Tomorrow is last day for Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar submission

The Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar is coming along beautifully. It will be published here on 8 March, International Women’s Day. If you are submitting a photo, it has to be in no later than tomorrow morning.

This is your last chance to submit one.

By the way, thanks to all those who have submitted photos – many of them are so beautiful.

The calendar will be of women only given that submissions from men were (very) below standard. Take a wild guess why?!

Morbid terms of endearment

I usually speak to my 6 year old in English but I noticed that when I want to tell him how much I love him, I say it in Persian. Here are some of the things I say at least 50 times a day:

‘Ghorbanat beram’ – I’ll sacrifice myself for you
‘Bemeeram basat’ – I’ll die for you
‘Fadat besham’ – I’ll sacrifice myself for you
‘Jeegaram’ – ‘My liver’…

Talk about morbid!

You can just imagine if this is our terms of endearment, what we say when we want to curse someone!

The world pledge of the 99%

As I mentioned earlier, I just returned from the Eighth Congress of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. Here’s one of the documents that was adopted there – the world pledge of the 99% and what a good pledge it is! Here it is:

The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and then the revolutionary risings against the dictators in the Middle East and North Africa showed that the unfinished 2009 revolution in Iran was not an isolated event. As our last congress had stated, that revolution spoke of the end of the dark period in which the New Right, the New World Order and the War of the Terrorists had been on the offensive. It spoke “from the people’s hearts”. However, the anti-capitalist movements in the West in 2011, from the revolts of the have-nots in British cities to the strikes and protests in Spain, Greece, Israel, Italy, France, etc., and the Occupy Movement in the USA and Europe, showed that this new period of revolutions and mass uprisings was not limited to the Middle East. It is indeed a new and universal situation, one where, against the backdrop of world capitalism’s economic crisis and dead end, the rank of the 99% is everywhere rising against the system of profit, market and wages; against the state, bureaucracy and its corresponding democracy, as well as against the system’s sanctities and values such as religion, nationalism and obliteration of universal human identity. The stormy 2011 will be recorded in human history as the start of a global wave of revolutions of the 21st century for the emancipation of humanity. On one end of this immense movement stands Cairo’s Al-Tahrir Square and the revolution for Bread, Freedom and Human Dignity; and on the other, New York’s Occupy Wall Street with its will of the People’s Assembly and the practical critique of the democracy of the 1%. This global revolutionary wave has already overturned the old dominant perceptions of the last few decades and changed the political and ideological balance to the advantage of revolution, with far greater changes still to come. [Read more...]

A debate with ‘Human Rights’ Watch

If you recall, a while back, I and a number of other campaigners and rights organisations wrote an open letter to ‘Human Rights’ Watch Director Kenneth Roth criticising his apologetic stance towards Islamism. The letter was recently published in the New York Review of Books Blog along with a response from the organisation.

It’s basically the same old, same old.

HRW insists that it is possible that ‘a government guided by political Islam might be convinced to avoid such discrimination’ by saying there is a difference between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Erdogan in Turkey but Erdogan is not like the Taliban because of the role of secularism in Turkey and not because of ‘diverse, interpretive strains of Islam’.

It goes on to say that those of us who signed the letter ‘insist on “separation of religion from the state,” presented as “the most basic guarantee of rights.” But that is obviously not what the people of Egypt and Tunisia, when given a choice, voted for.’

Whilst I have discussed why this is so elsewhere, suffice it to say that irrespective of people’s ‘choices’ – if you can really call it that – shouldn’t HRW be more concerned about well err, human rights? If a ‘majority’ (which can sometimes even be a minority in parliamentary democracies) chooses to bring the death penalty back or vote the far-Right British National Party into power in the UK, would HRW be as eager to call for engagement? It is only eager to do so when it comes to the people of the Middle East and North Africa because in its worldview Islamism represents the will of the people. [Read more...]

I’m back

I’m back from the 8th congress of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. It was a brilliant congress, which focused on the new situation globally to people’s advantage – what with the revolutions in the Mideast and North Africa and the occupation movement in the West – and the tasks that lie ahead. I’ll report back on it shortly, but here are some photos.

What I’m doing this month

I am away from tomorrow until Sunday as I am going to the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s congress. I won’t be blogging for that period as we won’t have personal access to phones and the internet. Try not to miss me too much.

Other things I am doing this month are:

3 March 2012, 10.00am Gent, Belgium Maryam Namazie will be speaking at a debate organised by ‘Freethinking Women’s Organisation of Oost-Vlaanderen’ on ‘Can universal values be other than secular values?’

