FESTIVAL | Religion, Hate Spin and Democracy

  • FoD-blockNEWorangeSpeakers: Cherian George (Hong Kong), Naser Ghobadzadeh (Sydney), Tim Soutphommasane (Sydney)
  • Date: 12:00 – 2:00pm
  • Time: Friday 26th September
  • Venue: Verge Gallery, Jane Foss Russell Plaza, City Road, University of Sydney
  • Cost: Free event with registration required on Eventbrite.

Secular democracies are struggling to deal with the resurgence of religiosity and the backlash phenomenon of religious offence. And while there is a place for hate speech regulations, these are frequently abused by political entrepreneurs. So what is to be done about religious offence? How can democracies best protect themselves against both religious bigotry and ‘hate spin’?



Dr Cherian George is a writer and academic engaged in journalism research, education and advocacy. He is an associate professor in the journalism department of Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his PhD in Communication from Stanford University. He has a Masters from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and a BA in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. He was previously an associate professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University, where he headed the journalism division. Before moving to academia, he spent 10 years at The Straits Times, where he wrote mainly on domestic politics and media issues.

Dr Naser Ghobadzadeh holds a PhD (University of Sydney, 2012) and an MA in Political Science (Shahid Beheshti University, Iran 2001). He has also worked as editor-in-chief of the foreign policy service at the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), communication officer with the UNDP and head of the Information Resource Centre (IRC), UNICEF office in Tehran.

Dr Tim Soutphommasane is Race Discrimination Commissioner and commenced his five-year appointment on 20 August 2013. Prior to joining the Australian Human Rights Commission, he was a political philosopher and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney’s Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. He has been an opinion columnist with The Age and The Weekend Australian newspapers. He is a board member of the National Australia Day Council, a member of the Australian Multicultural Council, and a member of the advisory council of the Global Foundation. A first-generation Australian of Chinese and Lao extraction, Dr Soutphommasane was raised in southwest Sydney. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, from where he also holds a Master of Philosophy degree (with distinction). He is a first-class honors graduate of the University of Sydney.