Secularist of the Year 2005

Since Maryam has just joined FTB and Kenan is about to, I thought I would repost this item from October 2005, when Maryam was named Secularist of the Year and I rejoiced rather noisily. Pleasingly, I quoted an earlier article in the Guardian in which Kenan talked about and quoted Maram. It all joins up, you see.

October 9, 2005

Maryam won! Maryam Namazie is Secularist of the Year. Ya-hoooooo. Sorry to be so American, but I’m really really pleased. As a matter of fact, I’m also damn smug. Here I’ve been publishing her articles like mad all this time, which I haven’t noticed the Guardian or the Independent bothering to do. Well? Well??! Wouldn’t you be smug? Wouldn’t you? Who has the better judgment? Eh? Eh? Which would you rather have published – Dilpazier Aslam, or Maryam Namazie?

Well maybe now they’ll start publishing her. Maybe this will be the push they need. Kenan Malik said, you know. Remember that? In the Guardian (she said pointedly). All the way back in January.

It also creates a climate of censorship in which any criticism of Islam can be dismissed as Islamophobic. The people who suffer most from such censorship are those struggling to defend basic rights within Muslim communities. Marayam Namazie is an Iranian refugee who has long campaigned for women’s rights and against Islamic repression. As a result she has been condemned as an Islamophobe, even by anti-racist organisations. “On the one hand,” she says, “you are threatened by the political Islamic movement with assassination or imprisonment or flogging. And on the other you have so-called progressive people who tell you that what you say in defence of humanity, in defence of equal rights for all, is racist. I think it’s nothing short of an outrage.”

I don’t see anything about the award in the papers yet (Maryam told me herself, and Azar Majedi sent a congratulatory message), so I’ll just link to this for now. It wouldn’t do for people not to know.


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