Press release – Women’s rights campaigners welcome withdrawal of the Law Society’s sharia wills practice note

24 November 2014

One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, the Centre for Secular Space, Nari Diganta and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation have welcomed the Law Society’s withdrawal of their sharia wills practice note.

The practice note advised solicitors on how to draw up ‘Sharia-compliant’ wills, stating that

“… illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir…” 

The ensuing campaign organised by women’s rights advocates Pragna Patel, Maryam Namazie, Gita Sahgal, Yasmin Rehman, Dianna Nammi, Rumana Hashem and Chris Moos has seen an open letter to Asma Jahangir, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; and an open letter to the Law Society included signatories such as scientist Richard Dawkins, writer Taslima Nasrin and founder of Secularism is a Woman’s Issue Marieme Helie Lucas, amongst others.

On April 28, a well-attended protest at the offices of the Law Society featured speakers such as human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Muslim Institute Fellow Yasmin Rehman, Rumana Hashem from Nari Diganta – Women in Movement for Social Justice, Secularism and Equal Rights, and Diana Nammi, Chief Executive of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation.

The organisers of the campaign also obtained legal advice from Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers, which stated that the Practice Note was unlawful as it provided guidance to solicitors that promotes an interpretation of Sharia that is discriminatory on the grounds of gender, religion and ethnicity and thus gave rise to the possibility of direct discrimination by solicitors. This came after the Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority had already withdrawn its endorsement of the Law Society’s Practice Note on July 10, following the threat of legal action from Southall Black Sisters.

In addition, the campaigners also found that the Law Society had used the works of an extremist cleric, who has advocated flogging and stoning for “fornicators”, for their Practice Note. The campaign received extensive press coverage and political support, including from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who warned that the Law Society’s Practice Note risks undermining the rule of law.

Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters, said:

“SBS welcomes the Law Society’s decision to withdraw the discriminatory guidance. We also acknowledge that it has publicly apologised for having produced the ill-advised guidance in the first place. Let this episode serve as a warning to other public bodies that may be contemplating instituting ‘Sharia compliant’ measures that flout equality and human rights law and values, which must be regarded as universal and non-negotiable. We now look forward to working with the Law Society to address the devastating impact of the legal aid cuts which also prevent many abused and marginalised women from minority backgrounds from accessing justice.”

Maryam Namazie, founder of One Law for All, commented:

“The Law Society has finally succumbed to our pressure and withdrawn its guidance a week before women’s rights groups were to meet with them to step up our pressure against the discriminatory nature of their Sharia-compliant guidance. This is another huge victory for equality, one law for all and civil rights and yet another loss for the religious far-right. We congratulate all those who took part in this campaign. One law for all is not an empty slogan but must mean something particularly when it comes to the law.”

Gita Sahgal, Director of the Centre for Secular Space, said:

“We are delighted that the Law Society has finally seen sense and made clear that they do not wish to condone discrimination, have withdrawn the note entirely and will not seek to replace it. Their apology is very welcome. This is a victory against the institutionalisation of religious law. Secular values protect the rule of law far better than the regulators do. There are many battles ahead to protect human rights and access to justice. We have a common interest in these struggles.”

Chris Moos, one of the organisers of the campaign, concluded:

“The Law Society has done the only sensible thing – withdraw the guidance for good and apologise for promoting the use of discriminatory practices in the first place. Hopefully, those who have defended the practice note will now realise that the only way public bodies and representative organisations can be sure to meet their equality duties is by adhering to the principle of secular neutrality in matters of belief.”

For more information, contact:

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
pragna@southallblacksisters.co.uk
020 8571 9595
@SBSisters

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
maryamnamazie@gmail.com
077 1916 6731
@MaryamNamazie

Gita Sahgal
Centre for Secular Space
gita@centreforsecularspace.org
079 7271 5090
@GitaSahgal

Chris Moos
LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
c.m.moos@lse.ac.uk
074 2872 0599
@ChrisMoos_

 

You can defend your precious regime, I will defend revolution

It was recently brought to my attention that Kaveh Mousavi has written on my “misrepresentations” about Iranian politics. I don’t know who he is and haven’t followed his writings but this one post is sufficient for me to place him on the political spectrum of Iranian politics. All else is smoke and mirrors.

The crux of the matter is that Kaveh supports the “reformist” wing of the Islamic regime of Iran vis-a-vis the “Conservative” faction and therefore sees my opposition to his beloved faction and regime as “misrepresentation” and “lying”. He says there are differences between Rouhani and Ahmadinejad as if that is enough to protect the regime’s leadership from scrutiny.

Clearly, there are differences – that’s not the point. If there weren’t, there wouldn’t be infighting between the two factions now would there? But the differences are a matter of degree. Despite the differences, both factions fundamentally want the regime’s survival . Their strategies differ but the differences in strategy are on how to manage the survival of a theocractic regime that is faced with immense opposition from various sectors of Iranian society. It’s not about reforms (which in the real world means improvements in people’s lives via changes in law or public policy not mere rhetoric).

This should not be so difficult to understand even for Kaveh. There are differences between ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic regime of Iran… but fundamentally they want an Islamic state; their rule means the very same thing for people living under their boot. If there are any differences between the lives of people in Kobane, Raqqa, Tehran or Riyadh, it is not because of any “moderate” Islamists but because of people’s protests and their ongoing refusal to submit. You don’t have to have ever lived in Iran to know the role of “moderate” Islamists in normalising and strengthening Islamism; it’s evident even in the West.

