There’s no place for Sharia law in Britain

One Law for All welcomes the October 31 counter-demonstration organised by British Muslims for Secular Democracy against Islam4UK, which is demanding Sharia law for Britain.

Islam4UK is a another front organisation for Anjem Choudary’s al-Muhajiroun, which also includes Islamic Council of Britain, Islamic Sharia Court of UK, Society of Muslim Lawyers, London School of Sharia, Global Issues Society, Islamic Dawah Foundation and more.

According to One Law for All spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, ‘Islam4UK’s demand for the imposition of Sharia law in Britain is absurd. What is not absurd, however, is the fact that Sharia law is already being imposed on countless men, women and children for many years under the guise of multi-culturalism. If Sharia law isn’t good for Britain, then it isn’t good for Britain’s ‘Muslim minority’ either. I urge the organisations that have come to the fore against Islam4UK to join our efforts to get rid of existing Sharia councils and tribunals – that is the difficult but crucial task at hand.’

One Law for All calls on groups and individuals taking part in tomorrow’s rally to join us on November 21 from 1200-1400 hours in Hyde Park to demand an end to Sharia here in Britain and everywhere and in support of universal rights and secularism.

For more information, contact One Law for All.

Laws should safeguard rights not violate them

Sanam writes: Aren’t Sharia courts in Britain only dealing with civil matters?

Maryam Namazie responds: Of course the Sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals are not sentencing people to death by stoning for sex outside of marriage or hanging apostates like myself from cranes in Trafalgar Square. That is – according to Suhaib Hasan, one of the ‘judges’ at these Sharia courts or councils and a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, the job of Islamic states. This, however, doesn’t mean that he can’t dream: ‘Once just only once if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all. We want to offer it to the British society… If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don’t accept it they’ll need more and more prisons.’

Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, we are told that we need not worry. Ibrahim Mogra of the MCB says the Sharia councils only cover ‘small aspects of Sharia for Muslim families when they choose to be governed with regards to their marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children and so forth.’ Mogra implies that those who avail themselves of Sharia law will ‘choose’ to do so. It is interesting how pro-women’s ‘choices’ the political Islamic movement becomes when it is vying for power and influence in the west.

Despite their deceptive claims, in the real world, even ‘small aspects of Sharia’ increase intimidation and threats against the most vulnerable women and girls, deny them rights they have and deserve and leave them hostage in virtual Bantustans at the mercy of the likes of Suhaib Hasan and Anjem Choudary.

And for those rejoicing that Sharia law in the UK is a ‘moderate interpretation,’ I need to remind them that a ‘small aspect’ is not the same as a ‘moderate interpretation.’ As Hasan says to a woman who questions his ruling in one of these kangaroo courts: ‘there is no exception to this rule; in the Sharia there is no exception, you have to accept it.’

Marriage, divorce, child custody may be ‘small aspects’ to Mogra and the Muslim Council of Britain but they are important pillars in the oppression of women living under Islamic law. Much of the struggle for women’s rights has taken shape in countries like Iran against these very aspects.

And by the way, laws are generally meant to safeguard rights not violate them. Many of the laws that Sharia courts aim to avoid have been fought for by progressive movements over centuries in order to improve people’s, women’s and children’s position in society and often vis-à-vis religion in power.

It is not racist to criticise Islam

Laurie writes: ‘Great isn’t it! I sign your petition and sent the link to friends, liberal freethinkers (like me, I thought) requesting they consider adding their names. I might as well have asked them to join the BNP! If it’s not that then it’s a stony silence and clear indication that there is to be no discussion on this matter. Having read your last email I can see this is going to be your biggest problem. I think the only way out of this is a full open debate, with the headline “ISLAM IS A RELIGION – NOT A RACE!” unless we can separate these two fundamental issues there is no hope of moving forward.’

Maryam Namazie responds: You rightly say that Islam is a religion not a race. Therefore, like any religion or belief, it has to be open to criticism and even ridicule. This becomes even more important in this day and age give that it is the ideology behind a political movement that is wreaking havoc across the world. It must be criticised and ridiculed because that is how throughout history reaction has been pushed back. Our criticism is often all we have to fight this movement.

Islamophobia – and now by the way the Church has asked that Christianity-phobia also be included in UN rights terminology –are not racism because criticisms of a religion, idea, a belief and even the practices that result from beliefs – even a phobia and hatred against beliefs have nothing to do with racism against real live human beings. Just as an attack on the belief and practice of Female Genital Mutilation is not an attack on girls who have been mutilated, just as a criticism of Judaism or the Israeli government is not an attack on Jews and just as Monty Python’s Life of Brian is not an attack on or racism against Christians.

Saying it is racism is merely part of the effort to silence criticism of religion and the political movement that holds it up as its banner.

You can see a video clip of my response to an Islamist at a public meeting in Canada in 2004 where I talk about how Sharia law is Islamic law and why criticism is not racism. This was the first public meeting of the successful International Campaign against Sharia Courts in Canada:

You can also read more on this in my 2006 speech in defence of free expression here.

Having said this, though, I must add that this in no way means that racism does not exist. Or that because the BNP, EDL, the Stop Islamisation of Europe or Geert Wilders criticise Islam, they are not pushing forward a racist agenda. They are. But I have already addressed that elsewhere.

