Stop the Genocide Perpetrated by the Israeli ِArmy against the Civilians of Gaza

The brutal air strikes of the Israeli government has killed more than 230 people, injured hundreds of others and demolished hundreds of buildings, creating a state of terror and fear among the citizens. Hospitals have been filled with decapitated bodies. The Israeli army has said its planes have dropped more than 100 tons of explosives on Gaza in the deadliest of bombing campaigns.

Israel’s bombing of Gaza is a barbaric act of state terrorism that must be met with outrage and protest. This is part of the on-going conflict between the State of Israel and the barbaric Islamic movement Hamas, which spares no opportunity to fire rockets at Israeli populated neighborhoods.

The bombing is a vicious attack on over one million defenseless civilians living in Gaza. While it claims its aim is to eliminate Hamas military targets, the purpose of its vicious air campaign is to create terror in the region with the greatest possible destruction and death toll among Palestinians in order to impose its hegemony and power in defiance of all calls and cries of humanity to stop the massacre and to lift the economic blockade on the innocent people of Gaza.

Our Party denounces the brutal bombing by the state of Israel against the people of Gaza and considers it as a crime of state terrorism and calls for its immediate and unconditional stop, and to bring those who ordered it to trial as criminals. The end of the brutal conflict between the forces of terrorism on the regional level and the world will only be achieved through the establishment of a Palestinian state with equal rights to the State of Israel, and therefore, put an end to terrorism, racism and fascism, and the religious Right-wing on both sides of the conflict. This is the task of humanity and the Palestinian Left and also the task of civilized humanity around the world.

Stop the Barbaric Bombing of the civilian population in Gaza Now!
Freedom and Security for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel!
Yes to the establishment of a Palestinian State with Equal Rights to the State of Israel!

The Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq – LWPI
27-12-2008

What Cheek!

Invite from the Islamic regime of Iran’s TV station – Interesting how they kill people in Iran for saying less than what I would say and yet they want to give a show of free speech here! Pulleeease.

From: nadine khan [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: 29 December 2008 22:33To: [email protected]; [email protected]: Very Urgent Media Request: Invitation to join panel discussion re Should there be one law for all?

Dear Maryam,

I am the interview producer of a current affairs / political show called “The Agenda” which is aired by the international English language, 24-hour news satellite channel Press TV. The show airs across the world on 11+ satellite systems (SKY Channel 515 {News Genre} ). Yvonne Ridley a prominent British journalist shall be presenting the show.

I am scheduling a show on January 6th 2009 at 2.30pm. The working theme for discussion will be” Why do people fear religious laws and should there be one law for all?”I would like to invite you onto the show to participate on the panel. It will be a panel discussion of 4 guests lasting 55 minutes.

A disturbance fee of £100 will be paid and transport arranged within London or reasonable travel expenses reimbursed for those travelling from outside London (within UK).I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Nadine Khan
Interview Producer: The Agenda

Press TvLevel 1, Westgate HouseWestgate, Ealing,W5 1YYTel: 0208 728 6467Mob: 0794 7766 356

Workers in Iran need international support

TV International interview with Bahram Soroush

Maryam Namazie: We just heard about the horrendous news of four workers – two men and two women – who have been sentenced to flogging for participating in May Day events. Can you elaborate on that? What is the background to that?

Bahram Soroush: It is outrageous, but it is true. This is not the first time either. Last year 11 workers received sentences of flogging and prison terms for taking part in May Day rallies. The sentences were carried it out on several of the workers. But there was a tremendous outcry, both inside Iran and internationally, by labour and human rights organisations. Then the government was forced to revoke all the sentences. However, once again this year the court in the city of Sanandaj has sentenced four other workers to be flogged from 15 to 50 lashes and to several months’ imprisonment.

Maryam Namazie: Flogging is quite normal in Iran as a form of punishment for various so-called “offences”. It’s quite recent though that it’s being meted out against workers and labour activists. Some will say it shows the strength of the regime. Others will say, well actually it’s because of the strength of the labour movement in Iran.

Bahram Soroush: It shows the desperation of the regime that it has to resort to such methods. It has tried everything to silence the workers’ movement, but has failed. It is now facing an even stronger workers’ movement. Worker’s expectations have risen. They are organising better and on a wider scale. They are demanding unions and labour organisations. They want the right to strike, decent pay, everything workers around the world are fighting for, but which are repressed violently by the regime in Iran.

Maryam Namazie: Some would say that workers’ protests everywhere are repressed to some extent, especially when there is a real threat. Is there a difference though with the situation in Iran?

Bahram Soroush: There are certain things which are common with workers throughout the world. But we should remember that conditions in Iran are severely repressive. So to organise a strike takes a lot of courage, organisation and skill…

Maryam Namazie: Especially when you sometimes hear about national strikes, strikes that have been taking place across various cities; it is quite astounding then, isn’t it?

Bahram Soroush: It is. In terms of the number of strikes, I can say that Iran is unique compared to anywhere else in the world. And just a fraction – if any – of the news of that is reported in the state press. We should also remember that going on strike is illegal in Iran. So that gives one a sense of proportion and scale. For example, Kian Tyre workers and Haft Tappeh sugar cane workers have been on strike for several months now, conducting a brave fight in the face of massive repression. Each May Day, workers come out to hold their independent May Day rallies, which each time is suppressed. So there is this continuous struggle going on between workers, on the one hand, and the employers and the regime, on the other; a regime, moreover, which is one of the most savage, repressive and anti-working class in the world. However, the consciousness among the workers, their mobilisation, their expectations, the growth of socialist and revolutionary ideas is such that the regime sees that as a threat.

Maryam Namazie: So is that why the government comes down so heavily on them?

Bahram Soroush: Well, it is both for economic and political reasons. Economically the regime is in a critical situation. So they are trying to put the burden of the crisis on the workers by cutting wages, not paying wages and by worsening the working conditions. Workers in many, many factories, which I think is also unique in the world, have not been paid for months – some even for over a year. So demanding payment of unpaid wages is one of the most common demands in Iran which links hundreds of thousands of workers together. But also politically, the regime sees the growth of a workers’ movement which is articulating its demands even more clearly and organising despite the repression, as a threat. For example, workers are forming unions despite the fact that forming a union is illegal in Iran. Nevertheless, they are doing it, sometimes under other names, and by finding different ways of organising.

Maryam Namazie: Is the flogging of workers linked to, for example, the nine people who have been sentenced to stoning and the mass executions that are taking place? Is there a link to all of this?

Bahram Soroush: There is a link in the sense that they are aimed at creating a climate of fear and intimidation.

Maryam Namazie: So is it working? Obviously not, it seems.

