Maryam Namazie’s speaking tour in Australia a huge success

Maryam Namazie’s Australian tour in the last week of August 2011 was a huge success, attracting a high media profile and hundreds who attended her various speaking engagements, which included a fundraising dinner in Sydney, a talk at the Wheeler Centre organised by Melbourne PEN and WISA, a talk at Melbourne Free University’s open discussion space, a talk at University of Western Sydney Open forum with award winning author Hanifa Deen providing commentary, and a talk organised by the NSW Humanists.

During her week-long speaking tour, Maryam highlighted the many parallels between Britain and Australia, drawing attention to the unholy alliance between the Islamists and the pro-Islamist Left that refuse to condemn sharia in the false belief that to do so would be “racist”. She insisted that in fact, sharia’s advancement restricts the rights and freedoms of Muslims first and foremost, and that relegating Muslims to a separate legal system that restricts the rights of women and children in particular is the real act of racism.

“Just because people were born into Muslim families, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same rights and freedoms as everyone else,” Maryam said.

While battling the skewed perspectives of the Islamists and their apologists, Maryam also stressed the urgent need to oppose the far-Right, including the Australian Defence League and the Stop Islamisation movement, which feigned to oppose Sharia law in order to attack Muslims and immigrants. She called for an unequivocal defence of asylum seekers and refugees, many of whom have fled Islamism and Sharia law.

Maryam’s visit coincided with the publication of research by academics who found that legal pluralism “abounds” in Australia, creating a shadow legal system that endorses polygamous and underage marriages in which women have lesser entitlements to divorce and child custody.

During her visit, Maryam was interviewed by a number of media outlets. Some of the coverage can be found below:

Keeping quiet allows intolerance to thrive, Elizabeth Farrelly, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2011.

British experiment a warning on Sharia law by Chris Merritt, The Australian, 26 August 2011.

ABC Radio 774′s Conversation Hour with Jon Faine (Melbourne) interviewing Maryam Namazie along with artist Kavisha Mazzella and 9/11 survivor Genelle Guzman-McMillan, 24 August 2011.

Strength in Numbers, Channel 7;Today Tonight, 24 August 2011.

British campaigner battles media cone of silence on Sharia law by Chris Merritt, The Australian, 23 August 2011.

ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live with Phillip Adams interviewing Maryam Namazie along with Director of DV8 physical theatre Lloyd Newson whose latest work, Can We Talk About This? deals with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam. The production premiered in August 2011 at Sydney Opera House, and will be followed by an international tour. This documentary-style dance-theatre production is based on interviews, thoughts and speeches of individuals such as Maryam Namazie, the director of ‘One Law for All,’ which fights for the rights of women, and against Sharia courts and Sharia law being introduced in Britain, 22 August 2011.

Maryam was also interviewed in Persian on SBS Radio’s Persian Program, 27 August 2011.

Links to interviews by Ida Lichter, author of Muslim Women Reformers, Rachael Kohn of ABC Radio National’s The Spirit of Things and with Virginia Hausegger, ABC News 24′s One Plus One program will follow.

For more information on Maryam Namazie’s Australia tour, please contact tour organiser and One Law for All Australia contact person Gaby Grammeno, at [email protected]

DV8 physical theatre: Can we talk about this?

Lloyd Newson’s latest work, Can We Talk About This? deals with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam. The production premiered in August 2011 at Sydney Opera House, and will be followed by an international tour.

From the 1989 book burnings of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, to the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh and the controversy of the ‘Muhammad cartoons’ in 2005, DV8’s production will examine how these events have reflected and influenced multicultural policies, press freedom and artistic censorship.

In the follow up to the critically acclaimed To Be Straight With You, this documentary-style dance-theatre production is based on interviews, thoughts and speeches of individuals such as Maryam Namazie, the director of ‘One Law for All,’ which fights for the rights of women, and against Sharia courts and Sharia law being introduced in Britain.

For more information, visit here.

For dates and tickets, visit here.

Veil, on no condition!

Conflict and dispute on the question of the veil among the factions of the Islamic regime in Iran is escalating. The paper of Iran supporting president Ahmadinejad, has called the veil “the worst kind of clothing” and attacked its black colour. The paper has even damned King Nasser al-Din Qajar (1831 – 1896) as the initiator of the black veil!

The fact is that from the very outset the veil was the banner of the Islamic regime indicating its character. Quite a few weeks before the people’s uprising in February 1979, wherever Islamic thugs could, they attacked unveiled women. After the coming of the Islamic regime to power, these thugs continued their misogyny by shouting the slogan “either a veil or a box on the head”, hurling acid on unveiled women, whipping women breaking the Islamic rules, abominable propaganda against woman, kicking them out of job, etc. But the resistance and struggle of women did not stop even for a single day. For refusing to carry a “proper veil”, millions of women have been warned, charged, whipped, imprisoned, raped and been called prostitutes in the media during the Islamic rule. However, they didn’t give up! In the past 32 years, a widespread war has been going on between women and the Islamic regime. It could without any exaggeration, be said that the winner has been the women.

The fact that today the regime is divided into adherents and opponents of the black veil, that one is denouncing the other, and that the other one is emphasising the penalties of improper veiling and saying that “just as King Reza (1878 – 1944) unveiled women by force, we have to use force to put it back on women”, speaks for itself the shameful defeat of the regime. An official says that 22 organs that are responsible for controlling the veil have not performed their duties and that in Tehran just 37% of women consider the veil, and even these are only for fear of its consequence! Another official says that the plan of sexual separation has been laid dormant for 24 years. Statistics published by the regime indicates that about 80% of teenager students have a boyfriend – something that precisely contradicts the whole Islamic system. For 32 years, all the regime’s measures of repression and propaganda have been working to impose the veil and yet all the Islamic ruling gangs are today admitting that in one way or another, they have failed.

Veil in any form, size, and color is the heinous banner of the Islamic reaction. They need the women’s rightlessness to keep up the system of exploitation, poverty and subjugation. The war on veil, sexual separation and other Islamic misogynious policies are a class struggle and cosequently concern all freedom-loving people, anyone attempting to stop religious intervention in people’s lives, anyone that esteems humanity or fights against misery, and all those fighting for the overthrow of this regime. The split and weakened forces of the regime may once again try to impose veil and sexual separation, but the freedom-fighting people of Iran are not going to give up. As they have shown in the past 32 years, they’ll not accede to this yoke of oppression. On the contrary, they’ll emerge more determined and firm, now that they’ve stirred up divisions in the ranks of the regime.

From the very begining of its coming to power, the Islamic regime introduced the veil by force. Consequently, unveiling would be the end of its miserable existance! It’s time to take the field with all their might and abolish the Islamic regime’s veil and sexual separation.

Long live the women’s liberation movement!
Down with the Islamic regime in Iran!
Long live freedom, equality, workers’ rule!

Worker-communist Party of Iran
August 17, 2011

Maryam Namazie in Australia for the next two weeks

I am leaving for Australia early tomorrow morning and will there for the next two weeks. Here are the events I will be speaking at:

Dinner and Talk: Should Australia follow Britain in accommodating Islamic sharia law?: 6.30 pm Monday 22 August 2011
Description: Talk by Maryam Namazie and fundraising dinner for One Law For All.
Maryam will speak about the implications of legal pluralism for Australia, with insights from the UK experience to date in accommodating Islamic sharia law through the Arbitration Act 1996, and the current effort to limit the power of sharia courts and religious tribunals through the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill.
Venue: Finola’s Restaurant (Balmain Bowling Club), 156 Darling St, Balmain, Sydney.
Cost $50 per person – SOLD OUT
RSVP: Gaby Grammeno at [email protected] (02) 4754 3569.

Sharia law and human rights
Melbourne PEN and WISA
6.30 pm, Tuesday 23 August 2011
The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Cost: $10
RSVP: Melbourne PEN at [email protected]

Religious Courts in the Secular State
Date: Wednesday 24 August
Description: Maryam will talk at Melbourne Free University’s open discussion space.
Venue: Dexter Bar/Cafe, 123 Queens Pde, Clifton Hill, Melbourne.
Cost: Free
RSVP: Gavin Vance at [email protected]

Sharia law and human rights
Date: 6.00 pm Thursday 25 August 2011
Description: UWS Open forum
Venue: University of Western Sydney Parramatta South Campus (main campus), cnr Victoria Rd and James Ruse Drive, Rydalmere, Building EE room G.03.
Cost: Free

Challenging sharia law
NSW Humanists
Date: 2.00 pm, Saturday 27 August 2011
Venue: Humanist House, 10 Shepherd St, Chippendale
Cost: Free for NSW Humanist members, gold coin donation for others.

She also has interviews arranged with the following:
SBS TV News
ABC News 24′s One Plus One program
ABC Radio National’s Late Night Live, with Phillip Adams
ABC Radio National’s The Spirit of Things with Rachael Kohn
ABC Radio 774′s Conversation Hour, with Jon Faine (Melbourne)
Elizabeth Farrelly, contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald
Chris Merritt, Legal Affairs Editor, The Australian
SBS Radio’s Persian Program, 24 August
Ida Lichter, author of Muslim Women Reformers

This trip could not have happened without the hard work of Gaby Grammeno so am especially looking forward to meeting up with her.

I will still be available on email (I don’t think my phone will work there) if anyone needs to reach me urgently.

Also see Maryam Namazie’s op-ed in the Australian entitled Australia must fight calls for Sharia law published on 12 August 2011.

Robert Spencer should be more honest and own up to his far-Right politics

Robert Spencer has responded to One Law for All’s report Enemies not Allies: The Far-Right by saying: ‘If Maryam Namazie’s One Law For All claims to oppose the jihad while attacking anti-jihadists and supporting the genocidal jihad against Israel, then it is simply a false-flag operation. He links to a press release of the Left Worker-Communist Party of Iraq posted on my blog as proof of ‘anti-Semitism’.

On charges of ‘anti-Semitism’

I find it interesting how Spencer uses the tactics of Islamists. Islamists will often say any criticism of Islam and Islamism is an attack on Muslims and racism in order to silence opposition and in fact bulldoze over the rights of Muslims and others. Spencer labels any criticism of Israeli government policies as anti-Semitism in order to do the same. Needless to say, it is ironic to see the far-Right oppose anti-Semitism – at least tactically for now – when anti-Semitism has always been one of its important cornerstones.

The December 2008 press release of the Left Worker-Communist Party of Iraq that Spencer is referring to opposes the ‘brutal airstrikes of the Israeli government’ and its having ‘dropped more than 100 tons of explosives on Gaza in the deadliest bombing campaigns’.

The press release goes on to say that:

‘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.’

The press release ends with the slogans: ‘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!’

Claiming to ‘oppose the jihad while attacking anti-jihadists’

Spencer also asserts that opposing him makes us ‘no more anti-jihad than Hassan Nasrallah’. Again, this is based on a false premise. Look, this is a question of politics. One Law for All wants to create a huge movement of people and groups with differing opinions. In fact, many of those involved in the campaign won’t agree with my politics in other areas, e.g. on the Palestinian question and worker-communism as I won’t agree with many of theirs. But that is the point of single issue campaigns and how many movements are strengthened.

Just because the BNP, Stop Islamisation of Europe and America or the EDL are also claiming to be opposed to Islamism, it doesn’t put us in the same camp. We are opposed to Islamism because we want to defend rights, equality, secularism, citizenship rights. They oppose Islamism because it is their competition. Just because Bush invades Iraq to ‘defend women’s rights’ doesn’t make it so. And just because I am a women’s rights campaigner, doesn’t mean I must now support the US’ militarism across the globe.

Marxism

Moreover, Spencer says, ‘Not coincidentally, One Law For All is headed up by Maryam Namazie, a Marxist antisemite who claims to be anti-jihad’. Suffice it to say that I know that anti-communism is a characteristic of the Islamists and far-Right alike, and that the end of the Cold War and a pathetic pro-Islamist Left have made it fashionable to attack the Left and Communism. But people seek out the Left because they demand justice as Mansoor Hekmat had said. Also, worker-communism has never supported the Soviet Union or the Gulags or whatever. If you really want to know what the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) stands for there is ample information on it here.

One Law for All and I are not one and the same

Most importantly, though, my Marxism and worker-communism’s press release on the Palestinian question are not relevant to One Law for All since the campaign does not promote Marxism, nor does it issues press releases on the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine. But again this is an attempt to muddy the waters in order to evade the questions raised about him and his movement in our report.

Spencer has asked for an apology for labelling him far-Right. He should not wait for one as none will be forthcoming. I have suggested, however, that he be more honest with himself and others and own up to his regressive and inhuman politics. It would be much more respectable.

Look, if Spencer wants to challenge the One Law for All report, he will have to refute the evidence in the report, which is the result of a January 2011 seminar on the issue and months of research and not grab at straws.

By the way, this is the last time I will address Spencer’s comments. I have better things to do with my time. The goal, after all, behind writing the report was not to make Spencer have a ‘change of heart’ but to persuade a majority that is against Islamism and Sharia law to also be vigilant against ‘their own far-Right’.

You can read Adam Barnett’s response to Robert Spencer here. He co-wrote the Enemies not Allies report and did most of the research for it.

Adam Barnett’s response to Robert Spencer

Adam Barnett co-wrote One Law for All’s Enemies Not Allies: The Far:Right report. Here he responds to Robert Spencer’s statement on the report.

Following the publication of ‘Enemies Not Allies: The Far-Right’, our new report which investigates his and similar organisations, Stop Islamization of America director Robert Spencer has invited One Law for All to ‘substantiate [our] charges, or withdraw them and issue a public apology.’ One could simply recommend that Mr. Spencer read our report. Indeed, in his ‘rebuttal’, he writes as if he has answered all of these charges before. It’s therefore strange that he felt the need to reply to them at ‘11:53pm’ on a Sunday night, and to attempt to smear his critics as ‘racist anti-Semites’ and ‘supporters of Jihad’. One could be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Spencer hoped to prevent people from reading the report for themselves.

In any event, I’m happy to list our main charges against his group and refer interested readers to the relevant citations in our report:

- Stop Islamisation of Europe is the ‘expansion’ of a Danish anti-Muslim party, Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark (SIAD), which was itself the result of a split within a xenophobic lobby group. (p.36-37) It calls for a boycott of all ‘Islamic countries’, for the Qur’an to be banned, for the mass deportation of immigrants from Europe, and protests against the building of Mosques. (p.37, 44-46) SIOE’s leadership consider all Muslims to be congenital liars who have a ‘culture of deceit’, and never tire of announcing that they ‘do not believe in moderate Muslims’. (p.40-41, and here)

- SIOE’s leaders have collaborated with and defended Julius Borgesen, former spokesperson for the right-wing extremist group Danske Front, which has ‘co-operated’ with Blood & Honour and Combat 18. Borgessen has reportedly participated in a march to celebrate Rudolf Hess, and was imprisoned in 2007 for calling for an arson attack against a Danish minister. SIOE insist that Borgesen is ‘in no way Nazi [or a racist], but is fighting for the democracy and freedom of Denmark’. (p.38-39) Further, there is evidence to suggest that other Danish neo-Nazis, as well as members of the BNP and the National Front, have attended SIOE and SIAD events. (p.38, 47)

- Stop Islamization of America is the U.S. branch of the SIOE umbrella group, and was entrusted by its leadership to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in January 2010. Geller and Spencer have praised SIOE, endorsed its political programme, published its statements and expressed admiration for its leaders. (p.48-49)

- SIOA’s leaders have surpassed SIOE’s defence of war criminal Radovan Karadzic, (which included offering justifications for his actions), by defending Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, denying Serbian atrocities including the Srebrenica genocide, publishing the work of professional apologists for the Milosevic project, and in Spencer’s case working on an institutional level with such people to oppose an independent Kosovo. Ms. Geller has gone so far as to say that Bosnian Muslims killed themselves in order to ‘manipulate media coverage’, and refers to the 1995 genocide as a ‘propaganda lie’ which was ‘manufactured [by] the international community’ as part of ‘the ongoing blood libel against the Christian Serbs’. (p.42-43, 53-54 and here)

This is presumably what Mr. Spencer means when he writes of SIOA’s ‘opposition to the jihad in the Balkans and skepticism (sic) about some of the charges made of Serbian war crimes.’

- SIOA’s leadership has supported, defended and praised the English Defence League, (without equivocation until recently), and has promoted their events, published their statements and attacked their critics. (p.55-59) Co-director Pamela Geller’s web log has featured conspiratorial articles regarding the President of America’s religion, his family, his sexual history, and the circumstances of his birth, and has likened his ‘stealth jihad on the White House’ to ‘an SS officer getting elected president during WW II’. (p.52-53) In 2010, Robert Spencer defended his and Geller’s ‘colleague’ Joseph John Jay, who had recommended the ‘wholesale slaughter’ of Muslim civilians, including children, on the grounds that he had been ‘misinterpreted’. Spencer maintains this still, and Ms. Geller has recommended Jay’s writings as recently as July 2011. (p.51-51)

I could go on, but I ought to address Mr. Spencer’s direct challenge regarding a quote of his which we included. Here is the quote, published on his Jihad Watch site in 2005: ‘there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists. While Americans prefer to imagine that the vast majority of American Muslims are civic-minded patriots who accept wholeheartedly the parameters of American pluralism, this proposition has actually never been proven.’

Writing today, Spencer claims ‘what [he] meant was there is no institutional distinction, so jihadis move freely in Muslim circles among those who oppose them and claim to do so’. However, when asked by a commenter on the original article in 2005 ‘how distinctions can be made’, Spencer replied: ‘That’s simple. Let American Muslims renounce all attachment to violent Jihad and Sharia, refuse all aid from Sharia states (chiefly Saudi Arabia), and cooperate fully with anti-terror efforts aimed at rooting jihadists out of American mosques.’ (p.52) Having thus identified all Muslims as suspects who are guilty until proven innocent, Spencer does not specify how to treat Muslims who do not ‘cooperate fully’, or who fail to make the prescribed disassociations. But based on his record and the company he keeps, I’m glad we’ll never have to find out what it might entail.

I think this meets Mr. Spencer’s challenge, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring all of this to people’s attention. I’m not sure how one squares the above with the claim that SIOA ‘stand[s] for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for all people’. Perhaps Mr. Spencer will enlighten us.

The Far-Right and Islamism are two sides of the same coin

Below is the conclusion of the new One Law for All report – Enemies not Allies: The Far-Right that was written by Adam Barnett and myself. It’s an important piece of research proving the racism behind groups like the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe and America and revealing how similar these groups are to the Islamists they feign to oppose in order to push forward their racist and anti-immigrant agenda. Read on…

The July 2011 atrocity in Norway has put the spotlight on the far-Right once more. There are numerous organisations and political parties with similar platforms to that of Anders Behring Breivik, which have gained and are gaining influence, including winning parliamentary seats. This is due to a number of factors, including the unprecedented attack on people’s welfare and livelihood, the respectability afforded anti-immigrant policies, the ‘war on terror’, appeasement, the ethno-cisation of the world, and multi-culturalism – not as a positive lived experience, but as a social policy that has segregated communities and the world. Today people everywhere are divided into religions, cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities and our humanity, universalism and citizenship have been deemed irrelevant.

Though the far-Right appears to target Islamism, they are two sides of the same coin. Islamism is also very much an extreme Right movement.

And whilst there are obvious differences within far-Right and Islamist groups as there are in any phenomenon, the differences are not fundamental. The ‘hate cleric’ Anjem Choudhary supports stoning to death as do more ‘liberal’ Islamists like Tariq Ramadan. The ‘liberals’ have merely adapted their language and changed tactics to better dupe public opinion. The same is true with the far-Right. There is fundamentally little difference between Anders Behring Breivik’s Knights Templar and the EDL or SIOE. What they want is the same; their tactics are different. The EDL and SIOE are merely better at duping the public.

In his 1500 page European Declaration of Independence, Brevik says, ‘Organisations like EDL, doesn’t have an official extreme political doctrine [emphasis ours]. When they “bait” the UAF, and Jihadi youth (in the thousands) in to rioting, they ensure that the riots are covered by national and international press…. It also results in increased polarisation. Is it really that bad that more Europeans are shocked out of their slumber?’ He adds later, ‘Instead of condemning and rejecting organisations like EDL it is essential that conservative intellectuals contribute to help them on the right ideological path’. Clearly, the various organisations see themselves as part of the same movement; the groups addressed in ‘Enemies Not Allies’ are all mentioned by Breivik. They often work together and defend each other’s words and actions (even if ‘only’ to legitimise atrocities by explaining why they happened and threatening more to come).

The far-Right and Islamists have similar ideologies, characteristics, tactics and aims. Both rely on religion. Both use a language of hate and are extremely xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Both rely on indiscriminate violence and terrorism to intimidate the population at large. They are dogmatic and punish free thinkers and dissenters. They use threats and scaremongering to push forward their agenda. Both are vehemently anti-working class and the Left. They believe in the superiority of their views and culture and deal harshly with anyone who transgresses…

The world they have in mind is equally bleak, segregated, hateful and inhuman.

Religion

Much of the language and symbolism of the far-Right is Christian, and makes reference to the crusades. The BNP’s Nick Griffin has spoken of a ‘traditional, upright, decent and honest Christianity that defended Europe from Islamic conquest, the Christianity of the Crusades and the Christianity of our forefathers’. The EDL’s Tommy Robinson has said, ‘We don’t care whether you arrived here yesterday, you are welcome to protect our Christian culture and our way of life’. Similarly, Islamists use Islam as their banner and call for Sharia law and the Caliphate.

Misogynist

Nick Eriksen, until recently the BNP’s London organiser, has said: ‘Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal. To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence’. Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayed, a Sharia judge, has similarly said marital rape is ‘not aggression because when they got married, sexual intercourse was part of the marriage’. In fact, he says, ‘calling it rape is a major aggression’.

Homophobic

BNP candidate and activist Mark Collett has said of AIDS that ‘Blacks, drug abusers and gays have it. So really, I’ve got no problem with AIDS. In fact I would call it a friendly disease’. 28 Likewise, the Islamic Education and Research Academy chairman, Abdur-Raheem Green, argues that homosexuality and adultery are ‘inexcusable, and justly punished with severity’.

Anti-Semitic

The BNP’s Nick Griffin has called the holocaust a “Holohoax” saying: ‘I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades… I have reached the conclusion that the “extermination” tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch-hysteria’. 7 The Islamic scholar Yusuf Al Qaradawi who has been hailed as ‘progressive’ by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, has likewise said: ‘Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the (Jews) people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers’.

Support of Violence

Both rely on indiscriminate violence and terrorism to intimidate the population at large and justify their abominations. In fact, both target civilians and place collective blame. Breivik said his massacre in Norway was ‘atrocious but necessary’. John Jay, a Stop Islamization of America board member says ‘[…] every person in [I]slam, from man to woman to child may be our executioner. […] there are no innocent [M]uslims’. Regarding Israel and ‘the poor, terrorist Palestinians’, Pamela Geller of Stop Islamization of America states, ‘I say to Israel, stand loud and proud. Give up nothing. Turnover not a pebble. For every rocket fired, drop a MOAB [Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb]’. Islamists are exactly the same. ‘Progressive’ Islamic Scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has justified suicide bombings by saying: ‘Israeli women are not like women in our society because Israeli women are militarised’. Even when they renounce violence for public consumption, the violence is always justified. The EDL’s Tommy Robinson has said about a May 2011 attack of a meeting attended by Labour councillors and the National Union of Teachers in Barking, ‘I would condemn the attack if there was any violence. But I can completely understand their frustration. People are so fed up with the leftist agenda’.

Use of Threats and Scaremongering

Suhaib Hasan, Secretary General of the Islamic Sharia Council says, ‘If Sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace because once a thief’s hand is cut off nobody is going to steal. 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’. In a July 25th 2011 interview on the Norwegian atrocity, the EDL’s Tommy Robinson said, ‘We are against extremism and all kinds of violence but you need to listen. God forbid this ever happens on British soil. It’s a time coming. You’re probably five or ten years away… I believe it could and it’s not a threat, it’s a wakeup call to say listen we don’t want this to happen but we need to address the problem’.

Use of victim status

The EDL’s Tommy Robinson has spoken of the Emblem of St George being banned at a school and said at a rally that the EDL was formed ‘…To combat a two-tier system. One rule for them, and another rule for us. And it’s true, it’s oppression. That’s exactly what it is. It’s apartheid. Its kid gloves for their community, and iron fist for our community’. Islamists and their apologists do this all the time. Mehdi Hassan, the political editor of New Statesman, likens criticism of Lutfur Rahman – the new Mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who has close links with the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe – to McCarthyism.

Use of Islamophobia and racism

Both the far-Right and Islamists have co-opted rights and anti-racist language to gain legitimacy. Far-Right groups will say they are not racist to evade scrutiny and even invite non-whites to join. Islamists speak of Islamophobia and the ‘right’ to Sharia law in a bid to silence criticism by labelling it racism.

It’s important to note that a fight against Islamism is not a fight against Muslims; it’s a defence of rights and freedoms. Muslims or those labelled as such are the first victims of Islamism and many are at the forefront of battling it. Nowhere is opposition against Islamism and Sharia law greater than in countries under Islamic rule.

It is also not a fight against immigrants. Islamism was brought to centre stage by the US Cold War policy of creating a green Islamic belt around the then Soviet Union. It was not concocted in some immigrant’s kitchen. In fact, many immigrants have fled Islamism and Sharia law and continue to fight it here. Moreover, many of the Islamists in Europe are European born. ‘Hate cleric’ Anjem Choudary is one such example.

The Fight against Islamism and the Far-Right

Whilst the fight against Islamism is an historical task and duty, it must go hand in hand with a fight against the far-Right, particularly in Europe, Australia and North America.

Clearly, any opponent of Islamism today must also be an anti-fascist, but not the pro-Islamist and anti-racist Left version of anti-fascism. This grouping is only interested in opposing its ‘own’ fascists, including Unite Against Fascism, Socialist Workers Party, and George Galloway. United Against Fascism even joined the Islamist Muslims against Crusades counter rally against One Law for All’s rally in June 2010. Another form of ‘anti-fascism’ that must be resisted is the sort we are increasingly seeing amongst secular groups that have joined hands with the far-Right against the Islamic and ‘foreign’ versions of fascism, such as the French Riposte Laique and others at the 2010 Conference on the Islamicisation of Europe.

Groups like SIOE and the EDL are as hateful as the Islamists; they are enemies not allies. Clearly, our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.

According to women’s rights campaigner, Rahila Gupta, ‘Recent anti-racist alliances, such as the one against the EDL in Tower Hamlets, which includes Socialist Workers Party and the East London Mosque, reveals the capitulation of the left to the fascists within while organising against the fascists without. We should be sophisticated enough by now to construct a politics that is simultaneously anti-racist and anti-fundamentalist so that vulnerable groups like women, lesbians and gays and religious minorities do not get hung out to dry. As feminists we have been abandoned by those who should have been supporting our right to make ‘legitimate criticism’. They feel now, during the War on Terror, is not the right time. In a racist society, it is never the right time. When we expose the underbelly of our communities we are told that we are providing ammunition for racists. For us it isn’t a choice. We can’t hide one evil to fight another’.

This fight also includes challenging multi-culturalism, which the far-Right and Islamism use to show that the ‘other’ is different, thereby validating identity, separation and ‘clash of civilisations’ politics. The idea of difference has always been the fundamental principle of a racist agenda. The defeat of Nazism and its biological theory of difference largely discredited racial superiority. The racism behind it, however, has found another more acceptable form of expression. Instead of expression in racial terms, difference is now portrayed in cultural terms.

Today, more than ever, there is a need for a renewed anti-fascism that stands firm against both the far-Right and Islamism. It is within this context that the One Law for All Campaign fights against Sharia law in Britain. In the face of regression and abomination, its banner is humanity without labels. It holds the human being sacred and nothing else. And it unequivocally defends citizenship and universal rights, freedom, equality and secularism for people not just in Britain but everywhere.

