Sex segregation not miscommunication

On March 9, the Islamic Education & Research Academy (a nice sounding front for Islamism) organised a “debate” at the University College in London between atheist Lawrence Krauss and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis entitled “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” I guess that’s what they call it when they don’t have political power.

Just in case you don’t know about IERA, here’s more information. I’ve also written a post about them in the past, aptly titled: “For those who don’t know the difference between a Muslim and an Islamist“.

Despite sex-apartheid and segregation of the sexes at the event, the debate shockingly went ahead. I was returning from an 8th March conference in Germany. Had I been there, I would have been arrested before I would have allowed the debate to go ahead.

For all those who stayed on as if it was business as usual: you remind me of those who sat through “debates” with racists at racially segregated events. How utterly shameful.

Lawrence Krauss has Tweeted: “Met with IERA people today, who told me there was no intent to have enforced gender segregation. Problem was communication to and from staff.” IERA lies. Sex apartheid and misogyny is a pillar of their existence. It does make me wonder when people will stop believing their propaganda and instead side with human principles and equality?

By the way, here is a letter written by Chris Moos to UCL about the event:

I am writing to inform you that I was shocked about the manner in which the event was carried out yesterday.

1) The organisers clearly and repeatedly violated UCL’s Equality and Diversity policy. Not only did they enforce gender segregation, but five security guards of the organiser intimidated and attempted to physically remove audience members who refused to comply, falsely claiming that these attendees had been disruptive. Both male and female audience members felt intimidated by the actions of the organiser’s security guards.

Only after Professor Krauss threatened trice to leave the debate if the organisers should continue to enforce gender segregation (follow this link), the organisers cleared one row of the women’s area and allowed the male attendees to sit there, thereby maintaining forced gender segregation. Notably, the women who were sitting in that row were not asked by the security guards whether they would feel comfortable with a man sitting next to them, or whether they would be willing to move. Forced gender segregation was thus maintained. [Read more…]

Impossible not to see

01-8marsFrankfurt (2)Below is my speech at the wonderful International Women’s Day event in Frankfurt.

• 15 year old Malala Yousefzai shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ education.
• Egyptian atheist Aliaa Magda ElMahdy’s nude scream against misogyny and hypocrisy.
• The outrage over the assassination of socialist leader Chokri Belaid in Tunisia.
• The “Harlem Shake” in Egypt in front of the Muslim brotherhood headquarters.

Even if you’re not looking, it is becoming impossible not to see the immense and modern resistance and dissent taking place day in and day out – even in the darkest corners of the globe.

It’s a new period of human development after decades of Islamic terrorism, US-led militarism, unbridled free market reign, cultural relativism and the retreat of all things universal.

Much of it is based on the actual occupation of public spaces – citizens taking back control. Content-wise, its demands are deeply rooted in a criticism of the current economic crisis, capitalism, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty as well as dictatorship and Islamism.

The high visibility and presence of women in the resistance is a hallmark of this era. A “female” revolution which contradicts and finally brings to an end the racist cultural relativism and multi-culturalism where people are boxed into imagined homogenous ‘communities’ and where dictatorship and Islamism are forever deemed to be part of people’s ‘culture’.

Labelling the Arab spring a winter does a disservice to this resistance, denies its very existence by only focusing on Islamism and oppressive forces, and hinders the expression of solidarity and support that is crucial in any fight of this nature.

The foot soldiers of the revolutions have been workers, the unemployed, youth, women, the poor… Islamists didn’t spearhead the revolutions nor have they been instrumental in them. They were nowhere to be seen. And the revolutions’ demands were not Islamist ones.

After all, Islamism has certain characteristics – such as the demand for Sharia law or veiling, which were not people’s demands when they took to the streets.

Any gain for Islamism in this period is a gain for the establishment and for the counter-revolutionary forces and must be seen as such.

I worry whether secularists and women’s rights campaigners outside the region are ready for this new era to show real solidarity and support… [Read more…]

We are not free until all women are free


I’m back from Germany. The International Women’s Day event in Frankfurt was wonderful!

Here are some photos of the event.

You can find my speech here.

Videos of the speeches will follow.

Unfortunately Taslima Nasrin and Nawal El-Sadaawi couldn’t make it. Below are their messages to the conference:

Dear friends! My Iranian sisters. You are so brave ! I am so proud of you. Sometimes I wish I could gather Bengali women who left Islam and who are ready to fight for our rights and freedom. It is still a dream.

When I am with you, I do not really feel I am an outsider. I feel we know each other so well. Our languages are not the same. We were born in different countries. But our stories are the same; our pains are equally blue.

I am so extremely sorry for not being able to come to Frankfurt to join you on the 8th of March. Muslim fundamentalists have been running after me for 25 years. They have been issuing fatwas, setting prices on my head, attacking me physically, filling cases against me, banning my books, burning my books, shutting the doors of the cities and countries so that I can’t enter. A fundamentalist has filed a case against me a few months ago for writing the truth. An arrest warrant has been issued. Until the case gets quashed, I am not allowed to exit India. This is the reason that I could not come to join the great meeting of secular women.

