Protest jail sentences for 4 of Tehran Public Bus Company (Vaahed) workers!

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
23 October 2008

The Islamic regime of Iran’s judiciary has just recently issued jail sentences for 4 of Vaahed workers, namely Ata Babakhaani, Said Toraabiyaan, Yaqub Salimi, and Ali Zaadehoseyni. They have been convicted of participating in the 2005 strike and acting against national security. They have been sentenced to 6 to 14 months of suspended imprisonment. This has occurred against the backdrop of Mansour Osaanloo, the president of Vaahed Syndicate, having been in jail for over a year now.

The International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran condemns this shameful act on the part of the regime. We thank all trade unions across the world for their extensive, continued solidarity so far with the struggles of the workers and the people of Iran. At the same time, we request all trade unions, as well as all other organisations, to continue their support for the workers of Iran and, in particular, protest the present jail sentences on for Vaahed workers resolutely and unconditionally. The trumped up charges against these workers must be dropped. Masour Osaanloo, along with all other political prisoners, must be released immediately and unconditionally.

We are looking forward to receiving the news of the widest global actions in protest to the shameful jail sentences for Ata Babakhaani, Said Toraabiyaan, Yaqub Salimi, and Ali Zaadehoseyni.

Fore more information, visit the committee’s site.

An end to child executions in Iran

The Islamic regime of Iran’s head of judiciary has succumbed to local and international pressure and announced that child and juvenile executions for those under the age of 18 will end. The demand to end child executions was most recently raised during Children’s Day in Iran at numerous meetings and rallies.

This is a huge step forward for all of those who have campaigned for an end to child executions, and particularly for the families of those languishing on death row.

We need, however, to keep the pressure on in order to end executions in Iran (the execution capital of the world) and everywhere.

As the late Mansoor Hekmat said: “That a state or ruling political force is responsible does not make the slightest difference to the fact that we are dealing with intentional murder. Capital punishment is the most deplorable and appalling form of intentional murder since a political authority, publicly, with prior notice, on behalf of society, with the utmost legitimacy and ruthlessness, decides to murder someone, and announces the date and time of the event” (Capital punishment, the most deplorable form of deliberate murder).

Long live the international movement to end the death penalty!

Only a movement that puts people first can stop political Islam

There are those who tell us that Sharia law is misunderstood and that women actually fare better under it than men; that the veil is liberating; that segregating children in Islamic schools is good for social cohesion; that defending political Islam is anti-racist even.

Catch words, in my opinion, for western consumption so that the political Islamic movement can go about its business as usual. In Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia (often with western government complicity) this movement has no time for such niceties. It hangs the likes of sweet sixteen Atefeh Rajabi for acts incompatible with chastity, burns down girls’ schools, and kills apostates and opponents indiscriminately.

Let’s be frank. While Islamic organisations here talk in PR speak, they, their courts, their schools, their leaders are nothing but extensions of Islamic states.

Now the European rightwing will have us believe that this is particular to Islam; but fundamentally it is not. Any religion with political power has done and will do the same. If Christianity today seems more tolerable, it is only because it has been reigned in by an enlightenment.

They will have us believe that it is secularism and atheism that is the cause of the rise of political Islam because they say we are undermining Europe’s Judeo-Christian traditions. In reality, progressive social values today is the result of hard fought battles –often against the very religious traditions they hold near and dear. They will have us believe that we must withstand the teeming hordes of Muslims Islamicising Europe. They want us to believe that Muslims or those deemed as such are one and the same with Islamists and the political Islamic movement. In fact, many of the millions fleeing are the first victims and the first line of resistance against this movement. They will have us believe that we are battling for western values when all along it is universal ones. Go anywhere in Iran and you will find values of a home-grown enlightenment that is beyond your wildest imagination. They will have us believe that the solution to Islamism is a military one even though their ‘interventions’ in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan have only helped strengthen this movement.

But the nationalist-European Left is no better. They are always ready to act as prefect when rights under Islamic laws are concerned. They are an anti-colonial movement whose perspective coincides with that of the ruling classes in the so-called Third World. They are on the side of the ‘colonies’ no matter what goes on there. And their understanding of the ‘colonies’ is Eurocentric, patronising and racist. They will have us believe that the people in these countries are one and the same with the regimes they are struggling against. Even their anti-imperialism is half-baked; they will not scratch beneath the surface to see how political Islam is an integral part of the new world order.

It is no wonder that so many people across the globe are turning to see what we secularists and humanists have to say.

It is no wonder that this conference and the movement it represents have captured people’s imagination in a way that is quite unique.

In the end, political Islam matters to people because it affects their lives, their rights, their freedoms.

And that’s why only a movement that puts people first can mobilise the force needed to stop apostasy laws, Sharia laws, the death penalty, and political Islam.

And it must – it will – be stopped.

The above was Maryam Namazie’s opening speech at the October 10, 2008 Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s conference on Political Islam, Sharia Law and Civil Society. To see the speech and other panellists and discussions including by Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, AC Grayling and Joan Smith, click here.

Conference a resounding success

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s first international conference on Political Islam, Sharia Law and Civil Society held at Conway Hall on October 10 was a resounding success. Nearly 300 people came together to discuss issues ranging from apostasy, the freedom to criticise and renounce religion, Sharia law and civil society and creationism, faith schools and religious education. Held on the International Day against the Death Penalty, the conference was a stark reminder of the many killed or facing execution for apostasy in countries ruled by Islamic laws.

You can see film footage and photos of the conference on the CEMB’s website.