August 10th 2011

New Report – Enemies not Allies: The far-Right

15 August 2011

A new report by One Law for All explores how the far-Right has attempted to hijack opposition to Islamism for its own ends. It focuses on the British National Party, the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe/America, and exposes how their activities, associations, opinions and intentions reveal a racist and inhuman worldview, which must be resisted and criticised with as much vigilance as Islamism itself. See report here.

Enemies Not Allies features:

- Evidence of the BNP’s relationship with neo-Nazi and ‘white’ supremacist groups and individuals, including Blood & Honour, Combat 18 and former Klansman David Duke.

- Proof that the BNP’s leadership believe Islamism is ‘the threat that can bring [them] to power’, and examples of how they have tried to use it for political gain.

- Evidence of how senior BNP members have praised the National Front, applauded acts of violence and expressed ‘nostalgia’ for ‘Germany in the 1930s’, while its election candidates have made racist comments and fought with Asian youths.

- Interviews with former members of the English Defence League who left due its bigotry and racism towards Muslims, which they believe is endemic and ‘increasing’.

- Evidence of EDL spokespeople, including leader Tommy Robinson and Guramit Singh, making racist and bigoted comments, as well as justifying or endorsing violence.

- A history of the umbrella group Stop the Islamisation of Europe and evidence of its racism and bigotry, as well as its collaboration with European neo-Nazis.

- Evidence of Stop Islamisation of Europe/America’s racist and alarmist literature and its promulgation of conspiracy theories.

- Documentation of Stop the Islamisation of Europe’s defence of and support for Serbian fascists and war criminals, including Stop Islamisation of America’s explicit denial of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

The recent massacre in Norway carried out by Anders Behring Breivik, (who praised the groups discussed in this report), has placed a spotlight on the new ‘Islamisation’ and ‘Crusader’ strain within far-Right politics, and the groups and individuals who promote its conspiratorial worldview. One Law for All’s new report by Adam Barnett and Maryam Namazie provides crucial evidence for the struggles ahead, and argues for greater care in distinguishing between allies and enemies.

NOTES:

1. The report can be downloaded free of charge or a paperback copy purchased from One Law for All for £8.50. To purchase the book or donate to the work of One Law for All, please either send a cheque to our address below or pay via Paypal by visiting: Donate Page.

2. The One Law for All Campaign was launched on 10 December 2008, International Human Rights Day, to call on the UK Government to recognise that Sharia and religious courts are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular and that citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.

3. For further information contact:
Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters
Spokespersons
One Law for All
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
[email protected]
www.onelawforall.org.uk

August update on One Law for All from Anne Marie Waters

Dear friend

New Report – Enemies Not Allies: The Far-Right

A new One Law for All report explores how the far-Right has attempted to hijack opposition to Islamism for its own ends. It focuses on the British National Party, the English Defence League and Stop Islamisation of Europe/America, and exposes how their activities, associations, opinions and intentions reveal a racist and inhuman worldview, which must be resisted and criticised with as much vigilance as Islamism itself. You can see the relevant press release and report here.

‘Sharia controlled zones’

Recently, the Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades began what it called a campaign for “Islamic emirates” throughout Britain by putting up posters declaring areas of east London as “sharia controlled zones”. One Law for All has pointed out that this group is a far-Right group which must be opposed. See press release here.

Upcoming events and coverage

Co-Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, will be visiting Australia during the last two weeks of August to highlight the importance of opposing Sharia and religious laws and defending universal rights, citizenship and secularism. To see a list of engagements and read her recent opinion piece in The Australian, click here. You can also read my article on sharia law in the Cambridge University Law Society journal here.

Support us!

Thanks to each and every one of you who has donated to our important campaign. We wouldn’t have come this far without your support. If you’d like to and can donate or become a 100Club member, please visit here. Every little does go a long way in the fight against Sharia and for secularism and rights.

By the way, if you shop online, you might be interested in doing so via the Easy Fundraising website. It won’t cost you anything extra but can help raise much needed funds for One Law for All.

Finally, if you haven’t already signed up to the One Law for All campaign, please join the over 28,000 people and groups that have.

Thanks again
Warmest wishes
Anne Marie Waters
One Law for All Spokesperson

NOTES

1. Enemies Not Allies: The Far-Right can be downloaded free of charge or a paperback copy purchased from One Law for All for £8.50. To purchase the book or donate to the work of One Law for All, please either send a cheque to our address below or pay via Paypal by visiting: Donate Page.

2. The One Law for All Campaign was launched on 10 December 2008, International Human Rights Day, to call on the UK Government to recognise that Sharia and religious courts are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular and that citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.

3. For further information contact:
Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters
Spokespersons
One Law for All
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
[email protected]
www.onelawforall.org.uk

Sharia-controlled zones not welcome

One Law for All Statement

13 August 2011

Recently, the Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades began what it called a campaign for “Islamic emirates” throughout Britain by putting up posters declaring areas of east London as “sharia controlled zones”. The posters stated that alcohol, gambling, and music were banned and the group said it was willing to patrol east London enforcing sharia. One Law for All maintains that Muslims Against Crusades is a far-Right group that intends to stir up mistrust and division and impose its medieval rules on the public. Sharia law is the demand of Islamists like Muslims Against Crusades to limit rights and freedoms and must not be tolerated. To oppose Sharia law is a defence of the rights of all citizens, including Muslims.

Clearly, Muslim Against Crusades is the mirror image of other far-Right groups and campaigns. They do not tolerate difference or dissent, are misogynist and wish to deny rights to women, and are homophobic – often murderously so.

Whilst Muslims Against Crusades argue that they will solve social problems in these zones, in reality, they are offering a discriminatory, brutal and oppressive system with barbaric punishments and interference in people’s private lives which will exacerbate problems. Rather, people need education, equality and citizenship rights amongst others.

Muslims against Crusades say women need their “protection”. On the contrary, we need protection from misogynist and religious laws and this protection will be supplied by a just, equal, and secular legal and political system not Sharia. The rape of women in countries governed by sharia often ends in the punishment of the raped woman, and rape and sexual abuse is widespread.

Sharia is not the answer. We must – and will – maintain our campaign for secularism, human rights, justice and equality until there is no Sharia and religious laws here in Britain or anywhere.

The fight for free thought is a historical task and duty

Below is my speech at today’s World Founding Congress of Free Thought in Oslo, Norway:

I am very pleased to support the founding World Congress of Free Thought. It’s particularly important in a world where religion, superstition, and archaic traditions and moralities are suppressing free thought and expression day in and day out.

Today, we see this clearly with regards Islam not because Islam is worse than any other religion but because we are living under what I call an Islamic inquisition.

Under an inquisition, freethinking is banned. Even having a ‘personal’ religion is impossible let alone atheism. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or who transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives.

One of the characteristics of an inquisition is policing of thought. Censorship is rife so that one can face the death penalty for merely reading a book. Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1600; in 2011 there are numerous examples of people being killed for similar reasons. In the Islamic Republic of Iran alone, 130 offences are punishable by death including blasphemy, heresy, apostasy and enmity against god.

Under an inquisition, torture is the norm. According to their handbook at the time, inquisitors were instructed not to find any accused innocent under any circumstances. The same applies under Islamism. You are guilty. Full Stop. Guilty for thinking, speaking, laughing, for listening to music, for loving, and for breathing.