Bahram Soroush: It is not. Of course, it is claiming a lot of victims, but there are also a lot of protests that are going on. The workers’ organisations, the Worker-communist Party are organising and mobilising. This is a regime that has no choice. It is in an impasse: it can’t go forward or back. It has to do something in order to survive; to clutch at anything; to try harsher repression. But it is futile. This is what they have tried in the past thirty years, which has only led to even greater popular hatred and protest. That’s why we can very accurately speak of the desperation of the regime; a vulnerable regime, which could at any time face a massive movement of the people that will topple it, and get rid of it.

Maryam Namazie: Listening to you, people and organisations like the Socialist Workers Party, George Galloway, people who consider themselves progressive and Left, who support the regime, who support political Islam in various ways, are silent at these brutalities that are taking place. What would you say to them?

Bahram Soroush: Well, there isn’t much to say to them. They are on the same reactionary side as the Islamic regime. They are not silent. They are actively supporting the Iranian regime and, thereby, condoning the executions, the repression, and this horrific nightmare that is the lot of the people in Iran. They have their own political mindset. But whatever it is, it is reactionary, right-wing and rotten. There is nothing Left or progressive about them. To be Left you would be on the side of people, for their rights, for progressive values, against discrimination, etc. These people are on the side of one of the most reactionary and fascistic regimes in the world. Imagine siding with Hitler’s regime against people, against Jews, against socialists, against workers, against women, against gays. It is precisely that. Whatever their pathetic justifications, this is the actual stance that they have taken. They are bankrupt and isolated. We should not waste a second talking about them. They are ‘have-beens’. The vast majority of the people around the world know what the Iranian regime is like, and that’s why it’s not at all difficult for us to mobilise people internationally. Millions of workers around the world have mobilised through their unions, through their organisations in condemning the Islamic regime in Iran and in supporting the workers’ movement, jailed labour activists and the people in Iran. And they can’t wait till this regime is overthrown and buried.

Maryam Namazie: Some would say it is better not to oppose the regime in Iran whilst there is a threat of US military action on Iran; once that is over then we can focus more on rights’ violations of the Islamic regime?

Bahram Soroush: The Islamic regime in Iran has been reactionary from day one; for thirty years. The protests against this regime began just a few months after it came to power as soon as people realised their revolution had been hijacked. But there was a bloody repression. The revolution was drowned in blood. Tens of thousands of socialists, labour activists and other political dissidents were executed. The fight by the people was going on before Bush was even a governor anywhere. This struggle has nothing to do with the latter years’ sabre-rattling of the US government against the Iranian regime. In fact the Islamic Republic owes its birth to the active and calculated support that the US and other Western governments provided for the Islamic movement in Iran and the region because they didn’t want the revolution in 1979 to develop into a Left-wing, a socialist revolution. Rather than that, they supported the Islamists. This struggle by the people of Iran has been going on for thirty years, and it is not going to stop now just because some crazy monster in the US in the shape of Bush and the neo-con gang is speaking against the regime for its own reasons, or because the SWP or George Galloway want it! The US government’s hostility towards the regime in Iran is not because this regime executes people; it is not out of concern for human rights. It is essentially because of the nuisance that the regime has been creating for the US’ policies in the Middle East. As soon as the Iranian regime stops that, they can be very good friends, just as they are with Saudi Arabia and with so many other reactionary governments. The American government is looking for a repressive regime which is friendly with the US.

Maryam Namazie: One final question. Obviously protests – whether in Iran or internationally – have an impact. What can people do to stop the flogging sentences of these four workers?

Bahram Soroush: They can write or circulate a petition in their unions, at their workplaces. They can send a simple email and spread the news. A lot of unions of course have been following these cases in Iran, and many of them have been very quick to respond. But it is very important to have as many people as possible protesting against these sentences; to flood the offices of the Islamic regime in Iran with emails of protest, of condemnation, and to post the news on websites; to say out loudly that workers are being flogged; that this is slavery; that this is unacceptable; that the regime in Iran is so savage that it flogs workers for defending their rights, for taking part in a rally to celebrate International Workers’ Day. This should not be tolerated. Everybody should protest against it. This protest makes a difference. The Iranian regime is in a vulnerable state. The severe repression is not a sign of its strength, but of its weakness and increasing desperation. It will be knocked down and swept aside by the people. But this struggle needs a lot of support by the people around the world to succeed.

The above was a TV International interview with Bahram Soroush on August 13, 2008. This was first published in WPI Briefing 206, dated December 22, 2008.

In real life, people have to act

Third Camp TV interview with Hamid Taqvaee on the Manifesto against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism

Patty Debonitas: In the Third Camp Manifesto against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism, you raise six specific points, which I would like you to address. The first point you raise is: ‘No to war! No to economic sanctions!’ As you said, 2006 when this was written was at the height of the crisis but the point is still very relevant to the situation today.

Hamid Taqvaee: Yes, and, of course, economic sanctions are already in place.

Patty Debonitas: And we have seen what sanctions mean for people in Iraq; it has been quite terrible.

Hamid Taqvaee: Yes. The first point was written exactly against that. And, as you said, it still makes sense, because the economic sanctions are already to some extent in place, and there will be even more resolutions, later. Furthermore, the threat of a military attack is not over yet. Now the US authorities and the Islamic regime are involved in negotiations, but at the same time the US government has made it clear that the option of military action is still on the table. The threat still exists and therefore the first point of the Manifesto is valid.

We have to make people aware of what is actually going on in case they don’t know. Although I think now most people all over the world know what terms like “exporting democracy” really mean, thanks to the experience in Iraq. But the other pole of the terrorist’s war, i.e. political Islam is less known. Especially in terms of what Islam in power, as in Iran’s case, has done to the people under its control. We have to expose to the world the brutal and aggressive nature of the Islamic regime of Iran.

Patty Debonitas: As a sponsor of terrorism?

Hamid Taqvaee: Not only that, but more importantly, as a terrorist state against the people of Iran.
We have to explain to the people in the West that when politicians or intellectuals speak of Islamic terrorism (the way Bush talks about it, or even when intellectuals interpret it), they are only talking about the threat of terrorist acts sponsored by Islamist forces, for example the Iranian regime, in other countries. All they have in mind is tragedies like September 11, Bali, London, and Madrid. But this is just one side of the story, and certainly not the main part. The fact is that the regime in Iran or Islamist forces around the world, in any country they happen to be, terrorise people within those societies. This has been going on in Iran, for instance, for the past three decades. But I have never heard a word from Mr. Bush or Mr. Blair or from any other head of state against the internal terrorism that such regimes subject citizens to on a daily basis. They have never officially condemned, say, the stoning of women in Iran or Afghanistan. Never!

