I needed some good news

hamzaHamza Kashgari, the young Saudi journalist whose tweets were deemed insulting to Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, has been released.

He faced the death penalty and was returned from Malaysia where he had fled to escape Saudi [in]justice.

I needed some good news today if only for a few seconds.

Only hours after confirming Kashgari’s release, a court in Jeddah sentenced Abu al-Khair to three months in prison for signing a statement calling for reforms…

(Via Maha Kamal)

URGENT – VENUE PULLED OUT BUT THE SHOW MUST GO ON

passionThe 5th Passion for Freedom Festival will take place from 02 November 2013.

A new venue will be announced shortly. UNIT24 Gallery, the original venue, has pulled out last minute leaving organisers scrambling for a new venue.

Clearly, the main issue at hand is the Gallery’s fear of exhibiting controversial artwork.

Unit24 now joins a long list of “supporters of the arts” which want art that is uncontroversial even though the very purpose of good art is to break taboos and challenge the status quo.

Irrespective of their cowardice, the show will go on.

Per our previous announcement, shortlisted artists will exhibit works which will be judged by an international Selection Panel including Anda Rottenberg, Sarah Maple, Deeyah and Nick Cohen.

Please watch this space for updates and details of the new venue.

Passion for Freedom is affiliated with One Law for All. For more information, click here.

When Tommy met Mo

b03ghfypEarlier this year, Maryam Namazie was approached by the production company making the BBC documentary ‘When Tommy met Mo’, about the interaction between Tommy Robinson and Mo Ansar. They asked if we could put them in touch with any women who had been discriminated against in British sharia courts. We declined to help because framing the issue in this way was severely detrimental to the women in question, who could potentially be portrayed as siding with the leader of the EDL, an organisation responsible for intimidating Muslims and pushing forth a racist agenda of collective guilt.

We discussed this in a letter from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. (Whilst circumstances changed during the filming leading to a different narrative direction, our warning remains relevant to any and all discussions surrounding Islam and Islamism in modern Britain.)

Sharia courts and the issue of Islam and Islamism are important issues of universal rights, secularism and one law for all and of combating misogyny and religious obscurantism  – issues that should not be framed within the context of two far-Right extremes of Tommy Robinson on the one hand and the faux-progressive, reactionary apologia of Mo Ansar on the other.

As you well know, Tommy Robinson leads a racist movement that engages in collective guilt against all Muslims… Not only does providing him with publicity by making him engage in a high profile programme like this confer a legitimacy on him, it also allows those who wish to stifle all critical scrutiny of certain precepts of Islam to stigmatise them as being in the realm of a far-Right response. This allows reactionaries to effectively usher in a narrative that conflates a secular rational critique of Islam with the bigoted agenda of the likes of Tommy Robinson. It is just one way of asserting a kind of proxy blasphemy code into the debate around religion in modern Britain, and it is something that ex-Muslims have to deal with already. This is deeply disheartening to us.

Moreover, whilst giving publicity to Tommy Robinson, this documentary will also give publicity to the reactionary Mo Ansar who will use the platform provided by you to position himself as a moderate and progressive when he is actually far from that. Mo Ansar has cultivated a media image of being benign, tolerant and “progressive” in his views, and has used the profile of an opponent of the far-Right EDL to project this image. But many secularists, liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims have been concerned at how easy it is for a social reactionary like him to gain this perception amongst parts of the Left and the media… Moreover, Mo Ansar engages with Islamist organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir and Cordoba Foundation. He also supports the Islamist coalition, Hefazat, that amongst other things seeks to execute vocal atheists in Bangladesh. The many reactionary positions of Mo Ansar has been catalogued here. A man with ties to Islamism who advises a domestic abuse victim to remain with her abuser is in no way merely a “Muslim commentator and interfaith advisor” as you call him.

Relegating important issues such as Islam, Islamism and Sharia courts to two polarising and far-Right figures ignores the complexities and does a disservice to the issues and the many dissenters who oppose both.

Clearly, your “documentary” will empower reactionaries, stifle progressive dissent, and marginalise truly progressive voices at a time when these are the voices that should be heard.

