I could have told you that

anti-Muslim Brotherhood banners during a demonstration in CairoYou must have seen the Muslim Brotherhood statement against a UN Commission declaration against violence against women?

The Brotherhood outlines a very, very long list of objections, including what it says is the granting of “girls their complete sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to choose their sex and the freedom to choose their sex partners.. with rising the age of marriage”; “equality between illegitimate… and legitimate sons in all rights”; “granting homosexuals all their rights”; granting “wives all the right to sue their husbands with charges of rape or harassment”; “equality in inheritance”; replacing “guardianship with partnership, and fully share the roles within the family between men and women”: “equal access to the marriage legislations such as: Stop polygamy, Iddah, mandate, and the dowry…”; withdrawing “the authority of divorce from husbands and authorize judiciary and share property after divorce”; and cancelling “the obligatory authorization of the husband in travel, work or going out or use contraception”…

Not surprisingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia and the Vatican concurred.

The Muslim Brotherhood adds that all these very basic rights “collide with the principles of Islam and its basic…  elements of Quran and Sunnah”.

Well I could have told you that (and have).

The MB says that these will also lead to the “dismantling” of society. In reality, any gain for women’s rights is a loss for them and will lead to the dismantling of their rule. And that is all they are really concerned about…

Of course women’s rights campaigners and organisations have given their unequivocal response. One such response says:

* Stop using justifications based on religion, culture, tradition or nationality to block the progress of laws at all levels, including in the sphere of international law… These justifications must be challenged. The violence they cause is unacceptable and cannot ever be condoned or tolerated.
* End the harmful use of religion, tradition, and culture to safeguard practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls.

You can read the full statement here. Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran is a signatory to it.

A life free from fear

487966_10200816960411702_37253189_nTo480936_458620344210168_1343746438_nday is the one year anniversary of a sit-in of Iranian asylum seekers in Wurtzburg, Germany which turned into a sort of tent city after the tragic suicide of Iranian asylum seeker Mohammad Rahsepar. That protest kick-started the refugee tent movement in Germany which has helped to highlight the horrendous plight of asylum seekers.

In Germany and elsewhere, people – women, men and children – are warehoused, receive very little support, have no right to work, and are dehumanised and criminalised all because they have dared to dream of another life free from hellish dictatorial regimes and theocracies.

Protests such as these help remind the public of the humanity of those seeking refuge. Asylum seekers are not some statistic but real people who are fighting to live a life free from fear.

Iran: Six worker activists arrested; Families stage protests for their release

iwfu-nominatedIn the past ten days, six worker activists have been arrested in the city of Sanandaj in the west of Iran, according to reports by the Free Union of Iranian Workers. The six jailed workers are:

• Vafa Ghaderi
• Seyed Khaled Hosseini
• Ali Azadi
• Behzad Farajollahi
• Hamed Mahmoud Nejad
• Sharif Saed Panah

The first five activists are all from the Co-ordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations, and were arrested on 7 March. Sharif Saed Panah is an executive member of the Free Union of Iranian Workers and an organiser of the 30,000-signature pay-rise campaign. He was arrested on 10 March. The activists are being held purely for their union activities.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, for the eighth day running, families of the jailed workers staged a protest outside the Intelligence Ministry, calling for the immediate release of their loved ones. They then marched towards the Provincial Governor’s office to continue their protests there. The families have vowed to continue their protests until all the jailed workers are released.

* * *

Free Them Now! calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the jailed workers and all political prisoners in Iran.
18 March 2013

____________________________________________________________________________________

Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran
Shahla Daneshfar (shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com)
Bahram Soroush (bahram.soroush@gmail.com)

http://free-them-now.blogspot.co.uk

Appeal to the authorities of Kurdistan to reverse the death penalty for Kouistane Sediq

ECPM and Iraqi Coalition Statement (1)Kouistane Sediq is at danger of being hanged in Iraq after being sentenced to death by the court of Kalar for murdering her husband. She is imprisoned in the jail of Salam in Sulaymaniyah and shares a cell with six other women also sentenced to death. Kouistane, a mother of four, has not been allowed to see her children once since her arrest in February 2012.

The situation of the death penalty in Iraqi Kurdistan is unclear as is the institutional reality in Northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government promulgates its own criminal laws and amendments to the Iraqi criminal law, and applies a moratorium on executions. The Iraqi federal government meanwhile continues to apply the death penalty. The crime Mrs. Kouistane Sediq is charged with took place on a territory, which the local and federal authorities are disputing the control of.

Although ultimately imprisoned in Sulaymaniyah, Kouistane Sediq, who receives no support from the Ministry of Human Rights in Iraq, is worried about the outcome of her conviction.

The Iraqi Coalition against the death penalty, which has been supporting her for several weeks, was able to visit her in her cell. At this meeting, Kouistane pleads her innocence:

“I feel freer here in prison. Before my arrest, I did not spend one day without being humiliated or abused by my husband. I filed eight complaints at the police station, each time I had to return home against my will. All my complaints are recorded at the police station. Once my husband pulled a gun in my father’s house, fortunately nobody was hit. My husband had many enemies, and me, I have supported him for more than ten years, how could I participate in his murder?”. [Read more...]

A few words on the new pope

jorge-bergoglio-papa-francisco-i (1)

Talking about similarities, there are clearly many between those who take on leadership positions in the church as in Islam.

It seems the more your hands are soaked in blood, the more likely you are to get a leading position.

It’s definitely like that in the Islamic regime of Iran. As it is in the Church.

By now, you have all seen allegations against this latest pope dating back to the Argentinian dictatorship era, when the Catholic church colluded with the generals to quell the “Marxist threat”.

Here’s one report on this:

The Argentinian newspaper Pagina 12 republished old documents on Sunday that suggest Jorge Bergoglio, as the pope was known until last week, was in contact with the military authorities about the insubordination of two of his priests and rumours that they had contact with leftwing guerrilla groups.

Father Orlando Yorio and Father Francisco Jalics were tortured and kept in a concentration camp for nearly six months in 1976, after they refused Bergoglio’s order to leave the slum where they were working. In that era, any priest who focused on the poor districts was under suspicion of collaborating with Marxist groups.

A foreign ministry memo from 1979 seems to suggest Bergoglio had passed on suspicions to the authorities, and connived behind the backs of the priests.

The typed note contains bullet points that explain why Jalics was denied a passport renewal application. He had fled to Germany following his release, and asked Bergoglio’s help to get a travel document.

It says Jalics had failed to obey the orders of his religious order (the Jesuits, then headed by Bergoglio), that he was suspected of contact with guerrillas and that he and Yorio had asked to leave the order after the head of the Jesuits ordered them to disband the missions in the slum.

A potentially damning note at the end of this document says: “This information was provided to Mr Orgoyen by Father Bergoglio, who signed the note with a special recommendation not to accept his request [for a passport].” It appears to prove that Bergoglio said one thing and did the opposite when it came to the request for help with the passport application, and felt put out by indiscipline in his religious order. (The Jesuits were founded by a general and operate on military lines in the fight for the church. For them, discipline is a priority.)

Of course I wouldn’t have expected anything less…

Yes I dare: On the EDL

Leslie Seavor has emailed me saying:

How dare you insult the EDL on Twitter! You know nothing about it or its members.

I’m a member. I’m not far right… Just keep your moronic prejudice to yourself.

edit-Tatchell-EDL-protest-300x195

Well yes, I dare.

There is ample evidence that the English Defence League (EDL) is a far-Right racist organisation. Even if some of its members are not (and if not what are they doing there?), that doesn’t change the politics and ethos of the EDL. It’s like telling me you’e a pro-woman Islamist. Well, good for you, but that doesn’t change the realities of the Islamic movement and it does raise the question of why you remain in and defend a misogynist movement. Clearly you must agree. [Read more...]

A few calls for help

arabahwazi-e1358711689740

Protest executions in Iran

Kamil Alboshoka, a human geography student at Kingston University has asked that I publicise his campaign to defend 5 Ahwazi Arabs facing execution in Iran, including members of his family and friends.  Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and his brother Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, and teachers Hashem Sha’bani Amouri, and Hadi Rashidi (or Rashedi) are charged with “enmity against god” and “corruption on earth”.  Here are details of where you can write your protest letters.

 

Write for Ex-Muslim Anthology

The wonderful Allat is putting together an anthology of personal stories of Ex-Muslims. Profits from the anthology will go to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

If you’re interested:

– Write your own story of how you came to leave Islam and what the consequences have been for you. It can be published under a pseudonym. All stories must be factual and based on one’s own life experiences.
– Your piece should be between 800-2000 words long (about 3-8 pages, double spaced).
– Stories of women, LGBTI people, former converts, and those still living Islamic-majority countries are encouraged, though all stories are welcome.
– She can help put together your story if you need help.
– Deadline for submitting your story is 31 May 2013.

If you know other ex-Muslims who would like to be part of this anthology, feel free to send them the text of this post and have them email her at allat@councilofexmuslims.com to propose their story.

Allat adds:

If you are planning to be part of this anthology, let me know as soon as you can. I will be keeping a tally of who’s going to be in it so I can plan the structure of the book. Please do NOT wait till May to let me know if you’ll be part of it.

This is a great opportunity if you have a story to tell the world about your apostasy and its effects on your life, and you don’t want to have to write your own book. It’s also a great way for all of us to give back to the CEMB as any and all proceeds will be going towards this organization.

One point to remember: this is to include Ex-Muslim ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, DEISTS, PANTHEISTS, HUMANISTS etc. I am not looking for Ex-Muslim Christians as there are already some books on the market about them. This book will be promoted within Atheist/Skeptic communities.


Participate in survey on atheists

There is only one week left to participate in a survey unique to atheists and other non-religious people. The survey intends to understand your experiences as an atheist, including your involvement (if any) with secular organizations and your perceptions of discrimination and prejudice (if any) against you as an atheist. To participate in this survey, or to learn more about this study, click here.

A lesson on sex-segregation with more work to be done

UPDATE: Peter Tatchell just sent information on Islamists being blocked from meeting at East London University after protests; their meeting was meant to be segregated too. Read more here.

gender_segregationI had earlier reported on the sex segregation scandal at University College London (UCL)  during a March 9 debate between atheist Lawrence Krauss and Islamist Hamza Andreas Tzortzis organised by the Islamic Education & Research Academy (a nice sounding front for Islamism).

UCL did quickly concede that sex segregation was contrary to its policies and banned IERA from holding future meetings on its premises.

This is in and of itself an important gain for those who are opposed to sex apartheid given that  segregation of the sexes has happened at UCL before and that segregation at UCL is not an exception as reported by Student Rights.

In discussing the scandal, Lorraine Harding, a retired social policy academic, mentioned that even the police had been segregated at a meeting she attended in Bradford. She wrote on my Facebook page:  “I went to an Islamic Society debate at Bradford University where gender segregation was enforced – even on the police officers present! – by young men. I complained to both the University and the Union but had no response.”

What’s clear as daylight – to me at least – is this: had the two male students not made a fuss about the segregation, the meeting would most likely have gone ahead as planned. It’s a lesson in how even one or two students can challenge Islamists on campus even when the University is complicit. And UCL is no exception. Whilst they have come out with a statement opposing sex segregation, there are still many questions about their complicity in this whole affair, namely via staff members (Dr Aisha Rahman and security staff) who enforced the segregation on the day. You can read more about it in a new statement issued by concerned students below:

The following is a statement from concerned students

Despite denial, UCL staff found to have actively enforced gender segregation.

Following the events of March 9th, UCL has denied that its members of staff were allowing the enforced gender segregation on attendees, and issued a statement that alleged that UCL had responded appropriately to warnings from student, putting measures in place that only failed to protect students because the organiser iERA acted in counter of them (see annex). New evidence has now emerged that UCL has neglected its duty of care towards students to an unprecedented amount, with UCL staff not only tolerating, but also actively enforcing gender segregation.

An individual who identified herself as “Dr Aisha Rahman”, who claimed that she was “teaching at UCL Chemistry” and that she had “booked the room on behalf of UCL Chemistry”, said the segregation had been agreed with the university and repeatedly refused two students, Christopher Roche and Adam Barnett access to the venue unless they complied with the segregated seating plan. [Read more...]

Breaking the Taboo of Atheism in Black Communities

120607-leo-igweLeo Igwe, Nigeria’s most prominent human rights activist particularly well known for his work against superstition and witchcraft will be giving a ground-breaking talk on ‘Breaking the Taboo of Atheism in Black Communities’ at a talk organised by London Black Atheists. Here are details if you can make it:

Date: Monday 25th March
Time: 6.30pm
Cost £5 / £3 unwaged/students
Venue: The Attic, Hackney Picture House
270 Mare Street
London
E8 1HE

That day has now come and gone

irantribunalFollowing a ruling from The Hague in February 2013, where the Islamic Republic of Iran was charged with crimes against humanity for its gross violations of human rights during 1980-1988, Iran Tribunal is holding a meeting in London today at 3pm with witnesses, victims and survivors to raise public awareness and bolster public support for justice.

I have previously reported on this and mentioned an interview with Mansoor Hekmat entitled June 20, 1981: One of the Greatest Crimes of the 20th Century where he 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).

That day has now come and gone.

All that remains is for those responsible to be arrested and for this despicable regime to be overthrown.

The tribunal’s verdict can be read here.

You can watch today’s meeting here.

International day of action to defend apostates and blasphemers a success

More than three hundred individuals and organisations called for an international day of action on 14 March to defend those accused of apostasy and blasphemy. Blasphemy laws in over 30 countries and apostasy laws in over 20 aim primarily to restrict thought, expression and the rights of Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Countless women, men and children face threats, imprisonment, and execution as a result.

Individuals calling for the day included Iranian Campaigners Mina Ahadi and Maryam Namazie, Lebanese writer and actress Darina al Joundi, Algerian author Djemila Benhabib, Scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, Moroccan atheist Imad Iddine Habib, Algerian Secularist Marieme Helie Lucas, Iraqi Kurd women’s rights activist Houzan Mahmoud, Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, Iranian/German author Siba Shakib and writer Ibn Warraq amongst others. Organisations included Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Polish Rationalist Society, and The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. The final list of signatories can be found here.

Thousands more defended apostates and blasphemers via acts of solidarity and social media, Tweeted, sent letters of protest, or issued statements and messages of support. Petitions in defence of the ten highlighted cases saw a surge in signatures.

Various acts of solidarity took place throughout the day, including the following:

Victoria Gugenheim, World Award Winning Bodypainter, has painted herself to mark today:

Burka2_web_release_with_blood_tear

Burka1_desaturated copy [Read more...]

Neither Allah nor Master

NadiaElfani

Very often apostasy and blasphemy cases that are highlighted are of men though there are some well known atheist women from the Middle East and North Africa who have courageously challenged Islamism and defended secularism.

Everyone knows a few (very few) of them – like Taslima Nasreen, Mina Ahadi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

But there are some you may not know but must.

On the International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers I think it apt to mention Tunisian film-maker and activist Nadia El Fani. Her recent film “Ni Allah ni Maître” (Neither Allah nor Master) focuses on secularism in that country.

As a result of the film and her having openly declared her atheism, she has faced horrendous abuse and threats.

You can read more about her here.

There is a petition supporting her against Islamist threats here.

 

Apostasy and Blasphemy are our Right!

Final Updated: 15 March 22:30 hours

In less than 48 hours, more than three hundred individuals and organisations signed up to the call for action to defend apostates and blasphemers. Individuals included Iranian Campaigner Mina Ahadi, Lebanese writer and actress Darina al Joundi, Algerian author Djemila Benhabib, Scientists Richard Dawkins and Laurence Krauss, Moroccan atheist Imad Iddine Habib, Algerian Secularist Marieme Helie Lucas, Iraqi Kurd women’s rights activist Houzan Mahmoud, Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, Iranian/German author Siba Shakib and writer Ibn Warraq amongst others. Supporting organisations include Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Polish Rationalist Society, and The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. The updated list of signatories can be found here.

Thousands more distributed the call via social media, Tweeted, and issued statements and messages of support. Petitions in defence of the ten highlighted cases saw a surge in signatures. Various acts of solidarity took place throughout the day, including the following: [Read more...]

The good God of wrath, death, and fatwa

Tomorrow is the International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers. On 14 March, take a few minutes if not more to do something, anything, to highlight the issue and defend the women, men and children facing threats, intimidation and execution.