Patty Debonitas: Barbara Bush said, I think a week after the US invaded Afghanistan, how lucky Afghan women would be because through that military action they were going to be liberated.

Hamid Taqvaee: But now they have stonings under Karzai as well.

Patty Debonitas: Absolutely.

Hamid Taqvaee: It is still the same thing! They have gotten rid of the Taliban, but the regime they substituted it for is not much better as far as, for example, women’s rights are concerned. And the same is going on in Iran, of course. They are also killing people everyday. They are executing children. They arrest youth under eighteen, keep them in jail for as long as they need to turn eighteen, and then execute them. That is what is happening in Iran, routinely. I am aware, of course, that organisations such as Amnesty International condemn it, but politicians, the governments that seem to be against Islamic terrorism, won’t even mention it. They won’t even go anywhere near there! As I said, when they talk about Islamic terrorism, in fact they talk about the concrete clashes they have had with it in Iraq, Lebanon, New York, London, Madrid, and so on. They never talk about what is happening in Tehran, that is, what kind of life the Iranian people are actually languishing under.

Patty Debonitas: Possibly two reasons. One is they accept the Islamic Republic as the ‘legitimate’ government of Iran, so they are not going to start attacking other governments as such.

Hamid Taqvaee: They want to change that government, but they won’t criticise it!

Patty Debonitas: Absolutely. And they are probably not so interested in the people. I think that is the real issue.

Hamid Taqvaee: In my opinion, it is deeper than that. I think politically, even ideologically, Western states share the same standpoint as the Iranian regime. They are thinking along such lines as, for example, dividing societies into different religious, ethnic, and even tribal sections and dealing with governments as representatives of these divisions from pre-civil-society! That is the policy implemented by the West in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government the US and its chief ally, Britain, have helped to bring to power in Iraq is not much different to the Islamic regime in Iran.

Patty Debonitas: Let’s go to the second point: ‘No to US militarism! No to political Islam!’ We have already talked a bit about this. You wrote: ‘The civilised world is not represented. They [i.e., the two poles] must be driven back.’ Why have you singled out these two poles of terrorism, because there are obviously also other groups or acts of terrorism?

Hamid Taqvaee: The reason is that now we are confronted with the conflict between these two as the most powerful, internationally organised and expansive terrorist forces that have for the past three decades brought nothing to the people of the world except death, destruction, and regression. People in the West or even all over the world may ask themselves which side they should take over the other. As if we have to support one of them against the other. Some people in the West, those who have had enough of Bush’s policies, for example, may reason to themselves that they should only be against Bush’s policies in Iraq. And that means, presumably, that any force that is against Bush and his policies is good! That is why we have forces in the West who call themselves ‘Left’, but are supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, Ahmadinejad in Iran, and similar forces around the world! By saying ‘No to US militarism! No to political Islam!’ we aimed to confront this type of thinking.

Another way of thinking – examples of which you do not, of course, see too many of in the West – is found with some people in so-called Islam-stricken countries like Iran, where people are in fierce opposition to the existing Islamic rule, and may therefore decide to side with the opposing side, the Western power, i.e., pure aggression, in order to get rid of the savage regime. As hard as it may seem to believe, these people are a small minority in Iran who have come to the conclusion that the US side is the right side; and even bluntly add, so let it invade us! They have no problem with invasion, they just want to get rid of the regime, and that’s a fair price to pay according to them!

So, that’s why we had to have the second point in the Manifesto which declares we are against both terrorist camps. After all, who says we have to choose the lesser of two evils when we have our own, third force? We have to get mobilised, organised, have an organised movement against both of them. Humanity is not being represented by either side. That is what this point says. It says that individual human beings, as well as humanity at large, the civilised world, are not represented by either pole. We are against both of them, and have our own voice. We are very powerful. If you want to go for it, you’ll see that we can create a movement much stronger than the political Islamic movement or the new liberalism, multiculturalism and the postmodernist movement. That is the freedom and equality movement, if you like. That is the real, third force. So, the second point states that we do not have to choose between the two equally anti-human camps. We can, and should, reject both, and mobilise our own movement, the movement of civilised, secular, egalitarian humanity, in opposition to them.

Patty Debonitas: When you go to anti-war demonstrations or political events, there is a lack of alternatives. People were happy to see our Third Camp stalls. They were delighted that they had finally found a movement that was not waving a Hezbollah flag or supporting the US.

Hamid Taqvaee: I think supporting others instead of representing your own radical and independent policies is a very bad tradition that we have had in the so-called Left movement in the West for many years. It’s not a new thing. We saw such a Left throughout the Cold War era. Traditionally, for 60 or 70 years, the Left in the West has believed in a twisted logic that you have to choose between two poles of an opposition and support one of them against the other. We have also seen the same sort of thing in the so-called rainbow movements. We have not, for a long time, had in the West a socialist party or a Left movement that ever said we should have our own independent goals; we don’t have to support somebody against somebody else all the time! We have to create our own force against whatever we think is wrong.

From my perspective, it doesn’t matter what kind of relations opposing camps have. They are both outside of the people’s camp. People in the street cannot behave like politicians – make manoeuvres, compromises, and so on. The beauty of the people’s force is that it is in the streets. It doesn’t have to compromise; it doesn’t have to play act like politicians. In the same way as a revolutionary movement can’t behave like an MP. In the street you have to go for whatever you think is right and whatever is in the interest of the majority of the people, which is what the Third Camp says. It’s a call upon the people of the world to be independent, to have their own banner, have their own slogans, have their own political goals, and go for them, start doing something about them.

We want to swim against the current of this tradition in the Left in Europe as well, and tell them to create their own, ‘Third’ movement against whatever they think is against the people. Against whatever is not right. You are not politicians; you are not creating a new parliament. You are creating a new movement, a new mass movement. Mass movements have different mechanisms, different rules. They have to have ideals. People won’t pour into the streets in order to cheer the lesser of two evils. No one will do that. They do, however, vote within the narrow, imposed boundaries of parliamentarism in this way. There the choice is, for example, between Labour and Conservative, and people choose, accordingly, between those two. But when the people take to the streets they go for their unrestrained ideals. That’s what the Traditional Left does not realise, especially in the West, and that is why they are always so marginalised. They can’t even secure a seat in the parliament, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t represent the people’s ideals.

Patty Debonitas: And people don’t believe in them.

Hamid Taqvaee: People don’t believe in them and call them the lunatic Left, because they act like lunatics! So, this Third Camp, in its entirety, can, from this point of view, be considered a critique of, or an alternative to, this sort of Leftist movements.

Patty Debonitas: Let’s move on to the next point, the nuclear disarmament of all states. You said here that neither Iran nor the US nor any other state should have nuclear weapons and that the states that have the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons are not competent authorities to judge on the nuclear capabilities of other states.