Tommy Robinson has now left the EDL and is working with the group Quilliam. We sincerely hope that he is a changed man and that in the future he will not engage in his former rhetoric or actions, nor will he apologise for or give succour to the kind of marches that were the hallmark of the EDL. We are cautious about his re-invention and must wait for proof of actions and not just words in order to ascertain whether he is indeed a changed man.

A word to the BBC: How much longer will the BBC be fixated with the apologists for Islamism and the far-Right? When will the media subject reactionaries like Ansar to as much critical scrutiny as nationalist reactionaries, and allow the voices of Muslim dissenters, secularists and ex-Muslims to be heard?

Free Sherif Gaber Now

Waleed Al-Husseini of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain just informed me that a young Egyptian atheist who posted on his Facebook page has been arrested for his atheism yesterday after his university informed on him to the police.

This is what Sherif published:

Hi, my name is sherif gaber (Yamirasu) from Egypt. I was taught to be a Muslim; for that my dad sent me to some Sheiks, so I memorised the Quran and more than 1000 (Hadith) until I became very religious but then I started to see the contradictions between the Quran and scientific facts, and day by day for 2 years after searching and reading I knew the truth. Then I became an atheist and hid it for a few months. Then I admit it despite knowing that I might get killed any moment .. My family hasn’t talked to me for more than 4 months and I lost the majority of the people I thought were my friends and for about a year now half the people on my street don’t talk to me .. I’ve got threats every single day on my phone and my Facebook account… Here in Egypt, a lot of young atheists were sent to jail for 10 sometimes 20 years and if they have evidence that you insulted Islam you will be executed! That’s if the Islamic organisations don’t murder you & your family before that! .. Even though I’m not afraid to say I’m an atheist to everyone who asks about my religion… To die for the truth is much much better to live in a lie!

Finally I would say to every atheist .. Be brave, stay strong .. U r holding the truth .. And of course .. Proud to be an atheist .. Proud to be rationalist.

Clearly Sherif has done nothing wrong and must be released immediately. The right to religion, belief and atheism are absolute rights, which cannot be denied.

Also, Egypt better get used to it. Atheists in Egypt as in the rest of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa are on the rise.

Free him now.

Here is a news report which is apparently about him without mentioning his name.

To support Sherif:

Tweet Free Sherif Gaber. #Atheist #Egypt.

Send appeals to: [Read more…]

No Woman No Drive

I’ve been busy putting together the second issue of Fitnah’s publication Unveiled, which will focus on the burqa and niqab ban.

In the meanwhile though I did want to give a quick heads up to the video “No Woman No Drive” which has gone viral. It’s a spoof by Heesham Fagheeh, a social activist and artist, on the Saudi driving ban.

As I had reported earlier, 26 October was a Day of Defiance against the ban. At least 16 women have been fined for driving on the day and the fight continues.

Defiance indeed!

(Via Afsaneh Vahdat)

AHS announces dates for 4th annual Non-Prophet Week

From Hari Srinivasan, Press Officer – The AHS (twitter: @__Hari__ )

LONDON, Oct 16 – The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies (The AHS) has announced the dates for the 4th annual Non-Prophet Week (NPW). Lauded by Lord Harrison in the House of Lords as “an example of atheist and humanist public service”, NPW 2013 will be held from October 28 to November 3 at multiple locations across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to continue its grand annual tradition of irreligious fundraising for charity.

The AHS affiliated University of Edinburgh Humanist Society fundraising stall during NPW 2012

A charity event that has become an annual fixture in a non-religious student’s calendar, the NPW focus will be on helping voice the point that you don’t have to believe in a god to be good. By co-ordinating affiliated student societies, and building on successful fundraising campaigns in previous years to donate to Survivors Voice and Children In Need charities, The AHS has earmarked NPW 2013 as a good platform to help raise money for Against Malaria Foundation (AMF). [Read more…]

Niqab and Women’s Movements

I’ll be doing an interview this morning on the niqab debate for 4thought.tv.

In the evening I’ll be speaking on a panel entitled ‘Women’s Movements Changing Women Changing the World’ at a House of Lord Seminar organised by Women Worldwide Advancing Freedom & Equality (WWAFE). Place: Committee Room 1, 6.00pm to 8.00pm House of Lords. [We will begin promptly, so arrival at 5.30pm will ensure you gain a seat.] Hope to see some of you there.

By the way, Karima Bennoune’s talk was brilliant last night; it was informative, moving and absolutely inspiring. Her work will be hugely important for our fight for equality and secularism. Do get a copy of her book: “Your Fatwa does not apply here” if you haven’t already. I got my signed copy last night.

A few of us went out to dinner after her talk, which was fantastic because I got to meet up with her for the very first time though we have emailed before.

In first photo, it’s Karima Bennoune (second from left), Chetan Bhatt, Gita Sahgal, Pragna Patel, Marieme Helie Lucas, myself and Salil Tripathi.

photo 1

photo 2

A few important things for today

Human Rights in Iran

The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed will be giving his report on the human rights situation in Iran today, which will be broadcast live. The Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran asks that we tweet Ahmed Shaheed using the following tweet to echo the voice of political prisoners deprived from medical attention:

Iran regime refuses to provide urgent medical assistance to #Iran #Politicalprisoners. @shaheedsr Silent death! http://tinyurl.com/p2vojal

Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation and Children First Now also ask that you tweet him in condemnation of Iran’s legalised paedophilia:

No to legal paedophilia in #Iran @shaheedsr http://tinyurl.com/iranpaedophilia

Ex-Muslims and Media

A group of ex-Muslims will be meeting the BBC today at 2pm to discuss the plight of ex-Muslims here in Britain. If you can make it at 2pm, text Maryam at 07719166731 so she can tell you where to come. We are also looking for ex-Muslims who have faced threats and also some who live in Ireland for two other media reports. You can email Council of Ex-Muslims at exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

Your fatwa doesn’t apply here

The wonderful Karima Bennoune will be speaking at the LSE tonight at 6pm on her new book: Your Fatwa Doesn’t Apply Here. I’ll be there and so should you if you are in London and can make it. This is a not-to-be-missed event. Hopefully some members of the LSE student union will be there so they can hear first-hand about the many Muslims or those of Muslim heritage who dissent and resist, thereby making it quite clear that Muslims are not a homogeneous group who are unanimously offended by Jesus and Mo. I doubt any of her wisdom can get through but we can hope, can’t we? Either way, they need to learn that Islamist fatwas against free expression don’t apply at the LSE either! Here’s more information.

Ex-Muslims of North America has formed

EXMNAEx-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) Press Release
October 22, 2013

Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) exists to build a community and provide a sense of solidarity for Ex-Muslims: people who used to identify as Muslim, and who no longer do so. We cater exclusively to the needs of Ex-Muslim atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, and freethinkers.

At present, several communities of Ex-Muslims are being organized in cities across North America and all over the world. EXMNA’s goal is to expand and connect people with each other, so that Ex-Muslims have a place to call their own in every major North American city, and a community they can turn to for networking, support, and solidarity. Many people who leave Islam face the apostasy stigma, and are forced to hide. As Ex-Muslims, we are acutely aware of the need for safety for apostates from Islam. We foster alliances and affiliations with other atheist, skeptic, and humanist groups within and outside North America to fulfill our common goals. We hope to galvanize support from secular and progressive groups, as well as those Muslims who believe in freedom of, and from, religion.

In today’s political climate, Ex-Muslims stand between polarizing discourses of Islam and Muslims, and are often marginalized, dismissed, and silenced by both sides. As people who were raised Muslim or converted to Islam, and then left Islam because we could no longer believe in it, we cater to neither bigots who treat Muslims as a monolith, nor apologists who try to shield Islam from scrutiny. We do not wish to promote hatred of Muslims. We ourselves were Muslim once. Many of our families and friends are Muslim. We understand that Muslims come in all varieties, and we do not partake in erasing diversity among the world’s Muslims.

While we denounce the bigotry of those who promote their racist and xenophobic ideas under the guise of criticizing Muslims, we also denounce the cultural and moral relativism of those who propagate the idea that all criticism of Islam is inherently racist. We work closely with the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), a UK-based, internationally recognized organization, founded in 2007, that has been instrumental in starting the movement to create a space for apostates. Ex-Muslims often have first-hand and well-researched knowledge about Islam’s various facets. We are uniquely positioned to use our voices and experiences to help bridge the polarized discussion of Islam. In order to further that goal, we have just launched the Ex-Muslim Blogs Project which broadcasts the voices of a diverse array of Ex-Muslim writers.

EXMNA is largely composed of local groups with a great degree of autonomy, united organizationally under the umbrella of the Ex-Muslims of North America. EXMNA’s humble beginnings were in the Ex-Muslim communities that began in Toronto (2011) and Washington DC (2012). Today, we have member groups operating and growing in regions throughout North America, including Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, D.C., Ontario, and Quebec.

Visit our website to learn more about us, to join one of our local groups, or to find out how you can start one in your city.

Website(s): http://www.exmna.org and http://www.exmuslimblogs.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/exmna
Twitter: https://twitter.com/exmuslimsofna
Email: media@exmna.org
Phone: 1-855-EXMUSLIM (media department)

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I will be speaking at the following places over the next few weeks in case you can make any of them:

24 October 2013
London, UK
Maryam Namazie will speak on a panel entitled ‘Women’s Movements Changing Women Changing the World’ at a House of Lord Seminar organised by Women Worldwide Advancing Freedom & Equality (WWAFE). Place: Committee Room 1, 6.00pm to 8.00pm House of Lords. [We will begin promptly, so arrival at 5.30pm will ensure you gain a seat.]

2 November 2013
London, UK, 6-9pm
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at Passion for Freedom’s 5th art festival private viewing at Unit24. To RSVP email onelawforall@gmail.com. More More information can be found here.

6 November 2013
Brighton, UK
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at a meeting organised by the Brighton Secular Humanists at 730pm at Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton University, Grand Parade, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 0JY. More information available here.

15-16 November 2013
New York, USA
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the Global Secularisms Conference at New York University. For more details, visit here.

5 December 2013
Salisbury, UK
Maryam Namazie will introduce the film Wajda at the Salisbury Art Centre organised by Amnesty International Salisbury.

The Islamic regime of Iran plans to re-execute a man who survived the death penalty

iran_executionThe Islamic regime of Iran plans to re-execute a man who survived his execution under “moderate” Rouhani’s administration.

The International Committee Against Execution calls for worldwide public condemnation and pressure to stop the re-execution of 27 year old Alireza M, a father of two young girls. His daughters’ ask: “Is this world cruel to the extent that it justifies and accepts such an inhumane action? Is our world harsh enough to neglect the necessity of taking an action in order to stop the re-execution of a human being, of a father?”

On 15 October, major Iranian news agencies reported that Alireza M. who was sentenced to death by hanging for possession of a kilo of crystal meth in Bojnourd Prison, was found breathing on Thursday 10 October, coinciding with the International Day against the Death Penalty, and taken to hospital where he is recovering.

Alireza M was left at the gallows for 12 minutes after his execution. He was also examined by the medical team at the scene, who pronounced him dead. He was then sent to morgue. The next morning, a worker preparing the body for its return to his family noticed that Alireza was breathing under the plastic covering. He was immediately sent to Imam Ali hospital in Bojnourd and his health condition began to improve as soon as he received medical care; he has now recovered.

Mohammad Erfan, a judge with Iran’s administrative justice court said: “The sentence issued by the revolutionary court is the death penalty … in such circumstances it should be repeated once again.”

The International Committee Against Execution is appalled that Alireza M. faces a re-execution and calls on all to condemn this inhumane act.

International Committee Against Execution
15 October 2013
Mina Ahadi
0049 (0) 1775692413
minnaahadi@gmail.com
minaahadi-iran.blogspot.co.uk
stopstonningnow.com
notonemoreexecution.org

Is the niqab a human right, security concern or symbol of oppression?

LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society public debate
Date: Tuesday 15 October 2013
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: CLM4.02, Clement House
Speakers: Akeela Ahmed, Edie Friedman, Taj Hargey, Maryam Namazie
Chair: Professor Chetan Bhatt

Is the Niqab (face veil) a human right, a security concern or a symbol of oppression? Given the most recent events, this debate will shed some light on this controversial topic.