The purpose of the Sharia ‘justice’ system is to elicit a confession. Under the inquisition, you were killed even if you confessed. A confession would just mean that you would be strangled before being burnt to death rather than being burnt alive. The same applies to Islamism. It’s a killing machine. Sharia law is designed to teach the masses the damnable nature of dissent and freethinking.

Religion in general and Islam in particular will only allow free thought (at face value at least if even that is possible) when they have been pushed in a corner and out of the public space – when they have been forced to run soup kitchens rather than schools, courts and Islamic Assemblies.

It is the difference between Christianity today and one during the inquisition (though Christianity still plays a huge role in suppressing free thought, spreading superstition and causing harm albeit in a less visible role in Europe).

If you look at Christianity today it’s not that the tenets, dogma, and principles have changed since the days of the inquisition and witch burnings. What has changed is its social and political influence in society, in people’s lives, and in its relation with the state, the law and educational system. To the degree that it has become undermined, that is the degree that people have managed to free themselves from the clutches of religion, and in having happier lives and a better society. Progressive human values have been achieved at the expense of Christianity and religion. The same has to be done with Islam and Islamism.

A fight for free thought is clearly a fight against Islamism and this era’s inquisition. It’s also a fight against religion in general and for the complete separation of religion from the state, educational system, and judicial system. A secular society is a minimum precondition for a society where free thought is not a crime. Particularly, since much of free thinking is a challenge to religious dogma and that which is taboo.

It’s important to note that a fight against Islamism and religion’s adverse role in stifling free thought is not a fight against Muslims; it’s a defence of everyone’s right to think as they choose without fear and intimidation. Don’t forget, Muslims or those labelled as such are the first victims of Islamism and many are at the forefront of battling it. Nowhere is opposition against Islamism and Sharia law greater than in countries under Islamic rule.

It is also not a fight against immigrants. Islamism after all was brought to centre stage by the US Cold War policy of creating a green Islamic belt around the then Soviet Union. It was not concocted in some immigrant’s kitchen. Plus many immigrants have actually fled Islamism and Sharia law and continue to fight it once here.

And whilst the fight for free thought and against Islamism is an historical task and duty, it must go hand in hand with a fight against the far-Right, particularly in Europe, Australia and North America. This is especially important to say in a city and country which has just faced an immense human tragedy and atrocity.

Anders Behring Breivik may have worked alone but his was not the lone act of a madman. There are numerous organisations and political parties with similar platforms that have gained and are gaining influence, including winning parliamentary seats. This is due to a number of factors including the unprecedented attack on people’s welfare and livelihood, the respectability afforded anti-immigrant policies, the ‘war on terror’, and the ethno-cisation of the world. This is also due to multi-culturalism – not as a positive lived experience, but as a social policy that has segregated communities and the world. Today people everywhere are divided into religions, cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities whilst our humanity, universalism and citizenship have been deemed irrelevant.

Ironically, whilst the far-Right appears to target Islamism, they have similar ideologies, characteristics, tactics, and aims. Islamism is also an extreme Right movement. Both rely on religion. Both use a language of hate. They are extremely xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Both rely on indiscriminate violence and terrorism to intimidate the population at large. They are dogmatic and punish free thinkers and dissenters. Both use threats and scaremongering to push forward their agenda. Both are vehemently anti-working class and the Left. They believe in the superiority of their views and culture and deal harshly with anyone who transgresses. The world they have in mind is equally bleak, segregated, hateful and inhuman.

Clearly, any freethinker today must also be an anti-fascist. Not the pro-Islamist and anti-racist Left version of anti-fascism that is only against its ‘own’ fascists. And also not the sort we are increasingly seeing amongst secularists and atheists that have joined hands with the far-Right against the Islamic and ‘foreign’ version. Groups like Stop Islamisation of Europe and the English or Norwegian Defence Leagues are as hateful as the Islamists and not allies. Our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend. In fact they are two sides of the same coin.

What we need today is a renewed anti-fascism that is against the far-Right and Islamism and puts people – real live human beings – and not cultures, religions, nationality, race, ethnicity at its centre.

Only a renewed anti-fascist movement that stands firm against both, and unequivocally defends citizenship and universal rights, freedom, equality and secularism can hope to win. In the face of regression and abomination, its banner must be a humanity without labels. It must hold the human being sacred and nothing else.

Maryam Namazie is Spokesperson of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Email: [email protected] Telephone: +44 7719 166731.

World Founding Congress of Free Thought in Oslo on August 10th 2011

I am off to Norway tomorrow morning to speak at the World Founding Congress of Free Thought in Oslo on August 10th 2011. The event is organised by the International Liaison Committee for Atheists and Freethinkers and will be held at the Oslo Congress Centre from 9:00am to 5:30pm.

Other speakers include: Marc Blondel, Jacques Lafouge, Keith Porteous Wood, Charles Susanne, David Silverman, Tanya Smith, Christian Eyschen, and Roger Lepeix.

Restrictions only seem to apply to atheist and secular groups not religious ones

As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was recently refused charitable status. Below is our response to the refusal. You can also see the refusal letter from the Charities Commission following ours.

Ms Caroline Jones
Charity Commission Direct
PO Box 1227
Liverpool L69 3UG

August 8th 2011

Dear Ms Jones,

Thank you for your letter of April 15th 2011.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain had applied for charity status, however your letter informed us that our objectives are not deemed to be exclusively charitable, therefore, our case for charity status has not been established.

I would like, if I may, to make a couple of points on your letter, and on other organisations which have indeed been granted charity status by the Charity Commission.

Your letter states that we are not exclusively charitable because our objectives “may be capable of extending to non charitable purposes and purposes for which the public benefit cannot be established”. You then cite demands within our manifesto which you deem to be of a political nature, such as public debate, discussion, and campaigning. However, all of the demands within our manifesto are for recognised human rights – in particular the right to freedom of speech. It is the aim of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain to provide a safe place for people to renounce Islam and to advance human rights (such as the right to freedom of speech and conscience) in doing so. The advancement of human rights is a charitable purpose under section 2 of the Charities Act. Can I ask why this does not suffice, and how it is that the advancement of human rights can ever be deemed to be entirely non-political? How does the advancement of the human rights of freedom of speech and conscience not benefit the public? Furthermore, could you please explain whether the restriction on political activity applies only to secular or atheist organisations, or does it apply to religious organisations also?

To assist you in assessing my questions, I would like to draw your attention to the work of the Islamic Sharia Council (Registered charity number 1003855). On its website, the Islamic Sharia Council encourages polygamous marriage, advises women to remain within violent marriages, advises women that they do not have the right to refuse sex to their husbands, and advises that a woman’s testimony is worth less than a man’s because her mind is not as steady as his. Can you please explain how you deem this activity to be in the public interest? Indeed, can you also explain how these activities do not amount to being entirely non-political?

It is also widely known that the Islamic Sharia Council operates makeshift ‘courts’ across Britain, in which a woman’s word is deemed to be worth half of a man. Indeed, such organisations openly admit that they are hearing cases of domestic violence and marital rape (i.e. criminal offences, can you please point to the section of the Charities Act which allows such activity?). These cases are heard within a context where a woman has no right to refuse sex and violence against women is permitted (provided it does not leave marks). Can you please explain how this amounts to a public benefit, and is entirely non-political?