Hamid Taqvaee: Again, it is very straightforward. I mean we have already had a huge nuclear disarmament movement during the Cold War. But today we have nothing, because, with the conclusion of the Cold War, the situation has changed. When I was giving a speech at a meeting in Vancouver, Canada, a couple of years ago, I saw this type of Left selling papers headlined ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran has the right to be a nuclear state.’ Why? According to them, since the US has nuclear weapons, so should other states! It is hard to believe, but it is a reality today. Forty of fifty years ago, however, progressive people, not just Leftists, were vehemently against nuclear weapons everywhere, no matter which country had or didn’t have them. Nobody would argue that because the US has nuclear weapons, then Iran should have them too!

We are against the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran because we are against nuclear weapons, period! When the US says the Islamic regime of Iran has no right to nukes, nobody accepts that as sound judgement, because they know the US is itself the only state that has actually used nuclear weapons against hundreds of thousands of civilian people in Japan. So, who is the US to say Iran has or doesn’t have the right to have the bomb? The West’s judgement will be acceptable to the people around the world only when Western powers have disarmed themselves of their stock of atomic armaments in their entirety. But the people know that won’t happen. So, the only way to achieve the goal of universal nuclear disarmament is the universal movement of the people, that is, to get people mobilised against the whole entity of nuclear weapons across the world. And that is what the third point of the Manifesto is all about.

Patty Debonitas: In 2007, the Trident, the nuclear programme of the UK, was renewed, and passed in the parliament. That means new nuclear weapons, more money for more nuclear weapons and the renewal of nuclear weapons. What are the chances?

Hamid Taqvaee: It is not only Western countries. Other, so-to-speak Third World countries like India, Israel, Pakistan, have nuclear weapons but because they are allies of Western powers nobody criticises them. That’s a double standard. What people want is nuclear disarmament everywhere, all over the world.

The question is not if it is possible or not, or as you put it, “what are the chances?” People cannot possibly afford to put the question this way. Their very existence is at stake here! They have to do something about it!

If it is against the people’s wishes, if it is a nightmare for everybody and it is a nightmare for everybody, so the right way is to talk about it, mobilise and create a movement against it, and put an end to it. Doing something about that which is wrong is the very philosophy of being an activist. Activists don’t sit back and look at all the governments out there and think, oh, look at all those governments all over the world; they are so powerful; I can’t do anything! Neither can people afford to think this way. It is a necessity. One has to do something about it. This urge comes from outside, from real life. It is not just an ‘idea.’ The idea comes from a real life situation. In real life situations people have to act and do something about their lives; their own lives, the next generation’s, and so on.

Patty Debonitas: The next point in the Manifesto is “Attacks on civil liberties in the West in the name of the war on terror must stop!”

Hamid Taqvaee: Civil liberties have been attacked in the name of fighting Islamic terrorism. When I wrote that, the EU resolution opposing the ‘defamation of religion’ had not yet been passed. They aim to make it clear to people of the world – from secularists to atheists to hundreds of millions of people living under Islamic rule and fighting it – that they are standing, with all their might, alongside religion, in general, and Islam, in particular. With this resolution, freedom of speech, as we knew it in the West, is something of the past because, as I have already said, the main characteristic of freedom of speech is the right to criticise religion. Freedom of speech, provided you do not criticise religion, is just an empty phrase! It really does not make any sense! You can criticise, let’s say, the way people dress, of course. But we have always been free to do that, even in the Middle Ages, whereas the basic meaning of freedom of speech is the right to criticise that which is ‘sacred.’ Freedom of speech gives me the freedom to talk, in any form I wish, about the things you think I shouldn’t touch! That is its very essential meaning. And now, with that resolution, the remnants of freedom of speech in the West have been swept away.

But, they have done much more than that in the form of increasing controls on the population at large. In Britain, for instance, they have come up with the right to legally detain someone for up to thirty days without charge. That has been a serious attack against the basic civil rights of people.

Also, if you have a name like Mohammed or you look like somebody from the Middle East, it doesn’t matter how many hundreds of years your family has lived in the West, you can, under this or the anti-terrorist law, be stopped, searched, and detained without anyone even knowing, and the next thing you know you have been in jail, under constant interrogation, under legal torture, for six months!

I am, rather, surprised that there have been such heavy blows to the fundamental rights of the people in the West, and yet nobody protests. You don’t see any mass mobilisations worthy of mention, as if everyone in the West has believed the official, clichéd fable of the ‘Muslim hordes are coming!’

Indeed, the threat of ‘the enemy outside’ has always been a good excuse for states to encroach on people’s basic rights. We can see that phenomenon very clearly at war times, for example. Because of the war you, supposedly free citizens, shouldn’t talk even freely with your neighbours. You shouldn’t criticise the government. You can’t come and go freely. Why? Because the country is in a war situation. It’s the same here. They say we are in a war against terrorism, so, people, be quiet! And they will make sure you remain quiet, using brute force, if need be. And we are talking much more than detention without charge here. Let’s not forget that the US Congress just recently legalised the use of torture in interrogations of alleged terrorism suspects. They torture people to protect ‘national security.’ According to their logic: ‘we torture a few people to save many more.’

So, I raised the fourth point of the Manifesto because of these heavy blows to freedoms and also increased surveillance and control of citizens, severe curtailment of the freedom of movement, violation and/or denial of the rights of immigrants, and many others, which are the commonest forms of attack on people’s civil liberties in Western countries. That is why it says in the Manifesto that the very basis of civil rights and civil liberties is in danger in the West, because of the conflict between the savage poles, because of the opportunity this conflict has provided for Western states to severely curtail freedoms and seriously increase their control over the citizenry.

When the people in the West are mobilised against the Political Islamic movement, it is not just a defence of people in the Middle East, but it’s in their own interests as well. Because the best way to get rid of US militarism, the bullying, the death and destruction, is to, in the first place, get rid of the Political Islamic movement in its entirety, that is, both the terrorist and non-terrorist factions of it.

The head of this political Islamic movement is the Islamic Republic of Iran. If the people in Iran are currently engaged – or, more precisely, have been engaged for the past 30 years – in the most unequal, bloody battles against the head of such a movement as a global menace (just like its rival, of course) then there is no excuse for not mobilising the people against such a menace. Therefore, our message to the people in the West, hereby and in point 4 of the Manifesto, is, do not let governments attack your rights and freedoms! You desperately need your rights and freedoms, should you want to stand any chance of defeating, not only Islamism but politicised religion in general.

Patty Debonitas: Point five of the Manifesto states: We actively support the struggle of the people of Iran against a military attack and against the Islamic Republic of Iran. It says that for 30 years now the people of Iran have been fighting against repression. Would you like to expand on that?

Hamid Taqvaee: We wanted to say two things here. One was to say that Islamic terrorism is not only what the Iranian regime does outside of its borders, but, on the contrary, and for the most part, what it does within Iran and with the people of Iran. That’s one thing. The other is that the people in Iran have never been only the victims of but also robust fighters against this regime. They have fought this regime continuously from the day it came to power 30 years ago. This movement has enormously grown and matured over three decades now.

So, this point tells the people of the world that the people in Iran are not in the same situation as the people in Iraq or Afghanistan were before the US-led invasion. In those countries we didn’t have a movement like this against Saddam or the Taliban. But, in Iran, it is quite the opposite. In the history of Iran the number of workers’ strikes is at a new record high. Also the way the students’ or women’s liberation movement resists and fights. So this point says there is a struggle going on by the people of Iran against the Islamic Republic, and that people in the West should support it.

Patty Debonitas: The sixth point is that the Islamic Republic must be expelled from the international community.

Hamid Taqvaee: That is our alternative. If CNN had come to interview me and was to ask what Western governments should do, I would say it would be to not recognise the Islamic Republic as a legitimate state because it is not one. It doesn’t represent the people of Iran. It is, as a matter of fact, killing them on a daily basis. Every day of its thirty-year-long rule is tainted with some kind of crime against humanity. Its officials must be put on trial in international tribunals. The people of Iran are against that regime in its entirety, so it is not a legitimate regime, and it should not be recognised as one. Just in the same way as the South African regime was, at the time of apartheid, increasingly isolated under the pressure of the people’s ant-apartheid movement around the world, and thus more and more weakened. The regime in Iran must meet the same fate in the same way.

Patty Debonitas: So the regime has to be isolated?

Hamid Taqvaee: Politically. We have to mobilise for the closure of its embassies around the world, for its expulsion from the UN, from all bodies of the international community. Our call in the Third Camp to the people of world is this: do not let Iranian politicians in your countries, and do not allow any negotiations with them. Boycott this barbaric regime. Isolate it. Expel it from one and all international institutions. If that becomes a reality, I guarantee that the people of Iran will get rid of the regime in a very short time. It is not a legitimate government. Do not recognise it! That is what the people of Iran want from the people of the world. Again, it can materialise only as part of the mass movement our Manifesto proposes.

The above interview is an edited transcript from Third Camp TV. It was initially edited by Jamshid Hadian and was published in WPI Briefing 206, dated December 22, 2008.

CALL FOR END TO SHARIA COURTS AFTER REPORT SHOWS WIDESPREAD INJUSTICE

Press Release
December 16, 2008

A new report showing that Muslim women are discriminated against and encounter gross bias when they subject themselves to Sharia adjudications was welcomed today by The One Law for All Campaign, which is supported by a variety of organisations and individuals.

The campaign’s spokesperson Maryam Namazie said: ‘This research reinforces our own findings that Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are discriminatory and unfair. However, the solution to the miscarriages of justice is not the vetting of Imams coming to the UK as the report has recommended but an end to the use and implementation of Sharia law and religious-based tribunals.’ She added: ‘At present these Sharia-based bodies are growing and appear to have some sort of official backing. But they are leading to gross injustices among women who are often unaware of their rights under Britain’s legal system.’

This perspective was reiterated in the One Law for All Campaign’s launch on December 10, 2008 in the House of Lords at which Maryam Namazie and campaign supporters Gina Khan, Carla Revere, Ibn Warraq and Keith Porteous Wood spoke; the meeting was chaired by Fariborz Pooya, head of the Iranian Secular Society.

Gina Khan, a secular Muslim, said: ‘Under British law we are treated as equal and full human beings. Under the antiquated version of Sharia law that Islamists peddle, we are discriminated against just because of our gender. These Islamists use our plight by meddling in issues like forced marriages, domestic violence and inheritance laws for their own political agenda. To allow them to have any sort of control over the lives of Muslim women in British communities will have dire consequences.’ She added: ‘Sharia courts must be a pressing concern not just for Muslims but for all those living in Britain. Anyone who believes in universal human rights needs to stand united against the discrimination and oppression visited upon Muslim women.’

Carla Revere, Chairperson of the Lawyers’ Secular Society, said: ‘Such self-appointed, unregulated tribunals are gaining in strength; they increasingly hold themselves up as courts with as much force as the law of the land, but are not operating with the same controls and safeguards. They appear to be operating in the area of family law and some even in criminal matters, where they have no right to make binding decisions as they claim to do. Even if the decisions were binding, UK courts do not uphold contractual decisions that are contrary to UK law or public policy. We call on the Government and legal establishment to stand up for the vulnerable and tackle this significant and growing problem, rather than ignoring it.’

Writer Ibn Warraq said: ‘Sharia does not accord equal rights to Muslim women- in regards to marriage- she is not free to marry a non-Muslim, for instance; in regards to divorce, custody of children, inheritance, the choice of profession, and freedom to travel, or freedom to change her religion. In other words, Great Britain in allowing Sharia courts has contravened the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and all the other more legally binding United Nations’ Covenants on Discrimination and the Rights of Women… Multiculturalism is turning communities against each other, it is fundamentally divisive. We need to get back to the principles of equality before the law, principles that so many people fought so hard to achieve for so long.’

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: ‘Sharia is becoming a growth industry in Britain, putting growing pressure on vulnerable people in the Muslim community to use Sharia councils and tribunals to resolve disputes and family matters, when they could use the civil courts. Sharia law is not arrived at by the democratic process, is not Human Rights compliant, and there is no right of appeal.’

Writer Joan Smith who was unable to speak at the launch sent the following message: ‘This campaign is very important because many people in this country – including politicians – have yet to realise the isolation of many Muslims, particularly women, from the wider society. Some of them are already under intolerable pressure from their families, and the principle of one law for everyone is a protection they desperately need. That’s why I give this campaign my whole-hearted support.’

To find out more or support the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain visit its website.

You can also listen to Maryam Namazie’s debates with Sidiqqi, head of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, on BBC 5 Live and with Muslim lawyer Aina Khan on BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour here.

To listen to Gina Khan’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Maryam Namazie’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Carla Revere’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Ibn Warraq’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

To listen to Keith Porteous Wood’s speech at the December 10, 2008 One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain launch, click here.

Some of the signatories to the Campaign

Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Coordinator, Stop Child Executions Campaign, Canada
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany; Coordinator, International Committee against Stoning, Köln, Germany
Sargul Ahmad, Activist, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Canada
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Writer, Washington, DC, USA
Mahin Alipour, Coordinator, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Stockholm, Sweden
Homa Arjomand, Coordinator, International Campaign against Sharia Courts in Canada, Toronto, Canada
Farideh Arman, Coordinator, International Campaign in Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran, Malmo, Sweden
Abdullah Asadi, Executive Director, International Federation of Iranian Refugees, Sweden
Ophelia Benson, Editor, Butterflies and Wheels, USA
Susan Blackmore, Psychologist, UK
Nazanin Borumand, Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings, Germany
Roy Brown, Past President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Geneva, Switzerland
Ed Buckner, President, American Atheists, USA
Marino Busdachin, General Secretary, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Netherlands
Center for Inquiry, USA
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK
Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany, Germany
Council of Ex-Muslims of Scandinavia, Sweden
Caroline Cox, Peer, House of Lords, London, UK
Austin Dacey, Representative to the United Nations, Center for Inquiry-International, USA
Shahla Daneshfar, Central Committee Member, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, London, UK
Richard Dawkins, Scientist, Oxford, UK
Patty Debonitas, TV Producer, Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism, London, UK
Deeyah, Singer and composer, USA
Nick Doody, Comedian, UK
Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium
Afshin Ellian, Professor, Leiden University Faculty of Law, Leiden, Netherlands
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Sweden
European Humanist Federation, Belgium
Tarek Fatah, Author, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, Toronto, Canada
Caroline Fourest, Writer, France
Tahir Aslam Gora, Writer and journalist, Canada
AC Grayling, Writer and Philosopher, London, UK
Maria Hagberg, Chair, Network against Honour-Related Violence, Gothenburg, Sweden
Johann Hari, Journalist, London, UK
Christopher Hitchens, Author, USA
Farshad Hoseini, Activist, International Campaign against Executions, Netherlands
Khayal Ibrahim, Coordinator, Organization of Women’s Liberation in Iraq; Arabic Anchor for Secular TV, Canada
International Committee against Executions, Netherlands
International Committee against Stoning, Germany
International Humanist and Ethical Union, UK
Iranian Secular Society, UK
Shakeb Isaar, Singer, Sweden
Maryam Jamel, Activist, Women’s Liberation in Iraq, Canada
Keyvan Javid, Director, New Channel TV, London, UK
Alan Johnson, Editor, Democratiya.com, Lancashire, UK
Mehul Kamdar, Former editor of The Modern Rationalist, USA
Naser Khader, Founder, Association of Democratic Muslims, Denmark
Hope Knutsson, Chair, Sidmennt, Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, Iceland
Hartmut Krauss, Editor, Hintergrund, Germany
LAIQUES – Région PACA, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
Stephen Law, Editor, Royal Institute of Philosophy journal, London, UK
Shiva Mahbobi, Producer, Against Discrimination TV Programme, London, UK
Houzan Mahmoud, Abroad Representative, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, London, UK
Doreen Massey, Peer, House of Lords, London, UK
Anthony McIntyre, Writer, Ireland
Caspar Melville, Editor, New Humanist magazine, London, UK
Bahar Milani, Activist, Children First Now, London, UK
Tauriq Moosa, Writer, Capetown, South Africa
Reza Moradi, Producer, Fitna Remade, London, UK
Douglas Murray, Director, Centre for Social Cohesion, London, UK
Taslima Nasrin, Writer and activist
National Secular Society, London, UK
Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings, Germany
Samir Noory, Writer; Secular TV Manager, Canada
David Pollock, President, the European Humanist Federation, London, UK
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, Pakistan
Fahimeh Sadeghi, Coordinator, International Federation of Iranian Refugees-Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada
Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Chief Executive Officer, Giordano Bruno Foundation, Germany
Udo Schuklenk, Philosophy professor, Queen’s University, Canada
Sohaila Sharifi, Editor, Unveiled, London, UK
Issam Shukri, Head, Defense of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq; Central Committee Secretary, Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq, Iraq
Bahram Soroush, Founding member, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, London, UK
Peter Tatchell, Activist, London, UK
Hamid Taqvaee, Central Committee Secretary, Worker-communist Party of Iran
Union des Familles Laïques – section Arles-Istres, France
Union des Familles Laïques – section Marseille-Aix-en-Provence, France
Afsaneh Vahdat, Coordinator, Council of Ex-Muslims of Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden
Marvin F. Zayed, President, International Committee to Protect Freethinkers, Ottawa,Canada

For more information, please contact Maryam Namazie, email: [email protected], telephone: 07719166731; website: onelawforall.org.uk.

2008 CEMB AGM

Members are advised that the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is holding its first Annual General Meeting on Saturday 13 December 2008 from 12:00-14:00 at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. The AGM is only open to members.

Members are requested to RSVP their attendance by 8 December 2008 and arrive no later than 11:45am.

Nomination of Board of Trustees and Motions

Those wishing to submit motions for the meeting, or nominations for Board of Trustee members, should do so in writing. A proposer and seconder are required for both nominations and motions, which must reach the CEMB by Monday 1 December 2008. This date is necessary to enable preparation of the formal notices of the AGM that will be sent out in advance of the meeting.

The Board of Trustees will be elected at the AGM. Nominations of any member must be signed by a proposer and a seconder and must be signed by the person nominated to indicate that they are willing to stand for the Board. All those nominated will provide a statement of the skills they have to offer, their aims for the CEMB, and an indication of the extent to which they are prepared to undertake work as well as attending monthly Trustee meetings held on a weekday evening in London.

Nominations and motions should be sent by post to CEMB, BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX and arrive no later than Monday 1 December 2008. The names of nominees, proposers and seconders should be written in block capitals, with clearly legible telephone numbers and email addresses.

The CEMB’s annual report is available here; the financial report will be made available to members at the AGM.

Please feel free to contact us for any further information.

We look forward to seeing you at the AGM.

Best wishes
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson

Launch of One Law for All – Campaign against Sharia law in Britain

December 10, 2008

The One Law for All campaign, which is seeking legislation to curb the influence of sharia law in Britain, will be launched at the House of Lords on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2008.

Gina Khan (activist), Maryam Namazie (campaign organiser), Carla Revere (Lawyers’ Secular Society), Joan Smith (writer), Ibn Warraq (writer), and Keith Porteous Wood (National Secular Society) will be speaking at the event, which will be chaired by Fariborz Pooya (Iranian Secular Society).

