Oppose Channel 4 and BBC’s censorship when it comes to Islam

cwtat2Dear Friend,

You may remember Lloyd Newson’s verbatim hit play ‘Can We Talk About This?’ which enjoyed a successful run at London’s National Theatre and Sydney Opera House amongst others. The play focused on the reluctance of media and political figures to openly discuss the dangers of Islamism and Sharia law.

Featuring speeches and interviews with leading figures from across the political and cultural spectrum, including One Law for All’s Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters, the play explored issues of freedom of speech, censorship and violence, as well as the impact of significant events such as the ‘Rushdie Affair’, the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh, and the Mohammed cartoons.

‘Can We Talk About This?’ received rave reviews around the world and won several high profile awards, including ‘Best Dance or Ballet’ (Helpmann Awards, Australia 2012) and dance ‘Production of the Year’ (Germany, 2011/12).

Channel 4 decided not to commission the play due to the ‘current climate’ even though Lloyd Newson’s last film, the Cost of Living, was commissioned for Channel 4 and won 17 international awards, including a Prix Italia and the coveted Rose D’or. Similarly the BBC, which had commissioned previous films from Newson, declined to film the play though they broadcast ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera’ (which featured Jesus Christ in a nappy). So much for the supposed ‘bravery’ of Channel 4 and the ‘impartiality’ of the BBC when it comes to Islam! [Read more…]

Amnesty International: You keep getting it wrong

bangladeshToday, there will be a demonstration against Amnesty International for its disproportionate support of the Islamist perpetrators of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. I am also vehemently opposed to the death penalty in all cases (it’s nothing short of state-sponsored murder), but Amnesty could do much more to support the victims and the demand for justice.

Of course, Amnesty seems to be getting it wrong quite a bit and for a while now.

The Centre for Secular Space recently issued a report outlining the organisation’s links with Islamism, and also highlighting the case of Gita Sahgal, once head of Amnesty’s Gender Unit who was suspended for criticising the organisation’s links to Cage Prisoners.

Just this month, one of Amnesty’s Board members even wrote a piece in defence of Sharia law! Amnesty keeps saying how impartial they are but somehow it ends up being partial towards Islamism.

I know Amnesty takes pride in being criticised from governments and non-state actors alike as an indication that they are doing something right but when the criticism keeps coming from those on the frontlines of human rights work, surely they need a rethink (and more than one apology).

Talk about losing one’s moral compass!

More information on today’s Ademonstration is below.

DEMONSTRATE AGAINST AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Support Bangladesh’s War victims not the perpetrators

For more information:
Iftekhar Muntakim: imuntakim@gmail.com Mob 07863 133593, Masud Rana: mr9.masud@gmail.com
Ajanta Deb Roy: ajanta_dream@yahoo.com Mob 07403 216980

This Thursday, 28th of February 2013, 3pm-5pm Bangladeshis living in London are going to gather in front of Amnesty International’s office to protest against the misinformed reports Amnesty International has been publishing regarding the war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh. [Read more…]

We can’t leave Islam? Watch us!

apostasyJANDMOI was at Birmingham University yesterday speaking on apostasy and freedom of conscience for the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society’s Reason Week. We had an excellent discussion. Of course, there had been complaints about my speaking there (yes it is very controversial to defend the rights of apostates not to die!). The Society was even asked to record my speech in case of further complaints. Here’s my speech, just in case they need it in writing too:

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions. Repudiating religion is deemed to be the worst of crimes.

And in Islam it’s no different except that Islamism is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

To the degree it has power, that is the degree it controls every single aspect of people lives and society via its Sharia laws – from what people wear, who they have sex with, what music they listen to – even what they are allowed to think.

One of the characteristics of an inquisition is the policing of thought. Freethinking and freedom of conscience are banned. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe we can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist. Off with your head…

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives. Of course people resist day in and day out but that is a testament to the human spirit despite Islamism and Sharia.

If you look at the purpose of the Sharia ‘justice’ system, it is there to teach the masses the damnable nature of dissent and free thought. Where it has power, like in Iran, there are 130 offences punishable by death – from heresy, blasphemy, enmity against god, adultery, and homosexuality. But apostasy is the highest and most heinous crime.

Around 19 countries consider apostasy from Islam illegal and a prosecutable offence. Depending on the influence of Islamism and Sharia law, in places like Malaysia, Morocco, Jordan and Oman punishments vary from fines, imprisonment, flogging and exclusion from civil or family rights. In ten countries apostasy is punishable by the death penalty.

And whilst there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates, apostasy laws today under the Islamic inquisition are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

Of course, from a religious standpoint, apostasy is the unravelling of the entire system from within by those considered to be “members” of the imagined Muslim community (often out of very little choice of their own). Question one law, one hadith, one sura in the Koran, and you begin to unravel it all. To question and dissent denies the Islamic inquisitor the opportunity to feign representation. And it prevents the submission that they demand. If you are allowed to leave, you undermine it all.

Historically apostasy laws have always been used as a form of control. It’s no different today. Islamists use it as a means of political control. After all they represent god’s rule on earth and any opposition to their rule, is a direct affront to God himself. [Read more…]

I am away for a week

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am away this week and won’t be blogging.

I’ll be at the below events the following week:

25 February 2013
Ex-Muslim apostate and refugee meet-up group from 11:30am-1:00pm. To RSVP and receive further details, email exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

February 26, 2013
Birmingham Reason Week
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. Arts Building LR7.

February 28, 2013
London Ex-Muslim Women’s Luncheon
The ex-Muslim women’s group will meet for lunch on 28 February from 1130am-1:30pm in central London. To RSVP, email exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

La lucha continua

Atheist blogger, 35 year old Ahmed Rajib known by his online identity Thaba Baba, had his head hacked apart with a machete one day after attending anti-Islamist protests in Bangladesh.

This is the usual Islamist response to any opposition: assassination, decapitation and sheer barbarity.

But nothing – not even the brutal murder of yet one more of our beloved – can intimidate the ever increasing rage.

The biggest protests Bangladesh has seen in decades against the country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and well-known war-criminal, Abdul Quader Mollah, and the female factor, are yet another example of how the new age of revolutions can bring an end to Islamist politics.

The death penalty even for the most vile amongst us is never the solution though.

After decades of Islamist politics of death, we must move to one that defends human life and rights.

La lucha continua… We will carry on the work of Ahmed Rajib…

Sharia Law: Extremism the Government Ignores

In her latest Huffington Post article, One Law for All Spokesperson Anne Marie Waters concludes:

One Law for All has repeatedly asked the government why it allows sharia councils, with their blatant disregard for human rights and democracy, to yield power in such important areas as family and criminal law; the government response? It doesn’t prevent people from living in accordance with culture and faith. I have yet to receive an answer as to the limits of what can be defined under these headings. Is child rape covered by “culture” and “faith”?

David Cameron once said that multiculturalism had failed – he has yet to prove that he means it. There is no better opportunity than this; he should shut down the sharia councils (or any other body that facilitates the rape of children and encourages violent misogyny) that his government currently defends in the name of culture, prosecute hate speech and incitement to murder, prosecute child marriage as rape, end cultural relativism and racist separatism once and for all….. and enforce One Law for All.

To read the full article, click here.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Pot. Kettle. Black.

ahmadinejadMahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused his political rivals of plotting to rig this summer’s presidential election in Iran.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Of course he should know as that’s how he got to be president.

But seriously, even his most ardent supporters, like George Galloway, know that elections in Iran are nothing but a farce.

For starters, the majority, including women, political opponents, atheists, socialists, and basically anyone on their “must die” list are ineligible to take part. The Guardian Council – a 12-member body – probe the candidates’ commitment to Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran and approve only the most die-hard supporters. Any candidate approved by this body is chosen because he is a most loyal servant and had proven his allegiance beyond a doubt. Candidates also have to be approved by the supreme spiritual leader Khamenei. And that’s just for starters. Add to this the absence of political freedoms, like freedom of speech or assembly or press; Sharia laws that make 130 offences punishable by death, including criticising the regime and its rulers; prisons and graves full of political dissidents… and you get the point.

The ‘candidates’ should be on ‘wanted’ not election posters. (You can read more about it in an interview with Hamid Taqvaee.)

Of course that doesn’t stop all these “analysts” and “commentators” from writing page upon page about the supposed “legacy” Ahmadinejad hopes to leave behind.

Err, x number of stonings, check.

x number of executions, check, check.

Cuts in subsidies and benefits, check, check, check…

And they do so miss the point. Anyone who has any knowledge of Iranian politics knows that the infighting and scraps within the factions of the regime is not because anyone is standing up to anyone else or trying to leave some sordid legacy behind but a reflection of the explosive situation in Iran. People despise this regime and are waiting for any chance to be rid of it. That is the only reason the election matters. It helps to provide people with a space to challenge the system.

As an aside, Ahmadinejad has declared “Viva Spring” as if he is an agent of change or as if the Arab Spring is a gain for his vile movement. In fact, his ‘election’ – like that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – is a gain for the establishment and an anti-revolutionary force not the other way round.

But he might not be so quick as to mention the Arab Spring next time round after the humiliating shoe attack.

Yes indeed, Viva Spring, and the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamism.

Council of Ex-Muslims: Updates and Reminders

ecmuslimlogo

Dear friend

I wanted to write a quick note updating you on the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, reminding you of some important events, and asking for some help.

March 14: International Day to Defend Blasphemers and Apostates

We will be organising another international day to defend blasphemers and apostates. On the day we will be publishing our report on the status of apostates internationally with Atheist Alliance International and highlighting a number of cases, such as that of Alex Aan, Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, Raif Badawi, Turki Al-Hamad and Hamza Kashgari.

Ex-Muslim groups in the USA and France

Waleed Al-Husseini, the Palestinian blogger and atheist who CEMB advocated on behalf when he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority in 2010 is now in Paris, France and is organising a Council of Ex-Muslims of France with our help. For those interested in joining or assisting in the establishment of the new organisation, click here.

Also, Muslimish, a group of US-based ex-Muslims and Muslims with questions about Islam, has regular meetings in NYC, Detroit and online and are launching new groups in Washington DC and Chicago. For more information, click here.

[Read more…]

Too outrageous even for the Saudi royal family

lamaPublic outrage over the rape, torture and murder of 5 year old Lama and the lenient sentence imposed on her Islamic cleric father has forced the Saudi royal family to intervene.

It is reported that they have been ‘stung’ by the public outrage and are blocking Al-Ghamdi’s release; he is to remain in prison for a very long time.

Saudi authorities have also set up a 24-hour hotline to take calls about child abuse.

Had it not been for the public outcry and the Ana Lama campaign, the despicable Al-Ghamdi would now be free.

Public pressure in support of child welfare and protection is crucial for any change. But no real change can come about whilst religious dogma and Sharia laws take precedence over children and their lives.

#AnaLama, #AnaLama, #AnaLama.

Sexual Harassment of Women is State Sponsored Say Egyptian Women

Today was a day of action against sexual terrorism in Egypt.

One Islamic cleric gave a fatwa justifying the sexual assaults saying women were going to the protests to get raped.

Nonetheless he and his Muslim Brothers have received their response by women on the streets of Egypt.

See the magnificent protest below:

Here are what some of them have said:

HAFIZ: Rights groups and activists are convinced the systematic attacks are products of state-sponsored repression.

LODNA DARWISH, ORGANIZER, OPANTISH: This is not the first time that the government uses sexual violence to intimidate men and women, especially women. We’ve been seeing, since Mubarak years until now, the government paying thugs—and it’s proven—to come and sexually harass women. They would come to the protest and not beat up women, just sexually harass them, undress them, drag them undressed—and everybody probably saw the video of the blue-bra girl who was stripped of her clothes and dragged on the streets. This was the army. And then there was the virginity test, the so-called virginity test, which was like a rape incident of the army again, forcing 18 women to go through virginity tests. So it’s a continuous pattern of sexual humiliation… [Read more…]

Double Bind

doublebindOn Monday 11 February 2013, I will be speaking at the Centre for Secular Space launch of its first publication, Double Bind: the Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights.

The event will be at 7pm at Toynbee Hall in East London.

Other speakers include Meredith Tax, Gita Sahgal, and Ansar Ahmed Ullah.

For more information or to register, contact: admin@centreforsecularspace.org.

UPDATE: I became really ill before the meeting and couldn’t go. Fariborz Pooya went in my place. He said it was an excellent meeting. Sorry I missed it. I’ll be posting my speech soon.

Islamic regime of Iran: Guilty as charged!

In his interview entitled June 20, 1981: One of the Greatest Crimes of the 20th Century, Mansoor Hekmat likened the Islamic movement’s suppression of the left-leaning Iranian revolution as “a violent coup d’état that succeeded as a result of widespread executions and murders”:

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).

Last year, I wrote about Iran Tribunal’s investigations into the Islamic regime of Iran’s mass executions and massacre of political prisoners in the 1980s.

The tribunal’s verdict has now been issued. Here it is.

Not surprisingly, the regime has been found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Guilty as charged!

Next step: Arrest them!

Chokri Belaid murdered in broad daylight

The anti-Islamist, Marxist, and secularist political figure Chokri Belaid was assassinated as he left his home in Tunis yesterday.

His brother accuses the leader of Ennahda, the Islamist ruling party, for his murder as do we. After all, terror and assassination are what they do best.

For those who keep saying that secularists are the same as Islamists, answer me this.

Why is it that the secularists are the ones who always end up dead? And how long shall they kill our leaders while we stand aside and look?

The outrage over his death may bring an end to Islamist politics in Tunisia and not a day too soon. As one report says:

If Belaid was a thorn in the side of the al-Nahda, the Salafis and the government during his life, he is likely to be a decisive nail in their coffin now that he is dead.

Long live Belaid!

As an aside, Ennahda means Renaissance. As Mansoor Hekmat said:

This Islamic ‘renaissance‘ is backed by violence and terror, which takes one form in Algeria and another in Iran.

And yes another in Tunisia.

Women in Public Life Awards

I was just informed that I have been shortlisted for the Journalist of the Year Award at the Dods Women in Public Life Awards. I’m really surprised (especially to be called a journalist!). Nonetheless I am delighted, particularly given some of the other women shortlisted like our young hero Malala Yousefzai who has been shortlisted for the International Women’s Rights Champion Award.

To see the shortlist for all awards, click here.

By the way, you can vote for a People’s Choice Award. I would suggest that you vote for our Malala; I just did. Get your vote for her in now. [UPDATE: It seems only parliamentarians can vote for the people’s choice awards.]

#WiPLA

A few things about Sharia and Islamism

Haven’t had time to write a blog post today but wanted to bring attention to a few things:

* Several Ahmadi Muslims have been arrested for publishing ‘blasphemous’ books about their faith. This is what happens when Islamist values are seen to be one and the same with Muslim values. Then a large number of Muslims are no longer ‘real Muslims’ and face threats, persecution and intimidation. Religion is a private matter; the sooner we can get rid of Islamism, the sooner people can believe in Islam or not without fear.

* Roy Brown from the International Humanist and Ethical Union just informed me that somebody tried to kill writer Lars Hedegaard in Denmark today. Roy received this news: “The guy rang his doorbell pretending to be the postman delivering a package. When Lars opened the door he tried to shoot him in his head, but missed. Lars went into a fight with him, managed to get the gun off him, the guy managed to get hold of the gun again and Lars went into a new fight with him while he tried to shoot again, but the gun didn’t go off. After this resistance the guy fled.” You might recall that Lars was previously fined for making insulting remarks about Islam. it is most likely the work of Islamists. Appalling that someone who has made some ‘insulting’ remarks must die but Lama’s father goes free! What an upside down world!

When I spoke in Denmark a while back, Lars and I disagreed on many a thing but one thing is certain: no-one must be threatened, intimidated, or censored for “insulting” Islam or religion… It’s a little thing called free expression.

