This is the best (and only way) way to tell the “conservatives” from the “reformers” in the Iranian regime’s farce of an election:
Jun 14 2013
The sixth anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is being held tomorrow on 15 June 2013 at 12:00pm for a 12:30pm start at an Italian restaurant in central London.
The keynote speaker will be writer Kenan Malik. Other speakers and acts include Magician Neil Edwards, Centre for Secular Space’s Executive Director Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and CEMB co-spokesperson Maryam Namazie. CEMB co-Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud will be the MC for the event. Special guests present include scientist Richard Dawkins.
There are still a few tickets left if you hurry. Tickets for the event, which includes a three-course meal and glass of wine at a wonderful Italian restaurant, are £35.00 per person or £30.00 for students/unwaged.
Additional donations are welcome to help ensure the attendance of CEMB volunteers at the event.
If you are in London, don’t miss it!
Jun 13 2013
Watch livestreaming from Taksim Square in Turkey:
Erdogan has lost his patience with the protesters. They and we have lost our patience with Erdogan and Islamism. Can you please fuck off to the Middle Ages and leave the revolutionary people of Turkey to live 21st century lives?
Jun 13 2013
The three young German and French FEMEN activists who protested topless at a Tunisian court in defence of Amina have been sentenced to four months in prison! According to an interview with one of their lawyers:
We knew that the maximum sentence was six months. The court in Tunis has not gone so far but has chosen a very heavy penalty, widely disproportionate to the facts. How to explain it? They probably wanted to condemn freedom of expression. Last week, the hearing was postponed under pressure of fifteen highly virulent conservative and Islamic associations. It is this pressure that may explain the severity of this judgement, which is a form of witchcraft trials, the offence of blasphemy.
Another lawyer said:
Heavy sentences for three European FEMEN activists is a bad sign for Amina. She did nothing, yet she faces up to twelve years in prison.”
Could this be?
It cannot and must not.
We must stand with Pauline, Margarite, Josephine and Amina until they are free.
If there is any justice, the four would be free and the Islamists who threaten and kill with impunity would be in prison.
FEMEN is collecting donations for the legal appeal; to help the parents of the three meet their daughters in jail; a permanent FEMEN observer in Tunis; for clothes and food for the four; a public campaign against Tunisian authorities…
Support the campaign and please donate here.
Amina represents me and us.
Jun 13 2013
Updated: 13 June
Today is the last day of Rim’s campaign. Donate now. Here’s a blog post from “Between a veil and a dark place” on why you should.
Rim Razek writes to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain:
I was born in Egypt. I come from a strictly religious background; most members of my family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite being brought up by parents who tried to censor art, music, and certain books, I was constantly searching for answers and looking for ways to get around the censorship. By the time I was sixteen, I had read numerous books on philosophy and religion and had come to conclusions that led me to leave Islam, conclusions I knew would make me a social outcast once anyone found out about them. After a period of inner conflict, I decided I wasn’t going to let society dictate what I believe or how I should live my life. I resolved to take off my veil and wrote an article called “Mass Hysteria,” saying that the veil is nothing more than a political and misogynistic tool used by Islamists in order to gain power and control while it provides no reflection of piety or morality as advertised. I also compared the freer attitude of Egyptian women in the sixties with the present.
After I published this article and a picture of myself without the hijab, I was thrown in a mental asylum and subjected to electroshock treatments as a punishment; I have recently blogged about for the first time. This was a traumatic experience. After getting out of the asylum and pretending to conform for a while, I returned to being outspoken. I made a video about how indoctrinating children with religious ideologies is child abuse and my friend Kacem Elghazali posted it on his blog atheistica. I took part in my friend Aliaa Elmahdi’s campaign by posting pictures of myself with and without the veil.
Jun 13 2013
“It is reminiscent of the person who wasn’t allowed to enter a village but was nonetheless asking to meet the village elder. The law doesn’t allow women to run… The general conditions are specified in Article 115 of the constitution; it says ‘one must be elected from amongst religious-political men’”.
Imagine a society in which half the population is excluded from running for office! Clearly, the “election” is a farce for women – but also men.
After all, Iran is a theocracy. Only those with “a convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official religion of the country” can run for office.
There are no political freedoms. Political parties opposed to the government are banned. Parties and associations cannot be formed unless they obey the criteria of Islam, and the basis of the Islamic republic.
There is no freedom of expression and press.
Dissidents are routinely tortured, imprisoned and executed for questioning the regime, its leaders, and transgressing Islamic norms.
Over 130 offences are publishable by death, including blasphemy, apostasy, heresy, enmity against God, adultery, and homosexuality.
Women in particular are treated as second class citizens. Women have no right to work or travel without a male guardian’s permission, certain fields of study are closed to women; veiling is compulsory; and a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s, amongst others.
The international media’s portrayal of the “election” circus as legitimate ignores the repressive and misogynist nature of the state and people’s resistance.
Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation reiterates its opposition to the Islamic regime of Iran and the election farce.
Women and men in Iran – like people everywhere – have a fundamental right to democratic politics, equality, freedom and secularism. A precondition for real change is an end to the Islamic regime – not by US-led militarism or economic sanctions – but by the women’s liberation movement and the people of Iran.
On 14 June, join us to oppose the “election” and to show solidarity with the people of Iran.
We are Islamism’s worst fitnah!
For more information, contact:
Mina Ahadi, +49 (0) 1775692413
Keyvan Javid: +44 (0) 7861476869
Maryam Namazie: +44 (0) 7719166731
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Email: [email protected]
Jun 12 2013
The Islamic regime in Iran will be holding another round of its so-called presidential election this coming June 14th. Election, under a regime that holds onto power through use of force, oppression, and execution, is a farce. Nothing could be more ridiculous than calling the event of changing the president of such a state the “elections”.
Political parties are not legal in Iran. Freedom of conscience is meaningless; criticizing or protesting the state is met with imprisonment and torture. Women are not only deprived of their right to be elected, but are also continuously persecuted, oppressed and humiliated. No opposition organization or personality has the right to partake in any political activity. The candidacy of the majority of those who registered as candidate for the presidential elections, all of whom held post in the Islamic regime, including the former president, the former head of the parliament, the a former prime minister, and the existing vice-president, have been disapproved. These people have been amongst the high-ranked representatives of the Islamic regime and taken part in all of the regime’s crimes. This reveals the real meaning of any type of elections under the Islamic regime in Iran.
The approach of the Western governments and media such as the BBC and the VOA to this farce is disgusting. Their ultimate criticism toward this so-called election is the disapproval of Rafsanjani or some other minor issue. The people in Iran, however, witness the depth of their deprivation from any human rights. For the majority of the people in Iran the core of the problem is the regime itself. They are fed up with the sexual apartheid, with being deprived of their rights, with imprisonment, oppression, living under the poverty line and the continuous and systematic intervention of religion and religious institutions in their lives and private affairs. The people demand the overthrow of this regime. The people in Iran want a secular state; they want freedom, prosperity and a humane life.
Jun 11 2013
Today, 11 June 2013, 18.00 hours, at London School of Economics, STC.S75 in St. Clement’s Building, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, Anne-Marie Waters and Baroness Cox will be speaking about One Law for All’s newest report on the state of children’s rights in Britain. The report “Multiculturalism and Child Protection in the UK: Sharia Law and Other Failures” can be read here.
The talk is going to be chaired by Professor Eileen Munro, CBE and review the effects of state multiculturalism on the matter of child protection in Britain.
Anne-Marie Waters and Baroness Cox will show that a multicultural approach, adopted by local authorities and other public authorities, to child protection is placing children in danger and creating parallel societies. Furthermore, the talk is going to topicalise sharia tribunals and their increasing authority in the issue of child custody, questioning the impact this has, and is likely to have, on the equal protection of children regardless of race or ethnicity.
Anne Marie Waters is spokesperson for the One Law for All Campaign. She campaigns against Sharia and religious Laws as she believes they represent a sacrifice of the rights of women in the name of legal and cultural relativism. She is a council member and campaigner for the National Secular Society, and campaigns more broadly for gender and race equality. She also writes and speaks on the importance of trade unionism, democracy, and Government and public sector accountability.
Baroness (Caroline) Cox was made a Life Peer in 1982 and was a deputy speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005. She was Founder Chancellor of Bournemouth University; Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University from 2006-2013 and isanHon as well as Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing. She also was a founder Trustee of MERLIN [Medical Emergency Relief International] and is Chief Executive of HART [Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust].
Eileen Munro is currently Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In June 2010, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, asked Professor Munro to conduct an independent review to improve child protection in England. Her final report was published in May 2011 and contained fifteen recommendations, all of which were subsequently accepted by the government. For services to children and families, Professor Munro received a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2012.
You can find the Facebook Event here.
Jun 08 2013
Much of the debate on Sharia law and its misogyny against women, the brutal murder in Woolwich, terrorism and more comes back to the question of Islam.
Islam we are told is to blame for it all.
After all Sharia law, jihad, misogyny are rooted in the Koran and Hadith (the sayings and action of Islam’s prophet Mohammad) – which is all true.
The link is undeniable (unless you are a cowardly politician). Islam is the banner of Islamism or political Islam.
But Islamism – not Islam – is to blame. Let me explain.
Christianity is the basis of the Christian-Right but fighting the Christian Right in the US is primarily a political fight against a far-Right movement not a fight against the fundamentals of Christianity.
I have said this many times before: if you look at Christianity in Europe today it is different from the days of the inquisition not because its fundamentals have changed but because its political and social status and power have changed. It’s been reined in and pushed back.
It’s the same with Islamism. I am told Sam Harris says “the problem with Islamic fundamentalism is the fundamentals of Islam” but this is about politics not religion. The fundamentals of Christianity remain the same but we are no longer living under the Spanish inquisition…
Of course, in general, we must always fight regressive and inhuman beliefs, including religious ones. Whilst people have a right to their beliefs as private matters, challenging regressive beliefs is an ongoing task. But to challenge and push back Islamism, sharia law, or terrorism, you have to fight it politically.
If you can’t see where the problem lies, you can’t begin to confront it.
A friend writes: “If Islam were sunshine and lollipops, then the political implementation of Islam wouldn’t be a problem. Is it because Islam is what it is that the politicisation of it is a problem?”
Well no. Nationalism is the basis of fascism but every act of flag waving at a football match does not fascism make.
There is of course much more to say on this and I will try to do so soon. However, while we’re on this topic I have to end with another issue that also often comes up in this debate. Not long passes before someone wants to know “where all the Muslims are”? The fact that we are never asked “where all the Christians are” in the fight against the Christian-Right is a good indicator that there is something very wrong with this question.
Most importantly, it’s the religious-Right that organises along the lines of religion. Others organise on the basis of social, political and class politics.Can you really not see the anti-Islamist uprisings in Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia… Can you not see so many fighting and dying (and long before September 11)? Or do you just not want to?
Jun 07 2013
Here’s a panel discussion on the question of god at last year’s QED conference that was just uploaded on Youtube. The panellists are Ophelia Benson, Paula Kirby, D J Grothe and myself:
Jun 05 2013
Tunisian FEMEN activist Amina was brought back to court today in handcuffs and covered in a blanket.
The “secret hearing” under police supervision meant that the decision of the court is unknown, according to FEMEN.
Amina faces up to two years in prison for writing “FEMEN” on a mosque wall and carrying pepper spray for her own protection.
Whilst Islamists are free to roam the streets to kill and intimidate at will, our dissenters are locked up behind bars and threatened with imprisonment.
We must not leave Amina alone. She speaks for all of us.
Also, the three FEMEN activists – Marguerite, Josephine and Pauline – who staged a topless protest at the court in Tunisia at Amina’s first hearing and who are now in jail and face prison terms must be freed immediately. In the courtroom, the activists bags had been put over their heads and they were covered in blankets; the judge banned photos and videos. According to human rights activist Patrick Klugman, who came from Paris to represent the interests of the FEMEN said: “I am horrified. Without giving FEMEN activists permission to speak, the court listened only to Salafi organizations which are not even the defendants in this case! Fair trial did not take place because the accused have not been released from custody, and they were not even heard.” Pre-trial is set for June 12.
Any day the four spend in prison is a day too long. They have done nothing wrong.
On the eve of the hearing, FEMEN activists held a “prayer” on the road near the Tunisian embassy in Paris chanting “Amina Akbar!”
Amina is great indeed…
Jun 04 2013
I spoke to Catherine Dunphy, Executive Director of the Clergy Project, at the Washington DC Women in Secularism conference end May about incorporating ex-Muslim imams and mullahs into the Clergy Project which is a confidential online community for faithless clergy.
If you are an imam and mullah who has finally seen the light, please get in touch with her. There have to be many – particularly since it must be hard keeping a straight face whilst speaking about peace and love (at least in English) when Islamism is slaughtering and terrorising left, right and centre.
Jun 03 2013
Dozens have been injured, two have been killed, four have permanently lost their eyesight after being hit by gas canisters or plastic bullets, and more than 1,700 people arrested in 235 demonstrations in 67 cities in Turkey.
Here’s a video showing brutal attacks on protesters by security forces.
Erdogan wants the protests to stop. We want his rule, the brutality and the encroaching Islamism to stop. Full stop.
Jun 02 2013
On 30 May, FEMEN activist Amina Tyler went on trial on charges of ”desecration of a grave” and “carrying harmful weapons”. She had scrawled the slogan FEMEN on a mosque wall and had pepper spray for her own protection with her. The judge decided to keep her jailed and added the charge of “attack on public morals”. The charges can carry from six months to five year imprisonment.
Nearly 200 Islamists protested against her saying she had sullied the image of the city and insulted Islam.
In condemnation of her trial, three FEMEN activists protested topless at the Tunisian courthouse and were arrested for attacking public decency and immoral behaviour. The two French and one German citizens are now in jail and could face up to one year in jail.
Clearly, the only attack on human decency is their arrests whilst Islamists roam free to murder and intimidate at will.
The four must be freed now.
Join FEMEN in calling for their immediate release. You can also donate to help support the four women. More information here.
Jun 02 2013
By the way, 85 women’s groups have released a statement supporting Canan Arın, advocate and founder of Mor Çatı who is currently being charged with “insulting” Mohammed and President Abdullah Gül.
During a conference on “Violence Against Women and Women Rights Law”, Arın mentioned that child marriages was a common practice in Turkey’s history mentioning the marriages of Prophet Mohammed and President Abdullah Gül.
A group of male advocates filed lawsuits against Arın for “insulting the islamic prophet”. She could face up to five years in prison.
Also the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s plenum being held today sent a message to the magnificent protesting people of Turkey:
May 26 2013
Updated 2 June
11 June 2013, Talk on Multiculturalism, Child Protection in Britain: Sharia law and other failures, London
Join One Law for All Spokesperson Anne-Marie Waters and Baroness Caroline Cox who will be speaking about One Law for All’s newest report on the state of children’s rights in Britain on 11 June at 18.00 hours at the London School of Economics. The talk is going to be chaired by Professor of Social Policy Eileen Munro. More information can be found here.
13 June 2013, Oxford Union panel on Iran, Oxford
Maryam Namazie will be speaking on Oxford Union panel forum on the topic ‘The election, the Arab Spring and the bomb – what next for modern Iran’? Moderator: Arshin Adib-Moghaddam. Other panellists are Dennis Kucinich, Mohammad Ali Shabani, and Hazhir Teimourian.
15 June 2013, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s 6th Anniversary luncheon, London
Join us to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain on 15 June 2013 at 12pm for a 12:30pm start in central London. The keynote speaker will be writer Kenan Malik. Other speakers and acts include Magician Neil Edwards, Centre for Secular Space’s Executive Director Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and CEMB Co-Spokesperson Maryam Namazie. CEMB Co-Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud will be the MC for the event. Special guests include scientist Richard Dawkins.
Book your tickets today. More details here.
29-30 June 2013, International Conference on Empowering Women Through Secularism, Dublin
Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters will be speaking at Atheist Ireland’s international conference on Empowering Women Through Secularism during 29-30 June. More information here.
29 June 2013, 12pm, Northern Ex-Muslim Meet-Up Group, Manchester
Northern Ex-Muslim Meet-Up Group is organising a lunch in Manchester on 29 June. To join the event, visit here.
6 July 2013, Launch of Council of Ex-Muslims of France, Paris
Join us for the launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France. Speakers include Waleed Al-Husseini, Nadia El-Fani, Caroline Fourest, Marieme Helie Lucas, Maryam Namazie, and many more. More details here.
May 26 2013
Participants joined in an action to defend Amina Tyler, Imad Iddine Habib, Bangladesh’s bloggers and Alex Aan (photo on left).
* The outrage over the attempted assassination of 15 year old Malala Yousefzai shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ education
* The mass protests against Islamists for the assassination of Socialist leader Chokri Belaid and Amina Tyler’s topless activism in Tunisia – My body is not the source of your honour and fuck your morals
* The anger over the murder of Neda Agha Soltan in broad daylight at a protest in Iran
* The February day of action against sexual terrorism in Egypt, Egyptian atheist Aliaa Magda ElMahdy’s nude scream against misogyny and the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters…
Even if you’re not looking, you can still see the immense resistance and dissent taking place.
It’s a new period of human development after decades of Islamism, US-led militarism, unbridled free market reign, cultural relativism and the retreat of all things universal.
Today is an era of the 99% movement and revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa – many of them female-led.
Whilst it may sometimes be hard to see given the perceived “gains” by Islamists in the region (in fact as counter-revolutionary forces aimed at suppressing the revolutions), the change of era is palpable.
Nonetheless, many post-modernist and culturally relativist Leftists, liberals, and feminists remain firmly on the side of the Islamists.
Any opposition to Sharia law, (which is based on the Koran, Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence), the veil, and Islamic misogyny are met with charges of racism and Islamophobia, cultural imperialism and more.