Kaveh defends the “reformists” by crediting them for any breathing space in Iran. Rather, the “reformists” are the result of people’s protests. It is the dissent that has created the infighting and that has forced breathing spaces not the other way around.

Don’t forget, “reformists” like Rouhani or Khatami have been permitted to run in the so-called elections only with the approval of the “Conservative” leader Khamenei and the Council of Guardians. Only men who have shown complete loyalty to the Islamic system have any chance of entering and remaining in positions of power. The track records of these “reformists” speaks for themselves. Mousavi was Prime Minister during the notorious 1980s, a period in which Iran Tribunal has found the regime guilty of crimes against humanity. Khatami was Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance responsible for censorship during that time and the current president Rouhani has been a member of the regime’s Assembly of Experts, its Expediency Council and the Supreme National Security Council. “Reformists” indeed!

So of course I oppose both factions of the regime. I oppose its entirety, no matter how it is dressed and presented. For me, and for many others, whether they live in Iran or not, a theocracy is the end of any form of democratic politics. Call it “elections” if you want. Call it “reformist” or “moderate” if you want.

To defend the ruling elite (any segment of it) of a dictatorship where the law and public policy and the state and all its machinery still kills people for blasphemy and enmity against god and considers women half the worth of men is indefensible.

Such a regime has to end – it can’t be reformed just as you can’t reform a state based on racial apartheid or fascism. It has to end not by US-led militarism or economic sanctions that harm the public but by revolution as the only way in which people can fully intervene to be rid of dictatorships and theocracies. Of course the outcome is never guaranteed like any struggle or fight for change but I will always put my faith in social movements and people’s will to change things for the better than criminals feigning to be “reformist” in order to control and maintain Islamic rule as Kaveh does.

Yes I don’t live in Iran. I don’t think this is breaking news. I would most probably not be alive today if I did and there are enough threats from the regime, Iranian press mentions and death lists on which I am purported to be on to explain why. I, like many others, have been forced to leave our homes and live in exile because of a regime that cannot tolerate dissent. But whether I live in Iran or not is irrelevant. I don’t need to have lived in Iran or be Iranian or spent the past several decades in Iranian politics and worked with countless refugees who have fled or been persecuted by this regime to understand Iranian politics. Just as I don’t have to be South African to oppose racial apartheid or Palestinian to oppose the Israeli state’s occupation. Just as one does not have to be gay to defend gay rights or a woman to defend women’s rights.

Politics is about our values and where we stand irrespective of our identities, gender, where we live and where we were born…

Kaveh’s politics are clear as are mine.

His role is to defend the regime by defending a faction of it and to persuade people to be satisfied with a theocracy. Mine is to defend progressive social movements and people’s opposition to an Islamic state which is incompatible with the 21st century. His role is to support the “reformist” strategy calling on people to stay in their homes, not protest, scorn the opposition and only use the permissible mechanisms provided to them by a dictatorship; mine is to defend revolution, refusal and resistance.

Kaveh says that by opposing the “reformists”, I show that I do not care about the Iranian people. I am not sure how his defence of a section of a regime that murders at will shows any real concern for human life.

There are many other absurdities in his piece, which I have neither the time nor interest to respond to. I would only suggest that Kaveh step up and defend his precious regime without hiding his support behind attacks against me. He can call himself “atheist” and “liberal” all he wants. There are many examples of such “atheists” and “liberals” who have sided with the Islamists at the expense of those who refuse and resist and he is just one more of them. It’s nothing to be proud of.

Onwards to establishing an International Front for Secularism

Secular conference created a sense of imminent and momentous change – and women will be the driving force
- Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society

The two-day International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights held in London during 11-12 October 2014 was a rousing success, promoting a much-needed global secular alternative in the ISIS era and conquering fear with hope.

Conference videos and photos are now available online.

250 secularists, including believers, free-thinkers, agnostics and atheists from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora assembled at the unprecedented and historic gathering to discuss resistance against the repression and violence of various manifestations of the religious-Right.

They highlighted the voices of the many persecuted and exiled and the strength of the demand for secularism despite grave risks.

The delegates made an unequivocal stand with the brave women and men of Kobane, adopted a Manifesto for Secularism and set the stage for the development of a broad international front for secularism to challenge the religious-Right.

The conference, which was convened by Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas and Iranian-born Campaigner Maryam Namazie, called on people everywhere to sign the Manifesto for Secularism and join in this historical task.

The conference was not an end but a beginning of great things to come.

Join in one of the most important fights of our century. Please donate today.

Secularism. Today. Now.

NOTES:

1. See extensive press coverage of the conference.

2. Speakers at the conference were philosopher AC Grayling; Aliyah Saleem who spent 6 years in an Islamic school in Britain; Tunisian University of Manouba Professor Amel Grami; social and political analyst and commentator Bahram Soroush; French writer Caroline Fourest; secular student activist Chris Moos; Senior Researcher at the International Center for Ethnic Studies in Sri Lanka Chulani Kodikara; Indian labour historian Dilip Simeon; Yemeni writer and activist Elham Manea; Co-Founder of Muslim Women Research and Action Front from Sri Lanka Faizun Zackariya; founder of the Iranian Secular Society Fariborz Pooya; Senegalese International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws Fatou Sow; Director of Centre for Secular Space Gita Sahgal; Leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran Hamid Taqvaee; One Secular School System in Ontario Campaigner Homa Arjomand; Director of the Afghanistan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium Horia Mosadiq; FEMEN leader Inna Shevchenko; co-founder of Justice for Women Julie Bindel; author Karima Bennoune; writer Kenan Malik; Pakistani-born human rights activist Kiran Opal; Iranian writer-journalist and documentary filmmaker Lila Ghobady; Ex-Muslim Maha Kamal; Libyan president of Hakki Magdulien Abaida; Tunisian filmmaker Nadia El Fani; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud; Vice President of the Atheist Coalition in Poland Nina Sankari; Founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism Nira Davis-Yuval; Pakistani nuclear physicist and social activist Pervez Hoodbhoy; Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell; Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel; founder of the Ex-Muslims of Scotland Ramin Forghani; author Rumy Hassan; Turkish MP Safak Pavey; journalist Salil Tripathi; Iranian/German writer Siba Shakib; Founder of Association pour la mixité, l’égalité et la laïcité Soad Baba Aïssa; co-founder of Survivors Voice Europe Sue Cox; Executive Director of Ain o Salish Kendra in Bangladesh Sultana Kamal; Director of Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford Taj Hargey; Bangladeshi-born writer Taslima Nasrin; President of the National Secular Society Terry Sanderson and women’s rights campaigner Yasmin Rehman. Acclaimed pianist and composer Anne Lovett; comedians Daphna Baram, AKA MissD, Kate Smurthwaite and Sameena Zehra as well as LCP dance company and singer/songwriter Shelley Segal provided entertainment.

3. Indonesian band SIMPONI was announced as the winner of One Law for All’s Sounds of Freedom award with their entry “Sister in Danger”, a tribute to Indonesian victims of sexual violence.

4. The conference was endorsed by Atheist Alliance International; Atheist Union of Greece; Bread and Roses TV; Children First Now; Center for Inquiry; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation; International Committee against Stoning; International Committee against Execution; International Federation of Iranian Refugees; Iran Solidarity; National Secular Society; One Law for All; Pink Triangle Trust; Secularism is a Women’s Issue; Southall Black Sisters; The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK; and Women Living Under Muslim Laws amongst others.

5. Special thanks to The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK, the National Secular Society and donors who supported the Indiegogo fundraising campaign to bring secularists from the South to the conference, including @GodlessRobin, Andy Croy, Karima Bennoune, Kim Revill, Leif Cid, Muriel Seltman, Oliver Zimmerman, Penny Jaques, Rustom Cardinal, Sue Cox and Thomas Oliver.

6. For more information, contact:
Maryam Namazie
maryamnamazie@gmail.com
www.secularconference.com

More video clips of Secular Conference 2014

A lot more video clips have been uploaded of the 11-12 October International Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights. You can see the latest here below:

Iranian-born Campaigner Maryam Namazie’s Opening Address: Secularism is our response to the Religious-Right

Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas: “Attacks on Secularism”

Tribute by Karima Bennoune to those Fallen Fighting the Religious-Right

Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell’s Opening
Secularism Panel

Secularism against Fanaticism by Author Caroline Fourest
Secularism Panel

[Read more…]

Arab Spring – Revisiting the Revolution in Iran!

mostafaThe below is Mostafa Saber‘s speech delivered at The World Peace Forum Society Teach In, Vancouver, on October 25, 2014 on the Arab Spring – Revisiting the Revolution in Iran. Saber is in the Central Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. Enjoy.

I intend to give you my assessment of the Arab Spring and its relationship with the Iranian revolutions of 1979 and 2009. I will be making three points.

The first point is that it was no accident that Ayatollah Khomeini and Margaret Thatcher came to power almost at the same time, respectively 1979 and 1980. They were, in a way, two sides of the same coin!

Everyone knows that Thatcher smashed the labor movement. That is what she was famous for and proud of.  But, it might be new to some of you to hear that Khomeini slaughtered a whole generation of labor activists, communists, women’s right activists and dissidents, and we still don’t know where many of their graves are.

In recent history, nothing has been more misrepresented than the 1979 revolution in Iran. At its heart, it was a working class revolution that was ultimately defeated by the Islamic movement, which was backed by Western powers who had lost hope in the Shah of Iran.   Meanwhile, this Islamic movement was portrayed as the revolution itself when it was a counter-revolution, and a very brutal and reactionary one.  It was labeled as a “spiritual” revolution! It was not just a falsification of concept; more importantly, it was the beginning of a practical problem not only for the workers, women and all people in countries like Iran, but for the whole world. I’m referring to the rise of political Islam, the latest product of which is ISIS. If Margret Thatcher and the crushing of the miners’ strike in the UK was the beginning of the new conservatism, so was Khomeini’s movement, and his bloody victory over the actual revolution in Iran, the beginning of political Islam.

To make my first point short: Thatcher and Khomeini were both products and agents of a shift in world history. This shift sought to end the stagnation period that had followed the Golden Age of capitalism (1945 to 1973) and to begin the New Liberal globalization era, which started in the 1980s. Capitalism after World War 2 expanded rapidly and had reached the point of over saturated accumulation of capital, especially in old industrial countries. Now it needed new blood, namely cheap labor! How did capitalism resolve this? It did so, among other things, by smashing labor movements, ending the welfare state, attacking the left and all progressive movements everywhere, moving capital and production to less saturated markets or by globalizing the production of surplus value. What was the political structure of this new globalization? Well, it was the so called “conservative revolution.”  My point is that Thatcher in the west and Khomeini in the Middle East were the pioneers of this reactionary “revolution” that has devastated our planet for the last 3 to 4 decades. [Read more…]

United against ISIS and for Kobane

Here’s my speech at the 1 November Global day of Action for Kobane:

I was disgusted to see Social Workers’ Party and Stop the War Coalition speaking at the protest when they have been the stalwart defenders of the “ISIS” of Iran and other countries.