*  By the way, the brilliant Nahla Mahmoud has written a piece on Sharia law here as a follow up to her Channel 4 piece on Sharia.

* When you get a chance, take a look at a movie on Sharia made by President of Free Muslims Toronto Chapter, Hassan Mahmud, here.

Ana Lama

Update: Sign a petition calling for justice for Lama here.

Cleric sheikh Fayhan Al Ghamdi, a regular on Islamic channels, was absolved and made to pay blood money (only half of what he would have had to pay had he killed a boy) for raping and torturing his five year old daughter Lama last October; he had custody of the child after he divorced from her mother though she begged him for Lama.

The absurdly lenient ruling is based on Saudi law that a father cannot be executed for murdering his children. It is also based on some Hadith sources (sayings and actions of Mohammad).

According to OnIslam:

As for fathers, the matter is different; a father cannot be executed for killing his child. This is because a father is the considered the origin of his child and the child is the branch; and the branch cannot be used to eliminate the origin.

It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No father should be killed (executed) for killing his son.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Having said this, it should be also pointed out that Imam Malik has a different opinion: if a father kills his son definitely on purpose without any doubt, he may be executed.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Three Saudi activists, including Manal al-Sharif from the SaudiWomen2Drive campaign, have raised objections to the ruling. They have started a Twitter campaign hashtag “Ana Lama” which is Arabic for “I am Lama”. The campaign must be unequivocally supported until there is justice for Lama.

Imprisoned Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari did say “No Saudi women will go to hell, because it’s impossible to go there twice”, but I do sometimes wonder whether hell isn’t better.

Please remember Lama next time someone tells you that matters of marriage, divorce, child custody, and females being worth half of males are ‘mundane’ family matters that can be relegated to Kangaroo Sharia courts.

I held my son a little closer when I picked him up from school today and wept for Lama and her mother who speaks below about what happened (in Arabic): [Read more…]

The day the music died

Did you hear about Pragash Band, an all girls rock band from Kashmir, which has had to stop singing after receiving a string of death and rape threats as well as a fatwa against them by the Grand Mufti for being “un-Islamic”, “immoral” and “for spreading obscenity”…

 

Just in case you haven’t quite understood the severity of the matter, the teenagers have had the gall to sing in public.

The Mufti has also called on women to veil and said that the reason sexual assaults are on the rise is because women are performing in public!?

Anyone who has ever lived under such Islamic rule knows it well. You’re not allowed to listen to music, sing in public, dance…

The day medieval Muftis and Islamists decide is the day the music dies.

Regardless, a large number of people, including the Chief minister, have come out in support of the girls.

As must we.

One Law for All statement on Jewish court

Below is One Law for All’s Statement on High Court Beth Din Case:

A High Court judge in London last week approved the decision of a Beth Din Council in New York.

The anonymous couple were in dispute over access to children and asked the High Court judge to agree to allow them to refer their case to the Beth Din Council in New York. In agreeing to allow this, the judge referred to a speech by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in which he described the adoption of sharia in family matters as “inevitable”.

Mr Justice Baker said: “The outcome was in keeping with English law, whilst achieved by a process rooted in Jewish culture to which the families belong.” He also stipulated that the husband must give his wife a Get – a Jewish divorce. The power to grant a Get is in the husband’s hands only and represents yet another example of anti-woman gender discrimination inherent in religious legal systems. Given that the power of divorce rests with the husband only, Mr Justice Baker should have recognised that this is not in keeping with English law – it is entirely discriminatory. [Read more…]

A new letter about Iran Stoning case and her imprisoned lawyer

Friday 1 February 2013 (Persian date: Bahman 13th 1391)

Today, the International Committee against Stoning received the following urgent appeal from Tabriz prison about Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and her lawyer Javid Houtan Kian who languish in the Iranian prison under severe security control.

“Here’s the notorious prison of Tabriz. I am taking a dangerous risk by writing this letter to the International Committee Against Stoning.
Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani who is convicted to death by stoning is kept in this prison along with her lawyer Houtan Kian. [Read more…]