Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani attempted suicide

sakinehAccording to Mina Ahadi and the International Committee against Stoning, Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani attempted suicide in Tabriz prison and was transferred to hospital on 23 February.

After several days she was transferred back to the prison’s clinic and remains in terrible physical and psychological state.

The Islamic regime of Iran must release Sakineh now.

Ask Rouhani: Why don’t you release Sakineh now!

David Bleines Tribute

David Bleines died yesterday. Our most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

David was a fine, kind and brave man. A secularist with a lively mind. He had once been a member of a cult and understood how hard it could be to break away from harmful beliefs and strike out without organisational support.

After  David was given a terminal prognosis he was able to gain a lot of satisfaction, as well as a distraction from his personal circumstances, by mulling over ideas for assisting the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB). Everyone who loved him has been told about his wish to support the CEMB.

We are grateful for his kind support and shall cherish his memory.

For those wishing to contribute to the David B/David Bleines Tribute Fund, please earmark your donation. You can do so via email ([email protected]) or by adding a note when you send a cheque or make a Paypal donation.

Thank you.

Survey on Gender Segregation at Universities

Dear friend

One Law for All, in conjunction with Southall Black Sisters and Fitnah, is conducting a survey as part of a research project investigating the nature and impact of segregation, specifically gender segregation, at universities in the United Kingdom.

If you have experienced gender segregation at a university, please take a few moments to respond to the questionnaire online by 31 March 2014. This research project is conducted in full compliance with the Ethics Guidelines of the Social Research Association. Your data will be treated as confidential and your participation will remain anonymous.

For more information about this research or to provide more in depth information, please contact: [email protected]

Thank you for your participation.

Warmest wishes
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson

NOTES:

1. Please don’t forget to book early for the international Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London during 11-12 October 2014 so you can get the Early Bird Special Rates. The conference has a fantastic line-up of well known secularists from across the world. It is a not-to-be-missed event. We do hope to see you there!

2. I am hoping to start a new TV programme broadcast in Iran and the Middle East via Satellite called Bread and Roses. If you want to support the taboo-breaking, freethinking programme which will deal with a lot of the issues raised by One Law for All, please donate here. No amount is too little and every bit will help get equipment to tape the much-needed programmes.

Will you support a free-thinking, taboo-breaking TV magazine?

I and a group of activists want to start Bread and Roses – a weekly taboo-breaking, freethinking political-social TV magazine in Persian and English broadcast in Iran and the Middle East as well as globally via satellite TV and social media.

The programme will address crucial issues such as Sharia courts, sex segregation, Islamism, religion and Islam, the right to atheism and apostasy, nudity as a form of resistance, freedom of expression, secularism, child marriages as well as social and cultural issues namely how to deal with bullying, the status of women in society, the role of artists and underground musicians and whether one can live moral lives without religion.

Today, via Indiegogo, we are kick-starting a 3 week fundraising campaign to raise money for the initial equipment we need including cameras, a computer, lighting, paint, a rug, lamps, tables and chairs. Here’s our appeal in English:

Please support us if you can.

With your donations you will get a shout-out and thank you on our programme, will be able to decide issues for discussion, receive signed posters or a beautifully designed T-shirt, and even meet the hosts for a lunch on us! Most importantly you will get the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped bring crucial discussions to audiences in Iran, the Middle East and globally.

As you all know, we have been active for many years on issues deemed taboo or controversial. We have consistently defended universal values, equality and civil rights despite the insistence on a racism of lower expectations and standards and a cultural relativism that insists that the “other” has less rights and freedoms depending on the “community” they are deemed to belong to. Things are changing, however, and we hope that Bread and Roses can help further articulate, strengthen and encourage universal values.

Please don’t worry if you can’t support us financially. We know how difficult times are for many people but even if you can’t donate, help get the word out and bring attention to our programme. You can use the Indiegogo share tools!