We will have nothing to do with the English Defence League

Tony writes on the One Law for All website: This group should join forces with the English Defence League and help them in their fight against Islamic extremism and Shariah law in the UK.

Maryam Namazie responds: One Law for All will never ever join forces with the English Defence League. As I have said before, the far-right’s version of Britain is not very different from the Islamists’ one and we won’t stand for either.

I know the EDL tries to hide its true intentions – sort of like the BNP claiming not to be racist in order to join the mainstream. But even without a mission statement on its website and with a disclaimer on its forum, it isn’t hard to see that the EDL is a racist organisation.

First off, just their name makes me shudder. English Defence League reveals nationalism, exclusivity, segregation… I think it is very clear who they are – and are not – including in their version of ‘English.’

And it is also clear who they are from the hooligans and thugs who join their rallies. The EDL says it can’t be blamed for those it attracts but of course it can and it must. Send out right-wing messages of nationalism and ‘England for the English’ and you will get the racists and fascists doing Nazi salutes and demonising those perceived to be different.

And it is also clear who they are from their tactics, one of which is organising demonstrations in front of mosques and terrorising people passing by or entering. Look, if you are concerned about the political Islamic movement and mosques being funded by Islamic states to promotes Islamism, then by all means demonstrate but why not do it at the Qatar embassy (if you are concerned about the Burnley mosque for example) or for that matter Jack Straw’s office (who is thought to be responsible for the Emir of Qatar’s £1.5 million gift to the mosque). Yes I am opposed to faith schools but I wouldn’t stand with a group that brings out thugs in front of an Islamic school and threatens children going in who are sent their by their parents…

How you show your opposition is just as important as what you oppose – if not more.

Clearly, being opposed to Sharia is not nearly enough if it isn’t done within a framework of defending the rights of all and not just the ‘English.’

One Law for All is against the Beth Din too

James writes: ‘Just signed the petition, very much support it but there is a problem which is that the Jewish community already have the same idea [Jewish Beth Din] and it’s in place and [I understand] legally recognised … if they have it then the argument against Sharia is weakened, the battle needs to widen and include the Jewish law courts and get those stopped.’

Maryam Namazie responds: The One Law for All Campaign is opposed to all religious councils and tribunals including the Beth Din. If you look at our petition it calls for an end to all of them. But we’re focusing on Sharia because it is something close to our hearts and experience (at least for those of us who started the campaign), because Sharia courts are a tool of the political Islamic movement and also because Sharia courts are more prevalent.

The International Campaign against Sharia Courts in Canada did that too. They focused on Sharia though they were opposed to all types of tribunals and they succeeded in getting rid of them all. That is exactly what we aim to do here.

I was actually a speaker at the first public meeting against Sharia law in Canada. To see my speech there, click here.

Hope this clarifies our position.

The pathetic excuse of much of the European Left is no better

Diane writes: Whilst I agree with stopping any form of Sharia Law here, as far as I can see it’s the United Against Fascism group who are in bed with Islamists, not the far right. They defend radical Islam.

Maryam Namazie responds: Yes of course Diane, the Left such as the Socialist Workers’ Party and George Galloway defend Islamism – and of course some more than others. Even so, the far-right – my enemy’s enemy – doesn’t make a friend.

But that doesn’t mean that I think the sad excuse of much of the European Left is any better (even though I myself am on the Left).

It is an anti-colonial movement whose perspectives coincide with that of the ruling classes in the so-called Third World. This grouping is on the side of the ‘colonies’ no matter what goes on there. And their understanding of the ‘colonies’ is Eurocentric, patronising and even racist. In the world according to them, the people in these countries are one and the same with the regimes they are struggling against just as the ‘Muslim community’ here is one and the same with reactionary Islamic organisations, Sharia councils, and parasitical imams. Which is why at Stop the War Coalition demonstrations, they carry banners saying ‘We are all Hezbollah;’ at meetings they segregate men and women and urge unveiled women to veil out of ‘solidarity’ and ‘respect’.

This type of politics denies universalism, sees rights as ‘western,’ justifies the suppression of rights, freedoms and equality under the guise of respect for other ‘cultures’ implying that people want to live the way they are forced to and imputing on innumerable people the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the ruling class.

In this type of politics, the oppressor is victim and any criticism racist…

I suppose the whole point of the One Law for All Campaign is to create an alternative space for decent people to resist in a way that does not inadvertently bed them with the fascists or the Islamists and their apologists.

In all of this Diane, you need to choose where you will stand in the battle that lies ahead.

I hope you will choose to be out and about on November 21.

***

To read more of my criticism of cultural relativism, click here.

To read more of my criticism of the far-Right and European Left, see my open letter to anyone who will listen

Of course Sharia affects both men and women

Nader from Iran writes: ‘With all respect, the pressure and fear from Sharia is both on men and women. Every man also has to accept and submit as every woman does. Islam is the only religion today that teaches fear as the first lesson. Rule number 1 is fear for all. As such it is even more dangerous than any disease or drug. Every word I write is stating a fact and in no way discriminating against anyone. I say discriminating is most when you know and do not say anything because of fear.’

Maryam Namazie responds: Thank you for your email. Yes Nader of course you are right. Sharia law affects men, women and children. Today for example 5 people (4 men and 1 woman) were executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many of the minors on death row in Iran are boys. Men are also stoned to death for sex outside of marriage, are harassed for improper dress – for example if they are wearing a T-shirt, tie or have long hair and so on.

But you must accept that women are very often the first line of attack under Sharia and all religious laws. And the attack on them is usually most visible – for example the fact that they must be veiled in public, they must be segregated, they must enter via different entrances into public buildings and so on. Or here in Britain, women are a majority of those attending Sharia courts and councils because men have the unilateral right to divorce under Sharia and they don’t.

But having said that, just because we are highlighting the problems with Sharia by focusing on women or children doesn’t mean we are denying that Sharia is not a problem for men. In fact our demands are gender neutral – we are calling for an end to Sharia and all religious courts and councils (and not just for women). We are using the opportunity of Universal Children’s Day and the International Day against the Elimination of Violence against Women to do so. In the past, we have marked the International Day against the Death Penalty to highlight Sharia and apostasy and will continue to mark internationally known days to bring attention to this issue. I hope this better explains our position.

***

Just as an aside, given your comment on Islam, let me also add that I think all religions teach fear. Islam seems the most dangerous today because of the political Islamic movement. To read more about this, click on a speech I made on the subject here.

DJM writes: Would have liked to have attended [the November 21 rally] – but am highly aware of the problem that violence against MEN is deemed somehow acceptable – and cannot therefore attend the march. It is a well known fact that violence against men (even in the home environment) is at least as large a problem as domestic violence against women – and yet no organisation speaks out against the feminist propaganda that says that only men are violent. There are no shelters for battered men – indeed – no recourse against female violence against men at all – including the police who do not take these issues seriously. I totally support the elimination of violence – for everybody – but will not attend in support of a female only (the organisation of which is highly anti-male) anti male hate group.

Maryam Namazie responds: I think I have addressed your comments in general in the above response to Nader. But I must say one thing: I think it absurd logic that you find a defence of women’s or children’s rights to be ‘anti-male’ and our organisation an ‘anti-male hate group!’ If I am to be completely frank, I think the problem is not so much that we are – as you say – ‘highly anti-male’ but that you are highly anti-woman.

Five people were executed in Tehran today

According to reliable sources, Soheila Ghadiri (a woman) and four men were executed in Tehran’s Evin prison early this morning. The execution of the juvenile offender Safar Angooti was postponed for one month. Soheila Ghadiri (30) was convicted of killing her new born baby three years ago. In the court she had said: “I escaped from home and got married to the boy I loved, at the age of 16. He died in an accident and after that I started with prostitution and drug addiction. I got HIV and hepatitis. When my baby was born, I killed her because I didn’t want her to have the same destiny as mine”.

The International Committee against Execution has called for 30th October to be an International day against execution in Iran.

In its statement, it has said:

The Islamic Republic of Iran is about to execute a number of protestors and political activists from the recent protests. We must stand up strongly against its attempts to murder political activists and protestors.

Recently, the Islamic Republic executed Behnood Shojaee, convicted of murder at the age of 17. Few other juveniles who have been convicted under the age of 18, are about to be executed in the next few days. During these days; Mohammad Reza Alizamani, Hamed Roohinezhad, Arash Rahmanipoor, Naser Endolhosaini and Davood Farbache Mir Ardebili are sentenced to death for crimes such as participating in protests, being members of oppositions and apostasy. On 6th and 8th October, 6 people were hanged in Ahvaz. This is only a small sample of what this barbaric and criminal regime has done in the past few days.

We must stand against this machine of crime,

These people accused of participating in protests, are sentenced to death and according to their lawyers and some human rights organizations; they were arrested prior to recent protests and they are “guilty” of reporting news to opposition media and attempting to leave Iran and seek refuge to other countries. Given this situation, the Islamic Republic is trying to hang some of the protesters along with political activists in preparation for more executions. The officials of the Islamic Republic falsely think they are able to save their state by intimidating people.

The International Committee against Executions is preparing an international protest against execution in Iran and particularly against juveniles, political activists and protestors and asks everyone to participate in these protests in the occasion on 30th of October. We must strongly stand up against execution. Wherever you live, from any city, major intersections and in front of Islamic Republic embassies, parliament building and etc, prepare to protest.

Along with the people of Iran, we are capable of informing and getting the people of the world on our side and against the Islamic Republic.

International Committee against Executions

On November 21

Hello

As I said in my last email, I am now responding to Sharia-related comments and questions every day of the week until the One Law for All rally on November 21. You can see my responses for this past week below or by visiting the One Law for All website. The responses are entitled ‘the affinity between the far right and the Islamists;’ ‘Islam matters because of political Islam;’ ‘Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society;’ ‘Please don’t export your Islamists, deal with them;’ ‘The battle against Sharia is against both the Islamists and the far-right;’ ‘This is for all of us;’ and ‘Moroccan rights activists deserve our support.’ If you have any questions or comments, please email them to me or post them on the website and I’ll be sure to respond.

Also, don’t forget to tell everyone you know about November 21. It is an important day to raise our voices against Sharia and religious laws and defend humanity, secularism and universal rights, including the right to asylum for those fleeing political Islam. If you can’t get to London and want to organise something in your city, contact us so we can help you do so.

And please donate if you can. If everyone who supported us gave just £1, we would have more than enough to do all we need to do including conducting a survey on Sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals, organising a seminar and report on the legal and legislative means available to restricting religious laws in Britain, and a conference on Apostasy in the upcoming year. You can donate here: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate/

We look forward to seeing you out on the streets on November 21 – wherever you are.

Best wishes
Maryam
Maryam Namazie
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
onelawforall@gmail.com
www.onelawforall.org.uk

The affinity between the far right and the Islamists
October 12, 2009

Stephen Gash said in a comment posted October 12, 2009: How is it that Muslims voted for Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and the Malaysian Government, both of whom are Islamising their countries and bringing in sharia law? The people must want it if they voted these governments to power. Similarly in Egypt where the Islamic government is perpetrating genocide against the Copts. How can Muslim voters be labelled “victims”, if they are the ones electing governments to power that strengthen sharia law? Before the 7/7 bombings 60% of Muslims polled in Britain wanted sharia law. That figure dropped to 40% after 7/7, but even this is a significant amount. Many of us believe the first figure to be nearer the mark. Let’s hope your rally is not cancelled like SIOE’s looks like it is to be. Have you thought about inviting Geert Wilders to speak?

Maryam Namazie responds: Thank you for your comments and questions. I have received a large number of emails too and will try and respond briefly to one every day until our rally on November 21.

Let me begin by responding to the one from the Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE).

Of course there is much to say about them and their racist politics – and don’t worry – I will.

For now, however, suffice it to say that I find it comic how they – and the likes of the English Defence League or the British National Party – don’t see their affinity with the Islamists and the political Islamic movement.

Stephen Gash’ statement is a great case in point.

The Islamists blame Westerners for Western government policies – no matter how many of them come out and say ‘not in our name.’ For the Islamists, all Israelis are fair game; so is every single man, woman and child in America and so on and so forth. That’s why they target buses and discothèques. They too say that the people in the West elected those governments and therefore must be held accountable. In the world according to them, the people in America elected Bush so they deserved September 11; the people in Britain elected Blair so 7/7 was fair game.

And in the world according to the likes of Stephen Gash, the millions languishing under and resisting Sharia law deserve what they get no matter how many are killed, tortured, burnt, stoned and hung from city squares…

****

As an aside, that is also why Geert Wilders will never be invited to speak at our rallies; he represents that very way of thinking that scapegoats and blames millions for a regressive right wing political Islamic movement that was actually brought to centre stage by Western government policy during the Cold War. For an analysis on his film, Fitna, see here: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2008/05/on-fitna-movie.html. You can also see Fitna Remade by Reza Moradi here: http://www.fitna-remade.com/Pages/fitna-remade.html

BTW if you want to read on, here is a good interview I did with Bahram Soroush and Fariborz Pooya on racist parties and racism: http://maryamnamazie.com/tv/on_racist_parties_and_racism.html

Until tomorrow then

Maryam

Islam matters because of political Islam
October 13, 2009

Margaret writes: I wanted to sign your online petition against Sharia Law in Britain, but the wording has put me off. It says “all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular.” In the case of my own religion this is not so. It may very well be true of some, or indeed many, religions but I cannot agree that it is true for all and do not feel that I can sign my name to something which says that, even though I would dearly love to sign a petition against Sharia Law in this country. I would be betraying my own beliefs if I signed something with such a sweeping blanket statement which I know to be untrue. Is there any way in which you could amend this statement?

Maryam Namazie responds: From our perspective, Islam is no different from other religions. You can find just as much misogyny, cruelty and inhumanity in the Bible, Torah or other religious books as you can in the Koran. And in my opinion Islam, Christianity and Judaism are fundamentally no different from Scientology or Moon’s Unification Church, which are considered cults endangering social and personal development.

Of course, today – as we speak – there is a distinction to be made between religion in general and Islam in particular but for no other reason than that it is the ideology behind a movement that is, in many places, part and parcel of the state, the law, criminal so-called ‘justice’ system, judiciary, and educational system.

It is the difference between Christianity during the inquisition to one we see for example in Europe today. A ‘moderate,’ ‘reformed’ or ‘cuddlier’ religion is one that has been pushed back and reigned in by an enlightenment. And not before.

To read more about what I think about this, click on a speech I made on the subject here: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2008/06/islam-matters-because-of-political.html

***
The petition, which has already been signed by over 18000 people can’t be amended – the whole point of it is to focus on Sharia law but aim to get rid of all religious law in this country – just as the successful campaign against Sharia did in Ontario Province in Canada.

I am now off for a meeting and will be in Trafalgar Square at 1730 for an act of solidarity with the people of Iran with other volunteers (http://iransolidarity.blogspot.com/). We are going to focus on child executions today.

Until tomorrow then,

Keep well.

