Joan Smith

Known for her human rights activism and writing on subjects such as atheism and feminism, Joan Smith is a columnist, critic and novelist. An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a regular contributor to BBC radio, she has written five detective novels, two of which have been filmed by the BBC.

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Syrian children at a refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan

Children pay for our failure over Syria

For too long we have sent mixed messages to the dictator in Damascus

David Cameron and his wife on their holidays

I'm suspicious of words like 'tradition', precisely because they carry a dead weight of expectation

Tories on the right regard David Cameron as modern, but wearing shorts is not enough

Twitter climbdown is too little, too late

How can we believe that men who abuse women online aren't also raping partners?

First photo-op: Prince George makes his debut before the world’s media last Tuesday

This has been a good week to be a republican

You wouldn't know it from the deference of the royal baby coverage, but a poll this month showed more than half of us weren't bothered

Indonesian mothers holding their daughters after they received a circumcision

Convictions for female genital mutilation. France: 100. UK: Nil

This country has a very poor record on the prevention of female genital mutilation. A new approach from the police could change that. But they need help

Why the delay on plain packs for cigarettes?

It's hard to see how the PM can justify holding back when lives are at stake
Kate and Gerry McCann are being treated with kid gloves by the media

The McCanns: Innocent until tried by the newspapers

As British police swoop in six years on, Kate and Gerry McCann face weeks of press chatter

Henry VIII, the Saddam of the Tudor court

Whenever anyone sets about compiling a list of great figures in British history, Henry VIII is a cert. A few years ago, he was at number 40 in a BBC poll of 100 great Britons, and more recently he's played a leading role in Hilary Mantel's prize-winning historical novels. The final instalment of the trilogy will have to deal with Henry's decision to execute Mantel's hero, Thomas Cromwell, who was despatched on the same day Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. She lasted less than two years before following Cromwell to the scaffold, and I'm not remotely surprised to hear that Henry has now been diagnosed as a psychopath.

Stuart Hall got off lightly. Jeremy Forrest's sentence proves it

Had the broadcaster Stuart Hall been in any doubt that he got off lightly after admitting 14 charges of indecent assault, he would have known better by the end of last week. The 15-month sentence he was given on Monday reflected the law, and the assumptions, of the period in the 1960s and 1970s when he began abusing children and teenagers. Four days later, Jeremy Forrest, the maths teacher found guilty of abducting an under-age girl, got five and a half years in total for that offence and five more (which he admitted) of sexual activity with a child.

Turkey's prime minister addressing supporters last week
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In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible