The launch was a huge success

The launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was a huge success! To see my speech at the event, click here. (Others speeches to follow.)

Thanks to the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society for sponsoring it. Also a huge thanks to the lovely AC Grayling who came and spoke and to all of you who have sent kind emails and warm wishes of congratulations. We have been inundated by your support! Of course there have been the few crazies (aka Islamists) too (like the chap who has written saying once a Muslim always a Muslim and that no one can ever leave Islam!).

A special thanks also goes to the many unbelievers, atheists and ex-Muslims who came to the launch and or who are calling or writing to join (including from other countries!). The response has been unbelieveable. You will soon be able to join online by going to our website (from next week though as we are still trying to sort out some technical hitches.)

The Muslim Council of Britain of course isn’t ‘taking [us] seriously’, according to the Guardian. Unfortunately for them, everyone else is and they will learn to soon enough.

BTW the establishment of the new organisation has been reported in various media outlets:

New Group for those who renounce Islam, Pakistan Daily Times Monitor, June 22, 2007

New Ex-Muslim group speaks out, The Guardian, June 22, 2007

Council of ex-Muslims challenge politicised Islam, New Humanist, June 21, 2007

New group for those who renounce Islam, Telegraph, June 21, 2007

Ignore Islam, ex-Muslims urge, BBC, June 21, 2007

Spiritual departures, Guardian’s Comment is Free, June 21, 2007

Ex-Muslim group launches in Britain, Washington Post, June 20, 2007

Ex-Muslim group launches in Britain, The Scotsman, June 20, 2007

Ex-Muslim group launches in Britain, Boston Globe, June 20, 2007

The Courage of their convictions, AC Grayling, Guardian’s Comment is Free, June 20, 2007

Ex-Muslim group launches in Britain, Reuters, June 20, 2007

Only hours left to stop stoning in Iran

EXECUTION HAS BEEN STAYED FOR NOW. THANKS FOR ALL THE SUPPORT BUT KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!

The stoning of Mokarrameh Ebrahimi and her partner is scheduled to be carried out in public in the city of Takistan, Ghazvin, at 9:00 am on Thursday, June 21, for committing ‘adultery’ and having a child out of wedlock. The decision for execution of stoning in public, and moreover, inviting the public to participate in the stoning have been made by the Ghazvin Municipal Security Council or Showraye Tameen of Ghazvin. The news of the scheduled stoning has been published by anti-stoning campaigners in Iran on the campaign activists on the Women’s Field site.

Contact the Islamic regime of Iran’s officials by phone and/or fax to stop the public stoning of Mokarrameh Ebrahimin, the 43 year old mother of three children, and her partner, the father of her 11 year old child.

Act now!

Launch of the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain

Advance information

A British branch of a new Europe-wide phenomenon is to be launched on Thursday 21 June in London. The Council of ex-Muslims of Britain is building on the stunning success of other branches already operating in Germany, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The British Humanist Association and National Secular Society are sponsoring the launch and support the new organisation.

The Council will provide a voice for those labelled Muslim but who have renounced religion and do not want to be identified by religion.

Rights activist Maryam Namazie will be the voice of the organisation in this country. She said: “We are establishing the alternative to the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain because we don’t think people should be pigeonholed as Muslims or deemed to be represented by regressive organisations like the MCB. Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered ‘apostates’ – punishable by death in countries under Islamic law. By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism. We are quite certain we represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.”

Mina Ahadi who initiated the original Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany will be attending the launch. She spoke about the aims of the organisation in an interview to Der Spiegel.

Mina Ahadi, Mahin Alipour (spokesperson of the Scandinavian organisation), Maryam Namazie and others will be available for interviews at the launch.

Ends

The launch will be at 11am (until midday), Thursday 21 June
Wilson Room
Portcullis House
Westminster SW1A 2LW

A manifesto explaining the aims of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain follows.