The conference was opened by Fariborz Pooya (head of Iranian Secular Society), the conference’s Master of Ceremonies. After a welcome from Giles Enders on behalf of Conway Hall and Zia Zaffar on behalf of CEMB’s Executive Committee, the audience watched a clip from Patty Debonitas’ film ‘Breaking the taboo.’ Maryam Namazie, the CEMB’s spokesperson, then gave an opening address, saying that the political Islamic movement used rights and anti-racist language for western consumption so that it could go about its business as usual. She said: ‘While Islamic organisations here talk in PR speak, they, their courts, their schools, their leaders are nothing but extensions of Islamic states.’ She went on to say ‘In the end, political Islam matters to people because it affects their lives, their rights, their freedoms. And that’s why only a movement that puts people first can mobilise the force needed to stop it.’

This was followed by Plenary 1 entitled ‘Apostasy laws and the Freedom to Renounce and Criticise Religion’ chaired by Caspar Melville, editor of the New Humanist. Panellists were Mina Ahadi (head of the Council of ex-Muslims of Germany); AC Grayling (philosopher and author), Ehsan Jami (former head of the Council of Ex-Muslims of the Netherlands), Fariborz Pooya, Hanne Stinson (Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association) and Ibn Warraq (author). The panellists called for the immediate release of all those imprisoned for ‘apostasy’; an abolition of the death penalty; and a cancellation of laws wherever they exist that punish the right and freedom to renounce or criticise Islam.

After lunch, comedian Nick Doody entertained the crowd with a routine critical of religion. This was followed by Plenary 2 entitled ‘Sharia Law and Citizenship Rights’. It was chaired by Andrew Copson (Director of Education and Public Affairs of the British Humanist Association); panellists were Mahin Alipour (head of the Scandinavian Councils of Ex-Muslims), Roy Brown (International Humanist and Ethical Union’s Representative at the UN Human Rights Council), Johann Hari (journalist), Maryam Namazie and Ibn Warraq. The audience overwhelmingly supported the following resolution at the end of the plenary: The conference calls on the UK and European governments to bring an end to the use and implementation of Sharia law, which is discriminatory against women and children in particular, and to guarantee unconditional equal citizenship rights for all.

The audience then watched a remake of the right wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ film entitled Fitna Remade by Reza Moradi.

After a break, Richard Dawkins (scientist, author) provided his criticism of Harun Yahya’s Atlas of Creation for which his site has been banned in Turkey, which was followed by questions and answers from the audience.

This was followed by Plenary 3 entitled ‘Creationism, Religious Education and Faith Schools,’ which was chaired by Keith Porteous Wood (Executive Director of the National Secular Society). Panellists were Richard Dawkins, Terry Sanderson (President of the NSS), Joan Smith (journalist and activist), Bahram Soroush (Labour Solidarity Committee Public Relations Officer), and Hamid Taqvaee (leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran). The audience showed their unequivocal opposition to faith schools here.

Maryam Namazie closed the conference by calling on the participants to mobilise around March 8 – International Women’s Day – to step up opposition against Sharia law and political Islam. As she had said earlier: ‘In the end, political Islam matters to people because it affects their lives, their rights, their freedoms. And that’s why only a movement that puts people first can mobilise the force needed to stop political Islam. And it must – it will – be stopped.’

Throughout the day, various CEMB representatives spoke with the media, including the BBC, Al Arabiya TV, Italian state TV, The Wall Street Journal, CNS News, The Guardian, etc.
For more information, please contact Maryam Namazie.

Peace activists in US and Ahmadinejad, Feminine car! and Jewel of Medina

In the Thursday 07 October 2008 TV Iiternational programme Maryam Namazie speaks to Fariborz Pooya on the shameful meeting of CODEPINK and US peace groups with Ahmadinejad; the production of a special car for women in Iran (since all they really need to do is shop and drive their children around!?); and the controversy around the Jewel of Medina and children’s status under Islamic rule. To see it, click here.

Also, tomorrow is the first conference of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain on October 10. You can either book via email today or register on the day for £5 more.

October 10 Conference on Political Islam, Sharia Law, and Civil Society

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) will present its first all day international conference on Political Islam, Sharia Law, and Civil Society on Friday 10 October 2008. Since apostasy is punishable by death under Islamic law, the conference coincides with the International Day against the Death Penalty.

Speakers at the conference, including Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling, and Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, will focus on Apostasy; Sharia Law; and Creationism, Faith Schools and Religious Education. Dawkins will also present his criticism of Harun Yahya’s Atlas of Creation, for which Dawkins’ site has been banned in Turkey. Other distinguished speakers at the conference are Mina Ahadi, Roy Brown, Giles Enders, Johann Hari, Ehsan Jami, Houzan Mahmoud, Caspar Melville, Taslima Nasreen, Fariborz Pooya, Terry Sanderson, Joan Smith, Bahram Soroush, Hanne Stinson, Hamid Taqvaee, Ibn Warraq, Keith Porteous Wood and Zia Zaffar.The event includes a comedy act by Nick Doody, the work of a well-known artist, Fitna Remade by Reza Moradi and Breaking the Taboo by Patty Debonitas.

For more information, a press pass, booking form or to interview speakers, please contact:Maryam NamazieCouncil of Ex-Muslims of BritainBM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UKTel: 07719166731E-mail

You can also download a booking form here.

Details on the conference:
10 October 2008
10am-6pm (Registration begins at 9am)
Conway Hall London
25 Red Lion Square WC1R 4RL
(Closest station: Holborn)
GBP 40 statutory organisations/businesses; GBP 20 voluntary sector; GBP 10 individuals, including lunch and refreshments.