Maryam

Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society
October 14, 2009

Danny writes in an email: I have been an avid supporter of your cause – not allowing Sharia law to affect our own. But in your previous e-mail, I felt you were encouraging your members to support secularism, I could not do this, given that I am a Christian… I am a definite supporter of your cause, but now I’m not sure what to think, or what you truly oppose! Hope you can clear a few things up for me, Thank you for your time and kindest regards.

Maryam Namazie replies: Thanks for your email. I don’t see why you cannot be a Christian and a secularist at the same time. There are many, including Christians and Muslims, who are both. Secularism is the separation of religion from the state. It has nothing to do with your private beliefs. In fact, often times, a secular state is the best guarantee that your freedom of religion or atheism won’t be violated. For example, if you live in an Islamic state, what happens if you are a Muslim who wants to drink and have sex outside of marriage, and or is gay? What about all the other religious groups or atheists living there? Even if you are of the same religion as the state, there is no guarantee that your version of your religion will be the one the state adheres to. So even in a place like Britain, which is still far from a secular society, the state allows religious groups exemptions to discriminate against those they don’t accept. A good case in point is a homeless gay man being refused entry into a church-run shelter. Of course Britain today is a very different place from the times of the inquisition but in my opinion the extent to which religion is part of the state, educational system, or judicial system – whatever religion – that is the extent to which people in general suffer.

The promotion of secularism is an important vehicle to protect society from religion’s intervention in people’s lives, especially in the face of religion’s rising access to power.

I know nowadays, secularism is often portrayed negatively and that comes out in your letter. But this is just not true. Religion excludes whilst secularism is inclusive and ensures that a sect or group does not impose its beliefs on all. That a person’s religion is a private affair.

This has also been clearly stated in our manifesto, which says: ‘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.’

You can read more about my position on secularism in this article called Faith and State, getting the balance right: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2007/02/faith-and-state-getting-balance-right.html.

Hope this helps clarify things.

Until tomorrow then.

Please don’t export your Islamists, deal with them!
October 15, 2009

Lorraine writes: I saw something in the Daily Express (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/134080/Now-Muslims-demand-Give-us-full-Sharia-law) today about a planned demonstration by an organization called Islam4UK for 31st October, in London. It is in support of the demand that full sharia law be introduced throughout Britain, whether for non-Muslims as well as Muslims isn’t clear. I wondered if you had any views/further info’, and whether a counter-demonstration by One Law for All might be planned?’

Maryam Namazie responds: Thanks for your email. No we won’t be holding a counter demonstration. I don’t think that is very useful when it comes to dealing with fascists such as Anjem Choudary and the Islamists organising this rally. They have to receive a political response, which is what the One Law for All campaign and others are trying to do. The Daily Express article says they hope to bring 5,000 ‘Muslims’ to Trafalgar Square. As I have said before, it is not ‘Muslims’ who will be coming out but the Islamists. Despite Britain being a stronghold for that movement I doubt they could get so many even if they manage to mobilise the embassy staff of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on.

Our response is not to counter demonstrate on the 31 – but to carry on doing what we are doing – building a movement, mobilising people (we already have over 18000 signatories to our petition), raising awareness on why Sharia law is a tool of political Islam and not the desire of ‘Muslims,’ organising rallies such as the November 21 one, and planning an upcoming seminar in March 2010 with lawyers, campaigners and politicians to draw up our recommendations for how we can get rid of Sharia law, as well as efforts at the European level by the National Secular Society and so on and so forth.

I do hope you will be coming to the rally and telling everyone you know about it – we need to show that the Islamists are a minority – we know they are – but we have to show it.

Just as an aside about a statement in the Daily Express article by Tory MP Philip Davies who said: “The simple solution is for these people to move to a country which already has sharia law.” I am sorry, but in countries that have Sharia – people there are busy trying to get rid of the Islamists in power – like in Iran. Please don’t export yours there too – deal with them here. Stop appeasing the political Islamic movement; stop political relations with Islamic states, stop funding Islamic organisations and stop fragmenting society into a million pieces and start treating everyone living here as equal citizens…

The battle against Sharia is against both the Islamists and the far-right
October 16, 2009

Anwar Rizvi writes: I am a muslim and and i remain fundamentally opposed to shari’a law anywhere in the world. My big worry is that your campaign is being hijacked by the extreme right in this country who are planning not only to attend your demonstration but use it as an “add on” to their violent anti-muslim campaign that is already under way in many parts of britain. I have already seem several messages on facebook where extreme right wingers are urging people to attend your event. I myself wont be there because of work commitments but i just urge you to be on the guard against these racists.

Maryam Namazie responds: Thanks for your comment Anwar. First off, if racists and fascists come they will be kicked out. Full stop. The few who tried to join our last March 7 rally were made to leave by organisers and they will be told to do so again. You can see video footage of our March 7 2009 rally and seminar here to see how well it all went off: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/one-law-for-all-campaign-against-sharia-law-in-britains-international-womens-day/

You are right in saying that the extreme right has hijacked this issue but NOT our campaign and there is a big difference between the two. The BNP, English Defence League, Stop Islamisation of Europe and all the other big and small racist and fascist groups are using Sharia in order to promote their racist, anti-immigrant and inhumane agenda. But that is doubly why we must take centre stage. We have to come to the fore because Sharia is unjust and because we need to make sure that in the ensuing battle human rights, dignity, and humanity are upheld. All demands for change involve social movements pushing for them. That is why the world today is better in many ways than that of the Middle Ages the Islamists are trying to drag us back into. But if we stay silent because of the far-right, we shirk our responsibilities and duties. And we leave the stage open for them and the Islamists. I am sorry but I just won’t allow that.

