I’m in Leeds today

I will be speaking at ‘Engage: Leeds Speakers Forum’ on 31 January 2013 at the University of Leeds in the Maurice Keyworth building G.31 from 1730-1900 hours on Islam in Public Policy: A look at Sharia courts in Britain, multiculturalism and gender inequality. For more information, email fergus-simpson@hotmail.co.uk. There is no need to register for the event.

Hope to see some of you there.

Saturday 26 January: Actions in support of jailed workers in Iran

با تمام قوا در دفاع از کارگران زندانی

لندن (انگلیس)
شنبه ٢٦ ژانویه، ساعت ٢ تا ٤ بعدازظهر
محل: میدان ترافالگار، ضلع شمالی مقابل ناشنال گالری
تلفن تماس: ٠٧٧١٢٨١٠٦٧٥

In solidarity with jailed workers in Iran
London, Saturday 26th January, 2-4pm, Trafalgar Square, North Terrace
(opposite the National Gallery)

 Cologne, Germany کلن (آلمان):
شنبه ٢٦ ژانویه ساعت ٣ تا ٥ بعدازظهر
محل: ميدان دوم پلاته مركز شهر كلن Dom Pallate
تلفن تماس: ٠١٦٣٥٥٩١٥١٩

 Frankfurt, Germany فرانکفورت: [Read more…]

Where I’ll be in the next few weeks

I’ll be at the below events over the next few weeks:

28 January 2013
London, UK
There will be an ex-Muslim women’s coffee morning in January from 11:30-1:00pm and an apostate asylum seekers meet-up from 1:30-3:00pm. To RSVP, email exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

31 January 2013
Leeds, UK
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at ‘Engage: Leeds Speakers Forum’ on 31 January 2013 at 17.15 at the University of Leeds in the Maurice Keyworth building G.31. Her talk will be: Islam in Public Policy: A look at Sharia courts in Britain, multiculturalism and gender inequality. For more information, email fergus-simpson@hotmail.co.uk. There is no need to register for the event.

11 February 2013
London, UK
On February 11th, at 7pm at Toynbee Hall in East London, the Centre for Secular Space launches its first publication, Double Bind: the Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights by Meredith Tax. Speakers at the event include Meredith Tax, Gita Sahgal, Maryam Namazie and Ansar Ahmed Ullah. For more information, contact: admin@centreforsecularspace.org.

26 February 2013
Birmingham, UK
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at Birmingham University Reason Week on 26 February hosted by the Atheist, Secular and Humanist Society on Apostasy and Freedom of Conscience from 1900-2030 hours. Room details to follow.

No place for Sharia

Sudanese atheist and ex-Muslim, Nahla Mahmoud, speaks her mind against Sharia law on channel 4Thought TV and says that Sharia has no place in Britain or the world and that there must be one secular law for all.

The only other sane voice amongst the seven interviewed on “what Sharia can offer Britain” is that of gay Muslim Omar Kuddus. [The third opponent is a Christian evangelist but we’ll ignore his as I am only speaking of sane voices here.]

The other 4 are pro-Sharia and completely insane.

Abu Usamah says Islam will dominate the world and that we need to appreciate Sharia and go beyond stoning of adulterers and cutting off of hands…

Ali-Ridha Jaffer adds that whilst people might say Sharia is barbaric, it works (!)

Amra Bone, the only female member of the Sharia Council (who can’t even make a decision on her own without male Sharia judges), says it protects women.

And there is the fourth proponent who likes the fact that under Sharia the family can decide on retribution in murder cases or get blood money…

Err, long live 21st century values?

You can see all the interviews here.

Muslim patrols: what about the others?

Two men have been arrested in connection with YouTube videos in which members of a group calling themselves “Muslim Patrol” [or rather Islamist patrols] confront members of the public, harass women and shout homophobic abuse at a young man.

That’s all well and good but here’s my question.

This type of harassment and abuse (at best) is meted out day in and day out against “Muslims” who are “improperly dressed”, who are gay, who are ex-Muslim, who are dissenters, who question or criticise Sharia law….

But there are never any arrests of officials from far-Right Islamic organisations and Sharia judges and courts…

In fact outsourcing social control to religious organisations is encouraged by the British government .

This time, it all went horribly wrong only because they targeted non-Muslims.

As the spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain says in opposing the “Muslim Patrols”  – all their threats and intimidations – applies only to Muslims.

Then, as we have heard countless times, Islamist bigotry, discrimination and violence must be “respected” no matter how many are abused, threatened, intimidated, or who refuse and resist.

Talk about different standards and rights for different people…

You can see the video here.


International Online event protests hereditary religion

Parents worldwide routinely commit their children to religious organizations to be groomed as members of the faith. Though the practice is widely accepted, a growing number of people around the world believe the practice violates the children’s human rights. In order to voice this concern, the second annual Day of Protest Against Hereditary Religion is scheduled for January 20, 2013.

Some children suffer emotional harm from their confrontation with fearful dogma and superstition at an early age. Although civil libertarians have long objected to this practice, clergy in most faiths argue that a child is always free to chose a different faith when they reach their majority—usually 18 years of age—and leave the family home. The protest organizers feel this argument is disingenuous because every effort is made during the child’s formative years to insure they will never leave the faith, including the inculcation of fear and the threat of ostracizing by family and community. [Read more…]

I Insist

In a letter, Iranian political prisoner Behnam Ebrahimzadeh insists on being released to see his severely sick child stricken with cancer in hospital. Nine other political prisoners have also written a statement calling for pressure to be exerted on the Islamic regime in Iran to release Behnam.

See both letters below:

Letter from Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Political Prisoner, Ward 35, Evin Prison
January 2013

I was putting up with the prison pain, but suddenly I was stricken with grief.

I don’t know when it was, maybe eight to nine days ago, when I heard that my only child, my 13-year old Nima, already overcome by the pain of separation from his father and all kinds of deprivation, has been admitted to Mahak Hospital, a hospital for children with cancer; a bitter experience and a shocking moment, which have pierced deep into my soul.

I don’t know about the condition of my darling child. My wife doesn’t clearly tell me, but she hopes that I would soon be given leave to come and see them. I have therefore asked for leave, which if granted would certainly have a great impact on me and my sick child. This is the only moment in the life of a father, which he doesn’t want to lose under any circumstances. So, thanks to my friends, I have come up with a property surety, and like in the past when I have asked for things, I have been given a favourable answer. But maybe this time too it will turn out to be just words.

Under these circumstances, with thousands of thoughts in my mind about my son Nima, remembering the empty promises of those in charge has turned my suffering into an excruciating pain. I have to be at the side of my sick child. This is my right. I am a political prisoner, whose anguish over his son’s illness has made everything look dark. There are several courses of action open to me, one of which is to go on a dry hunger strike. Maybe I’ll get an answer that way.

I want to choose patience and endurance, while resisting and putting pressure; however, anything can happen. First, deprivation from food, leave, proper visits, telephone, medical care, etc., and now deprivation from the right to be at the side of my sick child is what is going to break me down.

I insist on my demand for leave to visit my child; at the same time, I appeal to everyone to support the rights of my child and to help his recovery. Who would have thought that someone who for years has fought for children’s and workers’ rights, would one day be in prison for his beliefs and defence of children, and then hear that groups of compassionate people, friends and comrades are visiting his sick child, but he himself isn’t able to stroke the feverish head of his child?

I will defy and resist, as I have done up to now, but who is answerable for all this injustice and suffering? Who is responsible for the condition that my child Nima is in? [Read more…]

Free Al-Baz now!

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is outraged to learn about the arrest of Egyptian blogger and atheist Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al-Baz (also known as Ben Baz) in Kuwait for merely exercising his right to free expression, conscience and belief. He has been arrested since 2 January 2013 and charged with blasphemy. There will be a hearing on his case on 28 February 2013.

Al-Baz is in real danger. In May 2012, the Kuwaiti parliament passed new amendments to allow for cruel and inhuman penalties, including long-term imprisonment and death, for blasphemy. Only recently, a man was sentenced to ten years in prison for Twitter blasphemy.

The CEMB condemns the Kuwaiti government’s imprisonment of Al-Baz and calls on the government to immediately and unconditionally release him and all those being held on blasphemy charges. [Read more…]

People of Marivan, Iran, stage a general strike against death sentences

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The people of Marivan, in the Kurdistan province in western Iran, have today staged a general strike to protest the death sentences against Zanyar and Loghman Moradi. The strike comes following a call for strike by the International Committee against Execution (ICAE) and the families of the Moradis and a worldwide campaign to stop the imminent execution of the two activists.

Zanyar and Loghman are two young cousins whose death sentences for alleged membership in opposition political organisations has been confirmed by the Islamic Republic’s judicial authorities.

According to our reports from Marivan, the city has ground to a halt, with shops closed in many parts. The strike call was for 3pm to 5pm local time, and despite the threats and intimidation by the regime’s security forces, the strike has gone ahead. All the main downtown streets and districts such as Jomhuri, Shahrak e San’ati, Resalat Boulevard, Jahad Square and the commercial centres and bazaars have shut down. [Read more…]

Labour leader Reza Shahabi on five-day medical leave from jail

Campaign for his release continues!

Imprisoned labour leader Reza Shahabi who has been on hunger strike for three weeks in protest against his imprisonment and maltreatment was on Monday released on a five-day medical leave. The brief release has come under the pressure of powerful protests in Iran and worldwide.

Reza Shahabi, an executive board member of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs United Bus Company, has been jailed for his part in the great bus workers’ strike in 2006 and in building the bus workers’ union. In April 2012, having already spent 22 months in jail, Shahabi was sentenced to six years in prison and banned from union activity for a further five years.

Shahabi began a hunger strike on 17 December in protest against his continued imprisonment, lack of medical care, and abuse and maltreatment by the prison guards. According to his wife, Robabeh Rezaee, he has already lost about 15kg and is suffering from back and neck pain and high blood pressure. [Read more…]

List of protests against Execution of Zanyar and Loghman Moradi

Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, two young men, face imminent execution in Iran on trumped up charges of “enmity against god” and “corruption on earth”.

Zanyar asks: “Is the world so cruel as to stand by and watch [our] public execution and say and do nothing?”.
Please say and do something now…

Join below protests in your cities of residence, organise or carry out acts of solidarity., Tweet #FreeMoradis.  Stop the execution of political prisoners in #Iran, #Zanyar & #Loghman #Moradi. Sign petitions here or here. Join Facebook pages supporting them here or here and send protest letters here. Join “I would be execution in Iran if I did this” on Facebook.

Here is a list of protests being held on 11 and 12 January 2013:
Updated 11 January
ليست آکسیون های در خارج کشور در اعتراض به حکم اعدام زانيار و لقمان مرادي

فراخوان به گردهمايي جهاني در همبستگي با کمپين جهاني

دورتموند ( آلمان) Dortmund (Germany)

12 January 1-2pm شنبه ۱۲ ژانویه ۲۰۱۳، از ساعت ۱۳ تا ۱۴ بعد از ظهر

روبروی کلیسا راینولدی در مرکز شهر دورتموند Across Reinoldi Church

حامیان مادران پارک لاله – مادران صلح دورتموند


آنکارا ( ترکيه Ankara, Turkey
آنکارا، کیزیلای ykmمقابل ساعت 14
از طرف ایرانیان ساکن شهر آنکا

فرانکفورت (آلمان): Frankfurt (Germany)
جمعه ١١ ژانویه ساعت ٢ بعدازظهر 11 January from 2pm
مکان: مقابل کنسولگري جمهوري اسلامي Across from the Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Frankfurt Dornbusch Raimund St. 100

کلن (آلمان): Cologne (Germany)
شنبه ۱۲ ژانويه، ساعت ٢ بعدازظهر 12 January from 2pm
مکان: مقابل کلیساي مرکزي شهر (دم پلاته) Across from Domplatz
فراخوان دهندگان: جمعيت دفاع از زندانيان سياسي ايران- کلن با پشتيباني جوانان و دانشجويان موج سبز کلن
کميته بين المللي عليه اعدام [Read more…]

I dreamed that god would be forgiving


“I despair thinking of death; I do not want to be buried with my dreams.”

This is 21 year old Zanyar Moradi’s plea in a letter distributed by the International Committee against Execution.

He awaits imminent execution along with his cousin Loghman Moradi. Both have been sentenced to death by the Islamic regime of Iran for “enmity against god” and “corruption on earth”.

His plea reminds me of the song from Les Miserables:

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
And hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that god would be forgiving
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed a dream I dreamed…

Zanyar asks: “Is the world so cruel as to stand by and watch [our] public execution and say and do nothing?”.

Please say and do something now…


Join an international day of action on 11 January to protest the impending execution. Protests in various cities can be found here. You could also carry out your own act of solidarity, write letters of protest, Tweet #FreeMoradis.  Stop the execution of political prisoners in #Iran, #Zanyar & #Loghman #Moradi.

Sign a petition here or here. Join Facebook pages supporting them here or here and send protest letters here.

We need your urgent support in 2013

Dear friend

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year!

In the past year, in which we celebrated our 5th anniversary, we continued to challenge religious identity politics and Islamism, defend free expression of Muslims and Ex-Muslims alike, oppose blasphemy and apostasy laws, raise awareness, support thousands of ex-Muslims here and abroad, as well as create a new “home” for the many left without a social network after renouncing Islam via our web-forum, social gatherings and events.

In the coming year, we plan to do much more with your help.

As a matter of urgency we ask that you start the year by intervening on behalf of a number of urgent cases, including that of Zanyar and Loghman Moradi who face imminent execution in Iran for “enmity against god” and “corruption on earth”; Raif Badawi, Turki Al-Hamad and Hamza Kashgari who face blasphemy and apostasy charges in Saudi Arabia; and Alex Aan who remains in prison in Indonesia for “tarnishing Islam”.

In 2013, we will step up our support of ex-Muslims, free expression and secularism, encourage the establishment of more ex-Muslim groups and meet-ups such as the one recently established in the North, publish a report on the status of apostates internationally, organise a poster campaign, and raise awareness. [Read more…]

Protest against sexual violence in India

Join today’s protest organised by Southall Black Sisters against sexual violence in India
7th January 2013, 4-7pm
outside the Indian High Commission, London WC2B 4NA

Dear all,

We have all been shocked by the recent case of a young woman who was gang raped by a group of six men on a bus in Delhi. When she was taken to hospital, the doctor found ” that a rod was inserted into her and it was pulled out with so much force that the act brought out her intestines along. That is probably the only thing that explains such severe damage to her intestines.” She tragically died on 29th December 2012 in a hospital in Singapore.

Shocking as it is, this is only one of many acts of horrific sexual violence that take place every where and every day in India. The world’s largest democracy was named the worst country in the G20 countries for violence against women (after Saudi Arabia) in the recent Trust Law/Reuters Survey. This is the heart of darkness in ‘India shining’. By drawing world wide attention to this horror and solidarity for Indian women, we hope to shame the Indian government into acting now by making public spaces safe for women, starting with implementing the laws and bringing the perpetrators to justice. [Read more…]