Nearly 600 people joined the One Law for All anti-racist rally against Sharia and religious-based laws in Britain and elsewhere and in defence of citizenship and universal rights in Trafalgar Square and marched towards Red Lion Square in London. Hundreds then joined our public meeting to discuss and debate Sharia, Sexual Apartheid and Women’s Rights. Our protest was met with widespread support and left many feeling inspired and invigorated. It was also covered by the mainstream media, including BBC Radio 4, BBC 5Live, BBC Wales, and the Times.
The rally of several hundred heard a number of speakers denouncing the policy of accommodation and appeasement of the political Islamic movement. A C Grayling in his speech said: ‘Once you start fragmenting society, once you start allowing different groups in society to apply different standards, you get very profound injustices and it is almost always women who suffer these injustices. We have to fight hard to keep one law for everybody.’
Parisa who was refused a divorce from a violent husband said: ‘Ten years of my life is gone because of Sharia law. I want to stop it. Please help to stop it. It is not fair. I had a good uncle who helped me to escape but what about others who don’t have a chance to run away. I saw that many, many times.’
Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, said: ‘We do not need another legal system running in parallel… Sharia is creeping into our legal system and society and we must stop it in its tracks and now!’
Fariborz Pooya, head of the Iranian Secular Society, said ‘the introduction of Sharia is a betrayal of thousands of women and children and leaves them at the mercy of Islamist groups.’
After listening to a number of speeches, including from Sargul Ahmad, Jalil Jalili, Shiva Mahbobi, Reza Moradi, Maryam Namazie, Saeed Parto, Sohaila Sharifi and Bahram Soroush the crowd then marched through Strand and Kings Way to Red Lion Square with demands to end Sharia law in the UK and elsewhere. At Conway Hall, they heard live music from the group, Raised Voices, then joined a public meeting and heard a panel of distinguished speakers discuss Sharia Law, Sexual Apartheid and Women’s Rights. The meeting was chaired by Sohaila Sharifi (Central Council of Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran). Speakers included Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Journalist and British Muslims for Secular Democracy Chair), Naser Khader (Democratic Muslims Founder), Kenan Malik (Writer and Broadcaster); Yasaman Molazadeh (One Law for All Legal Coordinator); Maryam Namazie (Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson), Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism founding member), Fariborz Pooya (Iranian Secular Society and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Chair), and Carla Revere (Lawyers’ Secular Society Chair). Sargul Ahmad (International Campaign against Civil Law in Kurdistan Iraq head) also spoke about the situation in Iraq under Sharia and the need for international solidarity.
March 7 was One Law for All’s first warning to the British government and the political Islamic movement. As Maryam Namazie said on the day: “We won’t stand idly by whilst the British government relegates a huge segment of our society to sham courts and regressive rules and appeases the Islamists. And we will bring the political Islamic movement to its knees in Britain in much the same way that people are doing in Iran and elsewhere.” She added: “We will keep growing in numbers and strength until we get rid of Sharia councils and religious tribunal’s altogether.”