Please also like or follow our programme:
www.facebook.com/NanoGoleSorkh
@NanoGoleSorkh
Nanogolesorkh
+44 20 3287 6128

Thanks for any and all your support.

By the way, here are some photos of our first get together to discuss our programme:

163156

 

 

Do something useful on valentine’s day

valentin Why not do something useful on valentine’s Day (besides eating chocolate) and support political prisoners in Iran.

Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran is organising protests today asking us all to remember that lack of medical attention in Iranian prisons has put the lives of hundreds of political prisoners in danger. The Islamic régime in Iran is refusing to provide necessary medical attention to them, killing them silently. Conditions for these prisoners are horrific but unfortunately most people are not aware of the situation in Iran’s notorious prisons.

On this Valentine’s Day, please show your support for the campaign called “Don’t let their Heartbeat stop!”

Sign the petition here.

Tweet: Support #PoliticalPrisoners #Iran #Valentine Day Don’t Let #Heartbeats Stop. SIGN: http://chn.ge/1dGEof9 @eu_eeas @HassanRouhani

Find out more about rallies today and the campaign here.

It takes courage to go against the grain

fabrica-fgm_0x440By now you must have heard about the campaign by a 17 year old girl Fahma Mohamed with the Guardian to end FGM. The petition, which has received nearly 200,000 signatures, has succeeded in getting Fahma a meeting with the Education Secretary to raise a very simple yet effective solution to this horrendous problem in Britain.

FGM has already been banned since 1985 without even one prosecution (though this is all about to change) meaning that around 20,000 British girls are at risk of being mutilated every year without anyone being held to account. It’s particularly dangerous during holidays when families take their girls back to be cut or have them mutilated right here – a period known as “cutting season”. Fahma is suggesting that schools teach about FGM before the holidays. Simple and effective.

This campaign will help bring an end to FGM in Britain because it heralds a real change in attitudes. Not of the public at large per se because it has been a while now that FGM has been considered child abuse by large numbers of people (thanks to the tireless efforts of many campaigners over many many long years). But it’s a palpable change in the attitude of “Guardian-types” – the ones who defend culture and religion despite all human cost.

The fact that the Guardian is leading this campaign says it all. It’s the beginning of the end for FGM in Britain.

It’s certainly cause for celebration.

A little more than 6 months ago, the NSPCC’s helpline for FGM victims was deemed “racist curtain-twitching”. A little more than a year ago, when asked about the lack of prosecutions in Britain, Commander Simon Foy, the child abuse specialist at Scotland Yard, said “I am not necessarily sure that the availability of a stronger sense of prosecution will change it for the better” and that “Inspection almost at times is considered to be a form of abuse in itself. We should not encourage behaviour if that behaviour is in itself child abuse”…  This culturally relativist attitude – that the Guardian excels in – has stopped Britain from addressing FGM for so long because it has deemed it racist to demand an end to inhuman cultural or religious traditions and practices. It’s this “tolerant” attitude (that is in reality tolerance of the intolerable for the “other”) that has resulted in a teacher saying “that’s nice” when her student tells her she was cut during the holidays and caused the likes of “feminist voice” Germaine Greer to say banning FGM is “an attack on cultural identity” and that “One man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation”…

Yes, the tide has definitely turned from the days when I was scolded by “women’s rights campaigners” in the 1980s for calling it mutilation; “call it circumcision and respect culture and religion!”, they said.

What is important to remember, and which will soon be forgotten, is that it doesn’t take much courage to oppose inhumanity when the tide has turned; it takes courage to oppose it when everyone else is defending it. This is what someone like teacher Lisa Zimmermann did; I do wonder if Fahma would be standing where she is if it were not for her. Instead of saying “that’s nice”, Lisa Zimmermann was horrified when she found out some of her students had been cut; she co-founded the “Female Defence League”, which started off with 4 girls writing anonymous poetry. They were accused of making pornography when the girls made a film against FGM. Now the group has over 100 members and the rest so to say is history.

