“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 As she has rejected his advances, he has withdrawn all basic privileges such as medicines, visitors, even a mattress to sleep on.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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
(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
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
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 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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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”.
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…]
Since my talk at Trinity College Dublin was shamefully cancelled Monday 23 March, my next talks will be in Italy at the end of this month.
Mark my words: I will speak at Trinity College Dublin without any conditions and am trying to find a society that will invite me and not cave into “security” demands.
Here are details of my Italy trip:
27-31 March 2015
Marea Feminist Review 10th Anniversary, Italy
I will be speaking at the anniversary celebrations of the feminist review in Genoa and Torino with Inna Shevchenko, Nadia El Fani, Marieme Helie Lucas and others.
Details of Genoa event can be found here.
Details of Torino event can be found here.
Looking forward to being amongst friends who would NEVER cancel an event or side with the Islamists over our dissenters!
I wrote a blog post earlier about my refusal to abide by conditions imposed by Trinity College Dublin for my speech on Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism which I am to give this Monday.
Aoife, the chair of the society which had invited me is contesting my version of things so I find it necessary (also for transparency’s sake) to post all correspondence below. There is not much since Aoife only contacted me today (well technically last night as it is 2am now) after things came to a head. Another student organiser has been in touch with me the whole time and been arranging my visit. If there is any miscommunication, it seems to have been promulgated by Aoife to “manage” the situation in the same way that they were hoping to manage me.
Even if it was Aoife who suggested a moderator, it has come about as a result of “pressure”. Also security concerns of my antagonising the “Muslim students” and being “one-sided” which were raised with student organiser have nothing to do with student security no matter how many times Aoife says it does.
Aoife is trying to manage a bad situation by blaming it on miscommunication but you know what folks, I was not born yesterday.
This reminds me of my speaking tour in 2011 Australia where I went to give my speech at the University of Western Sydney on “Sharia law & human rights”. When I got there, it had become a panel due to “pressure” and the audience were forced to listen to another view before I was even allowed to speak…
Anyway, here are the emails. The name of the student organiser has been left out at his/her request.
From: Maryam Namazie [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 21 March 2015 01:38
To: ‘Society for International Affairs’
Subject: RE: Speaking Engagement at Trinity College Dublin (Monday, 23rd March)
I think you are missing the point here. Of course el Mekki is given free access. In my experience there is never any question raised about Islamists as they are seen to be one and the same with “Muslims” which is untrue. It is usually raised with regards my speaking engagements, and this is not a new experience for me.
The security mentioned concerns over one-sidedness and “antagonising Muslim students” with the person who I have been in touch with all along regarding this event. Clearly such concerns are not matters of student security but the usual matter of avoiding “offence” – and it is usually us ex-Muslims that are seen to be antagonistic and not the Islamist speakers who promote our murder.
Your email tonight was the first I had received from you – someone else was organising this for me – so I am more prone to believe that it is your impression that is mistaken and not the other way around.
From: Society for International Affairs
Sent: 21 March 2015 01:02
To: Maryam Namazie
Subject: Re: Speaking Engagement at Trinity College Dublin (Monday, 23rd March)
The situation is slightly difficult for me to comprehend as I feel we aren’t talking about the same event anymore. I think this has gone completely awry. I don’t know where you got the impression that Security were imposing restrictions on you. If that was communicated to you, I apologise as that would never happen in Trinity, and I would fight to uphold any individual’s right to express themselves freely. I also am upset that you have been given the impression that Trinity authorities are backward, on the contrary: it was never a matter of potentially causing offence, I believe that Kamal el-Mekki’s presence proves that Trinity authorities do not interfere with college society’s activities. College Security have never once asked me about the content of your speech, just who will be attending the event (Trinity students as per society rules and insurance reasons) and numbers for fire and safety reasons. They did not realise it was being facilitated by SOFIA and therefore were nervous about an individual hosting the event. But I personally cleared that and assured them that I had it under control.
I am disappointed that you are not going to be with us on Monday, and I wish you had waited until I had gotten in contact. I was attending a wake service then went for dinner and all I had was my dying mobile phone which I told [the organiser contact] I would be in contact with you tonight.
Sorry this has gone so dramatic.