Those who say so though have bought into the culturally-relativist notion that societies in the Middle East and North Africa (and even the “Muslim community” in the west) are homogeneous, “Islamic” and “conservative”. But there is no one homogeneous culture anywhere.
May 26 2013
In response to a public announcement by subway officials for people to “act in accordance with moral rules” after security cameras spotted a couple kissing, 100 protesters converged on an Ankara subway station and kissed!
The kissing protesters also chanted and held signs saying “Free Kisses”.
Now that’s how to do things!
It echoes the fine words of Amina Tyler: “Fuck your Morals”.
May 25 2013
Here’s an update from the campaign to defend Amina. FEMEN Tunisia activist Amina has been arrested and faces imprisonment. We must act to support her now. More details to follow. Here’s the letter:
Hello to all of you. Thanks to you, we were able to collect 4730-euro. We collected 5525 USD (less 442 USD of indiegogo expenses and exchange rate) is 3930 €. On this was added 800 € which were sent by several donors to Prochoix. That is 4700 €. Thanks to all.
We will inform you how this money is spent. Because as you know we wanted, at her request, to assure her a plane ticket, to live and to assure her security until September. Several NGO have found how she can continue her studies in France.
But today, Amina risks several months of prison. We are going to do everything to increase the mobilization so that she is released as quickly as possible and can study.
Amina was arrested on Sunday, further to an action against the salafi mob. She was questioned then charged with ridiculous motives including ” desecration of a grave” and “carrying harmful weapons” (mace). The salafis were released for the greater part in spite of the bearing of sabres and knives and the fact of having uttered the threats, she is still in detention.
Amina will be in court on May 30th in Kairouan. It is very important to act in solidarity and show our indignation against this injustice. In Tunisia, as abroad.
A support committee is being formed. Amina’s lawyer, Maitre Souhayb Bahri, has all our gratitude and our confidence.
We shall inform you of all our initiatives.
By the way, here is an act of solidarity with Amina Tyler, Imad Iddine Habib, Bangladesh’s bloggers and Alex Aan at the May 17-19, 2013 Women In Secularism conference in Washington DC:
May 25 2013
The wonderful Karima Bennoune remembers those killed 40 days after the Boston bombings and calls for condemnation of Islamism. She says:
I would ask anyone who wants to support the rights of people of Muslim heritage in the United States in the wake of the Boston bombings, please do not so by explaining that jihadist terrorism is simply a response to US foreign policy, or a consequence of the alleged difficulties faced by Muslim youth in integrating into American culture, or the result of Russian bombing of Chechnya.
Many of us have criticisms of US foreign policy and that of other countries; integrating may indeed be challenging for those from immigrant backgrounds in many contexts; and Chechens did suffer through the intolerable flattening of their country by the Russian military between 1992 and 2009. (As far as I know the United States never bombed the province.) However, most Muslims, immigrants and Chechens have not become terrorists as a result. These things are no excuse for – or even explanation of – the choice to deliberately murder children and young people at a sporting event. Such a grave international crime has nothing to do with legitimate grievances and everything to do with extremist ideology and movements that indoctrinate and instrumentalize young people. We must defeat those movements which have killed so many civilians, especially in Muslim majority countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq and Pakistan.
I have just wrapped up three years of interviewing hundreds of people of Muslim heritage working against fundamentalism and terrorism around the world, and I learned many lessons from them that are helpful today. For example, Cherifa Kheddar, president of Algeria’s Association of Victims of Islamist Terrorism, or Djazairouna, who wrote right after 15 April to say how terrible the Boston bombings were. She told me that
“We cannot defeat terrorism by an anti-terrorist battle without doing the anti-fundamentalist battle.”
In other words, it is not just the violence of radical jihadis, but the underlying ideology of Islamism that we must confront. That ideology discriminates between Muslims and non-Muslims (as evidenced by Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s reported indignation that his Imam mentioned Martin Luther King, a non-Muslim, during a sermon), and between “good” and “bad” Muslims. It justifies egregious violence against women and civilians, or at least creates an environment conducive to them.
Of course, being an Islamist or a jihadist is not same thing as being a devout Muslim, and it is unhelpful when the US media simply describes radicalization as becoming “more religious”. This process is rather the adoption of a dangerous political stance that deploys religion in the service of an extreme agenda. The best way then to take a pro-human rights stance in the face of recent events is to support those people of Muslim heritage who are risking their lives to denounce and defy these movements. Many have raised their voices around the world in places like Afghanistan, but have rarely been heard in the west.
You can read the rest of the piece here.