There is some sanity after all

A German court has said that a child’s right to physical integrity trumps religious and parental rights in a case involving a doctor who carried out a circumcision on a four year-old that led to medical complications.

The decision, which is not binding, has caused ‘outrage’ amongst religious groups.

By the way, the decision – since the BBC fails yet again to mention anyone other than the religious lobby – has also been the cause of jubilation amongst children’s rights defenders and people generally concerned with child welfare.

A Jewish organisation has said the decision ‘attacks’ ‘religious freedom’ and the ‘right of religious communities to self-determination’.

But it’s the child that must take precedence – and for once, he has.

There is some sanity after all.

As an aside, but actually central to all this, is the excruciating pain the four year old must has gone through for his parents’ ‘religious freedom’.

It makes me sick to my stomach…

Female Genital Mutilation is illegal; so should male circumcision.  End of.

Actually it’s the same old same old

The Muslim Brotherhood has hailed Morsi’s narrow win of Egypt’s presidential election as the ‘start of a new era‘.

It’s actually same old same old.

Egyptians were given the [non] ‘choice’ between Mubarak’s former general and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which were there to bring an end to the revolution that has changed much of the landscape of the region.

As journalist Amir Taheri has said: The ‘despotic-Islamist twins still enjoy immense tactical advantages. But most Egyptians have shed their fears of both.’

This is by no means the end of the revolution but what happens next is up to secularists and the working class in Egypt as well as the international solidarity we mobilise in their defence…

 

 

I’ll be on Aljazeera’s The Stream tonight

Al Jazeera’s social media-driven show, The Stream, will be speaking with Richard Dawkins on atheism, religion and culture tonight. It goes live at 19:30 GMT (8:30 p.m. in London). I’ll be participating in a Google+ Hangout panel which can ask Dawkins questions and make comments.

I’ve never used Google+ before but hopefully I’ll be able to join without a hitch.

You can join in the discussions via Twitter #AJStream.

I could have told you that for free

Did you hear about Islington social services paying over £8,000 for a consultant to travel to Africa to investigate whether they should send a boy in their care to the Congo for an exorcism?!

I could have told them NO! and for free.

The consultant – who actually accepted the job – was told that the child would be starved from fluid and food for three days, met children who were scared and traumatised, and said that children were often shaken, beaten and sprayed with chilli peppers and even cut with razor blades (and that’s only what they told him). He adds:

Whilst I found the family and the church to be very friendly, I cannot recommend that the child be allowed to go through a deliverance service such as that envisaged.

Very friendly indeed.

Seriously, though, if anyone is paying attention, those involved in this decision should be kept as far away from children as possible.

But then knowing how things work, they will most probably be given medals for cultural sensitivity…

(News link via Anne Marie Waters)

An unnecessary provocation?

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s fifth anniversary celebration was absolutely fantastic. Here’s my speech.

Thank you for joining us on the fifth anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).

People often ask why ex-Muslim?

Is it not an unnecessary provocation?

Provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us this all the time. Don’t say you are an apostate, don’t invite others to apostasy and there need be no killings.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know Islamism – this far-Right regressive movement…

They’ll say: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise the veil, Sharia, Islam… and no one need get hurt.

But Islamists need no excuses.

If you’re a girl going to school in Afghanistan, you will have acid thrown in your face or be poisoned.

If you’re Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia, you may face the death penalty for tweeting about Mohammad.

If you’re Hilath Rasheed in Maldives, you will have your throat cut for questioning Islam.

If you’re Alex Aan in Indonesia, you’ll face several years in prison for saying ‘there is no god’ on Facebook…

And 20 June is the anniversary that marks the slaughter of an entire generation in Iran. Many were killed after one minute ‘trials’ for responding ‘no’ to the question: ‘do you believe in god?’ Families were told to pay for the bullets that killed their loved ones before being given their bodies. Others were buried in mass graves.

Islamists need no excuses.

Of course, in a favourable climate of multiculturalism and cultural relativism – where are all values and beliefs are equal and equally valid – and for western public consumption, Islamists like to blame victims and dissenters for their barbarity.

We are the ‘aggressive atheists’ (compared at times with the Taliban no less) yet we are the ones who are being killed, imprisoned, threatened or forced to flee.

