Secularist of the Year – the shortlist

The nominations are in and the preliminary round of discussion has whittled down the shortlist to nine possibles. The final decision on who is the winner of this year’s Irwin Prize will be taken by the end of this month.

Johann Hari
Columnist on the Independent for his consistent and vigorous approach to secular issues

Salman Rushdie is not the criminal

It's all right to attack a politician's religion

Oliver Kamm
Journalist and commentator. He is an example of the new alignment of the old “left-right” categories in politics, and an ardent secularist.

The Tyranny of Moderation: Respect and Civility are the Enemies of Free Speech

Wikipedia Entry on Oliver Kamm

Mina Ahadi
Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, which prompted the formation of similar groups around Europe, including one in the UK.

"Not Possible to Modernize Islam"

Sam Harris
For Letter to a Christian Nation – Sam Harris is regarded as one of the leaders of the New Atheist movement and his thinking has profoundly influenced the debate on the place of religion in America.

Letter to a Christian Nation

Michel Onfray
French philosopher who has had as much success in Europe with his book, In Defence of Atheism, as Richard Dawkins had with his book in the UK and USA. He argues for a new approach to non-belief – an atheistic atheism, rather than the sort that looks to religion to inform its morals and ethics.

In Defence of Atheism

Matthew Parris
Times columnist and commentator. For consistent secularist journalism, examples here:

Shout your doubt out loud, my fellow unbelievers

Parris's questions on the faith and politics of Ruth Kelly

Peter Tatchell
For work on human rights from a secularist perspective.

See his interview with Honorary Associate Joan Smith on 18 Doughty Street, where Tatchell declares himself a fervent secularist:

and also an interview with our Executive Director Keith Porteous Wood.

Comment: Why I support free speech even if it mocks me

Kenan Malik
For consistent defence of free speech

Stop inciting censorship

No bauble for free speech

An annotated bibliography of nonsense

Index on Censorship

Index On Censorship

The £5,000 Irwin Prize will be presented at a glittering lunch time event in central London on Saturday 20 October. If you would like to be there, tickets are now on sale. They cost £45 each and will include a welcoming aperitif, a three course meal (with choice of menu) and will include wine and coffee. There’ll be top-notch entertainment and the announcement of the winner and presentation of the prize. You can get your tickets from our on-line shop or by post from NSS Tickets, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL