Hoping that we return to the right path

Here is one more of the many emails we get at the Council of Ex-Muslims for you to enjoy.

It’s heartwarming, really,  to see all the concern. Here Khalid Najib asks why we don’t all ‘return to the right path’.

Err, Khalid, please don’t bother holding your breath. And thanks for asking but no thanks.

Here’s Khalid’s letter in case any of you ex-Muslim atheists out there want his unsolicited ‘advice’. Please feel free to give him a piece of your mind in the comments section.

Salam Alaiykum, I am writing to this organization as a concerned Muslim. What are you guys doing? Why do you want people out of Islam? Is there anything you didnt understand about the great religion of Islam? You people are former Muslims. I am astonished. Ofcourse it is your personal choice, but please dont give a bad name about Islam. As most of you know, Islam is the best religion. It makes the most sense. Please dont make a bad name about the great teachings of Muhammad (PBUH). Why dont you guys all return to the right path? Allah will bless you in this life and the Afterlife. It isnt too late to return. Thanks For Reading My Message Khalid Najib PS: I respect your freedom, but please consider my message.

Join the screaaaammmm

To mark 8 March 2012, International Women’s Day, a Nude Photo Revolutionary calendar is being published in homage to Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, who in November 2011 posted a nude photo (featured) of herself on her blog as ‘screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy’.

At a time when women’s rights and bodies under attack via Islamism and the religious-right, nudity is an important form of resistance.

Join the scream!

There is still some time to submit an original photo. Here are some details:

* The submission must include a short quote on why you are joining the ‘scream’.
* You will need to show your face in the photo and provide a full name.
* The photos must feature real and not implied nudity as it is real nudity that is considered taboo.
* The photo must be professionally taken and not published anywhere else. It can be a self-portrait.
* It has to be of high quality and no less than 300 dpi, at a size of 11×17.
* The photo should be in black and white.
* The photos should be free from massive Photoshop manipulation.
* The photographer will be credited.

Once we receive your photo, we will ask you and the photographer to sign a release form if we decide to use it. The deadline for receiving photos is 1 March.

For more information on the calendar, please contact Maryam Namazie at nudephotorevolutionaries@gmail.com.

My nude photo

I just had my photo taken for the Nude Photo Revolutionaries Calendar today by the brilliant photographer Ben Hopper.

It was more difficult than I ever imagined on so many different levels…

More on this though when the calendar is launched.

If you are interested in submitting a photo in homage to Egyptian atheist Aliaa Magda Elmahdy (featured photo), please do it asap as time is running out. Here are details.

Do you encounter long delays on my blog?

evilDoug has written to say that he often encounters long delays as my FTB pages load. He says:

I don’t have this problem with any of the other FTBs. I’m sorry I can’t provide any clues as to exactly what is happening. Part of the page will load, then it just stops for some time, showing “DONE” in the info line (I’m using Internet Explorer), then eventually begins again. Most strange. I have some small suspicion that it may have something to do with one of your share links, but that is a very small suspicion.

Anyone else having this problem?

11 February 2012: An Important Stand for Free Expression

One Law for All held a successful rally in defence of free expression on Saturday 11 February 2012 opposite the Houses of Parliament. Hundreds braved the cold weather to join the rally at Old Palace Yard.

The rally followed several incidents in London recently where freedom of expression was curtailed in favour of fear of causing offence. In one incident, a talk on sharia law by One Law for All’s Anne Marie Waters was cancelled following threats of violence. Rhys Morgan was told by his school to remove a picture of Jesus and Mo from his Facebook page – a picture he had used in solidarity with the University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society who had been asked by their student union to remove the same image. Both UCL and the London School of Economics have since passed draconian motions which will further restrict religious criticism or satire at their schools.

Speakers at the rally included A C Grayling, Nick Cohen, Caroline Cox, Gita Sahgal, Keith Porteous Wood, and Rhys Morgan. The event was sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK and featured Richard Dawkins who told the crowd to ‘stop being so damn respectful’ and that without freedom of speech, society would be a ‘scientific, technological, moral dark age’. [Read more…]

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Hassan Radwan just sent me a link to the video clip of the Saudi Sheikh Nasser Al Omar crying whilst relating the ‘offence’ that Hamza Kashgari has committed by tweeting about Mohammad, Islam’s prophet. As is expected, the Sheikh quickly gathers his emotions and calls for Hamza’s death.

The sheikh’s crocodile tears remind me of the Islamic mourning ceremonies I have been to in Iran where the mullah cries during his sermon. He seems inconsolable but then quickly stops ‘crying’, and starts eating and gossiping as if nothing has happened.