5 March 2012, 7-8.30pm Maryam Namazie will be speaking on “Sharia law – Divine claims and harsh realities” at the LSE opposite to the Peacock Theatre. The event is organised by the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. A map can be found here.

10-11 March 2012 Manchester, UK Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the QED science and skepticism conference taking place in the Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester on the 10th-11th March 2012 on Secularism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship. For more information, visit here.

19 March 2012 Lyttleton Theatre, National Theatre, London DV8: Can We Talk About This? with Inayat Bunglawala, Maryam Namazie and DV8′s Lloyd Newson Freedom of speech, multiculturalism and Islam; a panel discussion about the issues raised in the new production with guests Inayat Bunglawala, Founder and Chair of Muslims4UK, Maryam Namazie, campaigner and Spokesperson for One Law for All, and DV8′s Artistic Director Lloyd Newson. Tickets £4 (£3 concessions) Running time: 6-7pm For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. By the way it seems I am a character in the production so am excited to see it.

Have a good weekend.

Now Iran’s a state ‘contemplating’ terrorism?

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned about Iran’s ‘increasing willingness to contemplate’ terrorism around the world. He cited an attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US, plus alleged involvement in recent attacks in New Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok.

Increasing willingness to contemplate – is that what they call it nowadays?

What about all the opponents assassinated over all these years whilst they went about their business as usual. Any serious opponent of the regime will have stories to tell you – from phone calls we have received threatening us with death to our loved ones being interrogated, threatened and imprisoned in Iran due to our activities as a way of exerting pressure.

The well known cases of assassinations abroad are that of Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris and the Mykonos four in Greece where a German court found the regime directly responsible for the murders. But there have dozens more. Most will not know of the assassinations of Gholam Keshavarz in Cyprus or Fereydoun Farokhzad in Germany because of the cosy relationship western governments have had with Iran.  And it continues to this day.

In 2010, Daryush Shokof was abducted in Germany and beaten and threatened for 13 days by the regime’s agents. Of course nothing was done.

That same year, Babak Shadidi, a member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, confessed and thereby foiled an assassination attempt on my party’s leadership. Again nothing was done. [Read more...]

We have more in common as people than with governments of Iran and USA

Persepolis author, Marjane Satrapi, says:

The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.

And our governments are very much the same.

(Via Peter Manchester on Facebook)

They will never learn

Multi-culturalism – not as a positive lived experience – but as a social policy is a politics of division. I agree.

It divides people into cultures and puts cultures (the most regressive aspects) before citizens. But in response, Minister Eric Pickles says a return of Christianity in Britain’s public life will bring about the community cohesion that is lacking under multiculturalism.

No it won’t. Especially because not everyone in a ‘majority’ or ‘minority’ group think alike.  In a plural society, with many beliefs and opinions, you need to keep beliefs out in order to bring about any sort of social cohesion.

And as a first step, you need a concept of citizenship that goes beyond people’s beliefs and to some extent keeps their beliefs our of the state and public insititutions. And you need secularism, which is a minimum precondition, for basic rights and freedoms.

But they will never learn…

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On a positive note, the fight back by those wanting a larger role for Christianity in the public space (as if having an established church and bishops in the house of lords is not enough) is because they are feeling the pressure of secularists. This is a very good thing. The other good thing is that all this talk of a return to Christian values will get secularists speaking out though they may have been silent when it was about Islam’s role in the public space due to bogus accusations of racism and Islamophobia…

So bring it on.

Prayers at council meeting is less messy than looking at sheep entrails

The excellent National Secular Society has won a legal challenge to prayers during local government council meetings.

Nonetheless, the government is activating powers it says will allow councils to hold prayers. Well I suppose you can’t blame them for hoping that prayer will succeed where they have failed.

But seriously, the NSS is not saying people aren’t allowed to pray. Pray all you like. No one cares least of all those of us who have better things to do with our time. Just don’t do it on tax payer’s time and in your role as a public official.

As Nicholas writes in an email:

The Romans would look at sheep entrails before commencing a battle… Praying before a council meeting is less messy but unlikely to help the outcome. Councillors could opt for carrying a rabbits foot or a lucky horseshoe. Putting in professionals who can set budgets and stick to them would be a more intelligent way to help tax payers and recipients of services in a recession.

But that is just too much to ask…

And your point is?

The Telegraph (which must give away a free bottle of water that costs more than the paper with every issue) has a piece on the ‘slave roots’ of Richard Dawkins. This ‘awkward revelation’ is yet another fine piece of journalism.

I suppose since my grandfather led Friday prayers and was an ‘Islamic scholar’, I have an Islamist gene in me that will one day most likely reveal itself when I set up a Sharia court.

And the Telegraph’s point is?