The campaign has already received widespread support including from Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Mina Ahadi, Sargul Ahmad, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mahin Alipour, Homa Arjomand, Susan Blackmore, Nazanin Borumand, Caroline Cox, Austin Dacey, Richard Dawkins, Deeyah, Nick Doody, Sonja Eggerickx, Afshin Ellian, Tarek Fatah, Caroline Fourest, Tahir Aslam Gora, AC Grayling, Maria Hagberg, Johann Hari, Khayal Ibrahim, Shakeb Isaar, Maryam Jamel, Alan Johnson, Mehul Kamdar, Asqar Karimi, Naser Khader, Hope Knutsson, Hartmut Krauss, Stephen Law, Shiva Mahbobi, Houzan Mahmoud, Anthony McIntyre, Caspar Melville, Navid Minay, Tauriq Moosa, Reza Moradi, Douglas Murray, Taslima Nasrin, Samir Noory, Carla Revere, Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Udo Schuklenk, Sohaila Sharifi, Issam Shukri, Bahram Soroush, Peter Tatchell, Hamid Taqvaee, and Afsaneh Vahdat.

It has also received the support of organisations such as Center for Inquiry; Children First Now; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; European Humanist Federation; International Committee against Stoning; International Humanist and Ethical Union; Iranian Secular Society; Lawyers’ Secular Society; the National Secular Society; Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

According to campaign organiser, Maryam Namazie, ‘Even in civil matters, Sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children. Moreover, its voluntary nature is a sham; many women will be pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions. These courts are a quick and cheap route to injustice and do nothing to promote minority rights and social cohesion. Public interest, particularly with regard to women and children, requires an end to Sharia and all other faith-based courts and tribunals.’

The campaign calls on the UK government to recognise that Sharia law is arbitrary and discriminatory and for an end to Sharia courts and all religious tribunals on the basis that they work against and not for equality and human rights.

The campaign also calls for the law to be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.

In the words of the Campaign Declaration: ‘Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.’

Roy Brown, immediate past president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union said, “IHEU is lending its full support to this campaign. It is intolerable that the very values on which UK society is based – human rights, equality and the rule of law – are being undermined by the quiet and insidious application of systems of law that have no basis in equality or justice.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, which is also supporting the One Law for All campaign, said: “It is a grave error for the authorities in this country to give credence to Sharia in any form – whether legally or in terms of informal arbitration. When women are being subjected to violence in their marriages, it is not acceptable for religious authorities – which are, by definition, misogynistic – to arbitrate. A two-tier legal system, with women’s rights being always secondary to religious demands, is unnecessary, undesirable and ultimately unjust.”

Ends

For more information, please contact Maryam Namazie, email: [email protected], telephone: 07719166731; website: onelawforall.org.uk.

List of signatories

Nazanin Afshin-Jam
Coordinator, Stop Child Executions Campaign
Canada

Mina Ahadi
Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany; Coordinator,
International Committee against Stoning
Köln
Germany

Sargul Ahmad
Activist, Women’s Liberation in Iraq
Canada

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Writer
Washington, DC
USA

Mahin Alipour
Coordinator, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran
Stockholm
Sweden

Homa Arjomand
Coordinator, International Campaign against Sharia Courts in Canada
Toronto
Canada

Farideh Arman
Coordinator, International Campaign in Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran
Malmo
Sweden

Abdullah Asadi
Executive Director, International Federation of Iranian Refugees
Gutenberg
Sweden

Mohammad Asangaran
Political activist
Köln
Germany

Ophelia Benson
Editor, Butterflies and Wheels
USA

Susan Blackmore
Psychologist
UK

Nazanin Borumand
Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings
Germany

Roy Brown
Past President, International Humanist and Ethical Union
Geneva
Switzerland

Ed Buckner
President, American Atheists
USA

Marino Busdachin
General Secretary, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
Netherlands

Center for Inquiry
USA

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
UK

Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany
Germany

Council of Ex-Muslims of Scandinavia
Sweden

Caroline Cox
Peer, House of Lords
London
UK

Austin Dacey
Representative to the United Nations, Center for Inquiry-International
USA

Shahla Daneshfar
Central Committee Member, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran
London
UK

Richard Dawkins
Scientist
Oxford
UK

Patty Debonitas
TV Producer, Third Camp against US Militarism and Islamic Terrorism
London
UK

Deeyah
Singer and composer
USA

Nick Doody
Comedian
UK

Sonja Eggerickx
President, International Humanist and Ethical Union
Belgium

Afshin Ellian
Professor, Leiden University Faculty of Law
Leiden
Netherlands

Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran
Sweden

European Humanist Federation
Belgium

Tarek Fatah
Author, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State
Toronto
Canada

Caroline Fourest
Writer
France

Tahir Aslam Gora
Writer and journalist
Canada

AC Grayling
Writer and Philosopher
London
UK

Maria Hagberg
Chair, Network against Honour-Related Violence
Gothenburg
Sweden

Johann Hari
Journalist
London
UK

Christopher Hitchens
Writer
USA

Farshad Hoseini
Activist, International Campaign against Executions
Netherlands

Khayal Ibrahim
Coordinator, Organization of Women’s Liberation in Iraq; Arabic Anchor for Secular TV
Canada

International Committee against Executions
Netherlands

International Committee against Stoning
Germany

International Humanist and Ethical Union
UK

Iranian Secular Society
UK

Shakeb Isaar
Singer
Sweden

Maryam Jamel
Activist, Women’s Liberation in Iraq
Canada

Keyvan Javid
Director, New Channel TV
London
UK

Alan Johnson
Editor, Democratiya.com
Lancashire
UK

Mehul Kamdar
Former editor of The Modern Rationalist
USA

Asqar Karimi
Central Committee Member, Worker-communist Party of Iran
London
UK

Naser Khader
Founder, Association of Democratic Muslims
Denmark

Gina Khan
Activist
Birmingham
UK

Hope Knutsson
Chair, Sidmennt, Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association
Iceland

Hartmut Krauss
Editor, Hintergrund
Germany

Stephen Law
Editor, Royal Institute of Philosophy journal
London
UK

Lawyers’ Secular Society
London
UK

Shiva Mahbobi
Producer, Against Discrimination TV Programme
London
UK

Houzan Mahmoud
Abroad Representative, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
London
UK

Azar Majedi
President, Organisation for Women’s Liberation; Executive Committee Member of Worker-communism Unity Party
London
UK

Doreen Massey
Peer, House of Lords
London
UK

Anthony McIntyre
Writer
Ireland

Caspar Melville
Editor, New Humanist magazine
London
UK

Bahar Milani
Activist, Children First Now
London
UK

Navid Minay
General Secretary, Communist Youth Organization
Gothenburg
Sweden

Tauriq Moosa
Writer
Capetown
South Africa

Reza Moradi
Producer, Fitna Remade
London
UK

Douglas Murray
Director, Centre for Social Cohesion
London
UK

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain Organiser
London
UK

Taslima Nasrin
Writer and activist

National Secular Society
London
UK

Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings
Germany

Samir Noory
Writer; Secular TV Manager
Canada

David Pollock
President, the European Humanist Federation
London
UK

Fariborz Pooya
Founder, Iranian Secular Society
London
UK

Carla Revere
Barrister; Founder, Lawyers’ Secular Society
London
UK

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan
Pakistan

Fahimeh Sadeghi
Coordinator, International Federation of Iranian Refugees-Vancouver
Vancouver
Canada