I look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely yours

Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Below is the letter from the Charities Commission:

Dear Ms Namazie

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)

Further to my email of 05 April we have now completed our review of the application and supporting material provided.

As you may know, when we receive an application for registration as a charity we check that the objects (ie the purposes as set out at clause 3 of the Constitution) fall within the descriptions of purposes at s.2 of the Charities Act 2006 and that they are accurately reflected by the activities. The organisation must be set up to benefit the public and any private benefit arising from its activities may only be incidental to the achievement of the purposes. Our guidance ‘Charities and Public Benefit’, available from the Public Benefit pages of our website, provides further information about this.

In this case the objects as drafted are not exclusively charitable. That is because they may be capable of extending to non charitable purposes and purposes for which the public benefit cannot be established. In considering the aim or purpose of an organisation, both to clarify the meaning of the objects and to establish if the aim is for the public benefit, we may consider the factual background to how that organisation is established and how it is proposed to operate. Our published guidance explains this at section D4 of ’Charities and Public Benefit’ referenced above.

The Council would appear to be concerned with public debate, discussion and campaigning. The information from the website at www.ex-muslim.org.uk includes a Manifesto which seeks particular demands. To a large extent the demands are of a political nature, that is seeking a change in the law either in this country or abroad. An organisation which has a political purpose (or aim) cannot be a charity.

The Manifesto includes, for example:
• freedom to criticise religion, prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism;
• prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people’s right or freedoms;
• abolition of all repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict women’s independence, free will and equality, prohibition of segregation of sexes;
• prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives or official authorities in the private lives of women and men in their personal, emotion and sexual relationships and sexuality;
• prohibition of any kind of financial material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities.

Aside from these examples the other demands listed in the Manifesto may raise similar issues.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights are codes of rights which may involve balancing some rights against other. This is essentially a matter for determination by the state.

It should be noted that the Freedom of Religion (in Article 9) extends ‘to the right in private or public to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance’. The demands of the Council would appear to involve some restrictions to such rights.

Similarly Article 8 provides for the right to respect for private and family life. Again the demands in the Manifesto would appear to call for interference with such rights, for example by prohibiting (potentially by legislation) the ability of a family to conduct its family life in private without interference.

Under English law the advancement of religion is a recognised charitable purpose and charities are afforded certain fiscal privileges by the state. The prohibition of any such financial privilege as called for in the demand made in the Manifesto would require a change in law.

Similarly a separation of religion from the state and legal and education system would appear to require both constitutional reform and change to the law.

On the basis of the limited information available it is unclear how the Council will restrict its activities to those which further only charitable aims for the public benefit. If the trustees would find it helpful to discuss the application and these issues we would be happy to have a telephone discussion. If you would like to pursue this option please get in touch with me to make arrangements.

Yours sincerely
Caroline Jones

This is what happens when you join the neo-cons

Ayaan Hirsi Ali says Muslim women who want to keep their belief in god should become Christian if they cannot leave religion altogether. How thoughtful of her.

That’s what happens when you mix with neo-cons and why you must keep as far away from them as possible. Mix with them too long and you start talking and thinking like them. They after all want to defend Christianity from that ‘foreign’ Islam and don’t really care a whit about women and their rights.

As an atheist herself, Ayaan must know full well that all religions are misogynist. How can one advocate for others what one does not want for oneself?

Also as I have said a million times before, Christianity only seems tamer because it has been dealt with by an enlightenment. To the degree it has been weakened – that is the degree to which people and women have more freedoms and rights. It’s not because of Christianity but because of the resistance against it.

A minimum precondition to safeguard women’s rights is secularism – the separation of religion from state, educational system and judicial system. But then I guess Ayaan can’t really say that because that would be like advocating Marxism amongst her friends.

Here’s the interview:

Letter on Sharia Law to Justice Ministry

Ms Judith Evers
Civil Justice and Legal Services Division
Access to Justice Policy Directorate
4th Floor, Zone B
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

August 5th 2011

Dear Ms Evers,

Thank you for your letter of May 24th 2011.

In your letter you state “Sharia councils help the Muslim community resolve civil and family dispute by making recommendations with which they hope parties will comply”. It is in fact known that the Islamic Sharia Council operates a ‘legal’ system in which they hear cases of criminal law such as domestic violence and rape. Indeed, the councils openly admit to carrying out these activities and they do so within a context where a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s, marital rape is deemed “impossible” and violence against women is permissible provided it does not leave any marks. These councils operate as registered charities – I wonder if you could clarify under which legislation registered charities are permitted to carry out such activities.

You go on to state that “they are not part of the court system in this country and they have no means of enforcing their decisions”. This is not true in the case of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which operates under powers of the Arbitration Act 1996. Under this Act, decisions made in tribunals can be enforced by civil courts, and therefore do form part of our wider legal system. I should point out that the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal also hears matters of criminal law and is entirely discriminatory to women. Indeed, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has called for total jurisdiction over domestic violence in an attempt to deny women the choice that is so often put forward as justification for these bodies.

In your letter, you also state “The Government does not prevent individuals from seeking to regulate their lives through religious beliefs or cultural traditions”. However, I am seeking clarification on whether there is any limit to this, and where that limit lies. For example, if permissible domestic violence is deemed to be a “cultural tradition”, does this take precedence over our anti-violence laws? In other words, is religious freedom and cultural tradition subject to the law of England and Wales? Could you please clarify the position on this? If it is the case that the law of England and Wales supersedes “cultural tradition” can you please explain why it is that the Government allows such councils and tribunals to operate in a way which expose women to further violence.

You made it clear in your letter that regardless of religious belief, we are all equal before the law. Can you then explain why it is that the Government allows a system of arbitration to operate (within the Arbitration Act) which fundamentally discriminates against women, and has been described by the House of Lords as “wholly incompatible” with human rights for this reason.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely

Anne Marie Waters
One Law for All Spokesperson

You can see the pdf version of the letter here.

This is not about safety; it is about shielding the Islamic Republic of Iran

You can see a letter to DNA magazine about their excluding my quotes from their piece on the situation of gays in Iran by a reader of my blog, Martyn, and the response by the magazine below.

Before you read it though I must say that I find it appalling that DNA magazine chooses to effectively blame myself and other rights activists that are opposed to the Islamic regime of Iran for what the regime does and for accusing us of in a way of disregarding the safety of activists on the ground because we question the regime that carries out heinous atrocities against gay people and others.

According to their logic (or lack thereof) no one could have called for an end to slavery (as it would put slaves at risk) or apartheid in South Africa (as it would put blacks at risk)…

I believe this line of thought and [in]action must be a great relief to oppressors everywhere. Luckily it is not a line taken by most activists inside or outside Iran.

What DNA magazine forgets is that I too am an activist like the nameless ‘others.’ We have differing positions on how to defend gay rights in Iran. DNA magazine, however, has made the choice to side with those who prefer to remain silent about the regime. Whilst it must makes DNA magazine feel better about themselves for feigning concern for activists on the ground, we mustn’t forget that this is a political choice that’s been made by those particular mostly nameless activists and DNA magazine.