Akeela Ahmed is the Director of the Christian Muslim Forum.
Edie Friedman is the founder and Executive Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality.
Taj Hargey is the Director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford.
Maryam Namazie is the founder and spokesperson for One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For any queries email c.m.moos@lse.ac.uk or call 074 2872 0599.

Paedophilia law in Iran confirmed by Guardian Council

Fitnah_CFN_iranped_finalThe Guardian Council has now approved the bill passed by the Islamic regime of Iran’s Majlis or parliament for the “protection” of children and young people, which includes a clause allowing men to marry their adopted daughters with the permission of a court..

The bill had previously been denied and sent back for review because it had originally banned the marriage of step-fathers and their adopted daughters; the Guardian Council found this to be in contradiction with Islamic Sharia law.

The law legalising paedophilia and child rape has sparked outrage in Iran and across the globe though it is touted as an attempt to solve problems related to the hijab or veil in the family. An adopted daughter is expected to wear the veil in the presence of her father and a mother is expected to do so in the presence of her adopted son if he is old enough.

Children First Now and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation unequivocally condemn this inhuman law. Today, on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child, we call on the public and rights organisations to condemn this legalised paedophilia and child rape. This law, like many other laws in the Islamic regime of Iran, violates the dignity and rights of children. And it must be stopped.

Here are five things you can do on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child, to condemn legalised paedophilia and child rape, and demanding dignity, security and rights for all girls and children in Iran and beyond:

1. Tweet against the law: #Iran #No2LegalPaedophilia

2. Sign our petition and forward it to 10 friends or acquaintances.

3. Write to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Leader, info_leader@leader.ir, Twitter: @khamenei_ir or to Hassan Rouhani, President, media@rouhani.ir, Twitter: @hassanrouhani demanding an end to child rape and paedophilia.

4. Publicise the campaign on social media including by changing your social media profile to our campaign poster. Join the Event on Facebook.

5. Do an act of solidarity on the internet, in your city square, at work, at your university… in support of children’s rights and against the law.

For more information, contact: [Read more…]

End legalised paedophilia and child rape in Iran

Fitnah_CFN_iranped_finalUrgent Action
End legalised paedophilia in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Join Protest on 11 October 2013

On 22 September 2013, one day before the start of the school year in Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Majlis or parliament passed a law permitting a stepfather to marry his adopted child.

In defence of the law, one Member of Parliament said: “According to Islam, every child who is accepted as an adopted child is not considered a real child. Islamic jurisprudence and Sharia law allow the guardian of the child to marry and have sex with his step-child.”

This shocking law will encourage child ’marriages’ and is nothing more than legalised paedophilia and child rape. It will further endanger the welfare of the child and violate her basic rights. It will deny the child any sense of security and safety in the home.

Children First Now and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation unequivocally condemn this inhuman law. On 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child, we call on the public and rights organisations to condemn this legalised paedophilia and child rape. This law, like many other laws in the Islamic regime of Iran, violates the dignity and rights of children. And it must be stopped.

Here are five things you can do on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child, to condemn legalised paedophilia and child rape, and demanding dignity, security and rights for all girls and children in Iran and beyond:

1. Tweet against the law: #Iran #No2LegalPaedophilia

2. Sign our petition and forward it to 10 friends or acquaintances.

3. Write to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Leader, info_leader@leader.ir, Twitter: @khamenei_ir or to Hassan Rouhani, President, media@rouhani.ir, Twitter: @hassanrouhani demanding an end to child rape and paedophilia.

4. Publicise the campaign on social media including by changing your social media profile to our campaign poster. Join the Event on Facebook.

5. Do an act of solidarity on the internet, in your city square, at work, at your university… in support of children’s rights and against the law.

For more information, contact: [Read more…]

The Islamists are lulling society into acquiescence

RAPP_UNICEF_CHILD_MARRIAGEThough there is increasing evidence that thousands of British children are being forced into marriage, there has yet to be one criminal prosecution.

