God delusion

God is a delusion, Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
19 May 2015
Interview with Activist and Vlogger Aron Ra
Background: In The God Delusion, Scientist Richard Dawkins contends that God almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence. According to Robert Pirsig “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.”
Shocking News of the Week: Murder of 3rd Bangladeshi blogger Ananta Bijoy Das (reference to his letter to Maryam on his situation)
Also death of Farinaz Khosravani in Iranian Kurdistan
Insane fatwa: Khamenei’s fatwa against spiked hair
Good news: How Sonita Alizadeh’s rap song saved her from forced marriage

خدا توهم
مصاحبه با فعال و ويديو بلاگر آرنرا
ريچارد داوكينز در كتاب خود بنام توهم خداوند ميگويد كه خدا بطور حتم وجود ندارد. اعتقاد شخصي به خداوند بر خلاف تمامي شواهد محكم عليه ان – توهم شمرده ميشود
بقول رابرت پرسينك اگر يك نفر توهم داشته باشد رواني شناحته ميشود و اگر مردم بسياري به ان ايده متوهم باشند بنام مذهب برسميت شناخته ميشود
اخبار شکه آور: کشته شدن سومين بلاگر بنگلادشى و فريناز خسروانى
فتواى احمقانه: خامنه اى و مدل موهاى پسرهاى جوان
اخبار خوب: شعر رپى که يک دختر افغانى را از ازدواج اجبارى نجات داد

My next speaking engagements in Koln, Bergen, Vancouver and London

Here are the next few events and speaking engagements in Koln, Bergen, Vancouver and London:

سخنرانى هايم در هفته هاى آينده در کلن؛ برگن؛ ونکورو لندن

22-24 May 2015
International Atheist Convention “Give Peace A Chance -Secularization and global conflicts”, Cologne, Germany
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the conference on Promoting Secularism in the Age of ISIS. More details here.

30 May 2015
Bergen International Festival, Norway
Misogyny in the Name of God
Many would claim that the patriarchal religions contain a view of women that is at odds with human rights. How does this affect our cultural understanding and the world today? In connection with the world premiere of Adam & Eve , we invite Deeyah Khan, Gunnar Stålsett, John Peder Egenæs, Cecilie Ore and Maryam Namazie to a panel discussion in association with Amnesty International and Bergens Tidende. Moderator: Hilde Sandvik. We will also be showing Yoko Ono’s controversial art film Arising.  More details here.

5-7 June 2015
Vancouver, Canada
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the 5th Imagine No Religion Conference in Vancouver, Canada with Scientist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, and founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement Faisal Saeed Al Mutar amongst others. More details here.

Saturday 20 June 2015, 1500-1800 Hours
London, UK
Join us for appetisers, drinks, music, speeches and laughs to celebrate the CEMB’s 8th anniversary.
Speakers and acts include: Philosopher A C Grayling, Singer Alya Marquardt, Secular activist Aliyah Saleem, London Black Atheists Clive Aruede and Lola Tinubu, Bread and Roses TV Host Fariborz Pooya, Centre for Secular Space Director Gita Sahgal, Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco Founder Imad Iddine Habib, FEMEN Leader Inna Shevchenko, Comedian Kate Smurthwaite, Author Kenan Malik, Women’s Rights Activist Magdulien Abaida, CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie, Master Magician Neil Edwards, Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel, Nari Diganta Activist Rumana Hashem and National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson.
Tickets: £18 (waged); £10 (unwaged)
To register, please email your name and mobile number to exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com. You can purchase your ticket(s) via Paypal or by sending a cheque made payable to ‘CEMB’ to: BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX.
Space is limited so buy your tickets today.
No tickets will be sold at the door.

We must support ‘Esha’

I recently blogged about ‘Esha’, a young woman facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

Some of you have been asking questions about the case so here is more information from rights activist and journalist Rahila Gupta who is raising money for her case. Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain supports ‘Esha’s’ case and has donated money to her legal fund. Please help if you can – even if it’s not very much. Every little bit helps:

Over a year ago, a friend of mine, a British Pakistani actor got in touch with me after his annual visit home to Lahore.  He was very troubled by a blasphemy case that he had come across which appeared to have blighted the lives of two young people who had neither contacts nor money without which it is impossible to get out of a sticky situation in countries like Pakistan. He knew I was a long term member of Southall Black Sisters and wondered if I could help. But our funding covers services to women facing domestic violence in this country and only stretches to the Asian sub-continent if British Asian women have been abducted there in order to be forced into a marriage or abandoned there so that British Asian men may marry again. The fate of a young Pakistani woman languishing in a prison on false charges of blasphemy lay outside our remit, although not outside the bounds of our sympathy and solidarity. As I listened to the story and then spoke to ‘Mo’ and read the legal papers, I was very moved by their plight and decided I would do what I could to support them as an individual but with the support of all the contacts that SBS had forged in its 35 years of existence, including Maryam Namazie and the Council for Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).