A lot of us can’t even say we are atheists/ex-Muslims, yet we are accused of denying people’s right to religion. Nonsense, we are fighting for a corresponding right to be free from religion. And any way, religion in the state, educational system and the Sharia ‘[in]justice system is not about a personal right to religion but about political power.

And this is a crucial point.

The Council of Ex-Muslims may be many things to many people. It may be a support system, via the Meet-up Group and Forum. It may be a helping hand to secure the right to asylum or find refuge and a safe home. For some it is important for its fight against multiculturalism and a false ‘homogeneous Muslim community’ or in defence of secularism and universal rights…

But first and foremost the CEMB is a challenge to political Islam. It is meant to shock and provoke.

Throughout history that is how barbarity has been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.

Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.

Thank you.

Beware of those who hide behind ‘choice’

I find that people often hide behind ‘choice’ in order to defend their position.

But that to me is a cop-out.

I think it’s always better to start with principle. You’re less likely to go wrong.

Do I support the US bombing of Iran? Do I support the veil? Do I support religion? The death penalty? Torture? Sharia law? Before I even know how many people ‘choose’ any of the above, my answer is a resounding no.

Clearly, just because people choose something, it doesn’t necessarily make it right. And we know this because we are always fighting for changes and for social justice – however small – in our homes, workplaces, schools, and neighbourhoods.

In fact many changes – from ending slavery, giving women the right to vote, to ending racial apartheid – came about by changing a majority’s view on how the world should be.

But for some reason, this common sense approach goes out the window when it comes to anything Islamic.

We hear for example that adult women have a ‘right to choose’ the veil or Sharia courts in Britain. But the use of the terms choice and rights are highly deceptive. Firstly, many are pressured into wearing the veil or going to these courts.

Also there is very little choice when living under what I call an Islamic inquisition. Islamists don’t let you pick and choose but will threaten or intimidate anyone who transgresses their medieval norms. They threaten you if you are not veiled. A good example is the Muslim woman councillor of Tower Hamlets, Shiria Khatun, who was given death threats for not veiling. And the same applies to Sharia courts. Women are told that not accepting the court’s rulings are equivalent to apostasy and disbelief.

Using terms such as rights and choice are merely public relations ploys by Islamists and their supporters. And it’s often used by others to shrug responsibility towards important matters facing us today.

After all one can justify or ignore anything by saying it’s a ‘choice.’

The Islamic hadith (sayings and actions of Mohammad) on stoning comes to mind. It is said that a woman begged Mohammad thrice before he reluctantly agreed to stone her to death.

‘Scholars’ of the Institute for Oriental Studies in India have reported that out of 40 eyewitness accounts, only two women ‘involuntarily’ threw themselves on the burning pyres of their dead husbands in order to legitimise suttee. The rest, they say, made a ‘voluntary choice.’

Clearly, there can be no choice under the unbearable pressures people and women in particular face. But even if it was a real choice (if you somehow manage to remove all the pressures involved), it’s a bad one for people, society and the world at large.

Iranian Marxist Mansoor Hekmat says it best in his interview on Islam and De-Islamisation:

I will not respect any superstition or the suppression of rights, even if all the people of the world do so. Of course I know it is the right of all to believe in whatever they want. But there is a fundamental difference between respecting the freedom of opinion of individuals and respecting the opinions they hold. We are not sitting in judgement of the world; we are players and participants in it. Each of us are party to this historical, worldwide struggle, which in my opinion, from the beginning of time until now has been over the freedom and equality of human beings. I will not respect the superstitions that I am fighting against and under the grip of which human beings are suffering.

Post your messages of support for Council of ex-Muslims here

Messages of support to mark 5th anniversary of the
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Final Updated 28 June 2012

As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is celebrating its 5th anniversary on 23 June. We’re asking people to attend the fundraiser luncheon if they can, donate, and send messages of support to mark our birthday. Here are some messages we have already received.

Well done for standing up for rational and free thought, a universe and it’s life that exist due to physical and not magical forces. I applaud each and every one of you. Carry on in your wisdom, benevolence, rationality and humanity.
Regards
Martin Gallagher
An ex Christian

To Maryam and the Council of Ex-Muslims
I’d just like to add my thanks and appreciation for what all of you are doing. Here’s to a world freed of imaginary sky-gods!
Theophontes

Good for you and all.
Hyoid, from Neckbone, PA, USA

When ex-Christians think they’re ostracized and persecuted, we should remember the even greater strength and determination it takes to be an ex-Muslim. May you find fortune a gift of the Universe through all of your Lives.
Maxdevlin

Congratulations CEMB, on being a beacon of hope to many, and not least to progressives like my humble self who constantly encounter other “progressives” to whom Islam is above criticism! Happy 5th anniversary!
Taru Dutt

Courageous! Thank you for standing up. Happy anniversary.
Jim

Congratulations on your 5th birthday! I wish you success in your important work.
Alan Clark

Happy anniversary. Thanks for your great work.
I have been following your work in this blog.
It’s fresh, inspiring and make me put questions where I had answers
Paulo Alves Reis, Chateau-d’Oex – Switzerland

In a time when the cancer of fundamentalism is ravaging the Islamic community, and Islamist bullies are determined to drag the whole world back to the seventh century, the CEMB provides much needed support for former and questioning Muslims, as well as those of us affected by religious fundamentalism. Please accept my best wishes for the work you do.
Winterwind

It is very difficult for those in America who choose to reject the Christian religion. They face anger, hate, accusations, insults, loss of friends and family, loss of income (losing a job if employed – losing customers if an employer), and are unable to participate in government.
For Muslims, add to all of the above … the threat of injury or even death.
You people have redefined the word “courage.”
Neo

Congratulations on 5 successful years, and may you be a victim of your success and become unnecessary!
Stay free, stay fair, stay fun!
Allegra Sloman, Vancouver, Canada

Congratulations on the anniversary. Any organisation that celebrates those who have discovered the truth and turned away from their misogynistic, hate-filled and irrational religion should be congratulated. The difference with Islam is that it promises vengeance – murder – in THIS life, as opposed to the non-existent next one.
Your bravery is recognised.
Jon Pierson
Member of Atheist Ireland

Very best wishes to the CEMB on your 5th birthday. In those five years you’ve done great work to help provide new friends and a community to those would could be ostracised for transistions in outlook and thought.
Your campaigning work for rights both here and outside the UK has helped create change, and drawn attention to the fact that thought-crime is still an issue for so many in the world. The freedom to pursue evidence-based reasoning should not be accompanied by fear and loneliness – so here’s to the CEMB’s next five years.
Deborah Hyde, Editor-in-Chief, The Skeptic Magazine

Way to go, dear friends! I hope your enlightened example will inspire many more to break free form religious oppression! Good luck in your activities – and get your message especially among women: every mother who is able to think for herself will help her children think as well, rather than obey ideologies and tyrants!
Respect,
Teodora

My name is Mirko, I’m 22 and I’m from Italy. Your work is incredible, what you did is right and i hope all people of the world follow the message you have sent. I support your campaign and all you do for the women. Continue to fight and don’t give up Maryam.

For always being there, giving the highest form of empathy and sympathy and having thought provoking discussion in its various forms, I thank the forum members and staff. (As well as giving me the chance to be on T.V)
Mchawking

I just registered after reading Maryam Namazie’s FtB blog. She said to come over with any words of support and encouragement to all the ex-Muslim people here.
I do have nothing but appreciation, as well as a sense of awe, for all of you. I grew up in a family that was very wishy-washy about religion, in a secular country with pretty liberal teachers along the way in all my schooling. I didn’t have a culture surrounding me that insisted on belief and certainly not one that threatened violence if I ever voiced apathy or disbelief. I know some of you have come to your rejection of Islam from such dangerous places and I just want to let you know that I am amazed by not only your bravery, but your integrity for not remaining a mental prisoner of (if I may steal from Hitchens) the spiritual North Korea.
I wish all of you well, and certainly offer all the encouragement I can muster for all of you to keep on fighting for humanity, peace, justice and freedom. Every mind that you open up to reality and clarity is one less that will be imprisoned by fear and hatred, all in the cause of an imaginary dictator. Best luck and prosperity to all of you.
Tatanka

I come here for the people, and the atmosphere. There’s a great mix of intelligent discussion, venting of frustrations, shared support, and general silliness. As The Wyre said, there’s a solidarity here that you can’t find anywhere else, and it’s present even if a topic has nothing to do with Islam or religion. This forum is just as much about moving past Islam as it is about Islam.
And it just happens to be truly the best damn forum on the internet.
I’ve bolded the part that really sums up how I feel about this place. In the early months after I left Islam, I had no support outside of the people here. And even still, 4 years later, there’s nobody else that quite understands how Islam still has an effect on my life. I remember everything I learned and all the love and support I received (and still do!) from people here, and how it’s helped me grow and change and make sense of my life. And I hope to offer the same sort of support to others when I can. This community is invaluable.
Luthiel

CEMB has been a safe place for me to learn to stand and move forward after the effects of islam..
it has helped me realize what i need to work on, and has given me a sense of solidarity..
CEMB has become a place to turn to for advice, comfort, debate, and friendship.. it is in essence giving me what anyone would want from a family.. i have seen boys learn to discard their misogynistic ideas, and girls embrace their strength.. i am grateful to the group of people who courageously continue to speak out.. the voice of CEMB must continue to be echoed for the sake of those who have no voice.. CEMB will always be part of me..
Nessrriinn [Read more...]

It’s on Saturday

Join us to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain on Saturday 23 June 2012 from 13.00-16.00hours in London.

There is still space so book your tickets today if you can join us!

Speakers and acts include:
Renowned Philosopher AC Grayling
Writer and Documentary-maker Gita Sahgal
Comedian Kate Smurthwaite
Theoretical Physicist Lawrence Krauss and Best-selling Author of A Universe From Nothing
Anti-Injustice Movement Poet Lilith
DV8 Physical Theatre Director Lloyd Newson with a clip from Can we Talk about This?
Dancer Maryam Freeflower
CEMB Founder and Campaigner Maryam Namazie
Magician Neil Edwards
Singer and Songwriter Shelley Segal

Ticket(s) for the event, which includes a three-course meal and glass of wine at a wonderful Italian restaurant, are £45.00 per person or £35.00 for students/unwaged.

If you are unable to attend the luncheon but would like to help, please donate or organise an event on 23 June, such as a coffee morning or a luncheon party in your home or a local cafe, to raise much needed funds for the CEMB.

You can also send a message of support to the CEMB to exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com. All messages will be published.

To purchase tickets, send a cheque made payable to CEMB to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX or pay via Paypal or Worldpay. Please make sure to include an email address and/or telephone number so that further details can be provided. Additional donations are welcome to help ensure the attendance of CEMB volunteers at the event.

For more information, please contact:
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com
www.ex-muslim.org.uk

You’re on the wrong side

I was recently criticised for ‘picking on Iran’.

Well, yes if you side with the Iranian regime, or don’t see anything wrong with it, then my opposing it may seem this way to you.

It is all about taking sides really.

The same applies to the discussion we are having here on the veil.

You either have a problem with it because it is a religiously sanctioned tool for women’s repression or you don’t have any problem with it and think it is merely another form of clothing.

You either consider child veiling a form of abuse because of what it represents for the child [it is the sexualisation of a child from a very young age, it is in place to prevent her from causing fitna or chaos in society if she is not covered up. It represents sex apartheid similar to racial apartheid but based on gender. It says she cannot mix with boys, go into certain fields of study, can't feel the wind in her hair because she is a girl...] or you just don’t.

If you don’t see it, you’re on the wrong side!

Simple!

In response to my post explaining the ex in ex-Muslim, Mr. A Kundi‏ or @adnzafar says on Twitter:

@MaryamNamazie then don’t say #exmuslims. then there will be no killings. Simple!

Simple for who?

The defenders of Islamism are always on the ready to blame Islam’s victims for its crimes.

All you need to do to stop their killing machine is to stop speaking, stop criticising Sharia or the veil, stop holding hands, stop opposing sex apartheid, stop thinking and breathing…

A Kundi has things the other way around.

Stop Islamism and Islam’s role in the public space, push its back to the wall, send it back to the Middle Ages, then there will be no killings.

Simple!

 

Follow me on Twitter.

The veil must be opposed

I’m posting this speech of mine on the veil here for the pro-veil lobby. I’ll be sure to respond to comments in detail once the CEMB fundraiser is over.

Bahar a young woman living in Germany wrote: When you see me on the street I am veiled but do not think I am a Muslim. I have been forced to veil by my father and brothers; they will kill me if I don’t. Before I felt alone, but now I know I am not. This is a message she sent to Mina Ahadi, founder of the central council of ex-Muslims in Germany.

Of course, Bahar is not alone. There are innumerable women and girls in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to right here in the heart of Europe who know from personal experience what it means to be female under Islam – hidden from view, bound, gagged, mutilated, murdered, without rights, and threatened and intimidated day in and day out for transgressing Islamic mores.