On 21 March 2015 at 00:19, Maryam Namazie
Thanks for your email. The issues raised by security were clearly not about student safety but about the fear of my causing offence. Raising concerns of one-sidedness and implying my defence of the right to apostasy would be antagonising are political positions not security matters. Regardless of who added a condition of my having a chair to “moderate” me, I find that to be unacceptable. It astounding that an Islamist who defends death for apostates can speak at your college without any such issues being raised, whilst I who am one of their targets, must be “moderated” and have limitations placed on my audience. My conditions are very clear. I have mentioned them here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2015/03/20/tcd/. I will not be coming if there are any restrictions.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
All the best
From: Society for International Affairs
Sent: 20 March 2015 22:41
Subject: Speaking Engagement at Trinity College Dublin (Monday, 23rd March)
As Chair of the Society for International Affairs (SOFIA) I am delighted to welcome to Trinity College Dublin, on Monday. I apologise for not getting in touch earlier this evening but I was away from my laptop and our first point of contact deserves more than a hasty/shoddy email sent off my phone. [The organiser contact] has done a good job so far in putting things in motion.
Just so we are on the same page, could you inform me of your expectations of your visit to Trinity, and I’ll outline the same. You may have heard earlier today Trinity Security were concerned about the safety of the university students. Due to miscommunication, I was not aware until midday today that [the organiser contact] had not passed on basic SOFIA practice of being reserved for our members to you. As such, I was more than alarmed when Trinity Security contacted me and I was put in an awkward situation where it looked as though I was in breach of Trinity’s commitment to student safety by advertising our event externally. I was not informed that you would be advertising it on your website either.
Not wanting the event to be jeopardised, I suggested that you could be joined by another, an academic Dr Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity who is eager to meet you. I have asked him if he would do me the honour of chairing/introducing you. Dr Pierce’s status as member of staff also will be advantageous for SOFIA if a group of individuals log a complaint against our event on Monday as he will be in the position to speak on our behalf when the complaint is reviewed by the College Deans. I can personally vouch for Dr. Pierce’s character as a friendly party. (https://www.tcd.ie/ise/staff/a-pierce.php)
SOFIA is a young society but we pride ourselves on previously hosting speakers with varied views, but that’s what adds to the richness of our members learning.
Before I forget, are there any special requests? Sometimes our guests wish us to respect Chatham House rules and other times there have been strict measures imposed such as extensive background security checks for SOFIA members who wish to attend and metal detector scanning of attendees and their belongings.
SOFIA’s aim is to be a platform for discussion, but in a safe environment where individuals are free to express themselves without fear of being threatened after the discussion. We implement certain measures to ensure that all our guests, are afforded a courteous audience.
Looking forward to meeting you on Monday.
Aoife Noelle Ngo
Society for International Affairs
I am to speak at Trinity College Dublin on Monday 23 March 2015 on “Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism”.
I’ve just been informed, however, that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is “one-sided” and would be “antagonising” to “Muslim students”; they threatened to cancel my talk. After further consultation with college management, they have decided to “allow” the event to go ahead with the following conditions:
* All attendants of the event must be 1) Trinity students and 2) members of the society hosting the talk.
* For “balance”, they require that a moderator host the event; Prof. Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics has kindly agreed to do so.
I, however, will not be submitting to any conditions, particularly since such conditions are not usually placed on other speakers.
I intend to speak on Monday as initially planned without any restrictions and conditions and ask that TCD give me immediate assurances that I will be able to do so.
It is crucial that I be able to speak against Islamist fascism and honour our dissenters deemed apostates, blasphemers, heretics… whether ex-Muslims, Muslims or non-Muslims.
I particularly insist on being able to do so in light of the fact that only last month – 25 February – Kamal El Mekki who advocates the death penalty for apostasy was given space to speak at an event hosted by the “Muslim” Student Association. No conditions were placed on his talk and security did not threaten to cancel the event nor inform the Association that the speakers’ position on death for apostates would “antagonise” ex-Muslim and Muslim students who do not support apostasy laws.
Interestingly, when the college’s Central Societies Committee was informed of El Mekki’s view on apostasy, they could not “see why there can even be a discussion about cancelling the event” and that his video was simply “explanatory and not advocatory”!
The video they were alerted to shows El Mekki advising his audience on how best to explain the death penalty for apostates. He tells them to start with the simplest example so that the need for the death penalty can be easily understood. In the video, he says:
The question is ‘Why is the apostate killed in Islam?’…if someone leaves their allegiance to their country they should be killed, so if they leave their allegiance to Allah nothing happens?
…in Islam, of course, you know, it’s a very different system. It’s not like somewhere you heard someone leaves Islam and you just go get him and stuff like that. First of all it’s done by the authorities, there are procedures and steps involved. First of all they talk to him, yeah, about, yanni, the scholars refute any doubt that he has on the issue, they spend days with him refuting and arguing with him, trying to convince him. Then they might even, yaani, threaten him with the sword and tell him ‘You need to repent from this because if you don’t you repent you will be killed.’ And if he insists on being killed that means really, really believing in that. And then, after the procedures take their toll, and then at the end, by the authority of the ruling body, it’s done.