There are obvious lessons here well known to any campaigner who wants to see positive change. Swimming against the mainstream is difficult and may at times seem impossible, but it does eventaully have an impact.  The tide will eventually turn as it will on segregation of the sexes, on Sharia courts in Britain and on the burqa. Just wait and see.

The Square makes your heart sing

Unfortunately the magnificent film Al Midan (The Square) on the Egyptian revolution by female director Jehane Noujaim is no longer available on Youtube but the trailer below is enough to make your heart sing.

Go and see it when it comes to your city. You must.

The revolution is coming back, no matter what…

(Via Abbas Gooya)

HOLD THESE DATES: EVENTS NOT TO BE MISSED

ConferenceIcon1mediumUPCOMING EVENTS
HOLD THESE DATES

Fundraiser for Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain: Marlene Dietrich – an affectionate tribute
Date: Thursday 27 February 2014
Time: 19:30-21:45
Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Join Terry Sanderson as he explores the extraordinary life and career of one of the 20th century’s great entertainers. Using generous extracts from her films, he’ll examine her fantastic Hollywood career, and then accessing rare archive material, will look at her heroic war time efforts against the Nazis. The show culminates with a complete showing on the big screen of her famous one-woman show with which she toured the world. Accompanied by Burt Bacharach and his orchestra, this is Dietrich at her peak. The event is a fundraiser for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and coincides with LGBT history month. Tickets can be purchased here.

Second Kafir Comedy Night Hosted by Maha
Date: Monday 10 March 2014
Time: 19:00-21:00
Venue: The George, 213 Strand, London WC2R 1AP (nearest Tube: Temple)
Open mic comedy for interested kuffar starts at 8pm. Look, we know it’s not easy defending yourself constantly against a religious mob. So take a break from the forums and let out the frustration with a laugh. If you’ve got some steam to let off, this is your night to do it. RSVP at [email protected] But don’t laugh too much, Hell awaits us all later.*
Entry: £3; £1 unwaged.

* “Let them laugh a little: much will they weep: a recompense for the (evil) that they do” (Surah At-Taubah 9:82).

Evening drinks with Lawyer Ana Gonzalez on Apostasy and Asylum
Date: Monday 28 April 2014
Time: 18:30-20:00
Venue: The George, 213 Strand, London (nearest Tube: Temple)
Ana Gonzalez, a lawyer of a well-respected law firm which has represented a number of apostate asylum claimants and CEMB members will speak about the right to asylum and apostasy.
Entry: £3; £1 unwaged.

2014 Conference: Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights
Date: Saturday-Sunday 11-12 October 2014
Venue: The Tower Hotel, St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1LD

Don’t miss 2014’s historic conference. Register now to get the special early bird rates. Purchase your tickets today!

Join notable secularists for a two-day international conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights during 11-12 October 2014 at the Tower Hotel in London.

Speakers/Acts include British Philosopher A C Grayling; Tunisian Academic Amel Grami; Activist Amina Sboui; Activist Bahram Soroush; Writer and Journalist Caroline Fourest; Charlie Klendjian, Chair of Lawyers Secular Society; LSE Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Chetan Bhatt; Student Activist Chris Moos; Yemeni Activist and Academic Elham Manea; Iranian Secular Society Founder Fariborz Pooya; Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Director Fatou Sow; Centre for Secular Space Director Gita Sahgal; Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq Spokesperson Houzan Mahmoud; Afghan Rights Activist Horia Mosadiq; Imad Habib Iddine, Founder of Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco; FEMEN spokesperson Inna Schevchenko; Writer Julie Bindel; Blogger Kacem El Ghazzali; Writer Karima Bennoune; Comedian Kate Smurthwaite; Writer Kenan Malik; Co-Founder of Ex-Muslims of North America Kiran Opal; LCP Dance Theatre; Filmmaker Lila Ghobady; Lino Veljak, Croatian Activist; Lawyer Maha Kamal; Algerian Secularism is a Woman’s Issue Founder Marieme Helie Lucas; Campaigner Maryam Namazie; head of International Committee against Execution and Stoning Mina Ahadi; Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia El-Fani; Spokesperson for Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Nahla Mahmoud; Secularist Nina Sankari; Campaigner Peter Tatchell; Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters; Franco-Syrian Politician Randa Kassis; Academic Rumy Hassan; Singer/Songwriter Shelley Segal; Author Siba Shakib; Women in Black Coordinator Stasa Zajovic; Survivors Voice Europe co-Founder Sue Cox; Taj Hargey, chair of Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford; Founder of Muslim Canadian Congress Tarek Fatah; Bangladeshi Writer Taslima Nasrin; National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson; Palestinian blogger and Council of ex-Muslims of France founder Waleed Husseini and more… To see speakers’ bios, click here.

The Conference will be based on interactive participation, dialogue, and regional and thematic forums. Regional forums will include Europe and North America; South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Thematic discussions will cover the Arab uprisings and revolutions; ‘Sharia’ and religious laws; religion and women’s right; hijab and gender segregation; freedom of expression, apostasy, blasphemy and free thought; ‘Islamophobia’ and racism; minorities versus citizenship rights; the far-Right; honour crimes; faith schools and religious education; reproductive rights; as well as defining secular values.

On the night of 11 October 2014, participants can enjoy a delicious three-course meal in the company of our renowned speakers and a full evening entertainment package.

An International Secular Manifesto and the establishment of a united front of secularists to meet future challenges will be the final outcome of the Conference. All Conference contributions will be published in a book.

The conference is endorsed by Atheist Alliance International; Children First Now; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now; Fitnah; International Committee against Stoning; International Committee against Execution; International Federation of Iranian Refugees; Iran Solidarity; One Law for All; Secularism is a Women’s Issue; The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK; and Women Living Under Muslim Laws amongst others.

For organisations or vendors wishing to books stalls, for more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Conference Organiser:
Maryam Namazie
[email protected]

To see a full list of events and speaking engagements, go here.

To see recent media coverage, visit here.

Not an Islamic revolution

The Islamic regime of Iran celebrates the “Islamic revolution” today. But Islamism has only brought untold misery and brutality to the people of Iran (and the world).

Islamism is not a cause for celebration; it only came to power on the back of a suppressed revolution and the slaughter of a generation.

Whilst history is written by the victors, a people’s revolution against the Shah’s dictatorship and for freedom and equality will have that black mark of “Islamic” on it. But not forever.

And despite the truth, there will be those who will do anything to defend and prolong the regime’s rule.

Watch the “celebrations” in Britain. House of Lords Peer Nazir Ahmed and MP Jeremy Corbyn are filmed grotesquely defending the regime.

Whilst the Press TV “reporter” rightly speaks of the impact of Iran’s Islamism across the world (by encouraging reaction and mediaevalism), she forgets that the Iranian revolution and the demand for freedom and equality has also had an impact. The revolution has also left its mark.

Business of course that is yet unfinished. But business that will bring Islamism to its knees in Iran.

As the late Marxist Mansoor Hekmat wrote commemorating the Iranian revolution:

“If history is the story of change, then real history is the history of the undefeated – the history of the movement and people who still want and are struggling for change, the history of those who are not willing to bury their ideals and hopes of a human society, the history of people and movements that are not at liberty of choosing their principles and aims and have no choice but to strive for improvements.”

This change is yet to come in Iran not via Rouhani or any other “reformist”, not via an Islamic regime, not via Islam, not via military attacks or economic sanctions but by a people’s revolution.

The storm is yet to come. And where will the likes of Jeremy Corbyn hide then?

(Via Fariborz Pooya)

Happy

Young people in Tunisia are posting videos of themselves dancing to Pharrell’s Happy song as a form of defiance.