Part of the problem is Islamist double-speak. All the Sharia judges and imams who are exposed during various investigations immediately condemn forced marriages and even under-age marriages. But they say it only to dupe the public and lull society into acquiescence.

Their “condemnation” is deceptive.

Firstly, under Sharia law a girl who has reached puberty is no longer considered a child; therefore, she is not under-aged according to them. This is clearly explained by a number of imams secretly filmed in the ITV documentary, Exposure.

Moreover, since women and girls do not sign their own marriage contracts, it is also not forced if the guardians signing on their behalves agree to it.

This reminds me of a debate I had with the head of the Muslim Association of Britain who said he was opposed to stoning to death in Britain. The audience showed their approval only to gasp when I pressed him further. He was supportive of stoning in an “Islamic country” just not here for now.

If you understand Islamist double-speak, you won’t be surprised then to learn that one of the imams willing to marry a 14 year old – Shams-Ul Huda Khan Misbahi who preaches at the Jamia Masjid Kanzul Iman Mosque in Heckmondwike – has worked with West Yorkshire Police as an advisor on community cohesion and publicly condemned forced marriages…

Which brings me to the second problem. The British Government has handed over the “Muslim community” to regressive and parasitical Islamists, imams, and sharia judges rather than treat people as individual citizens with full rights. Which is why the police consider it “discriminatory” to prosecute those carrying out child marriages or facilitating FGM, and teachers and social workers turn a blind eye to hundreds of missing children.

This is what Jasvinder Sanghera of Karma Nirvana brilliantly explains as the moral blindness of cultural sensitivity.

But what about the children? Who will speak for them?

Unquestionably, it has been left to us.

***

Tomorrow 11 October 2013 is the International Day of the Girl Child. Let’s use this day to rage against the situation of girls worldwide, but particularly against child marriages in Britain and legalised paedophilia in Iran.

Prosecute them!

Egyptian-Female-Cartoonist-Pokes-Fun-at-Fundamentalists_html_m3f0a83e9-e1364525692645 (1)If hundreds of white British young people were missing off our school rolls, I believe there would be an outcry. – Jasvinder Sanghera

Is anyone going to try and find them when they don’t return to school? -Sameem Ali

An ITV documentary on forced marriages, Exposure, reveals 18 imams willing to marry a 14 year old girl despite knowing it is illegal here in Britain.

The report follows a 2012 undercover investigation by the Sunday Times which found imams in Britain willing to marry a 12 year old and a report that at least 30 girls, some as young as 9, were married under Sharia law in one London borough alone. One Law for All’s reports Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights and Multiculturalism and Child Protection in the UK also provide evidence of such marriages in the UK.

In 2011, 400 children were assisted by the Forced Marriage Unit in the UK, one of whom was only five years old. Despite growing evidence and the fear that thousands more are facing forced marriages here in Britain or after being taken abroad for the summer holidays, there has not been one criminal prosecution. According to Jasvinder Sanghera, Founder of Karma Nirvana, the issue had become ‘wrapped up in this moral blindness of cultural sensitivity,’ thereby preventing any real action in support of children.

One Law for All calls for the immediate prosecution of imams, Sharia court judges and others who carry out child and forced marriages. It is not enough for the mosques and courts in question to deny wrong-doing, dupe the public with Islamist double-speak, and carry out “internal investigations’ for the period that they are under public scrutiny. Those relegating countless children to a life of violence, rape and abuse must be prosecuted if we are to begin to help countless children.

Religious laws cannot trump the rights of children. Full stop.

(Drawing against child marriage is from Egyptian cartoonist Dooa Eladl.)

Gays to be barred from entering Kuwait

Did you hear the latest? Kuwait is thinking of using a routine medical check for expatriates to also help it “detect gays.”

Once you’ve been found out, you will then be barred from entering the country. Not a bad thing when you think that prison terms for homosexual acts can be up to ten years.

Even more absurd is how the authorities ignore the fact that there are Kuwaiti gay people too. Well let’s not spoil it for them. Focusing on expats can help maintain the sharia party line that anything to do with sexuality and sex that is not religiously sanctioned is “western debauchery and perversion”…

This follows Ahmadinejad’s point of view that there are no gays in Iran…

coxforkumnogaysiran_thumb

Someone should really look into the amount of time the guardians of Sharia law spend looking into and controlling people’s sex lives. There is definitely a story in there somewhere.

