Cafe Inquiry

Tuesday, October 23rd 2012 at 7:00 pm
Tuesday, October 23rd 2012 at 9:00 pm
Hill Center DC, 921 Pennsylvania Ave SE (Eastern Market Metro), Washington, DC 20003

Note Location: We will be in the Walt Whitman Room. Entrance is on 9th St SE. Elevator access available. Overflow room available in case of higher turnout to ensure all attendees receive adequate opportunities to participate.

Cafe Inquiry is our monthly casual get-together to meet people and discuss topics of science and humanism.

This month's discussion: Is there Islamophobia in the humanist movement?

Atheists and humanists do not spare Islam from their critiques of religion generally, for it shares features with other religions that they judge to be mistaken, such as a non-materialist worldview or unjustified conformity to tradition and authority. Islam is sometimes also singled out for special censure as especially oppressive to women, backwards in its outlook, defensive, and, some critics say, even inherently violent. Sometimes the entire religion is blamed for the crimes of its extremists (such as terrorism and theocracy), while many point out that the western world also has a centuries-long record of violent assaults against Muslim lands and peoples, from the medieval Crusades through modern colonialism. Christopher Hitchens was faulted by many of his fellow atheists for eagerly cheerleading the invasion of Iraq, while Sam Harris recently advocated the racial profiling at airports of Muslims, “or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim.” Do atheists sometimes slip into Islamophobic prejudice? What are legitimate criticisms of Islam, and what are not? Should moderate Muslims be blamed for the excesses of extremists? How can non-Muslims help Islam correct any weaknesses? Can there be any common ground between atheists and/or secularists and Islam?

This month we have suggested reading, although the reading is not required to attend or participate in Cafe Inquiry.

Sam Harris: In Defense of Profiling, April 2012.

Cafe Inquiry moderator Jeff Zavadil: Dear Sam Harris: Letter to a Casual Authoritarian, April 2012. (The opinions in this piece are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect any official view of the Center For Inquiry.)

We are also planning to go out for food and/or drinks afterwards. Free and open to the public.

Interested in leading a discussion or have someone to recommend? Please contact us at dc[at]