It could be art, a short piece of writing, a quote, a photo, a cartoon, an act of solidarity, a song, a Tweet, signing a petition…

On the eve of this important day, here’s a favourite of mine [English lyrics below] by Shahin Najafi, one of the cases that is being highlighted on the day. It’s a little bit of blasphemy and apostasy all in one…

A severed head in between your hands
my eyes on the broken clock
And sad and rebellious poems
and the wolf, unafraid of the gun
On my doubts of the origin of existence,
on choking loneliness when drunk
And longing and inhaling you,
and the depth of the tragedy not seeing you
The artery destined to blockage,
and your crime, a scream against the wind
The end of the story is always a bitter one,
and the poet whose conviction is apostasy
The good God sleeping in my book,
the dried semen on my bed
The good God of wrath, death, and fatwa,
and my cries over Yaghma’s poetry
Let me be like a cactus
Stay with me who has read poetry,
next to you, with covenant with the desert,
that our code is to die standing up
that our code is to die standing up
Tell them, our Hadith was a Hadith of blood,
contempt, born out of insanity
Tell them, how I did not give in
Tell them, how I died standing up
The good God sleeping in my book,
the dried semen on my bed
The good God of wrath, death, and fatwa,
and my cries over Yaghma’s poetry
Let me be like a cactus
Stay with me who has read poetry,
next to you, with covenant with desert,
that our code is to die standing up
that our code is to die standing up

14 March 2013: International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers

IDDABLOGOSMALLCountless individuals accused of apostasy and blasphemy face threats, imprisonment, and execution. Blasphemy laws in over 30 countries and apostasy laws in over 20 aim primarily to restrict thought, expression and the rights of Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

On 14 March 2013, we, the undersigned, call for an international day of action to defend apostates and blasphemers worldwide by highlighting ten cases though there are countless more. [Read more...]

Don’t worry, Chavez will return!

Chavez-Drawn-By-Ahmadinejad-by-Mana-Neyestani Those mourning Chavez shouldn’t worry. According to Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chavez is a martyr who will return with the hidden imam.

In case you don’t know, the hidden imam never died; he’s hiding and will return to “bring peace and justice to the world”. Yes, really!

Most importantly, when he returns, he will be able to bring a couple of people back with him and according to Ahmadinejad one of them is Chavez!

Ah bless.

This may be why George Galloway, Ken Livingstone et al have sided with the despicable regime and Ahmadinejad rather than the protesting people of Iran?

Well at least now you have a rational explanation for it all…

(photo via Mina Ahadi)

Islamist group banned from UCL for gender apartheid

Earlier I reported on how the Islamic Education and Research Academy, an Islamist front, had segregated women and men at a March 9 debate on Islam and Atheism.

I also posted a statement by students who were there about the scandal and a statement by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

After receiving complaints about sex apartheid on its campus, UCL has banned the organisation from holding events on its premises.

Well done to the UCL for standing up for gender equality!

What remains is for other universities where these misogynists are speaking to follow suit…

(Via Chris Moos)

Institutional incompetence or moral cowardice?

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was horrified to learn of sex segregation at an Islamist-organised event in University College London last weekend.

Whilst the behaviour of the organisers is wholly predictable (it has since come to light that UCL were repeatedly informed of their intention to segregate the audience beforehand), the university’s failure to uphold such a fundamental principle of equality as non-segregation is staggering.

UCL was the first university in England to be founded on an entirely secular basis and to treat women and men equally in admissions. At this point in time it is unclear whether the university’s complicity in enforcing a gender segregation policy was the result of institutional incompetence or moral cowardice. Regardless, UCL must realise that their reputation as pioneers of equality in academia now risks being reduced to tatters unless action is taken immediately to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.

For more information, contact:
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com
web: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/

Sexual segregation at a UCL event is a scandal

I posted earlier about the sex segregation scandal at UCL.

Here’s a statement by concerned students on the matter (updated with a quote from a woman student):

A policy of sexual segregation was enforced at an event at University College London on Saturday, with the organisers’ security trying to physically remove members of the audience who would not comply.

Seating at the event was segregated between men and women, with a small ‘mixed’ space allocated for couples.

Separate entrances were in place for women and men, although ‘couples’ were allowed to enter via the men’s door. Male attendees were refused entry via the women’s door.

The event “Islam vs Atheism” on Saturday 9th was organised by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), and pitted writer Hamza Tzortzis against Professor Laurence Krauss in a debate.

A policy of segregation was suggested by IERA in a statement before the event, which said: “As for seating, it is according to when the ticket was booked and gender.” This was raised by students with UCL, who gave assurances that no segregation would be allowed.

Fiona McClement, UCL equalities and diversities adviser, said on 8th March: “We have been in contact with the event organisers and made it clear that UCL will not permit enforced gender segregated seating. All attendees are free to sit wherever they feel comfortable.” [Read more...]