(via Dawood)

On Tweeting EDL supporters

Enemies-not-Allies-thumb“Soupy” has asked for clarification on One Law for All’s position with regards the English Defence League. I don’t see why we need to clarify every time some Tom, Dick or Soupy demands clarification but since I have promised to respond, I will do so briefly and this once.

Firstly, our position is as clear as daylight. For One Law for All, the English Defence League and far-Right are our enemies not allies. We’ve campaigned extensively against them, including opposing them at every opportunity possible. We’ve explained countless times why secularists should oppose them (see our FAQs here) and we have written an extensive report on the matter. You can also see our position being explained at a seminar we organised on the issue here.

All these years of work and our ongoing fight against the far-Right (and also the pro-Islamist Left) have apparently come to  nought because my co-spokesperson Anne Marie Waters has tweeted a couple of EDL supporters in a “friendly” manner.

Really?

First off, Anne Marie didn’t know they were EDL supporters or members. I know I don’t look at the history of people who tweet me or who I tweet back as there is simply no time to do so. Depending on what they say or the nature of their responses, I might then decide to block them or oppose them or follow them… They might then say something that makes me decide to un-follow them. It’s Twitter for goodness sake. Anne Marie can’t be held responsible for tweeting with people whose affiliations she is unaware of. Of course, now that she does know, it’s a different matter. It reminds me of a Pakistani born supporter of the Council of Ex-Muslims. When he told me he was also a member of the BNP (British National Party), I kicked him out of our organisation – no hesitation. Once you know, it becomes a different matter. Then it is no longer a question of merely continuing with our awareness raising efforts.

Yes, as campaigners, we explain and mobilise and strengthen our movement by persuading people to join us in our fight. Single issue campaigns by their very nature means working with all types of people with different points of view. But even whilst trying to build a mass movement, there are those who are not welcome. Full Stop. And the EDL and far-Right are not.

This has nothing to do with ignoring one’s racist neighbour rather than trying to persuade him to see how Islamists and Muslims are not one and the same and that the fight against Sharia is a fight against the far-Right and for equality and secularism for all – including “Muslims.” Of course, by all means, we must continue to speak to our racist or sexist neighbours until we are blue in the face and try our hardest to change their views. Anne Marie and I have gone up and down the country speaking till we are blue in the face – trying to explain these very things. But once that neighbour or the person you are tweeting joins an organised movement that spews hatred, then s/he must be held to account.

I know many EDL members will say they are not racist. To me, that is like an Islamist saying he is not anti-woman. It’s not possible. If you’re not racist or misogynist, then get the fuck out of the EDL or Islamism and then maybe we can talk.  I explain this more here. Until then, you are my enemy not ally.

This is not about restricting anyone’s free expression. Everyone is free to say anything they want and speak with anyone they want. Especially on their own time. Anne Marie and I campaign on other issues too. We also have other very strong views that go beyond the remit of our work as spokespersons for One Law for All. Nonetheless, there are some things that are fundamental to who we are and one of them is that it is impossible to fight the far-Right Islamic movement with the Christian far-Right. They are two sides of the same coin. They are thugs. They hate anyone and everyone who does not look like them or agree with them. And they don’t just disagree in the way the rest of us do. They threaten, harm and murder with impunity.

The Nazis, Norway’s Breivik and Greece’s Golden Dawn are good examples. And there are many examples of the EDL’s inhumanity and racism. They are thugs and haters just like the Islamists. It’s no wonder every neo-Nazi and fascist in a 100-mile radius flocks to them like moths to a flame. Just recently, again, Tommy Robinson, the EDL’s leader, has been exposed for threatening and intimidating behaviour. Read it here.

I know people will say that the EDL’s actions are incomparable with the Islamists but if it is so, it is only because of their differences in power. Even Islamists in Britain are incomparable with those in Iran or Saudi Arabia. They have to use rights language and double speak to make inroads whereas there they just hang people in city centres and call it justice. It is not because they are nicer here. It is because they have less access and influence. Whatever amount of power they do have, that is the degree to which they will make life hell for the population at large.

