Iran: Two prominent trade union leaders arrested ahead of May Day

103Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Free Union of Workers in Iran (Ettehadiye Azad e Kargaran e Iran) has reported that two of its Executive Committee members have been arrested.

Jafar Azim Zadeh and Jamil Mohammadi were arrested during a raid on their homes in the capital Tehran at 1am this morning.

The police also raided the home of another leader of the Union, Parvin Mohammadi, breaking the door and forcibly entering the house. However, Ms Mohammadi was away from her home at the time, and was not arrested.

Jafar Azim Zadeh and Jamil Mohammadi are among the coordinators for a national pay rise campaign, which has so far attracted 40,000 signatures.

The arrests and intimidations are the authorities’ usual ploy each year to pre-empt protests and rallies by workers on May Day. This year’s arrests come ahead of a call by the Union for a rally outside the Labour Ministry in Tehran on May Day. The police have refused to authorise the event.

On Tuesday the police summoned five other Executive Committee members of the Free Union of Workers to the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Sanandaj, questioning them and warning them against participation in May Day rallies. Previously, seven other labour activists, all members of the Co-ordinating Committee to Help Form Free Labour Organisations, were summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj for questioning.

Earlier this month, anti-riot guards carried out a ferocious attack on political prisoners in Ward 350 of Evin Prison in Tehran, in the course of which many prisoners were injured, some seriously, and forcibly moved to a solitary ward of the Prison.

We urge labour organisations and human rights groups around the world to protest against the detention of trade union leaders Jafar Azim Zadeh and Jamil Mohammadi and call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran
shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com
bahram.soroush@gmail.com

Press Release: Wills without bigotry – protest against the Law Society

1398734961-protest-staged-against-law-societys-decision-to-recognize-sharia-law_4591701 (1)About 70 protesters rallied outside the office of the Law Society to condemn their endorsement of discriminatory sharia law on April 28 2014.

The protest was organised by anti-racist, feminist and human rights groups, namely One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, Centre for Secular Space, and London School of Economics SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society.

Chris Moos was the master of ceremonies of the rally.

At the protest, Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters called upon the Law Society to withdraw its guidance:

Our message to you is this: Wake up: You are the Law Society and not a body advising on the compatibility of the law with religious principles! You have no business in normalising discriminatory religious principles in the legal culture and practice of this country. Your business is to ensure that the law is human rights complaint and not anti-rights compliant. Your business is to tear up the guidance. Your business is to stand with us on this side of the fence and on this side of history.

Maryam Namazie, founder of One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation argued:

There is no place for Sharia in Britain’s legal system just as there is no place for it anywhere. Sharia – like all religious laws – is based on a dogmatic and regressive philosophy and a warped understanding of the concepts of equality and justice. It is primitive and patriarchal and based on inequality, retribution and religious [im]morality. It is not a rule for equals and has no place in a modern state or system of law. Law Society listen up: you must immediately withdraw your shameful guidance. Now! In the words of Algerian women singing for change: “We aren’t asking for favours. History speaks for us”.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:

The Law Society is violating its own equality policies by providing guidance on Sharia-compliant wills and offering training courses in Sharia law for high street lawyers. It is colluding with Sharia law principles that discriminate against women, non-Muslims and children who are adopted or born to unmarried parents. This is a direct attack on the equal rights of many Muslims, especially women. The Law Society is supposed to uphold the equality values of British law. Instead, it is undermining them. The Law Society would never provide guidance to facilitate racist or homophobic-compliant wills. Why the double standards?

Kate Smurthwaite, comedian and activist, appealed to the Law Society:

Religious bigots are highly skilled at trampling on the rights of women, children and non-believers. They don’t need The Law Society to help them. The value of daughters is THE SAME as the value of sons. All marriages, religious, non-religious, gay or straight are marriages. And every child is legitimate. Faced with bigotry it is the job of all of us – including the Law Society – to challenge it. The protestors today did exactly that. When will The Law Society follow suit and rip up this ‘guide to discrimination’?

Abhishek Phadnis, president of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, added:

I come from a country which has seen this divisive trend being taken to its logical conclusion – where a woman’s rights to, among other things, alimony and inheritance, depend entirely on her religion, there being different laws for each community. The resulting discrimination has visited appalling suffering upon Muslim women in particular. I have no wish to see it replicated here. A man may choose to be as spiteful and chauvinistic as he wishes, but it is not something our public institutions should encourage or condone. I hope the Law Society will withdraw this Note before it causes any further damage.

James Bloodworth, the Editor of Left Foot Forward, said: [Read more…]

Sharia law is madness

maryam-namazie-photo by Mallorie Nassrallah-smallThe below is Maryam Namazie’s editorial published in the April 2014 issue of Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation.

Sharia law is highly contested and vehemently opposed in many places across the globe.

In Algeria, women’s rights activists singing for change label 20 years of Sharia in the family code as 20 years of madness.  They sing:

“I am telling you a story
Of what the powerful have done
Of rules, a code of despair
A code obsessed with women…”
“This law must be undone…!”

In Iran, after the establishment of Sharia law there, the Iranian Lawyers’ Association came out in full force against the new religious codes only to be met with arrest and exile; some opponents were even charged with apostasy, which is a “crime” punishable by death…

How tragically ironic, then, that the British Law Society, has decided to side with the Islamists and issue Sharia-complaint guidance which matter-of-factly endorses discrimination against females, non-Muslims and “illegitimate” children.

Rather than being at the forefront of defending equality before the law, they legitimise inequality and bring back patriarchal and archaic concepts of “justice” that deny rights to women merely because of their gender and children merely for being born out of wedlock! A recent film called “Bastards” shows single mother Rabha El Haimer, an illiterate child bride, in her fight to secure a future for her “illegitimate” child in Morocco.

Thanks to the Law Society, this will be the fate of British children and women too!

How very shameful!

“Muslim feminists” tell us that the Law Society has accepted de facto an Islamist interpretation of Sharia law – which is true. It is always those in power who determine the laws and rules, and when it comes to Islam, due to the power and influence of Islamism, it is their brutal version that affects innumerable lives.

“Muslim feminists” also tell us that there are more women-friendly interpretations out there, which the Law Society has ignored. That may well be the case (though I have never seen one that is favourable or fair enough). In my opinion, no religious law can ever give 21st century women and men the full equality they deserve.

In any case, a focus on interpretations misses the point: which is that religion is a private matter open to as many interpretations as there are believers. Once it becomes part of the state or law, it becomes a matter of repressive political power and control with women and girls as its first victims.

The real point is that religion – be it Islam or Judaism or Christianity or what have you – must be kept separate from the state and law if women and everyone else are to be protected and considered equal.

Clearly, there is no place for Sharia in Britain’s legal system just as there is no place for it anywhere.

The fight against the Law Society is part and parcel of the fight against Sharia and religious laws everywhere. And don’t be mistaken. This is not just about opposing institutionalised discrimination. It is about 21st century humanity rejecting a code of law that belongs to the Middle Ages, that sees women as sub-human, that deems sexuality, sex and women’s bodies as illegal whilst legalising child marriages, stonings and misogyny.

Sharia – like all religious laws – is based on a 1400 year old dogmatic and regressive philosophy and its warped understanding of the concepts of equality and justice. Where Islamists have control over the state, Sharia law terrorises the population to submit by showing the damnable nature of dissent.  It is a primitive and patriarchal system based on inequality, retribution and religious [im]morality. It is not a rule for equals and has no place in a modern state or system of law.

Only a few days ago, a representative of Khamenei , Iran’s “Supreme Spiritual leader” (absurd titles that only come with religious rule) said: “Sadly, over the past three decades we have seen many working to establish a secular state [in Iran] which will undermine people’s Islamic values and culture”. Of course we have. No one opposes Sharia law more than those who have lived under, fled, or resisted it.

I am sure the Islamists are very grateful to the Law Society for upholding their values at the expense of the many others who demand equality and secularism.

Law Society listen up: you must immediately withdraw your shameful guidance. Withdraw it now!

In the words of Algerian women singing for change:

“We aren’t asking for favours.
“History speaks for us.”

Equality before the law is not just an empty phrase

Pragna-Patel-InterviewThe below is an interview with Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters published in the April 2014 issue of Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation:

On the Law Society’s Discriminatory Guidance on Sharia-Compliant Inheritance and Wills

Interview with Pragna Patel

Maryam Namazie: British law already allows people to leave their estates to whomever they choose so why does a statement signed by a number of groups and individuals label the Law Society’s guidance on Sharia-compliant inheritance and wills discriminatory?

Pragna Patel:  The practice note (guidelines) issued by the Law Society is extremely problematic because what it seeks to do is to institutionalise a profoundly discriminatory approach to the question of property settlements, disputes and trusts concerning women and children in minority communities. It is at best a misguided response but nevertheless dangerous, because it is yet another way of reflecting the growing view that civil matters and disputes in minority communities are to be addressed within a religious framework.

The practice notes states: ‘This is the first time guidance has been published for solicitors to assist them with the intricacies of Sharia succession rules, which is the code of law derived from the Quran and from the teachings and examples of Mohammed’.

The immediate question that needs to be asked is why does the Law Society not leave it to clerics to clarify the ‘intricacies’ of ‘Sharia’ rules outside the law for those who want it? How can it possibly think that its role is to guide on religious matters? More importantly, why does the Law Society feel that it needs to support and be seen to publicly support the drawing up of discriminatory wills? Quite apart from the fact that it cannot possibly know what is and isn’t ‘Sharia compliant’ given the many contested interpretations of so called ‘Sharia’ law, it actually wades into religious territory and gives succour to the view that religious and secular laws can operate in parallel with the former applying to minorities and the latter to the white majority society.

The role of the Law Society is to promote legal professional standards so that the law is upheld in a fair and non-discriminatory way. The phrase ‘equality before the law’ is not just an empty phrase. Justice must not only be done but seen to be done. The law is symbolic and aspirational at the same time; it is an important means by which just and democratic societal norms are established. The Law Society has no business in normalising ‘Sharia’ principles in British legal culture. The Law Society also has no business in endorsing and promoting discriminatory religious norms and values for minorities because in doing so, it enhances profoundly patriarchal and unequal social arrangements in minority communities.

Maryam Namazie: If it’s not binding, how can it seriously undermine the Equality Act, citizenship rights and one law for all?

Pragna Patel:  Those who argue that it is ‘not binding’ and that it is ‘all a fuss about nothing’, miss the point entirely.  The guidance signals the view that no matter how discriminatory and abhorrent certain aspects of minority cultures may be, they must be tolerated and even supported! We cannot underestimate the ways in which religion is creeping into the very fabric of legal structures in our society and it is minority women and other vulnerable sub groups who pay the price. By issuing such guidance, the Law Society is helping to create a context that is conducive to the practice of patriarchal oppression and to the legitimisation of anti-human rights religious norms. Religious norms dictate strict gender roles and codes of conduct for women – codes that deny their right to freedom and equality in the family in a range of matters such as marriage, divorce, children and inheritance.

I have noted that the religious-Right (who have been in the ascendency in our communities since the 90s) have been quietly going about trying to create a parallel legal system in the UK. By engaging in a pincer-like manoeuvre, they have on the one hand, obtained official endorsement for the establishment and operation of alternative religious forums for dispute resolutions on family matters, such as Sharia councils and tribunals, and on the other hand, they have influenced the legal system from the inside by demanding ‘Sharia compliant’ approaches to civil and especially family matters. The Law Society’s response is an example of the latter category.

The guidelines remind solicitors that under ‘Sharia’ ‘…as a general rule, a male heir will inherit twice the amount that a female heir will receive, Illegitimate children are not heirs’. This is really extraordinary since it accepts without question, the inherent discrimination that exists in Islam (as indeed in other religions) against women and children born outside marriage.  What happened to the ideals of justice, equality and fairness embodied in the law? Far from promoting equality and justice, by its action, the Law Society is helping to arrest the development of justice born out of struggles for equality by women in minority communities. It is one thing to recognise that discrimination exists in all societies, but quite another for the Law Society to be associated with and be seen to promote relativism to questions of equality and justice. The demand for recognition of separate religious or ‘personal’ laws to address family matters are gaining momentum, but it has serious and even life threatening implications for minority women and children and other minority sub-groups. [Read more…]

Fitnah Unveiled: On Sharia Law

fitnah-UNVEILED28-apr14-A4_Page_01Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
April 2014, Volume 2, Issue 4

Editor: Maryam Namazie. Design: Kiran Opal. Layout: Jim Sharples.

PDF VERSION OF FITNAH UNVEILED APRIL ISSUE: fitnah-UNVEILED28-apr14-A4

Editorial
Sharia law is madness
Maryam Namazie

Sharia law is highly contested and vehemently opposed in many places across the globe.

In Algeria, women’s rights activists singing for change label 20 years of Sharia in the family code as 20 years of madness.  They sing:

“I am telling you a story
Of what the powerful have done
Of rules, a code of despair
A code obsessed with women…”
“This law must be undone…!”

In Iran, after the establishment of Sharia law there, the Iranian Lawyers’ Association came out in full force against the new religious codes only to be met with arrest and exile; some opponents were even charged with apostasy, which is a “crime” punishable by death…

How tragically ironic, then, that the British Law Society, has decided to side with the Islamists and issue Sharia-complaint guidance which matter-of-factly endorses discrimination against females, non-Muslims and “illegitimate” children.

Rather than being at the forefront of defending equality before the law, they legitimise inequality and bring back patriarchal and archaic concepts of “justice” that deny rights to women merely because of their gender and children merely for being born out of wedlock! A recent film called “Bastards” shows single mother Rabha El Haimer, an illiterate child bride, in her fight to secure a future for her “illegitimate” child in Morocco.

Thanks to the Law Society, this will be the fate of British children and women too!

How very shameful!

“Muslim feminists” tell us that the Law Society has accepted de facto an Islamist interpretation of Sharia law – which is true. It is always those in power who determine the laws and rules, and when it comes to Islam, due to the power and influence of Islamism, it is their brutal version that affects innumerable lives.

“Muslim feminists” also tell us that there are more women-friendly interpretations out there, which the Law Society has ignored. That may well be the case (though I have never seen one that is favourable or fair enough). In my opinion, no religious law can ever give 21st century women and men the full equality they deserve.

In any case, a focus on interpretations misses the point: which is that religion is a private matter open to as many interpretations as there are believers. Once it becomes part of the state or law, it becomes a matter of repressive political power and control with women and girls as its first victims.

The real point is that religion – be it Islam or Judaism or Christianity or what have you – must be kept separate from the state and law if women and everyone else are to be protected and considered equal.

Clearly, there is no place for Sharia in Britain’s legal system just as there is no place for it anywhere.

The fight against the Law Society is part and parcel of the fight against Sharia and religious laws everywhere. And don’t be mistaken. This is not just about opposing institutionalised discrimination. It is about 21st century humanity rejecting a code of law that belongs to the Middle Ages, that sees women as sub-human, that deems sexuality, sex and women’s bodies as illegal whilst legalising child marriages, stonings and misogyny.

Sharia – like all religious laws – is based on a 1400 year old dogmatic and regressive philosophy and its warped understanding of the concepts of equality and justice. Where Islamists have control over the state, Sharia law terrorises the population to submit by showing the damnable nature of dissent.  It is a primitive and patriarchal system based on inequality, retribution and religious [im]morality. It is not a rule for equals and has no place in a modern state or system of law.

Only a few days ago, a representative of Khamenei , Iran’s “Supreme Spiritual leader” (absurd titles that only come with religious rule) said: “Sadly, over the past three decades we have seen many working to establish a secular state [in Iran] which will undermine people’s Islamic values and culture”. Of course we have. No one opposes Sharia law more than those who have lived under, fled, or resisted it.

I am sure the Islamists are very grateful to the Law Society for upholding their values at the expense of the many others who demand equality and secularism.

Law Society listen up: you must immediately withdraw your shameful guidance. Withdraw it now!

In the words of Algerian women singing for change:

“We aren’t asking for favours.
“History speaks for us.”

 ‘Equality before the law’ is not just an empty phrase
On the Law Society’s Discriminatory Guidance on Sharia-Compliant Inheritance and Wills
Interview with Pragna Patel

Maryam Namazie: British law already allows people to leave their estates to whomever they choose so why does a statement signed by a number of groups and individuals label the Law Society’s guidance on Sharia-compliant inheritance and wills discriminatory?

Pragna Patel:  The practice note (guidelines) issued by the Law Society is extremely problematic because what it seeks to do is to institutionalise a profoundly discriminatory approach to the question of property settlements, disputes and trusts concerning women and children in minority communities. It is at best a misguided response but nevertheless dangerous, because it is yet another way of reflecting the growing view that civil matters and disputes in minority communities are to be addressed within a religious framework.

The practice notes states: ‘This is the first time guidance has been published for solicitors to assist them with the intricacies of Sharia succession rules, which is the code of law derived from the Quran and from the teachings and examples of Mohammed’.

The immediate question that needs to be asked is why does the Law Society not leave it to clerics to clarify the ‘intricacies’ of ‘Sharia’ rules outside the law for those who want it? How can it possibly think that its role is to guide on religious matters? More importantly, why does the Law Society feel that it needs to support and be seen to publicly support the drawing up of discriminatory wills? Quite apart from the fact that it cannot possibly know what is and isn’t ‘Sharia compliant’ given the many contested interpretations of so called ‘Sharia’ law, it actually wades into religious territory and gives succour to the view that religious and secular laws can operate in parallel with the former applying to minorities and the latter to the white majority society.

The role of the Law Society is to promote legal professional standards so that the law is upheld in a fair and non-discriminatory way. The phrase ‘equality before the law’ is not just an empty phrase. Justice must not only be done but seen to be done. The law is symbolic and aspirational at the same time; it is an important means by which just and democratic societal norms are established. The Law Society has no business in normalising ‘Sharia’ principles in British legal culture. The Law Society also has no business in endorsing and promoting discriminatory religious norms and values for minorities because in doing so, it enhances profoundly patriarchal and unequal social arrangements in minority communities.

Maryam Namazie: If it’s not binding, how can it seriously undermine the Equality Act, citizenship rights and one law for all?

Pragna Patel:  Those who argue that it is ‘not binding’ and that it is ‘all a fuss about nothing’, miss the point entirely.  The guidance signals the view that no matter how discriminatory and abhorrent certain aspects of minority cultures may be, they must be tolerated and even supported! We cannot underestimate the ways in which religion is creeping into the very fabric of legal structures in our society and it is minority women and other vulnerable sub groups who pay the price. By issuing such guidance, the Law Society is helping to create a context that is conducive to the practice of patriarchal oppression and to the legitimisation of anti-human rights religious norms. Religious norms dictate strict gender roles and codes of conduct for women – codes that deny their right to freedom and equality in the family in a range of matters such as marriage, divorce, children and inheritance. [Read more…]

HOLD THESE DATES

JOIN PROTEST AGAINST LAW SOCIETY

DATE: Monday 28 April 2014

TIME: 17:00-18:00 hours

PLACE: The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL

Just show up. Also join the Facebook Page.

Speakers include:   Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law For All; Pragna Patel, Founder, Southall Black Sisters; Peter Tatchell, Founder, Peter Tatchell Foundation; Yasmin Rehman, Fellow of Muslim Institute and Centre for Secular Space; Kate Smurthwaite, Comedian and activist; James Bloodworth, Editor, Left Foot Forward; Abhishek Phadnis, President, LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and Diana Nammi, Executive Director, Iranian Kurdish Women’s Refugee Organisation amongst others.

Here’s an open letter signed by a number of well known personalities explaining why the guidance is discriminatory and must be withdrawn.

The protest is organised by One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, Centre for Secular Space and LSE SUASH.

EVENING DRINKS WITH LAWYER ON APOSTASY AND ASYLUM

DATE: Monday 28 April 2014

TIME: 18:30-20:00

PLACE: The George, 213 Strand, London (nearest Tube: Temple)

Please feel free to join a Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain event after the Law Society protest.

Ana Gonzalez, a lawyer of a well-respected law firm which has represented a number of apostasy asylum claimants and CEMB members will speak about the right to asylum and apostasy. There will be plenty of time to mingle and socialise during the event. Entry: £3; £1 unwaged.

2014 HISTORIC CONFERENCE ON RELIGIOUS-RIGHT, SECULARISM AND CIVIL RIGHTS

DATE: 11-12 October 2014

TIME: All-day for two days

PLACE: The Tower Hotel, London, UK

Notable speakers from around the world will be joining us for a weekend of discussions and debates on the Religious Right, its attacks on civil rights and freedoms, and the role of secularism for 21st century humanity during 11-12 October 2014 at the Tower Hotel in London.

The Arab uprisings; Sharia and religious laws; the burqa and conspicuous religious symbols; freedom of expression and its limits; apostasy, blasphemy and free thought; “Islamophobia” and racism; honour crimes; faith schools and religious education; reproductive rights and secular values will be amongst the topics discussed.

Speakers/Acts include British Philosopher A C Grayling; Tunisian Academic Amel Grami; Activist Amina Sboui; Activist Bahram Soroush; Egyptian writer Ben Baz Aziz; Writer and Journalist Caroline Fourest; LSE Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Chetan Bhatt; Student Activist Chris Moos; Yemeni Activist and Academic Elham Manea; Social Activist and Writer Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar; Secularist 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; Academic Activist Lino Veljak; Lawyer Maha Kamal; Secularism is a Woman’s Issue Founder Marieme Helie Lucas; Campaigner Maryam Namazie; head of International Committee against Execution and Stoning Mina Ahadi; 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; Rationalist Sanal Edamaruku; Singer/Songwriter Shelley Segal; Author Siba Shakib; Peace Campaigner Stasa Zajovic; Sue Cox, Survivors Voice Europe; Taj Hargey, chair of Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford; Founder of Muslim Canadian Congress Tarek Fatah; Bangladeshi Writer Taslima Nasrin; Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society; and Palestinian blogger and Council of ex-Muslims of France founder Waleed Al Husseini.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit here.

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:

Maryam Namazie

BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK

Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

E-mail: maryamnamazie@gmail.com

 

They kill atheists and we are deemed terrorists!

BlmEbgHCEAA4lmmHere is my opening statement on the International Atheism panel with Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar and Cristina Rad at AACon2014:

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions.

Islam is no different except that Islamism – an extreme Right movement with Islam as its banner – is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

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

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives.

One of the characteristics of an Islamic inquisition is the policing of thought. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe they can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist? Being a murtad is the most heinous of crimes. Saudi Arabia just issued a law equating atheism with terrorism.

The bitter irony! They kill us and we are the terrorists.

Apostasy is a prosecutable offence in 30 countries under the influence of Sharia and punishable by death in 11.
Of course there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates in the Koran and Hadith – sayings and actions of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet.

From a religious standpoint, preventing apostasy is crucial to the preservation of Islam as Islamic “scholar” Qaradawi says. I use the term scholar lightly. As Dawkins says, you do need to read more than one book to be considered a scholar. But apostasy laws and the execution of apostates are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

It’s used to silence anyone who questions Islamic rule. Most recently, Roya Nobakht in Iran has been charged with apostasy for saying the regime is “too Islamic” and in Bangladesh, two high school students have been arrested for apostasy for questioning the Jamaat Islami.

Challenging apostasy laws therefore is first and foremost a political challenge. Hence the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims, an atheist organisation, found now in the UK, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Austria, France, North America and also in Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

Don’t forget Christianity also used to execute its apostates. It’s not that the tenets, dogma, and principles of Christianity have changed since the days of the inquisition but rather its social and political influence and its relation to the state. A religion that has been reined in by an enlightenment is very different from one that is spearheading an inquisition.

Challenging it means having the courage to think for oneself, as philosopher AC Grayling says of the Council of Ex-Muslims, breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam, and paving the way for others to do so.

It’s mainly though an important aspect of the fightback against Islamism.

Some will ask why we cannot just call ourselves atheists and not ex-Muslims but atheist alone cannot describe the risks and challenges we face.

Others will say our Council is an unnecessary provocation.

It’s a provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us all the time: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise … and no one need get hurt.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know this movement.

Islamists need no excuses. Murder and mayhem is part and parcel of their movement.

Throughout history barbarity has always been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.

They say we are not allowed to leave Islam.To them I say: We are not waiting for your permission.

(Photo Evan McHugh)

Iranian cultural figures and artists outside Iran stand united against the execution of Rayhaneh Jabbari

Let us band together to save someone from capital punishment. Let us not stand by and watch as a precious life is snuffed out.

Rayhaneh Jabbari is 26 years old. At age 19 she was charged with the murder of Morteza Sarbandi, a doctor and a former employee of the Ministry of Intelligence and Surveillance of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She was spent the last seven years in prison. Rayhaneh is the daughter of our beloved colleague, Teacher and theater actress, Sholeh Pakravan.

Rayhaneh was a set designer and to that end, Morteza asks her to a meeting in his office, in order to discuss an interior design project. Rayhaneh arrives at the meeting but after a few moments she realizes that the location has no resemblance to an office. Morteza then offers her some fruit juice (forensic tests conducted by the police during the investigation proved that the juice contained a form of Date Rape Drugs or Rufis) and after locking the door, he attacks Rayhaneh who out of fear, tried to defend herself by stabbing him in the shoulder blade. She then flees the premises. Morteza dies, following which Rayhaneh is tracked down and arrested.

An examination of the text messages exchanged between Rayhaneh Jabbari and Morteza Sarbandi proves Rayhaneh’s account which specified that prior to this incident, they had no relationship or connection and that Morteza had been in touch with her on work and business related matters.

Rayhaneh has spent long stretches in solitary confinement and has undergone brutal interrogations, endured physical abuse and has been pressured by her jailers to falsely confess to having murdered Morteza for political purposes. But she has stood her ground and has continued to maintain that she acted in self-defense.

Should Rayhaneh confess to a preconceived political murder?! When all the documents clearly prove that she did in fact act in self-defense, how then, based on all this evidence can this young girl be executed?

Based on Rayhaneh’s defense attorney and the ‘victim’s’ family, the case is filled with ambiguities. Hence, how and based on what, is it logical or rational for a judge to hand down a sentence of execution as a form of retribution?

Friends,

The court has perceived Rayhaneh’s self-defense as murder with malice aforethought and has sentenced her to execution by hanging. We the below signatories of this statement, demand the immediate annulment of Rayhaneh’s execution and call for her case to be re-opened and re-examined by a fair and proper court of law. We stand shoulder to shoulder and steadfast with Rayhaneh and her family and lend our voices to a member of our cultural and artistic community; one of our own, who is enduring a crisis has our undying support. [Read more…]

Ghesas and Execution are the same

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary-general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights recently said: “The problem lies in that the west does not understand that Ghesas code [retribution] is different from execution. A verdict of Ghesas belongs to the aggrieved who can either pardon the condemned or impose the sentence”.

Mohammad Javad Larijani said: “We are not embarrassed by any of our Islamic codes and stand behind them”.

Aside from the bitter irony of the secretary-general of the Iranian regime’s “Human Rights” Council defending rights violations, Larijani merely does what all regimes that kill do – provide legitimacy for it.

Governments that still execute today (including the USA and China), or have executed until relatively recently have always professed to have done so on behalf of and for the protection of society. What Islamic codes do is further “personalise” this by professing to “thoughtfully” murder human beings on behalf of the aggrieved.

Irrespective of the justifications, though, the death penalty and Ghesas are instruments of power aimed at controlling and suppressing society, re-establishing authority after every heinous act and constantly re-creating a climate of fear. By placing the responsibility of the execution on the aggrieved, the regime wants to normalise its brutality and evade accountability. But this is not possible. After all the aggrieved have not written the Islamic codes of [in]justice, nor have they tortured the accused, condemned them in unfair trials or set up the gallows in public squares and hired executioners to do the dirty deed… This is all the regime’s doing; it has nothing to do with murder and everything to do with putting people in their place.

As Mansoor Hekmat says: “[Capital punishment] has its own history. It is the state’s rights and powers over citizens today as a continuation of the state’s rights and powers in the past. When Agha Mohammad Khan Ghajar blinds and kills residents of an entire town, he is not objecting to a specific crime. When a horse thief in America is hanged or a soldier who has escaped military service is executed, they are not registering a grievance in a judicial sense, but rather they are putting people in their places and forcing them to submit to rules and regulations. They are terrorising people. They are governing. In today’s world, capital punishment is not just a so-called punishment for murder, it is also a punishment for unauthorised sex, hoarding, believing in common ownership, forming opposition parties, mocking of god and prophets, homosexuality, etc. From the beginning of state rule, the killing of inhabitants has always been and is a pillar of forcing people into submission. The history of capital punishment is not found in judicial debates about crime and punishment, but rather in the history of class rule and the state”.

Executions are a pillar of the Islamic regime of Iran. It and only it is wholly responsible for the innumerable dead. Despite Iran being the execution capital of the world, though, Larijani’s efforts at legitimisation allude to another crucial fact that must never be forgotten. You only need to legitimise barbarity when there is resistance. The rising and ever-increasing battle against executions in Iran in particular is testament to the refusal of a people to submit. It is these very people who will bring an end to executions and the regime and drag Iran back into the 21st century.

Until then, the struggle continues.

Rayhaneh is to be reportedly executed on Tuesday

The only way to save her is to increase the pressure through the Campaign

IT HAS NOW BEEN REPORTED THAT RAYHANEH’S EXECUTION DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR THIS TUESDAY. WE MUST STOP IT.

On Saturday 7 April 2014 or Farvardin 17, 1393 on the Persian calender a meeting was held in Tehran in the name of peace and reconciliation with regards to Rayhaneh’s death sentence. Everyone one around the world was hoping to hear of Rayhaneh’s imminent release.  Unfortunately, the news we have just received from Iran has shattered our hopes…

Under Islamic Law (Sharia Law) only the family of the deceased has the power to stop the execution of the accused by forgiving them. Sadly, this was not the conclusion of the April 7th negotiations which was attended by prominent Iranian artists, athletes, writers and intellectuals alike.

During the proceedings, a young man who was attending the meeting in order to sign the death sentence of the killer of his brother while trembling and crying announced that “after hearing all the attendees’ speeches he wished to forgive the killer and does not wish to have the accused executed”.

After hearing such highly emotional and humane announcement; two members of the Sarbandi family stated that they also do not agree with the execution of Rayhaneh, that they wish to discuss the matter further. As such, the family of the victim neither agreed nor disagreed with the execution at that time. In the meeting, however, it appeared that both families of the victim and the accused spoke of further review of Rayhaneh’s ambiguous case.

According to news we just received from Iran, on Tuesday April 8, 2014, Rayhaneh’s name was called on the prison loudspeaker requesting her presence to meet a visitor. Rayhaneh was paralyzed with fear as when one’s name is called on the loud speaker on a Tuesday it means the victim will be transferred to solitary to await execution on Wednesday. But instead she was met by a man from the judiciary office whose job is to “comfort” prisoners before execution. He told her that “her fate is in God’s hands and that she must accept it”.

This news shows that Rayhaneh’s life is in grave danger and we must make our protest to her execution even louder and stronger… [Read more…]

28 April 2014 Symbolic Protest, Law Society, London

sharia-willsJoin Protest against Law Society
28 April 2014 from 5:00-6:00pm at
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL.

Just show up or join the Facebook Page of the One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, Centre for Secular Space, Lawyers Secular Society and LSE SUASH organised symbolic protest. The protest is endorsed by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

The Law Society, the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales, has issued Sharia-related guidance on wills, succession and inheritance. The guidance says:

“Certain principles of Sharia are different to English succession laws. For example, it is not possible to inherit under Sharia rules via a deceased relative. No distinction is made between children of different marriages, but illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs.

“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death”.

Whilst not binding, the guidance legitimises rules which are highly contested by many Muslims themselves and which discriminates against Muslim women, non-Muslims, and ‘illegitimate’ and adopted children. The guidance seriously undermines the Equality Act, citizenship rights and one law for all.

Since individuals are already free to dispense of their estate as they see fit (as long as they provide for their dependants) such guidance unwittingly aids and abets Islamist attempts at subverting democratic laws and principles with a de facto parallel legal system where minority women and children have increasingly fewer rights than other citizens.

This scandalous guidance is similar to that which Universities UK published endorsing gender segregation at universities in Britain. UUK was promptly forced to withdraw its guidance after widespread condemnation.

This protest will call for a withdrawal of the guidelines and make clear to the Law Society and the wider public that guidance that legitimises discrimination and bigotry is unacceptable.

You can find the list of signatories, including Maryam Namazie Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Gita Sahgal, Peter Tatchell, Pragna Patel, Kate Smurthwaite,Sue CoxTaslima Nasrin and Richard Dawkins here.

The open letter from the Lawyers’ Secular Society can be found here.

If you haven’t already, please sign the LSS petition with more than 2,000 signatures here.

International Humanist Academy

I was recently elected as a Laureate of the International Humanist Academy. Other distinguished members include some of my favourite people: AC Grayling, Richard Dawkins, Taslima Nasrin, Harold Kroto and many more! Here’s a list of the members and more about the Academy.

آکادمی بین المللی اومانىسم (انسانگرایی) مريم نمازى را بعنوان عضو خود انتخاب کرده است

آکادمی بین المللی اومانىسم (انسانگرایی) مريم نمازى را بعنوان عضو خود انتخاب کرده است

اين آکادمى در سال ۱۹۸۳ براى برسميت شناختن اومانيستهاى برجسته و در جهت شناساندن اومانيسم تاسيس شده است.

اسامی اعضای آکادمی در زیر زیل شده است.

http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3258

برخى از اعضاى آکادمی بین الملی انسانگرایی شامل ریچارد دوکینگز و نويسنده گان مشهور ماریو وارگاس لوسا٬ تسليما نسرين و سلمان رشدى مى باشند.

قانون برابر براى همه

۲ آوريل ۲۰۱۴

Fitnah Unveiled March 2014

fitnah-UNVEILED6-mar14-A4_Page_01Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
March 2014, Volume 2, Issue 3
Editor: Maryam Namazie; Design: Kiran Opal

PDF Version of Publication

This is my body; I will do whatever I want with it, Interview with Amina Sboui and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

Maryam Namazie: Why did you do the nude action in Egypt? Aliaa Magda Elmahdy: In Egypt, a woman is like a lifeless body, a corpse. This body is owned by other people. They think if she doesn’t follow the rules, it is okay to beat her, to harass her; it is okay to kill her. So the best way to say no to all of that is to say “This is my body and I will do whatever I want with it.”

Maryam Namazie; Is that how you felt too Amina? Amina Sboui: It’s mostly not just in Egypt, not just in Tunisia. It’s in the Arab world that women are treated like that. I guess we have the same reasons why we did it. Actually we did it to show the world how we are treated and mostly to try to change things. Hopefully we will be able to change things – at least a little. Read rest of interview here.

I will be nude, I will protest, and I will challenge you to your core!
Maryam Namazie

All religions have a disturbing view of the female and her body. Islam is no different. Given that Islamism – a regressive political movement with state power and political influence in many places – is using Islam as its banner, however, women’s sexuality and bodies are policed and criminalised and misogyny is encouraged and imposed by the state.

…The idealised woman is obedient, properly veiled, submissive, and accepting of her assigned “place” in society. The rest of us are whores, often compared to unwrapped sweets – covered in flies and free for the taking. We are the source of fitnah in society and blamed for every calamity and natural disaster, as well as the disintegration of the family and society, and deserving of punishment in order to maintain national and Islamic values, pride and honour.

…Islamism’s obsession with women’s bodies and its insistence that women be veiled and hidden from view means that nudity becomes an important form of public resistance. Islamists want us bound in body bags, not seen and not heard. We refuse to comply.

…A nude woman is the antithesis of the idealised veiled and submissive woman. Whilst nude protest is not the only way to resist Islamism and the veil, it is a very modern, practical and appropriate way of doing so. It also challenges discrimination against women and a system which profits from the commodification and sexualisation of women’s bodies. Read the rest here.

Women’s breasts: a serious threat
Patty Debonitas

Thousands of people have attended breastfeeding protests in support of a Staffordshire mother who was labelled a “tramp” for feeding her baby in public. The breast is a thing of concern for many. To show it or not, to look or not. To breastfeed or not. In public that is because women’s breasts it seems are public property. It’s okay for women to flash their boobs, just ask any newsagent. Our breasts, the naked kind, are good enough to be prominently displayed on many newspapers and magazines in any newsagent you enter. And they sell very well. Read the rest here.

News Flash: February 2014

Iranian mother of two, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and later given a 10-year jail term instead due to public outrage has been allowed to leave prison, a judiciary spokesman said. Larijani, head of the judiciary, told Fars News Agency that “Ms. Ashtiani’s case was the source of four months of widespread attacks against the regime… this individual was sentenced to death for murder but the international groups began a controversial campaign over it…. we did not pay much attention to those efforts…. we are letting her out simply for good behaviour.” Ms. Ashtiani was the subject of one of the largest international campaigns initiated by International Committee Against Executions and International Committee Against Stoning by their founder, Mina Ahadi, who was contacted by Ms. Ashtiani’s son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh. See news items here.

Campaigns

Iran: Save Rayhaneh Jabbari from execution by hanging. To sign petition, click here.

More information on Rayhaneh here.

The Law Society must withdraw its guidance on Sharia-succession rules

We, the undersigned, are appalled to learn that the Law Society, the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales, has issued Sharia-related guidance on wills, succession and inheritance…
…Whilst not binding, the guidance legitimises rules which are highly contested by many Muslims themselves and which discriminates against Muslim women, non-Muslims, and ‘illegitimate’ and adopted children. The guidance seriously undermines the Equality Act, citizenship rights and one law for all.

See the rest of the statement and its signatories here.

Sign petition calling for the guidance to be withdrawn here.

There will be a symbolic protest action on Monday 28 April at 5pm. More details to follow.

Art Corner: Victoria Guggenheim

Victoria Guggenheim is an award-winning body painter who sees the expression of your sexuality, and the autonomous use of the body as a human right. Censoring the human body is an act of closed mindedness and prudery and is a form of oppression. People confuse it especially when it’s on a female body, as porn. The conflation of art with porn, and the idea that a woman’s body is obscene is largely due to organised religion’s view of the female form. Read the rest here.

Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
Email: fitnah.movement@gmail.com
Website: www.fitnah.org

This is my body; I will do whatever I want with it, Interview with Amina Sboui and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

fitnah-UNVEILED6-mar14-A4_Page_01Unveiled
A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
March 2014
Volume 2, Issue 3

Editor: Maryam Namazie
Design: Kiran Opal

PDF Version of Publication: Fitnah-Unveiled-March-2014

In This Issue
– This is my body; I will do whatever I want with it, Interview with Amina Sboui and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy
– News Flash: February 2014
Campaigns:
* Iran: Save Rayhaneh Jabbari from execution by hanging
* The Law Society must withdraw its guidance on Sharia-succession rules
– Art Corner: Victoria Guggenheim
– Editorials:
* I will be nude, I will protest, and I will challenge you to your core! Maryam Namazie
* Women’s breasts: a serious threat, Patty Debonitas

This is my body; I will do whatever I want with it
Interview with Amina Sboui and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

Maryam Namazie: Why did you do the nude action in Egypt?

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy: In Egypt, a woman is like a lifeless body, a corpse. This body is owned by other people. They think if she doesn’t follow the rules, it is okay to beat her, to harass her; it is okay to kill her. So the best way to say no to all of that is to say “This is my body and I will do whatever I want with it.”

Maryam Namazie; Is that how you felt too Amina?

Amina Sboui: It’s mostly not just in Egypt, not just in Tunisia. It’s in the Arab world that women are treated like that. I guess we have the same reasons why we did it. Actually we did it to show the world how we are treated and mostly to try to change things. Hopefully we will be able to change things – at least a little.

Maryam Namazie: Your action has hit a cord with a lot of people. Do you think there is an universality to what you say? It’s not just the Arab world (though it is very important for the Arab world) but it hits a cord for everyone?

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy: Yes practices may differ but sexism is the same everywhere. Maybe the practices differ, the degree differs.

Maryam Namazie: Some people will say that what you are doing is not culturally appropriate; it is offensive and you’re not respecting people’s culture. 

Amina Sboui: I think that what the old feminists did in their time was not culturally appropriate like when they asked for women’s vote or women to go to school. Times change and people change. We can’t use the same methods that they use. When we go back in time their methods were considered inappropriate or something coming from the western countries. People will always insult the feminists because most of the people do not believe in equality between men and women.

Maryam Namazie: So you wouldn’t agree that the demand for the right over your own body or for equality is a western demand as that is what some have said.

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy: It’s like they are stripping us from the will to be free. You’re very angry and you want to fight for your rights and then they tell you: “No, shut up, that’s not for you.”

Maryam Namazie: Obviously what you did, especially because you did it in Egypt and Tunisia, there is a great deal of risk involved. Do you regret the risk and the fact that it has changed your lives considerably? [Read more…]