If you don’t know about their collaboration with the Islamists, see our report here.

Theirs is a politics of siding with the oppressors at the expense of progressive social movements and class politics and most importantly real live human beings.

As I mentioned in my speech, you can be opposed to both US-led militarism and Islamism – something they are clueless about because they have an affinity with the Islamists. How dare they show up and give lip service against ISIS when they have fully supported so many ISIS’ across the world?

BTW, Fariborz Pooya’s speech at the 1 November Global day of Action for Kobane can be seen below too:


`
(Thanks to Patty Debonitas for the video clips.)

1 November: Global Day of Action against ISIS, and for Kobane and humanity

On 1st November, people around the world will be out on the streets to protest against brutality by ISIS and at the same time express solidarity with the people of Kobane and humanity.

Londoners will be out in Trafalgar Square between 2-5pm. The purpose of the event in London will be to let the world know, and more importantly let Kobane know, that we are with them!

Join the rallies across the globe if you can – in any way you can. If you can’t get to a rally, show your solidarity in other ways.

Today and everyday, we are all Kobane.

Join Global Day Event on Facebook.

Some videos from Secular 2014 conference

Here are some of the videos from the 11-12 October Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London. Reza Moradi is busy editing them. MORE VIDEOS TO FOLLOW:

Iranian-born Campaigner Maryam Namazie’s Opening Address: Secularism is our response to the Religious-Right

Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas: “Attacks on Secularism”

Tribute by Karima Bennoune to those Fallen Fighting the Religious-Right

Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell’s Opening
Secularism Panel

Secularism against Fanaticism by Author Caroline Fourest
Secularism Panel

Hamid Taqvaee on the Rise and Fall of Secularism
Secularism Panel

Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Sultana Begum on Fate of Secularism in Bangladesh
Secularism Panel

Turkish MP Safak Pavey on Turkish Experience
Secularism Panel

Centre for Secular Space Director Gita Sahgal on Who’s afraid of Secularism
Secularism Panel

Closing Video with Maryam Namazie calling for the adoption of the Manifesto for Secularism

More videos to follow.

against acid attacks on women in Iran

On 25 October, there were huge protests against acid-attacks against women in Iran. Here is our statement condemning acid throwing, holding the regime responsible and showing our solidarity with the protesting people of Iran.

Against acid-throwing on women in Iran and in solidarity with protests
25 October 2014

علیه اسید پاشی به زنان در ایران و در حمایت از تظاهرات کنندگان

Here are some of the highlights of the protests on 25 October, all of which you will be able to find on Women’s Revolution Facebook page.

Here’s a photo of a protest against acid-throwing at Noushirvani University in Babul
Nosshirvani

Here’s a video of protests in Tehran

Here are some of the actions that took place as reported by the Worker-communist Party of Iran:

Gohardasht Prison

14 political prisoners of Gohardasht prison in Karaj held a hunger strike in solidarity with the protesters against acid attacks.

Shahr-e-Kord

Students on strike in protest against the acid attacks, with the University virtually closed. Shops on Boulevard Kashani, Sa’di Road, Hafez Boulevard North, the whole of Mir-Abad East and West and Mellat and Farabi Roads are closed.

Tehran
Women’s demo around Fatemi district, 1pm local time

The security forces had been deployed from around 12 noon in front of the Interior Ministry. A number of the regime’s vigilantes on motorbikes were trying to intimidate the protesters by hitting on the accelerator. The regime’s plainclothes officers had blocked the ways to the assembly point. At 1pm the security forces started attacking a number of women who were moving towards the Interior Ministry building. The slogans that were changed included: The acid thrower is a mercenary, we have no security! Acid throwing is a crime, fellow citizen give your support! There were scuffles between the protesters and the security forces, and the crowd dispersed.

Meanwhile, a number of students held a protest gathering from 10am at Revolution Square against both the acid attacks and the brutal execution early this morning of Reyhaneh Jabbari, the 26-year-old woman accused of killing a former Intelligence Ministry employee who had tried to rape her when she was 19. The security forces attacked the demonstration and a number of protesters were arrested.

Isfahan
There is a tense atmosphere here. Many girls’ schools are reported to be closed. Many students of the University of Isfahan have refused to attend classes, with up to 50% of classes reportedly cancelled. The University’s Security is tightly controlling entrances and exits. Shops in Emam Ali Square, Sabzeh Square, Shohada and Sharif Vaghefi Road are closed. People are making their way to Darvazeh Dowlat, where the shops are also closed. The security forces and plainclothes vigilantes of the regime are also present.

Darvazeh Dowlat district, 1pm local time
Between 2 to 3 thousand people had gathered in the area. The security forces and plainclothes vigilantes had a heavy presence. By 3pm, despite the attacks by the security forces, people continued to chant slogans. The Special Unit of the security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd. In the scuffles that followed a number of people were arrested.

Shiraz
1.30pm local time

People assembled around the Municipal Square and started chanting slogans. The roads leading to the Square had been blocked. A number of people were arrested.

Rasht

Students at the University of Rasht held a protest outside the Science Building. Around half an hour later the security forces attacked the protest, arresting two people. The crowd moved towards a nearby park, continuing their protest there.

Saqez
1.30pm local time

A large crowd gathered in protest at the acid attacks near the Governor’s office, chanting slogans against the acid attacks and also ‘death to the dictator’. There were scuffles with the security forces.

In the combined protests of today at least 10 people have been arrested.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed

They killed Reyhaneh on October 25 – a day of international protest against the throwing of acid on women in Iran for “bad veiling”. Reyhaneh lives on in all those fighting against the vile Islamic regime of Iran.

Despite huge amounts of security, her funeral was held yesterday on 26 October.

Here is footage of the funeral

You can see more footage here.

Reyhaneh lives on in the daily refusal and resistance…

See the statement of the International Committee against Execution on Reyhaneh’s execution:

To the millions of people who followed the fate of this young girl, to the thousands who took to the streets to save dear Reyhaneh, to the thousands of mothers in Iran who shed tears and begged for forgiveness on the media, we sadly have to report that Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed this morning.

This is a horrific piece of news on this bloody Saturday, when people are set to come out on the streets in the cities across Iran to protest against the acid attacks on women. We hope that a magnificent protest by the people today will be a fitting response to this brutal and shameless crime of the Islamic regime in Iran.

The Islamic regime’s ideologues, its professional criminals and murderers, the real killers of Sarbandi (whom Reyhaneh was accused of killing), all banded together and despite an enormous international outcry executed this young woman.

They put Reyhaneh under pressure in prison, extracted confessions, filmed the scenes and then killed her. This is the regime of Iran’s ISIS.

The execution of Reyhaneh and the many years of dealing with the judicial system of the Islamic Republic over the fate of Reyhaneh showed to the world the hideousness and viciousness of this regime and its judicial system.

Let everyone see the kind of monsters the people of Iran are dealing with. Let the world see that the one skill the heads of the Islamic regime, from the supreme leader to Rafsanjani, the president Rouhani, the paramilitary force Sepah and the Ministry of Intelligence, have in common is this: murder, lying and barbarity.

Millions of people see this now. The regime lied to the grieving parents of a young girl who for seven years fought to save their loved one; they spread rumours and did everything they could to stop Reyhaneh’s parents from saving their daughter.

Even before telling Reyhaneh’s family that they had killed Reyhaneh, they callously announced the news of the execution through their state media, while Reyhaneh’s mum and dad, sister and grandma were waiting outside the prison gates.

This is the abhorrent regime of the Islamic Republic. This is the regime of Islamic criminals, the ISIS ruling Iran.

If they don’t kill, how are they going to deal with others like Reyhaneh? How are they going to deal with the youth shaking the ground under the feet; those who don’t give a damn for the mullahs, Islamic leaders and the loathsome Islamic Republic?

But the regime in Iran should be certain of this: by killing Reyhaneh, they will only harvest a storm.

The International Committee against Execution calls on all to turn the sorrow and pain of the loss of Reyhaneh to public rage against the foundations of the murderous Islamic regime.

In memory of Reyhaneh Jabbari

Shame on the murderous Islamic regime

The International Committee against Execution
25 October 2014

Secular Conference 2014 rallies in support of Kobane and against religious-Right

Press Release
15 October 2014

PosterA3The two-day International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights held in London during 11-12 October 2014 was a rousing success.

A broad coalition of secularists, including believers, free-thinkers, agnostics and atheists assembled from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora at the unprecedented and historic gathering to discuss resistance against the repression and violence of ISIS and other manifestations of the religious-Right, including in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Israel, Libya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Tunisia and Yemen. They also discussed the urgent need to defend secularism, universal values and citizenship rights.

The 250 delegates made an unequivocal stand with the brave women and men of Kobane saying: “Their struggle is ours. Their fight is a fight for us all. We are all, today, Kobane.”

The conference, which was convened by Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas and Iranian-born Campaigner Maryam Namazie, adopted a Manifesto for Secularism which criticised neo-conservatism, neo-liberalism, communalism and cultural relativism and affirmed the complete separation of religion from the state and public policy, freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions as well as equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all. It also called for the abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes and an end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.

The conference highlighted the voices of the many persecuted and exiled, the long standing resistance against the religious-Right and the depth and strength of the demand for secularism all over the world despite grave risks. It also set the stage for the development of a broad international front for secularism to challenge the religious-Right, racism and all forms of bigotry.

The Conference called on people everywhere to join the International Front for Secularism and strengthen a human alternative to the religious-Right.

Speakers at the conference included philosopher AC Grayling; Aliyah Saleem who spent 6 years in an Islamic school in Britain; Tunisian University of Manouba Professor Amel Grami; social and political analyst and commentator Bahram Soroush; French writer Caroline Fourest; secular student activist Chris Moos; Senior Researcher at the International Center for Ethnic Studies in Sri Lanka Chulani Kodikara; Indian labour historian Dilip Simeon; Yemeni writer and activist Elham Manea; Co-Founder of Muslim Women Research and Action Front from Sri Lanka Faizun Zackariya; founder of the Iranian Secular Society Fariborz Pooya; Senegalese International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws Fatou Sow; Director of Centre for Secular Space Gita Sahgal; Leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran Hamid Taqvaee; One Secular School System in Ontario Campaigner Homa Arjomand; Director of the Afghanistan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium Horia Mosadiq; FEMEN leader Inna Shevchenko; co-founder of Justice for Women Julie Bindel; author Karima Bennoune; writer Kenan Malik; Pakistani-born human rights activist Kiran Opal; Iranian writer-journalist and documentary filmmaker Lila Ghobady; Ex-Muslim Maha Kamal; Libyan president of Hakki Magdulien Abaida; Tunisian filmmaker Nadia El Fani; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud; Vice President of the Atheist Coalition in Poland Nina Sankari; Founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism Nira Davis-Yuval; Pakistani nuclear physicist and social activist Pervez Hoodbhoy; Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell; Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel; founder of the Ex-Muslims of Scotland Ramin Forghani; author Rumy Hassan; Turkish MP Safak Pavey; journalist Salil Tripathi; Iranian/German writer Siba Shakib; Founder of Association pour la mixité, l’égalité et la laïcité Soad Baba Aïssa; co-founder of Survivors Voice Europe Sue Cox; Executive Director of Ain o Salish Kendra in Bangladesh Sultana Kamal; Director of Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford Taj Hargey; Bangladeshi-born writer Taslima Nasrin; President of the National Secular Society Terry Sanderson and women’s rights campaigner Yasmin Rehman.

Acclaimed pianist and composer Anne Lovett; comedians Daphna Baram (AKA MissD), Kate Smurthwaite and Sameena Zehra as well as LCP dance company and singer/songwriter Shelley Segal provided entertainment.

The Indonesian band SIMPONI was announced winner of One Law for All’s Sounds of Freedom award with their entry “Sister in Danger”, a tribute to Indonesian victims of sexual violence.

The Conference was endorsed by Atheist Alliance International; Bread and Roses TV; Children First Now; Center for Inquiry; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation; International Committee against Stoning; International Committee against Execution; International Federation of Iranian Refugees; Iran Solidarity; National Secular Society; One Law for All; Pink Triangle Trust; Secularism is a Women’s Issue; The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK; and Women Living Under Muslim Laws amongst others.

END

Notes

1. Videos of the Conference will be posted on the Bread and Roses TV Youtube Channel shortly.

2. Photos of the Conference will be made available soon.

3. Press coverage on the conference includes:

Secular conference created a sense of imminent and momentous change – and women will be the driving force, Terry Sanderson, NSS Blog, 15 October 2014

We are all Kobane: Rallying Cry of Resistants against Fundamentalism, Caroline Fourest, Huffington Post, 14 October 2014

Nous sommes tous Kobané: le cri de résistants à l’intégrisme, Caroline Fourest, Huffington Post, 14 October 2014

Guess what?: SIMPONI wins int’l competition, Jakarta Post, 14 October 2014

Secularism at risk in Sub-Saharan secular states: the challenges for Senegal and Mali, Fatou Sow, Open Democracy, 10 October 2014

Secular conference to discuss rise of religious-Right, The Guardian, 9 October 2014

Conquering Fear with Hope, Gita Sahgal, Open Democracy, 9 October 2014

L’urgenza della laicità, Riforma, 9 October 2014

Event on Rise of Religious Extremism to be Hosted in London, Prensa Latina, 9 October 2014

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era, Karima Bennoune’s interview with Marieme Helie Lucas and Maryam Namazie. Open Democracy, 4 October 2014

4. For more information, contact Maryam Namazie at maryamnamazie@gmail.com.

Just some more Islamist threats – but it won’t stop us

It seems be an Islamist, you must not only have a thing for murder but you have to be downright stupid as well.

Here’s an email circulated amongst the “brothers” on 10 October Friday before the 11-12 October conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London trying to mobilise their herds to stop our event by frightening the hotel where our event was taking place. The threats the hotel received were so serious that the police became involved and more stringent security measures were put in place.

Assalamalykum

Please do not ignore this message.

This weekend the council of ex muslims led by maryam namazi are holding a conference at the tower Guoman hotel. This event is full of hate preachers who’s intention is only to provoke Muslims and offend.

We need to make a stand against this event. We need you all to message and call the hotel today and demand that they do not allow the event to go ahead. Or at least ban Maryam namazi to be at the event…

A bit about Maryam Namazi

She has led a crusade against Muslims and islam and got many islamic events banned in the UK. She did a protest against the hijaab and by stripping nude in public and using the Iranians flag to cover her self. She cut out the part where it says Allah and put her private part there and then says this is better.

Make a stand for your Deen by getting her banned. Email and call the hotel now. And forward this message.
beconvinced.com

It is absurd when those preaching hate and defending murder call those resisting them “hate preachers”.

On Saturday, a few Islamists tried to get into the conference and were stopped by security. One of them even said he was a friend. Err, I don’t have any fascist friends, sorry.

One also texted me at the conference telling me he was waiting for me in reception: Ameenur Rasheed (07939 847723). One waited all day long right in front of the entrance maybe because he thought we would be intimidated?

Err, I don’t think so.

Also, both the websites of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All were down for several days due to sustained attacks.

Even so, our conference went ahead and 250 delegates from all over, particularly from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diapora, exposed Islamism and the religious-Right and defended secularism and citizenship rights.

The conference culminated in a Manifesto for Secularism – supported by believers and none – as an important step in creating an international front to challenge the fascists of our era.

Hope and humanity in the face of the religious-Right…

Islamists – you fail again!

 

We are all Kobane

Resolution in support of the people of Kobane
Adopted at 11-12 October Secular Conference 2014

We, the participants of the International Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights unequivocally stand with the brave women and men of Kobane.

Their struggle is ours.

Their fight is a fight for us all.

We are all, today, Kobane.

Why ISIS today?

See the latest Bread and Roses programme. This is a not-to-be-missed interview on the rise of ISIS and the need for secularism.