Terry Sanderson
President, National Secular Society
London
UK

Michael Schmidt-Salomon
Chief Executive Officer, Giordano Bruno Foundation
Germany

Udo Schuklenk
Philosophy professor, Queen’s University
Canada

Sohaila Sharifi
Editor, Unveiled
London
UK

Issam Shukri
Head, Defense of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq; Central Committee Secretary, Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq
Iraq

Joan Smith
Writer and activist
London
UK

Bahram Soroush
Founding member, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
London
UK

Peter Tatchell
Activist
London
UK

Hamid Taqvaee
Central Committee Secretary, Worker-communist Party of Iran

Afsaneh Vahdat
Coordinator, Council of Ex-Muslims of Sweden
Stockholm
Sweden

Lars Vilks
Artist
Sweden

Karin Vogelpohl
Pedagogue
Germany

Ibn Warraq
Writer

Keith Porteous Wood
Executive Director, National Secular Society
London
UK

Babak Yazdi
Head of Khavaran
Toronto
Canada

Marvin F. Zayed
President, International Committee to Protect Freethinkers
OttawaCanada

Eduardo Robredo Zugasti
Tercera Cultura
Spain

Launch of One Law for All – Campaign against Sharia law in Britain

Press Release

Launch of One Law for All – Campaign against Sharia law in Britain
December 1, 2008

The One Law for All campaign against Sharia law in Britain is to be launched at the House of Lords on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2008 from 4:00 to 5:00pm.

According to campaign organiser, Maryam Namazie, ‘Even in civil matters, Sharia law is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, particularly against women and children. Moreover, its voluntary nature is a sham; many women will be pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions. These courts are a quick and cheap route to injustice and do nothing to promote minority rights and social cohesion. Public interest, particularly with regard to women and children, requires an end to Sharia and all other faith-based courts and tribunals.’

The campaign has already received widespread support including from AC Grayling; Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Bahram Soroush; Baroness Caroline Cox; Caspar Melville; Deeyah; Fariborz Pooya; Gina Khan; Houzan Mahmoud; Homa Arjomand; Ibn Warraq; Joan Smith; Johann Hari; Keith Porteous Wood; Mina Ahadi; Naser Khader; Nick Cohen; Richard Dawkins; Shakeb Isaar; Sonja Eggerickx; Stephen Law; Tarek Fatah; Tauriq Moosa; Taslima Nasrin and others. It has also received the support of organisations such as Children First Now; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; European Humanist Federation; International Committee against Stoning; International Humanist and Ethical Union; Iranian Secular Society; Lawyers Secular Society; the National Secular Society; and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

The campaign calls on the UK government to recognise that Sharia law is arbitrary and discriminatory and for an end to Sharia courts and all religious tribunals on the basis that they work against and not for equality and human rights.

The campaign also calls for the Arbitration Act 1996 to be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.

In the words of the Campaign Declaration: ‘Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.’

Roy Brown, immediate past president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union said, “IHEU is lending its full support to this campaign. It is intolerable that the very values on which UK society is based – human rights, equality and the rule of law – are being undermined by the quiet and insidious application of systems of law that have no basis in equality or justice.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, which is also supporting the One Law for All campaign, said: “It is a grave error for the authorities in this country to give credence to Sharia in any form – whether legally or in terms of informal arbitration. When women are being subjected to violence in their marriages, it is not acceptable for religious authorities – which are, by definition, misogynistic – to arbitrate. A two-tier legal system, with women’s rights being always secondary to religious demands, is unnecessary, undesirable and ultimately unjust.”

To RSVP to attend the launch or for more information, please contact Maryam Namazie, email, telephone: 07719166731; website. The campaign’s website will be available on the day of the launch.

ENDS

One Law for All
Campaign against Sharia law in Britain

Declaration

We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, call on the UK government to bring an end to the use and institutionalisation of Sharia and all religious laws and to guarantee equal citizenship rights for all.

Sharia law is discriminatory

Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are discriminatory, particularly against women and children, and in violation of universal human rights.

Sharia law is unfair and unjust in civil matters

Proponents argue that the implementation of Sharia is justified when limited to civil matters, such as child custody, divorce and inheritance. In fact, it is civil matters that are one of the main cornerstones of the subjugation of and discrimination against women and children. Under Sharia law a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s; a woman’s marriage contract is between her male guardian and her husband. A man can have four wives and divorce his wife by simple repudiation, whereas a woman must give reasons, some of which are extremely difficult to prove. Child custody reverts to the father at a preset age, even if the father is abusive; women who remarry lose custody of their children; and sons are entitled to inherit twice the share of daughters.

The voluntary nature of Sharia courts is a sham

Proponents argue that those who choose to make use of Sharia courts and tribunals do so voluntarily and that according to the Arbitration Act parties are free to agree upon how their disputes are resolved. In reality, many of those dealt with by Sharia courts are from the most marginalised segments of society with little or no knowledge of their rights under British law. Many, particularly women, are pressured into going to these courts and abiding by their decisions. More importantly, those who fail to make use of Sharia law or seek to opt out will be made to feel guilty and can be treated as apostates and outcasts.

Even if completely voluntary, which is untrue, the discriminatory nature of the courts would be sufficient reason to bring an end to their use and implementation.

Sharia law is a quick and cheap way to injustice

Proponents argue that Sharia courts are an alternative method of dispute resolution and curb legal aid costs. When it comes to people’s rights, however, cuts in costs and speed can only bring about serious miscarriages of justice. Many of the laws that Sharia courts and religious tribunals aim to avoid have been fought for over centuries in order to improve the rights of those most in need of protection in society.

Sharia law doesn’t promote minority rights and social cohesion

Proponents argue that the right to be governed by Sharia law is necessary to defend minority rights. Having the right to religion or atheism, however, is not the same as having the ‘right’ to be governed by religious laws. This is merely a prescription for discrimination, inequality and culturally relative rights. Rather than defending rights, it discriminates and sets up different and separate systems, standards and norms for ‘different’ people. It reinforces the fragmentation of society, and leaves large numbers of people, particularly women and children, at the mercy of elders and imams. It increases marginalisation and the further segregation of immigrant communities. It ensures that immigrants and new arrivals remain forever minorities and never equal citizens.

One law for all

Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.

Petition
One Law for All

We call on the UK government to recognise that Sharia and all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular. Citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.

We demand an end to all Sharia courts and religious tribunals on the basis that they work against and not for equality and human rights.

We demand that the law be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system.