All in a day’s work.

Or as Hassan puts it:

I don’t why but he reminds me of the Walrus in Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” who cried tears of pity for the Oysters while greedily eating as many as he could.

It would be funny if it wasn’t a matter of life of death… See the Sheikh’s fine acting qualities for yourself:

By the way, don’t forget to support the campaign to free Hamza; please sign the petition.

Join Free Hamza Facebook Page.

There must be more people who want Hamza to live not die

The Facebook page الشعب السعودي يريد القصاص من حمزة كاشغري ‘The Saudi People Demand Ghisas [Retribution] for Hamza Kashgari’ has 22,500 members as of now.

And the Free Hamza Kashgari page you ask? 2,500.

Facebook sees no problem with the first Facebook page though complaints have been made. It’s ‘their culture’ after all.

But a call for Ghisas under Sharia law is a call for ‘retribution’ and be assured that it doesn’t mean tweeting a poem offensive to Hamza…

Now I know there are more people that want Hamza to live not die, many of them in Saudi Arabia.

Well, let’s see it please.

Join Free Hamza Kashgari Facebook page.

Also, please sign the petition.

Freedom for Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari

On 12 February, Malaysian police deported 23 year old Saudi columnist Hamza Kashgari, who fled Saudi Arabia after making comments on Twitter claimed by some to be “insulting” to the prophet Muhammad. There have been widespread calls from Islamists for his execution; in Saudi Arabia, blasphemy is punishable by death.

Theocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia will not tolerate the most basic freedom of thought and expression. We defend the right of everyone in the world to freely express their views, including to criticise religion. We condemn the Malaysian government for detaining Kashgari who had fled the country and handing him over to the Saudi authorities. We are also concerned to learn of reports that INTERPOL may have promulgated a Saudi government warrant for his arrest. The implications of this mean that no asylum seeker or refugee is free from persecution even after having fled.

We demand that the Saudi authorities immediately and unconditionally release Kashgari. He has not committed any crime.

To support the campaign, please sign the petition.

Join Free Hamza Facebook Page.

Initial Signatures: [Read more…]

INTERPOL, you have done this before…

INTERPOL has issued a statement saying it is not involved in the arrest or deportation of Saudi blogger, Hamza Kashgari:

‘INTERPOL confirms that it has NOT been involved in the case involving a Saudi blogger arrested in Malaysia and deported to Saudi Arabia. No INTERPOL channels, its National Central Bureaus in Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh nor its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France were involved at any time in this case.

If it says so – though I am skeptical especially since it has done this before.

In 2009, a number of us wrote to its office complaining about Iranian opposition leaders being included on its wanted list at the request of the Islamic regime of Iran! In a response to Fariborz Pooya’s complaint this is what its Legal Affairs Office wrote:

From: Office of Legal Affairs – General Secretariat

Our Ref.: OLA/35010-176/5.2./CG/EH/vp

Date: 15 January 2010

Subject: Your request to INTERPOL dated 13 December 2009

Dear Mr Pooya,

The INTERPOL General Secretariat acknowledges receipt of your message on 13 December 2009, concerning Mr Kurosh Modaresi.

Please be informed that should Mr Modarsi wish to access to or challenge the information registered in INTERPOL’s files, a request must be sent by postal mail to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files, which is the independent expert body in charge of processing requests for access or modification of information recorded in INTERPOL’s files….

Really?

I am not sure how Kashgari would have had the time or information to challenge INTERPOL’s files had they promulgated an arrest warrant issued by a state [corrected].

INTERPOL needs to rethink warrants instigated via oppressive regimes. This may be the case that will ensure that it does.

But a young man’s life is still at stake…

Malaysia must pay for this and Saudi Arabia too: Hamza must live

Police have confirmed that Hamza Kashgari was sent back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday despite protests. A friend has emailed to say the Malysian authorities refused to allow a lawyer to talk to him.

Malaysia’s home ministry has said that ‘The nature of the charges against the individual in this case are a matter for the Saudi Arabian authorities’. Which basically means that any asylum seeker or refugee must be returned as it is a case for the government in question!?

Malaysia must be made to pay for this heinous act of returning someone to their possible death (something that Western governments also do all the time by deporting asylum seekers).

And Saudi Arabia must feel such rage that it dare not touch a hair on Hamza’s head.

Saudi Arabia be warned. We will not let you kill Hamza. Be warned.

A campaign for Hamza will be announced shortly.

