Linda Ward Selbie  Gallery

Notes and comments
Atheist Alliance International Conference 2007
Crystal City, Maryland   September 27-30
Richard Dawkins, Saturday September 29th  6:30 p.m.    
The Veranda Cafe, Crown Plaza Hotel

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Matthew Chapman
Ayaan & Andrew Selbie
Andrew said to Ayaan that he wanted to put his arm around her for the picture but was afraid that her body guards would kill him. She laughed and said "that's what Hitchens says".
Josh Timonen


   The AAI Convention 2007 offered an outstanding roster of speakers and was an occasion too good to miss. For me the trip to Washington in September was my first chance to hear Richard Dawkins speak in person. He tops my list of contemporary outspoken intellects on the subject of Atheism, Anti-theism, Secular Humanism or whatever label is applied to non-belief in anything supernatural. 

     There was extremely intense security in the hotel. Participants were subjected to body searches and bomb sniffing dogs cleared the space before people were allowed to enter the meeting room for presentations. The A-list of Atheist speakers were the targets of those who are willing to harm others, justifying murder and violence as having some sacred validity conferred on their actions by Iron Age tribal religions.

    Dawkins, Dennett Hitchens and Harris are proclaimed as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse heralding the end of religious influence on societies. There are many strong voices striving through reasoned argument towards the goal of intellectual freedom hoping that soon religion will be marginalized everywhere. Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts her life on the line daily working tirelessly to enrich and enlighten, raising public awareness about the dangers that the continued protection of Iron Age belief poses to all cultures. 

    Julia Sweeney introduced Dawkins at the convention Awards Banquet and as I listened to her describe the sheer panic and fear she felt prior to her first meeting with Dawkins, it struck a chord with me as that was exactly my feeling too. My impression of Dawkins is that he seems tuned in to everything happening around him, listening and observing and no doubt making mental notes for future comments. The man tirelessly signed books and spoke to people throughout the weekend while never displaying fatigue and always being approachable. That takes stamina!

     2007 was for me an exciting year as prior to attending the AAI Convention I had the opportunity to hear Hitchens and Sharpton at the New York Public Library in May when ‘god is not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything’ was launched. Hirsi Ali was there too and I made a point of thanking her for her courage in fighting for Islamic women’s freedom. I did tell her about my participation in the protest against the implementation of sharia law in Ontario and that we won our battle on that small front. (That's me pointing an accusatory finger at a misogynist proponent of Sharia.)



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