The veil, more than anything else, symbolises this bleak reality.

In my opinion, it is therefore impossible to address the status of women under Islamic laws and defend women’s rights without addressing and denouncing the veil.

And this is why the veil is the first thing that Islamists impose when they have any access to power.

And also why improper veiling, its removal and its burning at demonstrations and gatherings – as often seen in Iran for example – or its removal when one leaves the home – in places where it is not the law of the land but that of self-appointed imams and family members – has become a symbol of resistance.

I know our opponents often argue that there are many more pressing matters with regards to women’s status. Why all the fuss they ask?

To me, it is like asking what all the fuss was about racial apartheid – or segregation of the races – in apartheid South Africa. After all there were so many pressing issues faced by Blacks in that country. I suppose that is why the then South African government kept asserting that separate does not mean unequal (which incidentally is an argument Islamists make all the time). We know otherwise.

And we know – at least in hindsight – why the physical act of segregation was crucial and symbolic of what it meant to be Black under apartheid.

Similarly, the veil is a symbol of sexual apartheid and the segregation of the sexes. In countries where Islam rules, like in Iran, the separate entrances for women in certain government offices; separate areas for women’s seating on buses for example; the banning of women from certain public arenas like sport stadiums; a curtain dividing the Caspian sea for segregated swimming and so on is what it means in practice to be a female under Islam. That people transgress these rules daily is a testimony to their humanity and not the laws or state that imposes it by force.

When we talk about the situation in Iran, some of these apologists will concede that compulsory veiling must be opposed (though I have yet to hear them oppose it other than in their argument’s in defence of the veil) but if it is a choice ‘freely’ made than one must defend the ‘right’ to veil.

I wholeheartedly disagree. [Read more...]

The veil a choice? Hardly!

ENTRY UPDATED and incorrect photo replaced with a video made by Reza Moradi and a quote from Mansoor Hekmat:

For those who are in love with the veil and keep going on about how it’s a ‘right’ and ‘choice’, here’s a video just for you.

Someone definitely forgot to tell the child it was her ‘right’ and ‘choice’. But then such terms are for western public consumption.

Like foot binding, FGM, suttee, and chastity belts, the veil is a form of control over women and girls. Socially speaking and for most, it is anything but a choice and a right.

And for children, as I’ve said many a time, it is a form of child abuse.

As Mansoor Hekmat has so eloquently said:

We say that putting a veil on the heads of children and adolescents who have not come of legal age should be prohibited in law, because it is the imposition of a certain clothing on the child by the followers of a certain religious sect. It so happens that the defence of the civil rights of the child and the child’s right to choose (not an absolute in itself) require that this imposition be legally prevented. The child has no religion, tradition and prejudices. She has not joined any religious sect. She is a new human being who, by accident and irrespective of her will has been born into a family with specific religion, tradition, and prejudices. It is indeed the task of society to neutralise the negative effects of this blind lottery. Society is duty-bound to provide fair and equal living conditions for children, their growth and development, and their active participation in social life. Anybody who should try to block the normal social life of a child, exactly like those who would want to physically violate a child according to their own culture, religion, or personal or collective complexes, should be confronted with the firm barrier of the law and the serious reaction of society. No nine year old girl chooses to be married, sexually mutilated, serve as house maid and cook for the male members of the family, and be deprived of exercise, education, and play. The child grows up in the family and in society according to established customs, traditions, and regulations, and automatically learns to accept these ideas and customs as the norms of life. To speak of the choice of the Islamic veil by the child herself is a ridiculous joke. Anyone who presents the mechanism of the veiling of a kindergarten-age girl as her own ‘democratic choice’ either comes from outer space, or is a hypocrite who does not deserve to participate in the discussion about children’s rights and the fight against discrimination. The condition for defending any form of the freedom of the child to experience life, the condition for defending the child’s right to choose, is first and foremost, to prevent these automatic and common impositions.