My sisters, I am with you always, all the time. Your fight is my fight. It is our fight. We need to fight against political Islam, Sharia laws, oppression of women; we need to fight traditions, cultures, customs that are anti-women. We must fight for the dignity and rights of women. We must fight for human rights, humanism, secularism. We will continue our fight until death. I, for one, will never be silenced.

We know that Islam should not be exempt from the critical scrutiny that applies to other religions as well. Islam has to go through an enlightenment process similar to what other world religions have already gone through, by questioning the inhuman, unequal, unscientific and irrational aspects of religion. We want equality and justice for everyone. We want to be treated as equal human beings.

We are not free until all women are free.

Sisterhood is forever.

Here’s Nawal El Sadaawi’s messages to the conference:


Happy International Women’s Day

8mars-20I will be in Germany this weekend to celebration International Women’s Day.

Here’s where I will be speaking:

8 March 2013, 4pm
Frankfurt, Germany
Speakers: Mina Ahadi, International Committee against Stoning and Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany; Nadeen Gamil, Egyptian Women’s Union; Necla Kelek, Sociologist; Houzan Mahmoud, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq; Maryam Namazie, One Law for All, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; Taslima Nasrin, Writer; and Zana Ramadani, FEMEN Germany. Place: (Uni Frankfurt) Asta, Festsaal, Bockenheimer Warte, Merton Str.26-28, 60325 Frankfurt am Main. For more information: 015774650186.

Hope to see some of you there.

Happy International Women’s Day!

I want to shout my atheism from every rooftop

I was interviewed and photographed yesterday by Christopher Johnson for his book A Better Life on the joy and meaning of life for 100 atheists. I had a tough start to the day: I basically left the house without my skirt on (don’t ask) and locked myself out. Of course anyone who has a 7 year old who needs to be told 50 times to leave for school will understand how this is remotely possible… I’m surprised I made any sense…

I want to shout out I have left Islam from every rooftop!

We are not all Hamas

20120306152055I’m a guest on this week’s The Thinking Atheist programme on Women and Islam. You can listen to the programme here.

Seth opens his programme with the news that an annual marathon run through Gaza has been cancelled by the UN Relief and Works Agency staging the event because Hamas has banned women and from taking part. Hamas has said that it would be happy for the event to go ahead but only if ‘local traditions’ were observed.

Since many Palestinian women and girls have run in the event before and given that a record number of women – 379- entered into the race, including 260 Palestinians, it’s obvious that the only tradition Hamas is concerned about is its own disgusting misogyny.

And to think that the good old post-modernist Left feminists have carried banners saying ‘We are all Hamas’ at anti-war rallies…

Good on UNRWA for cancelling the event – finally it’s managed to do something right.

If women and girls can’t participate, then the show must not go on.

What was it that the Gaza Youth Break Out so eloquently said? Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNRWA. Fuck USA!”

Opposing Censorship


Following One Law for All’s statement on Channel 4 and the BBC’s censorship and blasphemy-law-by-stealth of a film adaptation of DV8 Physical Theatre’s “Can We Talk About This?”, they have issued the following statement entitled ‘Opposing Censorship’:

Human rights activist Maryam Namazie recently posted a blog about the reluctance from Channel 4 and the BBC to produce a film adaptation of Can We Talk About This?

Here is a statement from DV8 Physical Theatre:

DV8’s company name stands for both ‘deviate’ and ‘dance and video 8’. From the company’s very beginning we have been committed to recording our work on film. Our very earliest works were recorded on video 8 film. As the company’s reputation grew, our films were commissioned by the major broadcasters and produced professionally. They have been screened worldwide, and are taught as part of the National curriculum of dance, theatre and performance studies. We are aware that much of the company’s reputation is based on these films – their reach is many times more than that of a live touring production. But the films don’t only benefit DV8, they were hugely successful to the commissioning broadcasters, too: jointly the four DV8 films have won 31 international awards including three Prix Italia, an International Emmy, and a Rose d’Or.

Read the rest of their statement here.

March 2013: Policing nudity encourages perverse relationship to body, self and sexuality

March 2013 is here.

The photo for this month’s Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar is that of Writer and Publicist Saskia Vogel.


She says:

I joined this ‘scream’ in solidarity with Elmahdy, but not exclusively to raise awareness about Islamists and their relationship to the female body. I joined because the female body is a source of shame and female sexuality is treated as something suspect around the world, and on a personal note, most frustratingly in the US, the country of my birth. The academic David Hermann’s ‘Rumpelstiltskin Hypothesis’ goes some way to explain the power and purpose of Namazie’s calendar. He says “following the fundamental contrarian idea that if there are those ready to be offended, and whose readiness for offence curtails our individual freedom, then we should strive to offend them hard, loud, often, and wherever possible, until they burst.” By standing in solidarity with Elmahdy through this calendar, hopefully we’ll gain a critical mass of attention that will call into question the perception of the female body. [Read more…]