Let me put it this way, just because the pope is opposed to the death penalty, doesn’t mean I will stop opposing it because he is regressive. Just because Iran is against the US, doesn’t mean I will start supporting the brutal US militarism. We have to start by doing what is right and we have to make sure that we show the world that we are the majority. A society in which the far-right has the upper hand is not that different than the one in which the Islamists do. So I would hope you would take off from work on November 21, that you’d encourage people to come and that in any forum where you see the far-right encouraging people to come, you would send us the links so we can go there and tell them not to bother.

This rally is just as much against them as it is against the Islamists. It is just as much about a better society for us here in Britain as in the rest of the world.

This is for all of us
October 19, 2009

Sana from Pakistan writes: ‘How lucky u guyz are at least you can protest and voice your opposition against the injustice [of Sharia law]. Pity on us.’

Thanks so much for your email Sana. Our protest is just as much against Sharia in Pakistan as it is in Britain, Afghanistan, Somalia or elsewhere. The political Islamic movement is a global one; and opposition to it is global too. When we take to the streets in Britain, Iran, Afghanistan or elsewhere we do it for all of us – and not out of despair – but out of the hope and possibility for a better and different world.

In Pakistan, there are many who are protesting too. I will email you some good contacts to have just off the top of my head – they will direct you to others who are organising. You can always begin by contacting them via email and the internet.

Hope the above is useful. Please keep in touch and keep strong.

Maryam

Moroccan rights activists deserve our support
October 20, 2009

‘I’m Betty- Ibtissame LACHGAR, rights activist in Morocco. You have maybe heard about our Movement for Defence of Individual Liberties (MALI) and the buzz in Ramadan? I really want to meet u.’

Maryam Namazie responds: Hi Betty, it would be wonderful to meet you. I’ll be sure to highlight the brilliant work you are doing there. It would be great if you could send a message to the November 21 rally protestors that we could read out on the day. I look forward to working closely with you and supporting you in any way possible. Best wishes, Maryam

***

In case you haven’t yet heard, Betty-Ibtissame and Zineb El Rhazoui are the co-founders of MALI. They have just been barred from leaving Morocco to attend a conference in Paris and were told by border police that they are on a ‘wanted’ list. Their crime? Organising a public daytime fast break at the city of Mohammedia during Ramadan (Sunday, September 13). Breaking the rules of fasting is forbidden for Muslims in Morocco and can be punishable by a sentence of one to six months in prison and fines of almost 100 euros, according to Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code. To protest against ‘this interference in private life,’ MALI organised a fast-breaking protest. According to Zineb: ‘Our aim was to show that we are Moroccans, but that we do not fast, and that we have a right to exist.’ They were besieged by the police. The Official Moroccan Council of Ulema (theologians) denounced the protesters and described them as ‘agitators.’ Some of the group members were arrested and subjected to death threats via e-mails.

Moroccan rights activists deserve our support

‘I’m Betty- Ibtissame LACHGAR, rights activist in Morocco. You have maybe heard about our Movement for Defence of Individual Liberties (MALI) and the buzz in Ramadan? I really want to meet u.’

Maryam Namazie responds: Hi Betty, it would be wonderful to meet you. I’ll be sure to highlight the brilliant work you are doing there. It would be great if you could send a message to the November 21 rally protestors that we could read out on the day. I look forward to working closely with you and supporting you in any way possible. Best wishes, Maryam

***

In case you haven’t yet heard, Betty-Ibtissame and Zineb El Rhazoui are the co-founders of MALI. They have just been barred from leaving Morocco to attend a conference in Paris and were told by border police that they are on a ‘wanted’ list. Their crime? Organising a public daytime fast break at the city of Mohammedia during Ramadan (Sunday, September 13). Breaking the rules of fasting is forbidden for Muslims in Morocco and can be punishable by a sentence of one to six months in prison and fines of almost 100 euros, according to Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code. To protest against ‘this interference in private life,’ MALI organised a fast-breaking protest. According to Zineb: ‘Our aim was to show that we are Moroccans, but that we do not fast, and that we have a right to exist.’ They were besieged by the police. The Official Moroccan Council of Ulema (theologians) denounced the protesters and described them as ‘agitators.’ Some of the group members were arrested and subjected to death threats via e-mails.

Juveniles at risk of imminent execution in Iran

A week after the execution of juvenile offender Behnoud Shojaee, three other child offenders are due to be executed in the coming days: Mohammad Reza Haddadi, Safar Angooti, and Amir Amrollahi. The alleged charge is premeditated murder, committed under the legal age.

Safar Angooti’s execution is scheduled for 21 October. Safar Angooti, is accused of a murder, committed when he was 16.

Iran hanged Behnoud Shojaei on 12 October, the third child offender to be executed in 2009.