Islamists have said the dancing is just “debauchery and moral decay” but the videos have received tens of thousands of hits and loads of support. Their coming to power heralds the death of music and dance so dancing is a really good way of challenging their regression.

In March of last year, Tunisian high school students did a protest version of the Harlem Shake pitting them against the Islamists.

You know the well known saying: If I can’t dance I won’t join your revolution…

It should now say: “I’ll dance to defend my revolution…”

Here are some of the videos:

(Via Marieme Helie Lucas)

Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive is just plain offensive

rancartoonEditorial from latest issue of Fitnah’s Unveiled

Rouhani’s “charm offensive” (including the “historic nuclear deal” and the promise of opening Iran up for business) is the other side of the coin of the regime’s intensification of repression. If you smile rather than scowl and utter sweet nothings and empty promises, the global powers that be are happy to ignore what happens to people in Iran. I suppose it is what they mostly do themselves every few years come election time. Protestations of “human rights abuses” are only useful when the regime doesn’t play nice.

But it’s not a “charm offensive” by any means; it’s just plain offensive.

During the “election”, Rouhani “promised” that “all Iranian people should feel there is justice”. They are certainly feeling it – his version of it at least – with 40 executions in the first two weeks of January and over 300 executions since he took office. Iran remains one of the main execution capitals of the world despite all claims of “moderation”. When Rouhani said “We must do something for all these prisoners to be released”, he must have meant in body bags.

Also, Rouhani’s “promise” to uphold the rights of the people as enumerated in the country’s constitution is yet another example of an empty exercise in PR. The constitution is one of the obstacles to upholding rights and actually violates them as does a theocracy.  Article 20 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution, for example, says men and women “enjoy equal protection of the law…in conformity with Islamic criteria” and Article 21 states that “the government must ensure the rights of women in all respects, in conformity with Islamic criteria”. As a result, it is perfectly legal that women cannot run for presidency, enter sports stadiums and certain fields of work or study, are segregated and have limited rights to divorce and child custody.

In less than 6 months of his presidency, his pledge to uphold the rights of women and bring legislation to the Islamic Assembly that addressed discrimination has only translated into more discrimination and misogyny, including the legalisation of paedophilia and child rape by making it legal for step-fathers to marry their adopted daughters as well as plans for a “Comprehensive Population and Family Excellence Plan”. The proposed legislation includes new limits on contraceptive use and added restrictions on women from accessing employment and educational opportunities. More efforts in lieu of keeping women in their place – barefoot and pregnant.

Of course the list is endless. Rouhani and his friends Tweet their sweet nothings and have Facebook pages whilst people in Iran are banned from using social media and can actually face arrest and harassment for it. Khamenei just issued a fatwa making it illegal to chat with unrelated members of the opposite sex.

And Iran remains the second largest jailer of journalists (forget political dissidents and opponents) though Rouhani “promised” that “justice means that anyone who wants to speak in a society should be able to come out, speak their mind, criticize and critique without hesitation and stammering”.

Add the regime’s draconian austerity measures and even the welcome end to economic sanctions will not be enough to give relief to the struggling people of Iran.

Absurdly, those celebrating Rouhani’s “charm” claim he is not to blame for the repression as he has no power – the supreme leader Khamenei does. Aside from the fact that Khamenei approved his candidacy, if Rouhani has no power, why so much jubilation? And if he does, then why not hold him accountable?

Of course any relief as a result of a reduction of economic sanctions, which adversely hurt the public, and a move away from threats of war is good but it’s not good enough.

The people of Iran deserve more. Much  more.

In the unforgettable words of Bob Dylan:

…Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times must a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?…
How many times must a man look up
Before he can really see the sky?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

 

On World Hijab Day

ghosthijabdayWorld Hijab Day
Editorial from latest issue of Fitnah’s Unveiled

1 February is World Hijab Day. What next? Maybe a World Mutilation Day to show support for women and girls who have been mutilated and World Child Marriages Day when we can marry off our under-aged daughters to show support and solidarity with religious and cultural practices that are making life a living hell for women and girls. How about a World Suttee Day when women can jump (or more likely be pushed) on the burning pyres of their dead husbands, or a World Foot-binding Day?