As I said, two sides of the same coin…

So Soupy: not complex for those committed to anti-racism, or anyone literate as you say.

 

The Rise of Fitnah: Ready to Cause Affliction

unveiled_oct2013-final_Page_01Unveiled
A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
October 2013
Volume 1, Issue 1

PDF Version of the Publication: Unveiled_Oct2013_Final1

Editor: Maryam Namazie
Design: Maha Kamal

In this issue:
Exclusive Interview: The rise of Fitnah: ready to cause affliction
Editorial: Rouhani’s fake smile; the war on women continues
News Flash: Crimes against women
Campaign: Against legal paedophilia in Iran
Arts: Voices of women against Islamism

Exclusive Interview
The Rise of Fitnah Targets Islamism; ‘Ready to Cause Affliction’
Women’s eNews Interview with Maryam Namazie

The below interview was published on Women’s eNews.

Women’s eNews: Why did you label the campaign ‘Fitnah’? In the email received yesterday, you say “women are seen to be the source of fitnah or affliction”, could you please elaborate?

Maryam Namazie: In Islam, women are seen to be the source of fithah or affliction. In one hadith, Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, said: “I have left behind no fitnah more harmful to men, than women.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim].  This is a recurring theme in all major religions.  There is a Jewish prayer that says: “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman”.  In the Bible, there is one verse that says: “Her filthiness is in her skirts”. [Lam.1:8-9] There are of course many examples of religion’s misogynist perception of women.

In practice, this translates into an obsession with the control and restriction of women in order to maintain everything from family honour to societal order. This is most visibly experienced for women living under Islamic laws because of Islam’s access to political and state power via Islamism or political Islam.

To the extent that Islamism has power, veiling is enforced by morality police and women are imprisoned for escaping forced marriages or stoned to death for adultery.

The extent of hatred towards women runs deep. Recently in Marivan, Iran, a judge ordered a young man to be dressed in women’s clothing and a hejab and paraded around the city by security forces in order to humiliate him. Being a woman is considered the greatest of humiliations.

Whilst the term fitnah is perceived to be a negative one if one looks at it from the perspective of religion and Islamism, it represents something very different when looked at from another viewpoint. It is always the woman who transgresses norms that is deemed to be “fitnah”. It is the woman who refuses to submit, the one who resists and is disobedient. In that sense, the women’s liberation movement is a source of fitnah for those who insist on women’s oppression.

Our movement is Islamism’s worst fitnah…

Women’s eNews: What sparked this campaign? – Is it a campaign against religion? men? religious men? a state? Who are you specifically targeting with this campaign?

Maryam Namazie: Finah represents a new movement for a new era. The brutal era of unbridled Islamism, US-led militarism and free market reign is over. Today is an era of the 99% movement and revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa – many of them female-led. Whilst it may still be hard to see given the perceived “gains” by Islamists in the region (in fact as counter-revolutionary forces aimed at suppressing the revolutions), the change of era is palpable.

Fitnah is a movement of women and men defending freedom, equality and secularism and calling for an end to misogynist cultural, religious and moral laws and customs, compulsory veiling, sex apartheid, sex trafficking, and violence against women.

Whilst our focus is on Iran in particular, and the Middle East and North Africa in general, it’s an international movement. We don’t see women’s rights as being western. As women’s rights campaigners opposing compulsory veiling in Iran said during a mass demonstration in 1979: “women’s rights are not eastern or western but universal”.

We also don’t see rights as culturally relative. Rights have been fought for by the working class and progressive social movements and belong to all humanity.  The right to vote is not considered western even though the first country to have the right to vote was in the west. This idea of rights being western and culturally relative is stressed in particular when it comes to women rights and freedoms.

Also, whilst all religions are anti-woman, our focus is on Islam and political Islam given its impact on our region and the world.

US suffragette and abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation”. This is true in particular with regards Islam and Islamism today.

Of course when speaking of Islam or any religion, we are not referring to religion as a personal belief. Everyone has a right to religion and atheism but Islam today is not a personal matter but an industry. [Read more…]