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May 18 2013

Women In Secularism 2 – Maryam Namazie liveblog #wiscfi

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Secularism: A Right and Demand of Women Worldwide

Maryam Namazie

Full bio of Maryam’s accomplishments is insanely long. She’s kind of amazing.

“You know Kostanza on Seinfeld? Leave on a high note. I’m leaving now.” *laughs*

Talked earlier about solidarity with atheists who’ve been persecuted: Amina Tyler from Tunisia who posted nude photos, was kidnapped by family, was given psychiatric tests, drugs, imam talks. Managed to escape. Collecting money to get her out of Tunisia now. Posted another nude photo saying “No more moral lessons”.

Imad Iddine Habib – 22 year old who posted photos of himself eating during Ramadan, has been a fatwa by ruling imama saying apostasy should be punished with death.

Alexander Aan who is in jail for Facebooking about being atheist.

Murders and attempted murders against islamic protesters, women trying to go to school.

Today is an era of the 99% movement; uprisings in Africa etc, many of them women-led.

Many feminists and secularists remain firmly on the side of the islamists — any opposition to veil and Sharia law are met with charges of cultural imperialism, racism and more. Those who feel that way have bought into the narrative. This point of view sees islamist sentiments as authentically Islamic.

Islamists resort to abuse and threats of physical violence. Resort to threatening and attacking people who criticize.

Even someone like Salman Rushdie speaks for Muslims. He speaks their doubts. He speaks for the ones who can’t say these doubts themselves.

Extremists threaten with death people who would criticize them. Opposition to islamism has nothing to do with cultural imperialists patronizingly “rescuing” women muslims.

Difference and diversity are double-edged concepts. Have been used by reactionary forces to maintain that difference. Deep desire that difference remain different.

Opposing Sharia law has nothing to do with islamophobia. Saying so denies the dissent amongst Muslims. Islamism is a conservative movement like the far right here — concern is to defend islamism, not Muslims. If they were concerned about Muslims, they would stop terrorizing Muslims.

Fundamentalist terror against muslims is not a legitimate response that can be supported by the progressives of the world. Like fascists, islamists subjugate women and kill what they think to be inferior. Religion is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to women’s emancipation — and especially true of islamism. Islamism is a mafia, a killing machine, a political movement, not a religion itself — co-opting that religion. They say that women have full rights, but they don’t mean what they say.

Relativism sides with those who are oppressing. Women’s rights are not only for Western women. *applause*

Even if you leave aside Islamic jurisprudence, the suras in the Hadith include stoning women to death, wife-beating, etc. When you have discussion of rights with islamists, you should ask what they mean by rights — they often mean they have full rights under Sharia, though those rights are blatantly unequal.

Is there a good interpretation of religious texts? “NO!” Thank you.

Different interpretations of Sharia Law will claim that beating women involves a feather, or can’t leave a mark, but any violence against women is unacceptable, full stop.

No religion frees women. Women are freer when religion has less to do with laws and culture, not the other way around. Islamist demands come from political movement used to suppress revolutions and put down dissent. Must control the streets and arrest and fine people with brutality for what they think, how they dress, etc. If it was everyone’s culture, women wouldn’t be attacked by police in the streets for improperly veiling or forced to remove their makeup. Sharia and islamist laws are oppressive — and there’s no right to oppress.

Since when are secularism and rights Western? Islamists use the latest Western tech to hurt and subjugate, including bombing, nuclear technology. It’s not “western” when it’s tech used to suppress — but when it’s rights for women, it’s suddenly “western”. Those rights belong to all of humanity.

Mass movements against things like compulsory veiling were crushed brutally. After decades of brutality, we must be on the offensive. Women’s liberation movement is at a place where women can bring Islamism to its knees.

“We are not sitting in judgment of this world, we are players and participants in it.”

Q: How do you suggest those of us who are not Middle Eastern or African descent walk that tightrope?

Q: How should a progressive secular org approach bigoted activists like Pamela Geller?

Both of these questions are linked. Doesn’t matter where you come from — if you think something’s wrong, you should say somethign about it. Islamists have made criticism impossible because we don’t want to be labelled racist. But they’ll also tell Maryam she don’t have a right to talk about Islam because she’s an apostate. And not Shi’a, and Iranian. Etc. Don’t have to be black to oppose racial apartheid in South Africa. Essence of human solidarity that is lost in this debate. I’m not gay, but I support gay rights. Am I allowed to do that? Of course. Racism is something to be avoided, but it’s not racist to decry those injustices.

Far right is a huge concern — blame Muslims for islamism’s crimes, it’s difficult to sort out. Muslims attacking Americans overseas seeing them as responsible for America’s war crimes. Far right taking over the narrative is dangerous because they’re misframing everything.

There’s a racism of double standards and different expectations. Secularism is good not just because it’s good for Western people — it’s good for the people who want different rules and regulations, who are women under Sharia law, etc.

Another target is the far right — report called “Enemies Not Allies”. Considers progressive left also a problem — cultural relativists and post-modernists are undercutting rights fight.

The more of us speak up, the more it will have an impact in the public space.

Q: In your opinion, what percentage of Iran is secular / atheist?

Don’t know, because it’s a crime to be an atheist there. Even in Morocco, where there’s no penalty, it’s still a crime.

Huge resistance in Iran. Center of a mass anti-islamist backlash. Has had effect on Arab Spring. Think it’s huge, but you have “that sort of islam” on everyone’s head and it’s hard to gauge. Still see atheists wearing burqas to avoid attacks.

Q: Some people say “Islamic women have it worse than you, shut up about your problems”, how do you take those statements?

I don’t agree with them. You can always find someone worse. That sort of statement isn’t helpful. There are of course degrees of oppression, there are very different things. It’s good to be able to label and identify the differences. But even if there’s not honor killings in the west, the problems here also need to be addressed.

Q: How long do revolutions in the muslim world led by women remain positive toward women?

Secularists haven’t done much to support those revolutions. Both islamists and western governments want theocracies because they’re good ways to control the population. Western states sometimes prefer the Islamic regimes in the Middle East — look at the Saudi states, etc. Only problem western govts have with islamism is that they dared to come into the west, perform terrorist acts. Not the terrorist acts against south africa or middle east.

Where Muslim Brotherhood was nowhere to be seen in Egyptian protests, CNN kept asking about them. That pushed them forward. Secularists are not organized the same way that islamists can. They don’t have the ability to push themselves forward the way islamists do.

Instant protest photo — everyone in audience writes a sign and holds it up in protest of islamic theocracy killing and jailing people for heresy.

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