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.
The launch will be at 11am (until midday), Thursday 21 June
Westminster SW1A 2LW
A manifesto explaining the aims of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain follows.
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.