Iran is the only country since 2008 to execute child offenders.

Behnoud Shojaee was executed in the early morning of Sunday, Oct, 11th in Tehran’s Evin prison, while tens of human rights defenders were protesting the verdict outside.

Behnoud Shojaee was sentenced to qesas (retribution) by Branch 74 of the Criminal Court in Tehran on 2 October 2006, after he was found guilty of killing a boy called Omid the previous year, when he was 17. Behnoud Shojaee had no legal representation at his trial. This was the sixth time his execution had been scheduled.

Executions of those under 18 at the time of their alleged offence is strictly prohibited under international law.

Iran is the only country in the world that has carried out such sentences within past year.

More than 130 minors are currently awaiting their execution.

Act now to make child executions a thing of the past.

This is for all of us

Here is my response for today:

Sana from Pakistan writes: ‘How lucky u guyz are at least you can protest and voice your opposition against the injustice [of Sharia law]. Pity on us.’

Maryam Namazie responds: Thanks so much for your email Sana. Our protest is just as much against Sharia in Pakistan as it is in Britain, Afghanistan, Somalia or elsewhere. The political Islamic movement is a global one; and opposition to it is global too. When we take to the streets in Britain, Iran, Afghanistan or elsewhere we do it for all of us – and not out of despair – but out of the hope and possibility for a better and different world.

In Pakistan, there are many who are protesting too. Below are some good contacts for you to have just off the top of my head – they will direct you to others who are organising. You can always begin by contacting them via email and the internet:

Women against Fundamentalism
A high court judge who is campaigning to get rid of state religion
Civil Society organisations that call for repeal of blasphemy laws
Shirkat Gah
Chay magazine on Sex, sexuality and Pakistan

Hope the above is useful. Please keep in touch and keep strong.

Maryam

The battle against Sharia is against both the Islamists and the far-right

Here is today’s comment on Sharia.

Anwar Rizvi writes: I am a muslim and and i remain fundamentally opposed to shari’a law anywhere in the world. My big worry is that your campaign is being hijacked by the extreme right in this country who are planning not only to attend your demonstration but use it as an “add on” to their violent anti-muslim campaign that is already under way in many parts of britain. I have already seem several messages on facebook where extreme right wingers are urging people to attend your event. I myself wont be there because of work commitments but i just urge you to be on the guard against these racists.

Thanks for your comment Anwar. First off, if racists and fascists come they will be kicked out. Full stop. The few who tried to join our last March 7 rally were made to leave by organisers and they will be told to do so again. You can see video footage of our March 7 2009 rally and seminar here to see how well it all went off: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/one-law-for-all-campaign-against-sharia-law-in-britains-international-womens-day/

You are right in saying that the extreme right has hijacked this issue but NOT our campaign and there is a big difference between the two. The BNP, English Defence League, Stop Islamisation of Europe and all the other big and small racist and fascist groups are using Sharia in order to promote their racist, anti-immigrant and inhumane agenda. But that is doubly why we must take centre stage. We have to come to the fore because Sharia is unjust and because we need to make sure that in the ensuing battle human rights, dignity, and humanity are upheld. All demands for change involve social movements pushing for them. That is why the world today is better in many ways than that of the Middle Ages the Islamists are trying to drag us back into. But if we stay silent because of the far-right, we shirk our responsibilities and duties. And we leave the stage open for them and the Islamists. I am sorry but I just won’t allow that.

Let me put it this way, just because the pope is opposed to the death penalty, doesn’t mean I will stop opposing it because he is regressive. Just because Iran is against the US, doesn’t mean I will start supporting the brutal US militarism. We have to start by doing what is right and we have to make sure that we show the world that we are the majority. A society in which the far-right has the upper hand is not that different than the one in which the Islamists do. So I would hope you would take off from work on November 21, that you’d encourage people to come and that in any forum where you see the far-right encouraging people to come, you would send us the links so we can go there and tell them not to bother.

This rally is just as much against them as it is against the Islamists. It is just as much about a better society for us here in Britain as in the rest of the world.

Please don’t export your Islamists, deal with them!

October 15, 2009

Lorraine writes: I saw something in the Daily Express today about a planned demonstration by an organization called Islam4UK for 31st October, in London. It is in support of the demand that full sharia law be introduced throughout Britain, whether for non-Muslims as well as Muslims isn’t clear. I wondered if you had any views/further info’, and whether a counter-demonstration by One Law for All might be planned?’

Maryam Namazie responds: Thanks for your email. No we won’t be holding a counter demonstration. I don’t think that is very useful when it comes to dealing with fascists such as Anjem Choudary and the Islamists organising this rally. They have to receive a political response, which is what the One Law for All campaign and others are trying to do. The Daily Express article says they hope to bring 5,000 ‘Muslims’ to Trafalgar Square. As I have said before, it is not ‘Muslims’ who will be coming out but the Islamists. Despite Britain being a stronghold for that movement I doubt they could get so many even if they manage to mobilise the embassy staff of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on.

