currently an editor on the paper’s Opinion section. He also writes articles for Guardian Unlimited, the internet edition of the paper. Independently, maintains Al-Bab.com, writing about politics in the Arab world. He is the author of several books about the Middle East, most recently Arabs Without God: Atheism and Freedom of Belief in the Middle East.