I keep being told that these are not one and the same but they are. The veil – whether you choose to wear it or not; whether you think it is folksy or not – is a tool like many others to control, restrict and suppress women and girls.

On World Hijab Day, please do take some time out to think not of the very few women who promote the veil as a right and choice (and who mainly live in the west or are Islamism’s defenders) but the innumerable who refuse and resist veiling at great risk to themselves.

On World Hijab Day, let’s remember them, stand with them, and say loudly and clearly that nothing can justify women’s oppression.

February 2014 Unveiled: anti-immigration confusion, World Hijab Day and on Hassan Rouhani

fitnah-UNVEILED-Feb14Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation 
February 2014; Volume 2, Issue 2
Editor: Maryam Namazie; Design: Kiran Opal

Pdf version of publication available here.

In this issue:
Interview with Kenan Malik: Secularism, Islamism and the Anti-Immigration Confusion
January 2014 Newsflash
Campaign: End Ban on Female Fans in Iran; Stadiums for All
Editorials: Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive is just plain offensive and World Hijab Day

Secularism, Islamism and the Anti-Immigration Confusion
Interview with Kenan Malik

Maryam Namazie: Restrictions demanded by Islamists are viewed as the demand of Muslims and immigrants who are seen to be a homogeneous group with no differences of opinion. Immigrants and Muslims are often blamed for all of Britain and Europe’s woes but particularly for the rise of Sharia courts, the burqa or 7/7. Your views?

Kenan Malik: When I was working on my book From Fatwa to Jihad, I interviewed Naser Khader, a Danish MP and one of the best known Muslims in the country. He recalled a conversation he had had at the time of the Danish cartoon controversy with Toger Seidenfaden, editor of the left-wing newspaper Politiken. ‘He said to me that the cartoons insulted all Muslims’, Khader remembers. ‘I said I was not insulted. And he said, “But you’re not a real Muslim”.’

That sums up the liberal attitude towards Muslims. You are only a ‘proper’ Muslim if you want to ban Danish cartoons, or are offended by The Satanic Verses or think that Monica Ali’s Brick Lane is demeaning to your community. Similarly, you are only a proper Sikh if you are offended by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti. Someone like Naser Khader, on the other hand, or like Salman Rushdie or Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, or Monica Ali, are seen as too liberal, too ‘Westernized’, too progressive, to be truly of their community.

The consequence has been that the most reactionary figures get to be seen as the authentic voices of those communities. And in presenting Muslim communities in this fashion, liberals do the racists’ job for them. The protests against the cartoons, as Khader put it, ‘were not about Mohammed. They were about who should represent Muslims’. And what was ‘really offensive’ to him was that ‘journalists and politicians see the fundamentalists as the real Muslims’.

It’s one of the ironies of the liberal multicultural view. Liberals argue for multicultural policies on the grounds that we live in a diverse nation. But they seem also to believe that such diversity somehow magically stops at the edges of minority communities. They wash over differences and conflicts in those communities, seeing them instead as fixed, homogenous groups with a single set of views, primarily driven by faith. And they rely on so-called community leaders to be suitable judges of what is and is not acceptable or necessary for that community. As a result, progressive voices often get silenced as ‘inauthentic’ or as not really being of that community.

Maryam Namazie: Free expression is a demand of those without power vis-a-vis the powers that be. It seems more often than not, it is those with power and influence making such demands at the expense of those who need it most. I’m thinking of Islamists using rights language to deny rights and expression. Free speech and expression have often been censored under the guise of respecting the sensibilities of Islamists (couched in terms of Muslim or minority sensibilities). [Read more...]