Our response is not to counter demonstrate on the 31 – but to carry on doing what we are doing – building a movement, mobilising people (we already have over 18000 signatories to our petition), raising awareness on why Sharia law is a tool of political Islam and not the desire of ‘Muslims,’ organising rallies such as the November 21 one, and planning an upcoming seminar in March 2010 with lawyers, campaigners and politicians to draw up our recommendations for how we can get rid of Sharia law, as well as efforts at the European level by the National Secular Society and so on and so forth.

I do hope you will be coming to the rally and telling everyone you know about it – we need to show that the Islamists are a minority – we know they are – but we have to show it.

Just as an aside about a statement in the Daily Express article by Tory MP Philip Davies who said: “The simple solution is for these people to move to a country which already has sharia law.” I am sorry, but in countries that have Sharia – people there are busy trying to get rid of the Islamists in power – like in Iran. Please don’t export yours there too – deal with them here. Stop appeasing the political Islamic movement; stop political relations with Islamic states, stop funding Islamic organisations and stop fragmenting society into a million pieces and start treating everyone living here as equal citizens…

Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society

As you now, I am replying to one comment or email a day until Nov 21 rally against Sharia and religious laws. Here is today’s:

Danny writes in an email: I have been an avid supporter of your cause – not allowing Sharia law to affect our own. But in your previous e-mail, I felt you were encouraging your members to support secularism, I could not do this, given that I am a Christian… I am a definite supporter of your cause, but now I’m not sure what to think, or what you truly oppose! Hope you can clear a few things up for me, Thank you for your time and kindest regards.

Maryam Namazie replies: Thanks for your email. I don’t see why you cannot be a Christian and a secularist at the same time. There are many, including Christians and Muslims, who are both. Secularism is the separation of religion from the state. It has nothing to do with your private beliefs. In fact, often times, a secular state is the best guarantee that your freedom of religion or atheism won’t be violated. For example, if you live in an Islamic state, what happens if you are a Muslim who wants to drink and have sex outside of marriage, and or is gay? What about all the other religious groups or atheists living there? Even if you are of the same religion as the state, there is no guarantee that your version of your religion will be the one the state adheres to. So even in a place like Britain, which is still far from a secular society, the state allows religious groups exemptions to discriminate against those they don’t accept. A good case in point is a homeless gay man being refused entry into a church-run shelter. Of course Britain today is a very different place from the times of the inquisition but in my opinion the extent to which religion is part of the state, educational system, or judicial system – whatever religion – that is the extent to which people in general suffer.

The promotion of secularism is an important vehicle to protect society from religion’s intervention in people’s lives, especially in the face of religion’s rising access to power.

I know nowadays, secularism is often portrayed negatively and that comes out in your letter. But this is just not true. Religion excludes whilst secularism is inclusive and ensures that a sect or group does not impose its beliefs on all. That a person’s religion is a private affair.

This has also been clearly stated in our manifesto, which says: ‘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.’

You can read more about my position on secularism in this article called Faith and State, getting the balance right.

Hope this helps clarify things.

Until tomorrow then.

My act of solidarity with the people of Iran today with other Iran Solidarity activists

Today, Iran Solidarity activists – those who mainly support the various acts and do one themselves if no one shows up – met up to do an act together. Pictured here are Alfonso Ciuffini, Nina Ciuffini, Patty Debonitas, Jalil Jalili, Bahar Milani, Maryam Namazie, and Magnus Nielson. Activists Alice Fuller, Richard Francis, Clare Mcqueenie, Fariborz Pooya, and Sohaila Sharifi were not able to make it.

Islam matters because of political Islam

Margaret writes: I wanted to sign your online petition against Sharia Law in Britain, but the wording has put me off. It says “all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular.” In the case of my own religion this is not so. It may very well be true of some, or indeed many, religions but I cannot agree that it is true for all and do not feel that I can sign my name to something which says that, even though I would dearly love to sign a petition against Sharia Law in this country. I would be betraying my own beliefs if I signed something with such a sweeping blanket statement which I know to be untrue. Is there any way in which you could amend this statement?

Maryam responds:

From our perspective, Islam is no different from other religions. You can find just as much misogyny, cruelty and inhumanity in the Bible, Torah or other religious books as you can in the Koran. And in my opinion Islam, Christianity and Judaism are fundamentally no different from Scientology or Moon’s Unification Church, which are considered cults endangering social and personal development.

Of course, today – as we speak – there is a distinction to be made between religion in general and Islam in particular but for no other reason than that it is the ideology behind a movement that is, in many places, part and parcel of the state, the law, criminal so-called ‘justice’ system, judiciary, and educational system.

It is the difference between Christianity during the inquisition to one we see for example in Europe today. A ‘moderate,’ ‘reformed’ or ‘cuddlier’ religion is one that has been pushed back and reigned in by an enlightenment. And not before.

To read more about what I think about this, click on a speech I made on the subject here.

***
The petition, which has already been signed by over 18000 people can’t be amended – the whole point of it is to focus on Sharia law but aim to get rid of all religious law in this country – just as the successful campaign against Sharia did in Ontario Province in Canada.

I am now off for a meeting and will be in Trafalgar Square at 1730 for an act of solidarity with the people of Iran with other volunteers. We are going to focus on child executions today.

Until tomorrow then,

Keep well.

Maryam