To me the issue is clear.

DNA magazine has used the matter of safety as a ploy to avoid a more fundamental political question and to effectively shield the regime from the blows it well deserves.

And as an aside, I am not sure what living in Sydney has to do with it or why DNA must ask about Martyn’s involvement with Iran. As far as I recall, none of the other activists quoted in the piece were living in Iran either. Plus according again this logic, I am not sure how anyone can be opposed to the war on Iraq or rape in Congo since they don’t live there and may not be as ‘involved’ as DNA magazine would like them to be. Please take note: this is yet another ploy from this political viewpoint that is often used to prevent good old solidarity with people because you don’t happen to live there or aren’t as involved as the ‘rights activists’ that prefer you to remain silent.

Anyway, enough said. Here is Martyn’s letter:

Dear Nick Cook,

I have just read the blog of political activist Maryam Namazie who has informed her readers of your decision to remove her piece on the issue facing gays in Iran.

 
 I feel this has been a wrong move, and as fan of your magazine, I felt compelled to write to you.
 
 I can appreciate your concerns about not wanting to make the situation worse for those persecuted in Iran, but women and homosexuals are always the first victims of fundamentalism and there is no hiding from it.

Maryam notes that we don’t know when good old-fashioned international solidarity ever became unhelpful.
 
I don’t know when it ever became unhelpful either.

Solidarity amongst ordinary people – wherever we may reside – is the most powerful weapon we’ll ever have when facing such totalitarian movements and by removing her piece from your magazine, you are doing the people of Iran a huge disservice. You also do your readership a disservice by not publishing material that is important to us.

 
Gay people are being murdered systematically in places such as Iran and therefore it is vital the international gay community are aware of it. It needs to be written about, read about, discussed and challenged. This can only happen by allowing activists such as Maryam Namazie the voice your publication has denied. 

I hope you reconsider your decision and that the piece in question finds a place in a future feature.

Kindest regards,

Martyn

Here is Nick Cook’s response from DNA magazine

Hi Martyn,

Thank you very much for your email. This is a difficult issue, one we have wrestled with in the office, and we appreciate your input. 

I’m curious to know, what is your exact involvement with Iran and the various groups involved?


As I’ve told Maryam, we removed her quotes because several of the other activists, who I respect immensely, convinced us that included her quotes in the story would put gay people on the ground at greater risk. I live in Sydney and cannot possibly judge the truth of that, so we erred on the side of caution and took their word for it. Our highest responsibility is to do nothing that will put anybody at risk of harm.

We do intend to give Maryam a chance to voice her thoughts and feelings in a future issue, where those who do not want to be quoted alongside her can simply not say anything.


Regards,
Nick Cook
Features editor
DNA magazine

If you’re gay in Iran, please don’t make too much noise (per ‘gay rights’ activists)

I just received an email from Nick Cook of DNA, the largest gay magazine in Australia, saying that I have been entirely removed from a (larger) piece on the situation of gays in Iran because – get this – ‘Several of the other people [he] spoke to in the story convinced [him] to remove [me] from it because they are concerned about the gay community being linked to the political movement to overthrow the Government. Their fear is that if gays become seen as agitating for revolution, the crackdown against them will be even harsher.’
 

Frankly, I am not sure how much harsher it can get. I mean being gay is already punishable by death under Sharia law. So is defending gay rights or any rights for that matter. Just being interviewed by DNA magazine is an offence in Iran, which might be why some of ‘the others’ quoted have not even given their full names though they live abroad. After all, there are 130 offences punishable by death in Iran and many other offences for which one can be imprisoned and so on.

Despite all this, these ‘other people’ are implying that agitation (or at least my sort of agitation) is what causes crackdowns and not the existence of an Islamic regime of Iran! I mean really? If they actually believe that they can lessen the crackdown on gays by behaving a certain way, then maybe they could stop being gay or having sex and hope it will all just go away…

Seriously though, this shows an important difference in our politics that reveals itself in various ways. I can’t see how gay rights activists can defend Iranian gay rights without asking why gays need their rights defended in the first place. You can’t merely complain about the situation of gays in Iran and your having to flee the country when gay teenagers are being strung up in city centres and killed in broad daylight.

Of course these activists have a right to express their views and organise in any way they want. I don’t agree with their politics and they don’t agree with mine. But unlike them I would never ask their views to be censored, which interestingly DNA magazine has happily complied with (since unlike the people of Australia we foreign type are all one homogeneous group that have the same opinion on everything including gay rights). 

Anyway I am reprinting the bits I have been quoted in below (from the original draft):

Maryam Namazie is spokesperson of One Law For All, a lobby group that campaigns against the Iranian regime.  She says Sharia law, the strict Islamic code of ethics and behaviour that is in force, is the main reason Iran is so violently homophobic. “Homophobia exists everywhere, but when the state actually has a law that says gay people should be killed, it’s a very different and dangerous phenomenon. And it exists in places primarily where religion and Islam are in political power.”

…In 2007 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously declared, during a speech at New York’s Columbia University, that “in Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.” Against a backdrop of boos and howls from the audience, he went on. “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it.” It is, of course, a ludicrous statement. As Maryam says, “There are as many gays in Iran as anywhere else in the world.”

While several hundred gay Iranians manage to flee each year, there are countless thousands left behind. They need help, but the best way to assist them is not certain. Iranian Railroad For Queer Refugees director Arsham Parsi says there is no quick political fix and that even if the Islamist regime were toppled tomorrow it would not immediately help. “Society and culture are more important than politics,” he says. “If gay marriage were legalised tomorrow there would be many people protesting against it. We need to put more effort into cultural change before political change.”

Maryam disagrees. She says, “In any society, even when homophobia is banned, it still exists but a change in the law is an important first step. Changes in law help to change culture and society. In Iran, to change Sharia law one must get rid of the Islamic Republic of Iran. How can a regime that thinks gays must die, women are sub-human and children are on par with animals be reformed or remain in power?”

One of the great difficulties for the international LGBT community, which watches developments in Iran with ever-growing horror, is knowing what can be done to help… Furthermore, the Government can use protests by gay groups in the West to defend its iron-fist policy on homosexuality, arguing that as the protector of the Iranian cultural and religious traditions, it has the mandate to eradicate these ‘social ills’.”

Maryam strongly disagrees with that line of thought and urges ever more action. “I don’t know when good old-fashioned international solidarity became unhelpful,” she says. “I think such a position is nonsense and only helps to justify inaction in the face of brutality. People have a moral duty to intervene and assist their fellow human beings. How can that be unhelpful? We’re not talking about US-led militarism and regime changes from above, but people-to-people solidarity that has always helped change things for the better.”

According to Maryam, there is a groundswell of support for democracy in Iran. “Even though 70 percent of the population in Iran were born under the Islamic regime, a large majority don’t want it. There is a huge anti-Islamic backlash in Iran. The regime wants to blame the West, but it has only itself to blame. It is antithetical with 21st Century lives.”

She says there is plenty the international gay community can do to help, including raising awareness of the issues within the wider community and galvanising support against the execution of gays and others. “We also need to show real solidarity with the movement there that is aiming to get rid of the regime.”