I am probably a target of such criticism. I’m somebody who takes up (a tiny) space in the refugee movement, though I myself am not a refugee. I do what I can as a lawyer, writer and campaigner. It is ridiculous to think that in the first of those roles I take up space that others should fill: as a lawyer my job is to stand in and make arguments on behalf of others. But I also reject this concept more generally, as a writer and campaigner.
Sunday Assembly looked like church, sort of. There was a band on stage, crammed in next to a projector screen framed with twee paper bunting. It reminded me of the Anglican Girls’ Friendly Society meetings I went to as a pre-teen, except we were singing ‘Tiny Dancer’ instead of ‘God Rules’.
In Australia, the Q Society has emerged as the major ideological platform for anti-Muslim propaganda. The organisation states that it was ‘formed [in 2010] in response to growing concerns about the discrimination, violence and other anti-democratic practices linked to Islam’.
These days it can be pretty hard to tell a Brooklyn hipster from a Sydney hipster. Beards have crept down Sydney’s jowls, and incongruous tattoos – rearing vipers and ‘Day of the Dead’ skulls and fantastic flying machines – have crept up the forearms of our bike mechanics and baristas.
Just recently, the Spanish government announced it was passing legislation to grant citizenship to Sephardic Jews expelled from the country during the Spanish Inquisition. Before that time, religious minorities had been generally tolerated and allowed to follow their own laws and customs in private.