20 June: Join 28 cities in support of political prisoners in Iran

For the last thirty three years, the Islamic Regime in Iran has robbed Iranian citizens of their most basic human rights in order to stay in power. The slightest criticism of the government is met with immediate arrest, unspeakable torture and even execution. Tens of thousands of men and women including juveniles as young as 12, were tortured and executed in the 1980s during the mass executions of political prisoners, which was the topic of a 145 page document by the prominent UN jurist; Mr. Geoffrey Robertson. Not only have these executions continued to this day, they have dramatically increased since an uprising in 2009. There is a systematic campaign underway by the Iranian regime to severely crumble civil society by targeting journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, women’s rights advocates, labor activists, religious minorities, homosexuals, and student protestors. In addition, authorities have restricted access to information by blocking websites, impairing internet, and jamming foreign satellite broadcasts. The regime has shown that it will stop at absolutely nothing in order to ensure staying in power. There are thousands upon thousands of well documented cases by various human rights organizations regarding the gross human rights violations of political dissidents in Iran. The UN appointed Special Rapporteur to Iran, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, presented a report on the worsening situation in Iran as recently as March 2012, yet authorities have so far refused to allow him access to the country.

We at CFFPI have chosen June 20th as the International day in support of political prisoners in Iran to highlight the Iranian Holocaust of political prisoners. We ask you to join us on this day in solidarity in 28 cities across the globe, to be their voice and say no to the barbaric Islamic Regime in Iran. Join us wherever you are, whoever you are in any way you can. Humanity needs your help.

Check our weblog for the list of participating cities>> 28 cities have joined

Sign our petition in support of Political Prisoners in Iran

Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI)

We can’t forget

I am off in the morning to attend Iran Tribunal, the International People’s Court being held this week in London to try the Islamic Republic of Iran for its crimes during the 1980s, the bloody decade. You can see the hearing live from 9.30am-5.30pm GMT here.

A good friend of mine, Mersedeh Ghaedi, whose two brothers and a sister-in-law were executed during this time and who herself spent 8 years in prison will be testifying. I’ll write more about her and what happened during this decade when I get back from the hearing.

Until then, let me leave you with this:

…They poured onto the streets and arrested anyone who did not look like a Muslim. If someone had salt and pepper in his/her pockets, they accused him/her of planning to throw it in the eyes of the Revolutionary Guards. They arrested anyone who had recited a poem, who was known to be a Socialist or supporter of women’s rights, anyone who was not veiled and anyone who looked Left wing and executed them that same night. Statistics, documents and witnesses proving these atrocities are ample. There will come a day when the people of Iran and the world will observe the trials of those who committed these crimes. On that day, the world will weep for the hundreds of thousands of victims of 20 June (30 Khordad 1360) and after and particularly 1988 (1367).

This was one of the greatest crimes of the 20th Century, comparable to Nazi Germany, the genocide in Indonesia and Rwanda, and much more brutal than what took place in Chile. It is one of the most important catastrophes and human tragedies of the 20th Century. They attacked, suppressed, killed and buried in unmarked graves, innumerable people. They massacred many of the best, the most passionate and progressive people in order to remain in power…

From June 20, 1981: One of the Greatest Crimes of the 20th century, Mansoor Hekmat

 

Why the ‘Ex’ in Ex-Muslims

The wonderful author, activist (and friend) Taslima Nasrin writes the following in her message to the Council of Ex-Muslims to mark its 5th anniversary:

I congratulate British ex-Muslims for their bravery. Even though I do not consider myself an ex-Muslim because I was never really a Muslim or a believer, I feel close to Maryam Namazie and the other members of the ex-Muslim organisation. Atheists who were Christians but became atheists later do not call themselves ex-Christians. Why should atheists who were Muslims or born in Muslim families but became atheists later be called ex-Muslims? We should not be identified separately from other atheists. Fighting Islamists and Islam is not only our responsibility; it is the responsibility of all sane people. We are all here to make the world a better place.

In principle,  I agree with Taslima and I’ve said as much many times.

But it is called ‘ex-Muslim’ in order to provoke and challenge not to separate and segregate.

You don’t need an ex-Christian organisation because former Christians are not killed for leaving Christianity (in the most part in this day and age at least). With Islam, it is a very different matter. Yes your religion or atheism is your business but not when you are killed for it. Then ‘coming out’ is a form of resistance and dissent.

This has nothing to do with creating yet another false and bogus identity. It’s all about taking a stand with others (the organisation is open to all atheists and agnostics) to demand a strict separation of religion from the state and the curtailment of religion’s role in the public space. But with a special focus on Islam because of what Islam and political Islam represent in our world today.

And of course opposing Islamism and defending secularism is not the task of ex-Muslims or even atheists alone. But that is why there are many other campaigns and activities like One Law for All and Equal Rights Now. Each plays its own role, has its own significance and pushes back religion and defends humanity in its own way.

