Secularist of the Year Prize Award 2006

The National Secular Society will be presenting the second Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year on Saturday October 7th at a central London hotel. The prize consists of a cheque for £5,000 donated by Dr Michael Irwin.

The event will be at lunchtime, with the formal lunch beginning at 1.30pm and the announcement of the winner and presentation of the cheque at around 3.15pm. The presentation will be preceded by a performance by controversial comedian Nick Doody, who was a big hit at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

The prize will be presented by Lord (Dick) Taverne. Lord Taverne is the author of The March of Unreason – Science, Democracy, and the New Fundamentalism

This year’s shortlist:

Kenan Malik
Bad bargain made in the mosque

Salman Rushdie

Johann Hari
Hacking apart a woman's vagina is not a legitimate expression of somebody's 'culture'
In praise of Richard Dawkins
Hating Islam
Science under siege
An Afghan opium deal

Nicholas Hytner
Despite that controversy and mass protests against the TV broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera, which had previously run at the National, Hytner was undeterred by the possibility of [his new production Paul] sparking off protest. "I cannot imagine my board or trustees being intimidated by anything."

Catherine Bennett – Guardian journalist
Why not worship a turtle? It's no more daft than believing in the power of red string bracelets
Of course women have a right to choose. But agreeing to wear a jilbab is no choice at all - even Mrs Blair can see that
How atheists can swing this spiritual election

Steve Jones
Scientist, for his spirited defence of science against the creationist onslaught
Six-day wonder
Steve Jones (Wikipedia)
Science lines creationism up for a chinning

Wafa Sultan
For her performance on Al-Jazeera TV, viewed on the internet by a million and a half people. See it here.
More information

Time magazines 100 people who shape our world
For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Flemming Rose
The man who commissioned the Mohamed cartoons for Jyllands-Posten

Muriel Grey
For journalism of a vigorously secular character
The cardinal is doing his job, but listening to him, that’s the real sin
How can we have respect for Islam when we are too fearful to criticise it?
So whose fault is it really that innocent Muslim men are being arrested?
Promise of full access to our cultural heritage rules out state-funded faith schools