(via Sigmund)

But you cannot shut us up

It was a good day for free expression. Hundreds turned up in the freezing cold in London to defend it and there were solidarity rallies and actions in various parts of the world. A report will follow soon, including videos on Youtube and photos, but in the meanwhile you can hear the brilliant speakers on the Pod Delusion.

To start with, here’s the Jesus and Mo author’s statement for the rally. More speeches will follow.

When was the last time you rushed into a place of worship while a service was taking place, and told the preacher to shut up? My guess is that you have never done this while sober.

Because you know that it is impolite to butt in to other people’s conversations and demand that they stop talking.

And yet that is what would-be censors are always trying to do. At St Mary’s College, on other people’s Facebook pages, at literature festivals, and on the website of Jesus and Mo, they have butted in with their rude – and sometimes menacing – demands for silence.

It is the height of bad manners. Those of us who understand the value of free expression wouldn’t dream of being so discourteous.

In fact, far from telling believers to shut up, we WANT them to keep talking. Because that is how their ideas are exposed to light and – inevitably – laughter. [Read more…]

Free Expression Day: Today I go for Hamza, Alex, Asia, Zaniar and Loghman

I go today to the 11 February Rally in London for Free Expression for all those who cannot be there because of efforts to silence them. Their lives are intertwined with ours and this day is about them more than anything else. It’s about putting people first not religions and beliefs.

I hope you will all join me – if not in London than wherever you are across the globe – to defend this right.

For more information on the events today, or to post reports of your own, go to One law for All.

To Human Rights Watch: Separation of religion from state is the most basic guarantee of rights

An Open Letter to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Dear Kenneth Roth,

In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.

You say, “It is important to nurture the rights-respecting elements of political Islam while standing firm against repression in its name,” but you fail to call for the most basic guarantee of rights—the separation of religion from the state. Salafi mobs have caned women in Tunisian cafes and Egyptian shops; attacked churches in Egypt; taken over whole villages in Tunisia and shut down Manouba University for two months in an effort to exert social pressure on veiling. And while “moderate Islamist” leaders say they will protect the rights of women (if not gays), they have done very little to bring these mobs under control. You, however, are so unconcerned with the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities that you mention them only once, as follows: “Many Islamic parties have indeed embraced disturbing positions that would subjugate the rights of women and restrict religious, personal, and political freedoms. But so have many of the autocratic regimes that the West props up.” Are we really going to set the bar that low? This is the voice of an apologist, not a senior human rights advocate. [Read more…]

In defence of Hamza Kashgari

I’ve received a number of calls and emails asking to help 23 year old Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari.

Hamza’s a Muslim who has been forced to flee Saudi Arabia because his Tweets about Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, have been deemed to be offensive and blasphemous by Islamists calling for his head. The Saudi king has personally issued an order to bring him to ‘justice’ and Saudi clerics have demanded that he be prosecuted for ‘cursing the prophet’. If he is found guilty, he will most likely be executed.

As a result of threats to his life, including the publishing of his home address and personal contact details, Hamza has been forced to flee the country. En route to New Zealand where he hoped to apply for asylum, he was stopped and detained in Malaysia.

There are fears that he will be deported back to Saudi Arabia where he faces imprisonment and even execution for tweeting the below to mark Mohammad’s birthday:

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.”

“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.”

Though Hamza has apologised and ‘repented’, his life remains in danger.

It’s important that we support him and demand that he be granted protection.

Here’s what you can do: [Read more…]

No to economic sanctions, war threats, and war! Revolution against the Islamic regime of Iran!

The below is a press release of the Worker-communist Party of Iran dated January 26, 2012 on the threats of war and economic sanctions.

It says:

The real way to fight poverty, misery, threat of war, and the whole present hazardous situation is the expansion of the struggle against the Islamic regime in all arenas, as well as overthrowing the regime by the people’s revolution and overtaking the running of society by the workers and people themselvs. With all its might, the Worker-communist Party of Iran fights for realizing this. WPI will firmly stand against all attempts to support the Islamic regime on the pretext of economic sanctions and war, or to legitimize the Western governments’ scenarios of a change from above.

Read it in full here. [Read more…]

Hamza Tzortzis lies again!

Islamist Hamza Tzortzis has been bragging that he is to debate me on the 15 February on his Facebook page. I was more than happy to oblige especially since his gang looked so foolish the last time they tried to debate me at my talk on the Islamic Inquisition in Dublin.