I will leave it at that for now. I hope to explain this further in my talk at the 23 June lunch celebrating the 5th anniversary of the CEMB.

CEMB is an organisation that must be defended

Dear friend

You may have heard that Indonesian atheist Alex Aan has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for saying ‘There is no god’ on Facebook. The Council of Ex-Muslims condemns the sentence and demands that Alex be immediately and unconditionally released. He has done nothing wrong. Help us oppose his prison sentence and call for his release by writing letters of protest to the Indonesian authorities.

Alex is one of many.

Just recently, Maldivian blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed was brutally attacked because of his writings and Iranian-German rapper Shahin Najafi was given a death fatwa for rapping about Islam.

For the past 5 years, the Council of Ex-Muslims has played an important role in defending the right to free expression, including the right to criticise religion, whilst supporting ex-Muslims and challenging Islamism and apostasy laws. We’ve also defended the rights of Muslims and others to equality and citizenship rights via the One Law for All campaign we kick started in 2008.

A report by the Islamic regime of Iran confirms our significance by ‘exposing’ founder Maryam Namazie as being ‘noticeable’ for her ‘widespread activities against Islam and the Islamic Republic and in areas such as the defence of women’s rights and refugee rights’, and for being ‘in charge’ of those ‘who are effectively apostates’.

Clearly, the CEMB is an organisation that must be defended.

You can help support us by celebrating our fifth anniversary. Send messages to mark our fifth birthday to exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com. See other messages, including from Taslima Nasrin, Richard Dawkins and Mina Ahadi, here. Donate to help further our work and/or attend our luncheon at an Italian restaurant in London next Saturday 23 June 2012 from 13.00-16.00 hours. Book a place now and join renowned philosopher AC Grayling, writer Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, DV8 Physical Theatre Director Lloyd Newson, CEMB founder Maryam Namazie, magician Neil Edwards, singer and songwriter Shelley Segal and others. Once you’ve booked a place, you’ll receive further details.

To donate or purchase tickets, send a cheque made payable to CEMB to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX or pay via Paypal or Worldpay. Donations will help ensure the attendance of CEMB volunteers at the 23 June luncheon and help us continue our important work.

Thanks again for your support.

For more information, please contact: Maryam Namazie Spokesperson Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain BM Box 2387 London WC1N 3XX, UK Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731 exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com www.ex-muslim.org.uk

Islam hasn’t been tarnished; humanity has

30 year old atheist Alex Aan has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison and fined today, Thursday, for posting ‘there is no god’ on Facebook and being critical of Islam. He was found guilty of “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity” under the Electronic Information and Transactions law.

Aan had been indicted with two other charges — persuading others to embrace atheism and blasphemy — and prosecutors had sought a three-and-a-half-year jail term for him but the court dropped these two.

According to the judge, “What he did has caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam.”

FYI, Islam’s not a person; Alex Aan is.

What the Indonesian court and government have done is to tarnish humanity itself.

This is not the end of the story – just the beginning.

Alex has to be freed. He has done nothing wrong except express his views.

Write to the Indonesian authorities today and tell them to review the case and free him now. You can find contact details here.

 

(News via Rafiq Mahmood)

Defending Rasheed

Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed, a Maldivian blogger, journalist and free speech advocate, has been brutally attacked near his home on 4 June 2012. His throat was slit through the trachea and he survived only because a vital artery was missed by millimetres. He is recovering. Whilst police are still investigating, it is believed to be the work of Islamists.

Rasheed had previously been attacked and received a number of death threats. On 10 December 2011, his skull was fractured when he attended a rally for religious tolerance, which was attacked by Islamists. On 14 December, he was arrested and held for three weeks after members of the Adhaalath Party accused him of blasphemy. Rasheed reported that he faced mistreatment and degradation whilst in custody. Before his release, his detention was extended twice on the request of investigating officers in order that the Islamic Ministry might provide him with counselling to “bring him back to Islam”.

The Government of the Maldives has made no effort to arrest Rasheed’s attackers despite credible photographic evidence of the attack. Moreover, the Government has blocked his website on the order of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs on the grounds that the site contained anti-Islamic material. Rasheed has said he was being censored for expressing his version of Islam, and called for more freedom of interpretation within the faith. [Read more...]