Why ISIS, today?
07 October 2014
Interview with Hamid Taqvaee, Secretary of the
Central Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran

چرا داعش امروز؟
۸ اکتبر ۲۰۱۴
مصاحبه با حميد تقوايى. ليدر حزب کمونيست کارگرى ايران

Manifesto for Secularism

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.

For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.

We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism. We demand:

  1. Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.
  2. Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.
  3. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.
  4. Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.
  5. Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

Signatories

  1. AC Grayling, Philosopher
  2. Aliyah Saleem, Secular Education Campaigner
  3. Amel Grami, Professor at the Tunisian University of Manouba
  4. Bahram Soroush, Social and Political Analyst
  5. Ben Baz Aziz is a Presenter at Arab Atheist broadcasting
  6. Caroline Fourest, French Writer and Editor
  7. Chris Moos, LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
  8. Chulani Kodikara, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka
  9. Daphna Baram, Israeli-born human rights lawyer, journalist and comedian
  10. Elham Manea, Yemeni Writer and Human Rights Activist
  11. Faizun Zackariya, Citizens for Justice, Sri Lanka
  12. Fariborz Pooya, Host of Bread and Roses TV
  13. Fatou Sow, International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws
  14. Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space
  15. Hamid Taqvaee, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran
  16. Horia Mosadiq, Human Rights and Women’s Rights Activist from Afghanistan
  17. Imad Iddine Habib, Founder of Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco
  18. Inna Shevchenko, Leader of FEMEN
  19. Julie Bindel, Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize and Justice for Women
  20. Kacem El Ghazzali, Moroccan secularist writer and blogger
  21. Kate Smurthwaite, Comedian and Activist
  22. Kiran Opal, Writer, LGBTQ/Human Rights Campaigner, Co-founder Ex-Muslims of North America
  23. Lila Ghobady, Iranian writer-journalist and documentary filmmaker
  24. Magdulien Abaida, Libyan Activist and President of Hakki (My Right) Organization for Women Rights
  25. Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian Founder of Secularism is a Woman’s Issue
  26. Maryam Namazie, Iranian Spokesperson for One Law for All, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Fitnah
  27. Nadia El Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker
  28. Nahla Mahmoud, Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
  29. Nina Sankari, Vice-President of the Atheist Coalition, Poland
  30. Nira Yuval-Davis, a founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and the International Research Network on Women in Militarized Conflict Zone
  31. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Pakistani Nuclear Physicist and Social Activist
  32. Peter Tatchell, Director of Peter Tatchell Foundation
  33. Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters
  34. Ramin Forghani, Founder of Ex-Muslims of Scotland
  35. Rumy Hassan, Senior Lecturer at University of Sussex and author
  36. Sameena Zehra, comedian and blues singer
  37. Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International
  38. Soad Baba Aissa, Founder of the Association for Mixing, Equality and Secularism
  39. Sue Cox, Founder of Survivors Voice Europe
  40. Sultana Kamal is a lawyer, human rights activist and Executive Director of Ain o Salish Kendra in Bangladesh
  41. Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society
  42. Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Activist

In support of 5 October: Day to Save Reyhaneh Jabbari from Execution in Iran

Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV
With Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Director: Reza Moradi; Programme Consultant: Poone Ravi
برنامه نان و گل سرخ مجله ای سیاسی – اجتماعی در کانال جديد
و فريبرز پويا با مريم نمازى
کارگردان: رضا مرادى٬ مشاور برنامه: پونه راوى

In support of 5 October: Day to Save Reyhaneh Jabbari from Execution in Iran

در دفاع از روز جهانی نجات ریحانه جباری، یکشنبه ۵ اکتبر برنامه

Promoting global secular alternative in the ISIS era

While many of us watch in horror as ISIS advances, and fundamentalist ideas spread across religious traditions around the world, Maryam Namazie and Marieme Hélie-Lucas – secular feminists from Iran and Algeria – told Karima Bennoune why they are convening the International Secular Conference in London next weekend.

Karima Bennoune: Can you explain your own journey to secularism?

Marieme Hélie-Lucas: I have been a secularist throughout my life, someone who believes a democratic state should not take orders from religions. My mother was a mystic, but also a secularist, and was strongly aware of the anti-women stance in all religions. Her feminist teaching on religions always remained within me, especially when I was confronted with the rise of Muslim fundamentalism in Algeria.

Maryam Namazie:  I became a secularist after Islamists expropriated and suppressed the 1979 Iranian revolution and established an Islamic state. I knew instinctively that there was something very wrong with religion in power, as do many people living under the boot of Islamism or the religious right – even if they do not call themselves secularists. My father was raised a strict Muslim (by my grandfather who was an Islamic scholar) but he never made me feel different because I was a girl. I never had to be veiled or felt unequal, until an Islamic state came into being.

Bennoune: Why did you decide to organize the International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights now?

Namazie: Our era is marked by the rise of the religious right, and in particular Islamism, with its unspeakable brutality. There has been many a slaughtered generation from Iran to Algeria. For every shocking and tragic beheading of a journalist and aid worker by ISIS that makes headlines, there are countless unreported others beheaded, crucified, flogged, segregated and “disappeared” via the veil…

In the fight against these movements, secularism is key, including for many believers. No one better understands the need for the separation of religion and state than those who have lived under the religious right. Secularism  may not be the only challenge, but it is certainly a minimum precondition for freedom in any given society.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

International Day to Save Reyhaneh Jabbari

reyhanehJoin 05 October – the international day to save Reyhaneh Jabbari from execution in Iran.

There will be actions in various cities. In London, the action will be in Trafalgar Square on 5th October 2014 from 1 to 2pm.