 

In case you don’t know the worth of women’s lives and men’s testicles

Just in case you didn’t know how much you were worth under Islamic Diyeh or blood money (paid to the victim or victim’s family), here’s a reminder:

Article 300:  The blood money for first or second degree murder of a Muslim woman is 50 camels.

Article 435:  The blood money for a Muslim man losing his left testicle is 66 camels and his right testicle is 34 camels. Loss of both is 100 camels.

Yup, you read right. Even a man’s testicles are worth more than a woman’s life.

By the way, in case you don’t have camels, not to worry. The regime in Iran has calculated cash equivalents to assist you…

(Photo of laws via Bahman Abnekar on Facebook)

In defence of militant secularisation

In a recent speech the Tory Party Chairperson Lady Warsi said:

‘My fear is that, today, militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies. We see it in a number of things: when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings, and where religion is sidelined and downgraded in the public sphere.

‘For me one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.’

By the way, telling people they can’t carry conspicuous religious symbols or pray at their workplaces or discriminate against gay people because it’s part of their religious beliefs is the ‘militant secularisation’ Warsi is speaking of.

She’s taking her message to the pope who has in the past argued against ‘aggressive forms of secularism’ likening it to the evils of Nazism.

How absurd.

‘Militant secularisation’ is a direct response to religion’s encroachments and intolerance not the other way around. And there is nothing more totalitarian and intolerant than religion in political power. Just look back to the Spanish inquisition of centuries past or today’s Islamic inquisition. [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins

Here’s Dawkins speech at the 11 February free expression rally. Best lines: A scholar usually needs to have read more than one book, people need to ‘stop being so damn respectful’ and that without freedom of speech, society would be a ‘scientific, technological, moral dark age’.

By the way, here’s Richard Dawkins’ comment on the 11 February free expression rally and also the culturally relativist position of the police in dealing with honour-based violence and crimes. He met some people at the rally who had not be helped by the police since it is ‘part of their culture’:

Books on atheism and Islam

I just received a request for a list of books on atheism and also atheism and Islam. Can anyone help with putting together a list, which I can send on? Thanks for any help on this. Here’s the email:

Hello.

I am interested in getting a thorough education about atheistic and agnostic thought. My interest is an academic one, as I am studying religion at the post-secondary level, and would like to widen my horizons as much as possible.

As I have no real place to begin, I would be thankful if you could send me a thorough list of primary and standard books, which shed light on the short history of atheistic thought, atheistic arguments in support of and other reasons for disbelief, arguments against different faiths, and anything else you deem would be useful in my inquiry.

My background is in Islamic theology, so if you have anything specifically relating to atheism and Islam, I would be thankful if you included that as well. I am also open to arguments against other faith-based ideologies as well.

I hope we can remain in touch. Thank you for your time.

The Saudi government will be held accountable for Hamza Kashgari’s life and security

We demand immediate freedom for Hamza Kashgari!
Open letter to the Saudi Embassy in London-UK

To Whom It May Concern:

We are outraged to learn that 23 year old writer Hamza Kashgari is in prison after being deported to Saudi Arabia from Malaysia where he had fled in fear of his life. The deportation of a person with a well-founded fear of persecution is a violation of human and refugee rights. We demand that he be immediately released and his life safeguarded.

Kashgari is not a criminal; as a poet and writer, he was merely Tweeting an imagined conversation with Mohammad, Islam’s prophet. This is his basic human right to free expression and would not be deemed a crime in many countries world-wide. It is because he is a Saudi national and due to Sharia law that the expressions of Kashgari and others, including many Muslims who question, criticise and challenge Islam, become matters of life and death. His persecution is within a context of on-going state repression, lack of social justice, and restrictions on rights and freedoms for all citizens via Sharia law and repression.

We call on the Saudi government to immediately and unconditionally release Hamza Kashgari. It is not Hamza who must in condemned but the officials and clergymen calling for his death. His persecution is not justice but barbarity.

Any harm or punishment meted out against Hamza will be met with world-wide public outrage. Countless groups and individuals have already come to the fore demanding his release. Here is one such petition in his defence supported by well known writers, campaigners and defenders of free expression.

Needless to say, the Saudi government will be held accountable for Hamza Kashgari’s safety and life.

We look forward to your earliest response on this urgent matter.

Sincerely,
Yanar Mohammed, President, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq
Houzan Mahmoud, International Spokesperson, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All and Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran

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Please sign the petition in support of Hamza Kashgari. Tell your friends, family and colleagues to sign it. The more we keep the spotlight on his case, the more difficult it will be for the Saudi government to harm him. Sign it nowwww! Please!

(Photo via Free Hamza Kashgari Facebook Page, which you should join too.)