For more information please contact:
Maryam Namazie
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919
London WC1N 3XX, UK
e-mail: ex-muslimcouncil@ukonline.co.uk
telephone: 07719166731
website (under construction)

Manifesto of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

We, non-believers, atheists, and ex-Muslims, are establishing or joining the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain to insist that no one be pigeonholed as Muslims with culturally relative rights nor deemed to be represented by regressive Islamic organisations and ‘Muslim community leaders’.

Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered ‘apostates’ – punishable by death in countries under Islamic law.

By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism.

Whilst religion or the lack thereof is a private affair, the increasing intervention of and devastation caused by religion and particularly Islam in contemporary society has necessitated our public renunciation and declaration. We represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.

Taking the lead from the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, we demand:

1. Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.
2. Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious ‘sanctities’.
3. Freedom of religion and atheism.
4. Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.
5. Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people’s rights and freedoms.
6. Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict woman’s independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.
7. Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.
8. Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.
9. Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.
10. Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.

Religion has everything to do with terrorism

The European Union, the media, the Strategic Foresight Group and others have attempted to detach religion in general and Islam in particular from terrorism.

EU officials, for example, prefer ‘terrorists who abusively invoke Islam’ to the term Islamic terrorist.

For people everywhere, however, the link between Islam and terrorism is crystal clear.

Islam is the point of reference and banner of political Islam – a movement in or vying for political power and the right wing restructuring of the ruling elite in various societies. It has established and aims to establish Islamic rule wherever it can. Terrorism is its method of choice and intrinsic to its very being. In today’s world, Islam without terrorism would lose its political significance and relevance.

Of course, there are those who say that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with the ‘real’ Islam or that it is a perversion or misinterpretation of Islam. But it is Islam and nothing but.

There are ample examples in the Koran and the Hadith in support of terrorism as can most likely be found in all other religions.

The difference is that because it is the ideology behind and banner of a contemporary political movement, the need to challenge it becomes all the more crucial.

More importantly, though, Islam has slaughtered more people than to be able to deny its accountability and to excuse and justify its actions by claims that Islamic terrorism is rooted in injustice or deprivation.

Of course the outrageous situations in Palestine and Iraq or political, social and economic deprivation are fertile recruiting grounds for this movement but it is not the source of its terrorism.

Religion in power is.

There is a majority across the world that are economically, politically, and socially deprived and / or outraged at US or Israeli state terrorism – but most do not resort to the slaughter of people. Instead, they organise and resist in progressive social and political movements, often at great risk to themselves.

Saying that Islamic terrorism is somehow rooted in injustice implies that the movement actually represents the people of the Middle East. The abuse-excuse rationalisation of the Islamic movement is very similar to the Israeli government’s exploitation of and capitalization on the genocide of the Jewish people during the holocaust to repress the Palestinian people and occupy Palestine.

Neither represents the people and oppression they have suffered.

It also implies that those from the Middle East and elsewhere are Muslims (out of the myriad of other characteristics that could define them) and that they are all synonymous with the Islamic movement.

In fact Islamic terrorism is not the work of Muslims but Islamists – two very different things.

Blurring the distinctions between the two – as Islamists and their apologists often do – and the use of rights and anti-racist language here in the west to do so are devious ways of silencing criticism and opposition – criticism which is particularly crucial given its role in the Middle East and North Africa and more recently here in the west.

These justifications are particularly ludicrous given the monumental struggle against Islam and political Islam that is taking place, especially in Iran.

It also ignores the important fact that the political Islamic movement was strengthened and brought centre stage by western governments during the Cold War as a green belt vis-à-vis the then Soviet Union and against the rise of the left in Iran and the Middle East.

Of course not all forms of terrorism rely on religion as political Islam does.

US militarism, one pole of terrorism in today’s world, nonetheless uses religion and religion has very much become a part of the political power struggles taking place between the two.

In my opinion, the attempts to detach Islam from terrorism are mere attempts to save Islam’s sullied reputation, appease its political movement or endeavour to return to the pre-September 11 status quo – when political Islam and Islamic terrorism’s sphere of influence was restricted to the Middle East and North Africa and at least to assassinating exiles in Europe.