The Islamic Regime of Iran has announced that 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari, is to executed next week. Reyhaneh is accused of stabbing a man to death in the face of an attempted rape when she was 19. Jabbari who was sentenced to death in a sham trial in 2009 following two years of torture has always claimed that the stabbing to death of an employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, was after she met him in a café to visit his office to discuss an interior design and a business deal. While there, Sarbandi allegedly drugged and attempted to rape Jabbari, who in self-defence grabbed a pocketknife and stabbed him in the shoulder.

The Islamic regime and its judiciary are trying to execute Reyhaneh to cover up a dark secret related to the employees of the Islamic intelligence Ministry of Iran.

Reyhaneh and her mother are now appealing to the world to help save her. Many international organisations have now condemned the treatment of Reyhaneh Jabbari and have demanded her release.

We have only a few days to save Reyhaneh and force the Iranian regime to release her unconditionally. Join us on 5th of October 2014 in London from 1 to 2 p.m. to support the campaign to save Reyhaneh and bring an end to execution in Iran.

For further information please contact: Fariborz Pooya on 07861 740 999 or Sirvan Ghaderi 07446 135857
or by email: icae.london@gmail.com.

Reyhaneh’s Letter From Prison: I do not deserve to die. Death is not for me. Please save me.

reyhaneMy name is Reyhaneh Jabari, I am twenty six (26), Iranian and I have been living in prison where I have been confined for years; having nightmares of being executed at any point in time.

Days pass by and my fear grows on daily basis as I stand being strangled with a rope around my neck. If only I didn’t defend myself, I would have been a victim of rape.  I wish that damned day did not exist in my life; the day that destroyed my life and me.

I wish I was never cheerful and outgoing, and if only…

I was sitting in an ice-cream shop, talking and laughing with my friend via cellphone. Some people where sitting around the place I was sitting and must have overhead me talk decoration with my friend on phone.

When I wanted to leave the ice-cream shop, two persons came towards me and asked if I could redecorate their offices. We agreed and exchanged telephone numbers. I was walking along the way when Morteza on his car stopped in front of me and insisted to give me a ride.

His friend was sitting in the car, too. I got in the car; I wish I never did.

Morterza was a middle-aged man. I was not suspicious of him and anything whatsoever, hence, I got on the car. A Few days after, Morteza’s friend called me to visit his office to change the decoration regarding the contract already agreed upon before. We set an appointment and I appeared on the day.  They picked me up and drove me somewhere I didn’t know.  I got scared.

Mr. Shikhi had told me before that they were security officers, but Morteza was a surgeon, too. Morteza stopped in front of a pharmacy. He bought some stuffs there and came back with a little plastic bag in his hand. I did not know what he bought.

We arrived in an apartment which was on the fourth floor of a building. Inside the building was very dirty as if nobody had lived there for years. Mr. Sheikhi did not come inside. I was terrified to close the door behind me, but Morteza asked me to close the door. He asked me to take off my scarf. I didn’t do it. He approached me and tried to touch me, but I didn’t let him. He put his arms around my waist, I ran away. He got angry and said that I cannot disobey his desire. I had a knife with me. In a second when he turned his head back to me I stabbed him in the back. He was still coming to me more angrily. He grappled me, but I could free myself from his hands.

While I was running through the door, Mr. Sheikhi came in. He got into a fight with Morteza. I did not know what was going on between them. He went to the kitchen table and took some documents from there. I ran away trying to get lost in the city. I went home very late.

At 2.00 O’clock in the morning, the police came and arrested me and since then I am in prison.

I got involved in a terrible incident. I later noticed from evidence that the plastic bag he had at the pharmacy contained condom and aesthetic and drawing inference from the items – juice containing aesthetic and the condoms, all show they wanted to rape me.
I just defended myself.  In all the court sessions, I had claimed that I am innocent and I continue to maintain that position. I did not kill Morteza even though I stabbed him to free myself. I do not know the extent of attack by the other man and what informed his intention; maybe to suppress evidence.

The court accepts neither my claim nor my lawyer’s defence. I have already declared in my last claim that I am an ordinary girl who did not allow violation of her dignity. I am a designer, I work as a designer and in line with my work, I entered into contract with them and they took me to the place where I believed reasonably that I was going to do my professional job; I never had any foreseeable hindsight of their intention as that had never happened to me before. The time for the court’s judgement came and the court’s verdict did not exculpate me and subsequently sentenced to death. Since my conviction five years ago, I am still in the death row.

The family of the deceased, the head of the judiciary and the supreme leader can only save me from death.

I do not deserve to die.

Death is not for me.

Please save me.

 

Reproduced and printed by the International Committee Against Execution – London
For further information Please contact: Fariborz Pooya on 07861 740 999 or Sirvan Ghaderi on 07446 135857 or email  icae.london@gmail.com

 

Are gay rights a possibility in Iran or the Middle East?

Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV
With Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Director: Reza Moradi; Programme Consultant: Poone Ravi
برنامه نان و گل سرخ مجله ای سیاسی – اجتماعی در کانال جديد
و فريبرز پويا با مريم نمازى
کارگردان: رضا مرادى٬ مشاور برنامه: پونه راوى

Are gay rights a possibility in Iran or the Middle East?
30 September 2014
Interview with Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society

آيا حقوق هم جنسگرايان در ايران و خاور ميانه امکان پذير است؟
۱ اکتبر ۲۰۱۴
مصاحبه با ترى ساندرسن٬ رئيس سازمان سکولاريستهاى بريتانيا