‘Esha’ was arrested in March 2012 for having torn up the pages of the Qu’ran. Although I disagree with the whole notion of blasphemy and find it ridiculous that a legal case should be fought on the basis of whether she did or she didn’t, what is worse is that she didn’t even do it. She had an argument with a friend of hers who then shopped her to the authorities. It is a common way of settling scores in countries like Pakistan. I have provided some of the statistics in another article. Her friend is prepared to drop the case if Esha pays her £20,000 and gets her a job in Dubai – none of which is within Esha’s reach.

Since her arrest in 2012, Esha has lost every single bail application (four times so far). At one hearing of her case, she was attacked by some extremists so all future hearings take place in prison for her protection! This means that Mo does not get to see her at all. He is not allowed to visit her in prison because he is not related to her.  Before he went into hiding, they would meet in court. They have been unable to hire the best lawyers and Esha has been represented by people who appear to be just going through the motions.

The one bit of luck they have had so far is that Mo was put in touch with an influential Reuters journalist who knows one of the most well-known human rights lawyers in Pakistan, Asma Jahangir, who has agreed to represent Esha in her bail hearings for free. This is a turning point because the treatment that Esha is getting in prison has affected her mental health and she has already attempted suicide twice. Asma has agreed to take it all the way up to the Supreme Court, if necessary, where she believes Esha will be successful. This process should take till September 2015.

Meanwhile there is the question of her actual trial. She has found an extremely good lawyer, at long last. He has agreed to take on her case for an extremely reasonable fee. In a country where lawyers and other supporters of ‘apostates’ have been killed, many charge the high fees to pay for protection. However, the case has to make its way up again from the lower courts where the judges are too afraid for their lives and it is bound to fail. In the last three years of legal proceedings, there have been five judges and the decision is still pending.

However, even reasonable fees are beyond the reach of Esha and Mo. Esha has no family support. Her father married again and her stepmother has ensured that her father has cut off all contacts. In any case, anybody supporting someone like Esha is branded a kaffir and attracts the wrath of the extremists. Mo is in hiding and cannot work. His family have cut him off because they feel that he’s wasting his life.

When I first started supporting the case, I was inspired by the case of the Sudanese woman, Meriam Ibrahim who was released from prison where she was held on charges of apostasy after a worldwide blitz of publicity and American pressure. We thought that publicity would help Esha and Mo too. However, the advice I received subsequently from human rights organisations was that Mo’s life would be in even greater danger. After all, Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman in prison in Pakistan since 2009, received massive publicity and look where that got her. She is still in prison and is sentenced to die by hanging. Her husband has fled the country because of threats to his life. So Esha and Mo are pseudonyms but their stories are real.

Of course, the whole system needs to be demolished. But every individual that escapes the clutches of this system hopefully helps to weaken it. This is why I have started a fundraising drive. This is why Maryam Namazie and CEMB are supporting this case.  All of us have campaigned against religious fundamentalism as we have seen the impact of it on the vulnerable sections of our communities: women, LGBT communities and other religious minorities.

I hope you will be able to contribute something, however small, to this fundraising drive. Please go to this link if you can support Esha’s case.

Human rights law or religion?

Watch today’s BBC Big Questions on whether human rights laws have achieved more than religion for humankind with Peter Tatchell, myself and others.

Difficult question to answer given all the “wonderfulness” that is religion…

The Women’s Court in the former Yugoslavia

Sarajevo, May 8, 2015
Marieme Helie Lucas

Yesterday May 7 the Women’s Court on war crimes against women during the war in the 1990s formally started in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Women have come together from all the corners of the former-Yugoslavia to participate in the Women’s Court in Sarajevo, to demand justice for the crimes committed against them during the wars and the enduring inequalities and suffering that followed.

The impressive composition of the organisational committee speaks for the unity and solidarity of women across the national divides that came with the partition of the former Yugoslavia: from Bosnia & Herzegovina: Mothers of the Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa; Women’s Forum, Foundation CURE; from Croatia: Centre for Women’s Studies, Centre for Women War Victims – ROSA; from Kosovo: Kosovo Women’s Network; from Macedonia: National Council for Gender Equality from Montenegro: Anima; from Slovenia: Women’s Lobby Slovenia; from Serbia: Women’s Studies, and Women in Black.

This, in and by itself, is a huge achievement, at a time when Europe is plagued with the rise of nationalisms, of extreme right forces that divide peoples along ethnic and religious lines ; at a time when attempts are made to homogenize nations and to exclude minorities and diversity ; at a time when even citizens of one country are further separated by the construction of antagonistic ‘communities’.

Moreover, the organisation which has been coordinating this project for the past 5 years is Women In Black-Belgrade, in other words an organisation from ‘the agressor’ country. WIB ‘s leadership and members are welcome as family members and praised throughout the former Yugoslavia for the constant support they extended, at great risks for themselves, to women from other national and ethnic identities, both during and after the wars, till now : the vibrant applause and cheers for WIB- Belgade at the opening ceremony of the Women’s Court was a living testimony to this strong solidarity bond, and an acknowledment of the dedication of the organisation to the Women’s Court.

The fact that women came together from all the nations of ex-Yugoslavia is not just a powerful show of solidarity across boundaries. It is also a political stand, defying the destructive extreme right forces at work in the region and in the whole of Europe. [Read more…]

Anti-Semitism is a pillar of Islamism

Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
5 May 2015
Anti-Semitism is a pillar of Islamism
Interview with author and activist Muriel Seltman
Background: Anti-Semitism flourishes in many places across the world and is often conflated with criticism of Israeli state occupation of Palestine. Anti-Semitism is one of the pillars of the Islamist movement and deemed acceptable by many. It is a form of bigotry against people, however, that must be unequivocally condemned.
Shocking news of the week: arrests of labour activists in Iran prior and during May 1.
Insane fatwa of the week: Khamenei and his fatwa on waxing
Good news of the week: Protests for animal rights in Iran
Translator: Fariborz Pooya
Director: Reza Moradi

آنتي سمتيسم يا ضديت با مردم يهود پايه اسلام سياسى
برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مريم نمازى و فريبرز پويا
۶ مه ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با ميوريال سلتمن؛ نويسنده و فعال
آنتي سمتيسم يا ضديت با مردم يهود در همه جاي جهان خودنمايي مي كند و امروزه عموما با انتقاد از دولت اسراييل و اشغال سرزمينهاي فلسطين تلفيق مي شود
آنتي سمتيسم يكي از ستونهاي جنبش اسلامي مي باشد و ظاهرا امروزه براي بسياري به امري عادي تبديل شده است
ضديت با مردم يهود يكي از اشكال تبعيض شرماوري است كه بايد بدون قيد و شرط محكوم شود
اخبار تکان دهنده: بازداشت فعالان کارگری در ایران حول اول ماه مه.
فتوای احمقانه هفته: خامنه ای و اپیلاسیون
خبر خوب این هفته: تظاهرات برای حقوق حیوانات در ایران
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: فريبرز پويا

Council of Ex-Muslims: We need to do more with your support

Dear friend

As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was established in 2007 to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam and religion. We have done this by challenging apostasy and blasphemy laws and facilitating a public renunciation of Islam and a rise in atheism. We have also been there for many ex-Muslims facing persecution by Islamists or family members – around 300 a year – including one-on-one support. Our web-forum has given thousands a network to rely on, including threads in Arabic and Urdu. The ex-Muslim movement has grown tremendously since our establishment with affiliated councils in a number of countries such as France, Turkey and Morocco.

The CEMB’s campaigning work (with One Law for All and other allies) is also finally paying off. Atheism has been recognised in Britain as a grounds for asylum with legal decisions no longer guided by whether the apostasy can be kept private. Also, the Law Society has withdrawn its discriminatory Guidance on Sharia wills and Universities UK has taken back its guidance endorsing gender segregation. Sharia courts are now being scrutinised after many years of silence and appeasement.

Thanks to your support, the CEMB has made a huge difference in the lives of countless people and society at large. But we have a lot more work ahead.
In the coming year, we aim to further focus on women ex-Muslims, organise a tribunal against Sharia, produce a report and video on women apostates, organise a secular film festival, set up the International Front for Secularism as well as exposing Islamist “hate speech” against ex-Muslims and Muslims who dissent with others.

To so do, we are in desperate need for funds, including for an office computer and printer, production costs and expenses related to organising the high profile events.

Any support you can provide will help us make our plans a reality, will be greatly appreciated and will continue to make a huge difference.

If you are able to donate, please make your cheque payable to ‘CEMB’ and send it to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX. You can also donate via Paypal.

Thanks again for your on-going help and support.

Warmest wishes

Maryam

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

Support 24 year old Esha in Pakistani prison charged with blasphemy

4135696_1428760585.3251“Esha” a 24 year old woman has been cut off from the world in her prime and is languishing in a Pakistani prison for the last three years on false charges of blasphemy brought against her by her best friend after they had an argument. She stands accused of having torn pages from the Qur’an and having slept on them. Although there have been several hearings, her trial  is still pending  for a complex variety of reasons – one of them being that there have been five different judges, each fearing for his life. You can read more about her here.

She has no family to take an interest in her except for a dedicated young man, “Mo”, whom she met on a visit to court and who, on hearing her story and seeing her isolation, has been trying to support her. Blasphemy is a serious offence in a deeply religious country like Pakistan and punishable by death. Blasphemy laws have been used to persecute minorities like the Christians or to settle personal scores. Several prominent people have been killed  for supporting those accused of blasphemy. Only recently a Christian couple were burnt alive for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an.

“Mo” has gone into hiding after he  received death threats. He is unable to work now and therefore, unable to raise the kind of fees that are charged by lawyers. For this kind of case, the fees are extremely high because of the danger posed to anyone associated with it. This is why we cannot use their real names.

She is being sexually harassed by the superintendent of the prison. As she has rejected his advances, he has withdrawn all basic privileges such as medicines, visitors, even a  mattress to sleep on. She is locked up 24/7 in a cell that is not heated in the winter and not cooled in the summer when temperatures can reach a baking 45c! She has attempted suicide twice and her poor mental health is a cause of real worry. She has stomach ulcers, skin allergies and kidney problems as well.

“Esha” and “Mo” are completely trapped.  ‘Esha’ says ‘I have lost all faith in society. I have been cut off from life, from the world, from education. I have lost the will to live.’

Although it is vital to Esha’s mental health that she leaves  prison, if her bail hearing is successful, neither of them have any money even for rent or food. Mo’s own family feel he’s wasting his life and are threatening to cut him off.  He says, ‘I was 27 when I met Esha. I have spent all my life savings on her. My life is in danger from extremists and I have lost family, friends and peace of mind. Why am I doing this?’

This money will go towards Esha’s legal fees and associated expenses for a lawyer who is highly recommended. “Mo” is desperate to get the legal case on the road before “Esha’s” next attempt on her life.

Please donate as generously as you can.  The money will be used to pay legal fees and welfare costs.

Thank you!

Original Art is Dangerous

Original Art is dangerous
28 April 2015
Interview with Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia El Fani
Background: According to Salman Rushdie, “original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or… controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.”
Happy International Workers’ Day: May Day support for jailed labour activists in Iran
Shocking News of the week: Rise in executions in Iran and April 25 day against executions in Iran
Insane fatwa of the week: Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs says toilet paper is halal!
Good news: Thousands of Turkish students demand Jedi and Buddhist temples in response to mosque at university

هنر نوآور خطرناک است
۲۹ آوريل ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با فیلمساز تونسی نادیا الفنی
به گفته سلمان روشدى “هنر نوآور نه در محيط بى خطر بلكه در لبه پرتگاه بوجود مى آيد
هنر نوين خطرناك است٬ به چالش ميكشد، مورد سوْال قرار ميدهد، فرضيات را واژگون ميكند. كدهاى اخلاقي را به هم مى ريزد، به گاوهاى مقدس بى احترامى ميكند. مى تواند شوكه آور، زشت و يا بحث انگيز باشد
و اگر ما به آزادى اعتقاد داريم، اگر مى خواهيم هوايى را كه استنشاق مى كنيم فراوان و تازه باشد، اين هنر است كه نه تنها بايد از حق وجودش دفاع كنيم بلكه بايد آن را گرامى بدانيم
هنر سرگمى نيست، در عالى ترين شكلش، انقلاب است”
روز جهانی کارگر: حمایت اول ماه مه در دفاع از فعالان کارگری زندانی در ایران
اخبار تکان دهنده هفته: افزايش اعدام ها در ایران و روز 25 ماه آوریل عليه اعدام ها در ایران
فتوای احمقانه هفته: کاغذ توالت حلال
خبر خوب : هزاران نفر از دانش آموزان ترکیه خواهان معابد جداى (از فيلم جنگ ستارگان) در پاسخ به مسجد در دانشگاه

Back after two weeks

I was away for two weeks and am glad to be back. Bread and Roses TV will be on air again from next week after having been off air for two weeks. I will also be speaking on Sharia law, the burka and gender segregation at the seminar below, which is being held at University of Buckingham Law School. Below is more information.

The Honourable Jocelynne Scutt introduces the following seminars from three riveting speakers on topics under the umbrella of: Sex, Gender, Law & Culture – Perspectives on Women’s Rights & Wrongs with stimulating presentations and the opportunity for questions, queries, discussion & debate.

SPEAKERS:

Professor Susan Edwards – Barrister, Expert Witness and Professor of Law with specialist knowledge and analysis on women’s position in law & society – particularly dress, dominance, freedom, rights and religion

Maryam Namazie of One Law For All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain – Political activist, campaigner and blogger, Spokesperson for Fitnah – Movement for women’s Liberation, Equal Rights Now, committed to ensuring equality of status and rights for all women in the United Kingdom, under British law

Pragna Patel – Founding member of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism, centrally involved in campaigns and cases around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism.

Held at the Radcliffe Centre on

Wednesday 22 April at 2.00pm for 2.30pm

These seminars will be of special interest to Criminal Law, Sex & Gender & Law, Journalism & International Law students, Peace Studies and International Conflict students

Refreshments to follow *OPEN TO ALL*

Anti-imperialist “Left” participates in elimination of freethinkers

Anti-imperialist “Left” participates in elimination of freethinkers
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
8 April 2015
Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas
Background: The role of the Left is to be partisan and take sides with progressive social forces. Instead the postmodernist “anti-imperialist Left” is siding with the Islamist fascists and participating in the elimination of progressive movements and freethinkers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
Shocking news of the week: Hacking to death of another Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman
Insane fatwa of the week: ISIS and the decapitation of table football plastic players
Good news: Campaign to end the ban on women in sports stadiums from Sweden
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Khosro Gharib

On murder of Washiqur Rahman

The International Front for Secularism expresses great concern about the assassination of another atheist in Bangladesh and calls on secularists and progressive people around the world to speak up publicly in defence of endangered atheists and to clearly identify the murderers of Washiqur Rahman as part of a far-right political movement, masquerading as a religious one, that needs to be combated the world over.

Signatories
(To add your name to the list of signatories, please post as a comment below and your name will be added to this list on a regular basis) – updated 10 May 2015
[Read more…]

Blasphemy laws give ‘respectability’ to violence

Blasphemy laws give ‘respectability’ to violence
31 March 2015
Interview with Bob Churchill, Head of Communications of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
Blasphemy laws give “respectability” to violence against people and women. Islamists and the religious-Right in particular have placed a false moral equivalency between hurt “sensibilities” and human lives where none exist. A world without blasphemy laws would be a better one.
Shocking news of the week: The museum attack in Tunisia by Islamists
Insane fatwa of the week: Indonesia’s highest Islamic clerical body issues fatwa proposing death penalty for people caught having gay sex
Good news of the week: Protests in Afghanistan led by women against the heinous killing of Farkunda

قوانين منع توهين به مقدسات، وسيله توجيح خشونت عليه مردم است؛ برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مريم نمازى و فريبرز پويا
۱ اوت ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با باب چرچيل؛ از سازمان بين المللى اومانيستها
قوانين منع توهين به مقدسات، وسيله توجيح خشونت عليه مردم است. اسلاميون از جريحه دار شدن احساسات بعنوان اصلي به اهميت و حتي مهم تر از حق زندگي مردم سخن بميان مياورند.
دنيا بدون قوانين منع توهين به مقدسات دنياي بهتري ميباشد.
اخبار شکه آور هفته: حمله اسلامى ها در موزه تونس
فتواى احمقانه: از اندونزى عليه هم جنسگرايان
اخبار خوب: اعتراضات وسيع در افغانستان براى فرخنده
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: خسرو قريب

We are all Farkhunda

I AM FARKHONDEH

The below is a shortened version of my speech at Marea Feminist Review and Consulta Torinese per la Laicita public events in Genoa and Turin, Italy during 27-30 March 2015.

Today, we are all Farkhunda.

You know her by now – a 27 year old woman accused by a mullah of being an “infidel” who burnt verses of the Koran. She was attacked by a mob in Kabul, lynched, stoned, run over, burnt and her body thrown in a river whilst onlookers and police stood by. (See full report here.)

Immediately after her brutal murder, some Afghan officials like Senator Zulmai Zabuli and deputy minister of information and culture Simin Hasanzada sought to justify her killing. A mullah of Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, Ayaz Niazi also justified it and said: “At such a situation, there is no need to go and check the girl whether she is sick or okay,” he warned following reports that she had mental health problems. He added: “Be careful O people! It will be a big mistake if they [perpetrators] were sent to the jail. The people will stand against this and then they cannot be controlled” – the usual threats – by religious gatekeepers of power – in support of the perpetrators on behalf of “the people”. Of course we heard justifications here in the west too. Someone Tweeted: “what does she expect if she burns the Koran” as if a book is worth more than a human life. Back in Kabul, her family was advised to leave their home for safety reasons; it was in fact they who had said she had mental health problems in order to safeguard their lives…

So far, this is a story we have heard many times over many years. A woman accused of a crime against religion or religious morality – real or imagined – who is tried and executed either by mob (or Islamist) violence or by the state’s violence in the form of Sharia law on behalf of “the offended sensibilities of the people”.

But “the people” as Mullah Ayaz Niazi learnt well includes many – led by women – who were outraged by Farkhunda’s brutal murder and would not justify it.

The ensuing protests meant that her family did not have to flee their home but could stand their ground. Her mother was able to say “I am proud of my daughter” and her brother, Najibullah, was able to announce that he is changing his second name to Farkhunda in memory of his sister.  It showed that people would respect her and not “the people’s offended sensibilities”. A group of young people renamed the street leading to the area of her attack as Farkhunda’s Street and a tree was planted on the spot where her body was thrown. Also 28 men have been arrested with 13 policemen suspended following the attack. And all because of protests – most important of which included that women carried Farkhunda’s body– going against Islamic customs – to her gravesite and with her family’s permission. They surrounded her coffin right until the end, gave her the respect she deserved, and chanted: “we are all Farkhunda”.

And when Ayaz Niazi, the mullah who had justified Farkhunda’s killing, tried to join them, they refused, created a circle around her gravesite, and forced him to leave.

Azaryun, a youth activist says, “That is what Farkhunda teaches me: together we can change the narrative that others write about women. We stood up against the most respected mullah. We carried the coffin and buried her.”

Neayish, a medical student, said: “I was just crying.” “It was a long trek… but all my energy was focused on giving Farkhunda a respectable burial. It was the first time I realized my real power and told myself that I’m breaking the boundaries of tradition.”

What the protests around Farkhunda’s murder show are that “the people” of Afghanistan do not all agree. That “Muslims” are not all the same. Just like “Christians”, Italians and the Church and pope and Northern League are not one and the same.

In Afghanistan, too, there are women and youth who break taboos and change narratives and there are many men who stand with them against religion’s encroachment in people’s lives and against Islamism – the religious-Right. [Read more…]

I am in Italy for the next few days

I AM FARKHONDEHI am travelling today to Italy to join celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of Marea Feminist Review (yes there are feminists in this world who stand with us against Islamists and the religious-Right rather than excusing them).

I’ll be joined by FEMEN’s Inna Shevchenko​, Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia ElFani, and Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas. Can’t wait.

At every public meeting I speak, I will say “I am Farkhondeh” till I can speak no more.

Here are the events I will be taking part in for those of you who are near Genoa and Turino:

27-31 March 2015
Marea Feminist Review Anniversary, Italy
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the anniversary celebrations of a feminist review in Genoa and Torino, Italy with Inna Shevchenko, Nadia El Fani, Marieme Helie Lucas and others.

Details of Genoa event can be found here.

Details of Turin event can be found here.

You See Trinity College Dublin, it is possible to hold events without adding last minute restrictions to silence dissenters of Islam and Islamism…

Against Forced and Child Marriages

Here is my speech against forced marriages and child “marriages” given at a January 2015 event organised at the Swedish parliament by the brilliant Sara Mohammad​ who organised a series of events to mark the 12th Anniversary of Fadime Sahindal’s honour killing in Stockholm, Sweden. She is founder of Never forget Pela and Fadime National organisation- GAPF. 

Here is video footage of a panel discussion which followed our individual presentations with myself, Chaz Akoshile of the British Forced Marriages Unit and Houzan Mahmoud, Iraqi Kurdish women’s rights campaigner.

On the disgusting pro-Islamist Left

Watch this week’s Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya in English. Persian is below.

It’s on the disgusting pro-Islamist Left and includes an interview with Reza Moradi, Director of Bread and Roses, who blasted an Islamist at his university recently

Shocking news of the week is on the lynching of Farkhondeh in Afghanistan for reportedly burning a Koran
Insane fatwa of the week is Khamenei’s fatwa against Chaharshanbeh suri
Good news of the week is that rhe world did not end as one pastor had warned due to the eclipse
Background: The “anti-imperialist” and pro-Islamist Left use multiculturalism, charges of racism and Islamophobia, amongst others, to defend the far-Right Islamist movement. This politics betrays the dissenters and victims of Islamism and also the very principles that the Left has historically defended (from social justice, egalitarianism, secularism, universalism, and human liberation, including from religion).
Director: Reza Moradi
Translation: Khosro Gharib

در نقد چپ طرفدار اسلام سياسى؛ برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مريم نمازى و فريبرز پويا
۲۵ مارس ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با رضا مرادى کارگردان نان و گل سرخ
اخبار شکه آور اين هفته: جنايت وحشيانه عليه فرخنده ۲۷ ساله در افغانستان
چپ ضد امپرياليستي و هوادار جنبش اسلامي دفاع از جنبش افراتي و دست راستي اسلامي را در پوشش چند فرهنگي،اسلام ضدايي و مقابله با راسيسم پيش ميبرد.
اين سياست با زير پشت كردن به مخالفين و قربانيان اسلام سياسي و همچنين زير پا پشت كردن به اصولي كه تاريخا چپ با ان شناخته ميشود مانند عدالت اجتماعي ، برابري ، سكولاريسم ، جهانشمولي و رهاي بشر بخصوص از مذهب پيش برده ميشود.
فتواى احمقانه: از خامنه اى عليه چهارشنبهسورى
خبر خوب: دنيا به پايان نرسيد!
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: خسرو قريب

Trinity College Dublin: Behind the Arras

And so the whitewash begins with an “article” (or should we say editorial) by University Times on the cancellation of my talk at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on “Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism”, which was meant to be given today at an event organised by the Society for International Affairs (SoFIA). Though the SoFIA chair asserts that I withdrew from the event, it is in fact the Society, which cancelled the event after my request that it go ahead as initially planned without any of the last-minute restrictions imposed, namely that all attendants of the event must be 1) Trinity students and 2) members of the society hosting the talk and that a moderator be added for “balance”.

The “article” is full of irrelevances and misinformation in order to muddy the waters so that the main issue at hand is forgotten as is usual in such cases. The main issue is that my right to speak was restricted by TCD whilst Islamist speakers like Kamal El Mekki who advocate the death penalty for apostates face no such restrictions. But more on this later.

Let me first briefly address the main points of misinformation raised in the article:

1. The article asserts that “miscommunication” around the event being public was all “hinged” on one “individual student’s involvement” who “never asked [SoFIA] [its] terms”.

It now seems that the student liaison facilitating my talk is the reason for this entire scandal! Acting on his own accord, and without coordinating with SoFIA, he alone is responsible for my misguided impression that the event was to be public. I am assured that SoFIA only holds members-only events! Even if there was a public Facebook page it was because of this “individual student”. The Society I am told cannot be held responsible for the “assumption as to conditions which it itself did not offer”.

This, however, is untrue. The screenshot below shows Aoife McLoughlin-Ngo, the SoFIA Chair, stating: “there are 2 events pages – the page I’m linking is open to people outside of SoFIA members page”. So much for the event “hinging” on an “individual student”! The fall guy scenario that was put into motion after the scandal became public knowledge is a bogus one. This now explains why the Facebook page for the event was so quickly deleted.

unnamed

The second point of misinformation is that Trinity College Dublin “had no involvement” in discussions with me about my scheduled appearance. This is a half-truth. Yes, they were not involved in discussions with ME but they were heavily involved in discussions around my talk before and after the scandal was made public. Noel McCann, the TCD Facilities Officer, told the student liaison that he was meeting with the “highest management of Trinity” to discuss whether the event will be “allowed” to go ahead as planned. Even now, the delay in the publication of SoFIA’s statement on the cancellation of my talk is because it had to be approved by the Central Societies Committee and Communications Office.

The third point of misinformation is that the issues raised by the Facilities Officer were around matters of “student security”.  I think it is clear that the last-minute requirement that an academic (Dr Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity) “chair” my event has very little to do with security.

Rather, it had to do with the concern that I would cause “offence”.

The student liaising my visit was told by Noel McCann that my talk would show the college is “one-sided” and would be “antagonising” to “Muslim students”. He asked how “could she come and say whatever she wants without a moderator” and “with half the world knowing about it”. He also threatened to cancel it and said that he was meeting with “highest management of Trinity” to discuss whether the event would be “allowed” to go ahead. But according to the college:”these discussions [are] considered to be private and in response to the student’s own concerns”!

The crux of the matter, therefore, is “private” and the non-issues and misinformation have become the main points of discussion for the Society and TCD.

This is nothing new. Islamism, a far-Right political movement, is often seen to be one and the same with the falsely homogenised “Muslim community”, thereby implying that hate preachers like Mekki (promulgating the death penalty for apostates and stoning for adulterers) are “authentic” Muslims and those of us defending the rights of ex-Muslims and Muslims to question, criticise and leave Islam are the “antagonisers”. This can be very clearly seen in the article in question. The student liaising with me who is an ex-Muslim who does not want to be known for fear of his safety is portrayed as the extremist and trouble-maker as am I.

This is one of the main reasons that universities have become breeding and recruiting grounds for jihadis who have free reign whilst opponents like myself struggle to gain access and be heard. Universities like TCD have bought into the Islamist narrative that this movement represents “Muslims” and therefore it is antagonistic to “Muslim students” if one should challenge it. But what about all the “Muslim” dissenters? Conflating Muslim with Islamist does a disservice to them, denies any opposition exists and implies that the “authentic” Muslim is a fascist.

TCD should stop hiding behind its students, come clean and facilitate my talk there without restrictions and as soon as possible.

I insist on speaking at TCD.

I refuse to be silenced.

Defending Charlie and Opposing Terrorism is not enough; You need to stand up to Sharia Courts

This is a shortened version of my speech for a public meeting organised by the NE Humanists on 19 March 2015.

Dissent and criticism of religion has always been a crucial aspect of free expression. Such criticism has been key for human progress and is needed more than ever in the age of ISIS. For many of us, therefore, standing with Charlie, honours our own dissenters.

Those who condemn the massacre in Paris but blame Charlie for “offending Muslim sensibilities” have bought into the Islamist narrative that “Muslims” are Islamists who are more offended by cartoons than mass murder. This erroneous conflation between Muslims and Islamists is often promoted in the media by Guardian types and the pathetic excuse of a Left – and I say this coming from the Left myself – to justify its cosy alliances with and appeasement of “our” fascists against “their own”.

The far-Right also makes this conflation so as to promote its anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agenda.  And of course the Islamists use it to deflect any criticism as racism and an attack on a community or people. It is useful for the British government too in “managing” its “minorities” on the cheap by handing them over to parasitical imams and self-appointed “community leaders”.

This conflation is validated by multiculturalism (not as a wonderful lived experience but as a social policy) and multi-faithism, which segregates and divides people into homogenised religious and cultural “communities” and sees people as one and the same as the religious-Right.

“Muslims” in Britain are outsourced to Islamist groups to do as they wish with “their communities” – Sharia courts, forced marriages, child marriages, the burqa, Islamic schools, segregated university meetings… The “other” is different so doesn’t deserve the same rights and freedoms.

But clearly no “community” or society is homogeneous. There is dissent; there is class politics at play. There are social and political movements contesting and challenging the Islamists, Sharia law and Islam day in and day out.

Amongst those “Muslims”, which Islamists feign to represent, there are atheists, socialists, secularists, women’s rights campaigners like me… And also many believing Muslims – who call themselves Muslims – but who are opposed to Islamism, the veil, and Sharia and do not murder even when they are “offended” by cartoons.

Conflating Muslim with Islamist does a disservice to the many dissenters. It places collective blame. It implies that the “authentic” Muslim is a terrorist and fascist.

And it’s wrong to equate the two. It’s like conflating the BNP with the British, the English with the English Defence League and Sharia Watch, Americans with the Tea Party or the Christian-Right and Indians with the Hindu-Right.

You can see the distinction between Muslims and Islamists– if you want to. After the attack on Charlie, many  “Muslims” or those labelled as such sided with Charlie.

What is packaged as “offence” is really Islamism’s imposition of blasphemy laws and theocracy under the pretext of respect for “Muslim sensibilities”.  Only in Europe does this far-Right fascist movement use “offence” or Islamophobia to silence and censor. In countries where they have state power, there is no need for such niceties. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, the “offenders” are called what they are – apostates, blasphemers, enemies against god, the corrupt of the earth, heretics – and legally murdered in broad daylight in the same way Charlie Hebdo’s journalists were “executed”.

Terrorism and indiscriminate violence, including via Sharia laws, have been pillars of Islamist rule for decades, aiding in creating a climate of fear and as a warning to those who refuse to submit.

Raising the question of “offence” absurdly implies that civility and manners are all that are needed to stop abductions and the slaughter of generations from Nigeria, Iran to Algeria.  But “offence” is a smokescreen. It serves to legitimise Islamist terror and blame the victims. It’s no different from blaming a woman who was raped for the rape – if only she had been better dressed. If only she had not had so much to drink. If only she had stayed home like good girls do instead of wandering the streets at night. If only…

These “explanations” are not meant to clarify the context but to condemn the woman who has been raped. The same is true of those who explain the terrorists’ mindset – they were angry at the depiction of Mohammad, they were not integrated, they faced racism… the aim of such justifications is to put the blame on Charlie, on the murdered, on the innocents slaughtered by Islamism.

Blaming Islamist terrorism in Paris on Charlie’s cartoons is like blaming Avijit’s book for his being hacked to death or Raif’s website for his lashes. What did Malala Yousefzai do to warrant being shot in the head on a school bus? She shouldn’t have “offended” the Taliban by going to school? What did the abducted girls in Nigeria or the 54 killed in one day in separate suicide attacks including on a busy marketplace in Nigeria do? Were the Islamists who killed dissenters like Avijit or Salwa  – including via the state apparatus – “not integrated enough”, had they faced racism in their societies; were they abused by the security services? And what about the many who have been abused by the Islamists or US militarism, who have faced racism, who have been disenfranchised and marginalised and have instead joined protest movements, unions and progressive actions that defend human beings and their rights and lives and not beheadings.

Cage Prisoners, a “human rights organisation” (which Amnesty International was working with despite criticism from Gita Sahgal, their head of gender unit and supported by the likes of the Socialist Workers Party and John Rees) recently described Mohammad Emwazi or Jihadi John as a “beautiful young man” and blamed the beheadings he had carried out on his being beaten and threatened by the security services.

But I have been badly beaten by NYPD (when protesting against the 1991 Gulf war parade) and have been threatened with beheading by Islamists. I have faced racism. I am also outraged at US intervention in Iran. I am particularly incensed at how the powers that be decided at the Guadaloupe Conference that they preferred an Islamic state to the left-leaning revolution in Iran during the Cold War and still I do not, would not, behead for anything.

Imagine all the people in Iran or Saudi Arabia languishing in prison or the many who have lost their loved ones to this killing machine? If they all resorted to beheadings – no one would be left.

An unequivocal condemnation of terrorism and a defence of the terrorised – no ifs and buts are the only principled and human response. But it’s not enough. It’s also important to stand firm against Islamism and its “political wing” that has permeated British society – what Southall Black Sisters’ Director Pragna Patel calls Shariafication-by-stealth, which includes the rise of Sharia courts, the burqa and gender segregation at universities (which is an attack on women) as well as Islamic schools, which deny children rights because they were born into Muslim families. This is where even more get it wrong, including the British Humanist Association. (This in no way implicates all humanists and secularists – after all some of our greatest supporters have been local humanist groups and well known humanists.)

In a debate with me a few years ago, the then Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips (now a BHA trustee) called Sharia courts “people’s right to religion”. Andrew Copson, its Chief Executive, has stated on Facebook on 8 December 2014 that he had visited a Beth Din and the Islamic Sharia Council with three of his fellow commissioners on the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life and was “left without a single secularist reason to say that they should not be allowed to operate as they do”.

Copson Sharia courts

In the Law Society debacle where the Society had endorsed discriminatory practices by issuing Sharia-compliant guidance on wills, the current BHA Head of Public Affairs, Pavan Dhaliwal, wrote: “The issue has been totally blown out of proportion… It’s just advice so that solicitors can provide a service to (Sunni) Muslim clients who want a will that fits with their beliefs. It does not claim to do any more than that.” [Read more…]