Dropping the Islam terror tag merely aims to ‘foster better relations between the West and Islam’ – old friends and only recent foes at the expense of millions of victims and survivors.

The ‘inclusion of the west and Islam’, ‘cooperation’ amongst those committing mass murder, reforming the un-reformable… none of these add up to an alternative vision of the world but are just more of the same.

Rather an end to Islamic states, and wheeling and dealings between western governments and these states, ending the occupation of Palestine, ending the retreat from secularism, equality and freedom, including in the west, ending the divisions of and labelling of people other than as human, and exposing religion will go much further in addressing today’s terrorism.

As Mansoor Hekmat, the late Iranian Marxist has said: ‘It has been proved time and time again that pushing back religiosity and religious reaction is not possible except through unequivocal defence of human values against religion. It has been proved time and time again that preventing religious barbarism does not come about through bribing it and trying to give it a human face, but through the fight against reactionary religious beliefs and practices. What price should be paid… to realise that Islam and religion do not have a progressive, supportable faction?’

The above was Maryam Namazie’s opening remarks in a May 31 Oxford Union debate entitled this house believes religion is not responsible for terrorism. The event will be held in conjunction with Strategic Foresight Group, a global ‘think tank’ based in Mumbai, which recently published the report – ‘An Inclusive World – In which the West, Islam and the Rest have a stake’.

Save Khaled Hardani and Kobra Najjar from execution in Iran

Khaled Hardani, and Kobra Najjar, who are about to be executed and stoned to death, have asked us to reach out to the international community in an attempt to save their lives. These two individuals are in grave danger of death. Their lawyers and families are desperately seeking help to save their lives.

Khaled Hardani is convicted of hijacking an airplane to escape Iran. On Saturday, June 2nd 2007, we were contacted and told that Khaled Hardani is being held in Rajaii-Shahr prison. He told us that he has been under intense pressure to sign his order of execution. The Islamic Republic of Iran is accusing Khaled of “Battling God”.

Kobra is the mother of 4 children from Sanandaj. After her marriage, she was forced by her drug-addicted husband into prostitution. Currently she is convicted of engaging in an ‘extra marital affair’. Cobra has written to the clemency committee in Iran 3 times and has been denied a stay of execution each and every time. Currently she and her lawyers believe that the only way of saving Kobra from a cruel fate is through pressure from the international community on the Islamic regime.

To hear the voices of those condemned calling from their prisons is truly a painful and life altering experience. Although clearly distressed, both were confident and hopeful that with our help they can be saved from certain death. This confidence is an indication that our organization is effective against the indiscriminate killing of the Islamic regime. Their confidence stems from our previous efforts through peaceful protests and meetings to bring the plight of people under similar circumstances to light. These efforts, which resulted in pressure of the international community has helped save the lives of other people in similar circumstances.

We, who live outside of Iran, and away from the oppressive regime and hellish jails, have to act immediately to save the lives of people who have been imprisoned for many years and fighting for their lives. The Committee against Executions and Stoning invites all humanitarian organizations, public figures, artists, and anyone interested in justice and human rights to help us fight the executions of Khaled Hardani and Kobra Najjar.

Anyone interested in helping must take quick and decisive action in the coming days.

Demonstrations to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran and spread the international movement against execution and stoning

On Friday and Saturday 15th and 16th of June we are asking people to demonstrate against the executions of Mr. Khaled Hardani and Mrs. Kobra Najjar at cities across the world. This could include locations close to Iranian embassies, or civic centers in your own towns. The Committee against Executions and the International Committee against Stoning will partner with other human right organizations to organize a large movement in an attempt to save these two lives.

Other things you can do to help:
· Write to the United Nations, European Union and members of parliaments to put pressure on the Islamic regime of Iran to stop these and other executions.
· Write about these atrocities in weblogs and websites to make as many people as possible aware the situation.
· Write to other human rights organizations asking them for help.

For further information, please don’t hesitate to contact Mina Ahadi at 00491775692413.

International Committee against Execution
International Committee against Stoning
June 2, 2007