Today, though, I was told by the Atheist Society of the University College of Cork that the event was postponed since a topic couldn’t be agreed upon with the ‘Muslim Cultural Society’ (is that what they are calling demands for the Caliphate nowadays?) leaving no time for publicising the event.

Anyway it seems that Tzortzis is now bragging that I have cancelled the event. Please, don’t flatter yourselves. It is usually your lot that goes about cancelling events because you don’t like free expression and what have you – not us.

When Tzortzis suggested debating ‘Islam and Secularism: What is more rational’ I merely said that the comparison made no sense.  Islam is a belief; secularism is a principle for the separation of religion from the state and public institutions. I suggested that the debate could be ‘Theocracy and Secularism: what is more rational?’ but it seems any suggestion of a political nature were deemed ‘Islamophobic’ (go figure) or ended in a denial of the existence of theocracies.

More interestingly, Tzortzis said he wanted to stay out of politics… Yeah right! Pull someone else’s leg please. I think it’s more likely that he doesn’t want to debate me…

By the way, Hassan Radwan says he couldn’t resist responding to one of the sneering remarks about me on Tzortzis Facebook Page:

Mayra Khaleeq said: ‘Maryam Namazie really has no rational philosophical and scientific arguments against religion. I am afraid that her talks border insanity. No offense to her, she has the right to be insane, but I have the right to reject insanity.’ [Read more…]

I won’t voluntarily agree to self-censorship

Islamist Inayat Bunglawala says the amount of negative stories is “demonizing” Islam and calls on the government to do all it can to “ensure a fairer portrayal, a more balanced portrayal of the faith of Islam” in the British media when appearing before the Leveson Inquiry (which is looking into increasing government oversight into the media, including bloggers).

Err, it’s easy to have a balanced portrayal. It’s Islamism that’s demonizing Islam more than anything else. We’re merely reporting on the ensuing carnage.

Getting rid of Islamism will do a lot to help save Islam at least as a private affair but that is not what Inayat wants, now is it? He wants us to stop talking so he and his buddies can bulldoze over civil society. Which is why he interchanges Islam and Muslim in order to make it seem as if criticism of a belief and a person are one and the same…

And of course everyone is so keen to appease at our expense. Lord Justice Leveson expressed sympathy for Bunglawala’s plea and said that any government regulation of the British media would have to extend to the Internet and include blogs.

Lord Hunt, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has even gone so far as to invite bloggers on current affairs to voluntarily agree to regulation.

Well sorry but that’s not happening. I won’t agree to self-censorship even if you try and force me by regulating what I can say.

This tiny little thing called free expression is all I have at my disposal to fight Islamism, and no one is going to stop me from saying what needs to be said.

(Link via Roy Brown)

Khomeini and the Dustbin

You know the absurd cardboard cut-outs of Khomeini disembarking a plane to ‘celebrate’ his arrival in Tehran, inspecting the military, and so on (which incidentally heralded the beginning of Islamism’s expropriation of a left-leaning revolution and its slaughter of an entire generation)?

Well, here’s a better place for the cut-out.

It’s called the dustbin of history. And it’s coming soon for the rest of his gang…

Religion in power is the end of any form of democratic politics

The below is a section of Maryam’s speech On the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa at a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on 4 February 2012:

The ‘Arab Spring’ represents a period of revolutions. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

People in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya… have rise up against dictatorships. It’s a period of immense human development. It shows how it is still possible for people to come out onto the streets and revolt and that revolution is truly the most civilised form of resistance against oppression. It has proven the anti-revolution and pro-status quo politicians wrong. It has also signalled the beginning of the end of the racist social policy of cultural relativism and multi-culturalism where people are boxed into imagined homogenous ‘communities’ with dictatorship and Islamism being deemed as part of their ‘culture’.

If anything the similarities in form and content between the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa and the 99% movement or occupy Wall Street or where have you prove this. Both are based on the actual occupation of public spaces – citizens taking back control. Content-wise, too, their demands are deeply rooted in a criticism of the current economic crisis, capitalism, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty. The revolutions in the region were sparked by Mohammad Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate, who set himself on fire when banned from selling fruit to make a meagre living.

Whilst some have already started calling it an ‘Arab Winter’ and surrendering to Islamists on people’s behalves, these have not been Islamist revolutions. The foot soldiers have been workers, the unemployed, youth, women, the poor… Islamists didn’t spearhead the revolutions nor were they instrumental in them. They were nowhere to be seen. And the revolutions’ demands were not Islamist ones. After all, Islamism has certain characteristics – such as the demand for Sharia law or veiling, which were not people’s demands when they took to the streets. [Read more…]