This is beyond outrageous given the social and political reality where apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in 11 countries and especially at a time when it has come to light that British Islamists are executing apostates for ISIS after having been “radicalised” in British universities. Also it does a disservice to the many Muslims who oppose Islamism and apostasy laws by conflating “Muslim” students with Islamism or the religious-Right.
Trinity College Dublin, I am awaiting your response.
For those who want more information on this “beautiful young man”, see here – oh sorry that was Jihadi John who was beautiful according to Cage.
One does get confused when they all (the Islamists) say the same thing…
The following is the translation of the statement by the Free Union of Workers of Iran (Ettehadieh Azad e Kargaran e Iran) following the sentencing of Jafar Azimzadeh, the President of the Free Union, for his trade union activities. Our campaign condemns this blatant attack by the government in Iran on the Free Union and worker activists, and demands the immediate revoking of these sentences, and the release from prison of all worker activists currently in prison for defending workers’ rights. We call on all trade unions and human rights organisations around the world to condemn this latest attack on the Free Union and Jafar Azimzadeh and to demand an immediate end to the persecution of workers and labour activists in Iran.
Six years in prison and a two-year ban on trade union activity for Jafar Azimzadeh
Statement by the Free Union of Workers of Iran
Jafar Azimzadeh, the President of the Free Union of Workers of Iran, and one of the coordinators of the 40,000-signature minim-pay rise campaign, has been sentenced by Branch 15 of the Revolution Court to a total of six years in prison: five years on the charge of gathering and collusion with intent to act against national security and to disturb the public peace, according to Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code, and one year in prison on the charge of propaganda against the Islamic Republic, according to Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code. He has also been banned for two years from membership of political parties and groups and of activity on the cyberspace and the media on the charge of illegal activities, according to Article 23 of the Islamic Penal Code.
The five-page ruling by Branch 15 of the Revolution Court is based on the following instances: the building of the Free Union of Workers of Iran, the National Union of Unemployed Workers and the Committee to Follow Up the Formation of Free Labour Organisations; taking part in the International Workers’ Day rally in Laleh Park in 2009, leading workers in the 2005 protests, organising, planning and managing workers’ gatherings under the current government and threatening to call rallies and strikes in March 2013, collecting 40,000 workers’ signatures for a petition and leading the rallies outside the National Assembly and the Labour Ministry, threatening the Labour Ministry in a letter to the Labour Minister to hold a rally on this year’s International Workers’ Day outside the Labour Ministry in protest at the announced [level of the] minimum wage, lodging a complaint, on behalf of 1,000 workers, against Saeed Mortazavi and others who have plundered the Social Welfare Fund to the tune of 3,000 billion Toman, protest at even worse anti-labour amendments in the Labour Law, meeting with other independent workers’ organisations, such as the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs United Bus Company, Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers Union, the Co-ordinating Committee to Form Free Labour Organisations, the Committee to Follow Up the Formation of Free Labour Organisations and giving interviews to the website of the Free Union of Workers of Iran and a number of international news media.
In the court ruling the attempt has been made to link Jafar Azimzadeh to a left organisation in the beginning of the 1979 revolution, when he was 12 to 13 years old, stating that “he was born with Marxist views”, so as to portray all of his legal and legitimate activities as a political action against the system, and thus as a basis for his prosecution.
This attempt by the intelligence and judicial officers of Branch 15 of the Revolution Court has been made at a time when there is not even a shred of evidence in his file or in the court ruling that Jafar Azimzadeh has acted against national security in the guise of trade union activity. According to the documents in his file, the interrogations and the instances cited in the court ruling, all that has led to the detention and trial of Jafar Azimzadeh and the six-year sentence against him is nothing but defending the right to life of workers in Iran and the right of millions of working-class families to a human existence.
The handing of such a sentence against Jafar Azimzadeh and the continuation of the policy of detaining members of independent workers’ organisations, such as Koorosh Bakhshandeh and other members of the committee, the mass trial of 28 workers of Chador Malou mine, the detention of Milad Darvish in the teachers’ legitimate protest in front of the National Assembly, the flogging sentences against Raazi Petrochemical workers, the collaboration of the Labour Ministry with the employers of Zagros Steel to lay off the workers of the company, the detention of the workers of Esfahan Polyacryl Company, the detention and threatening of the workers of Loushan Cement, the disgusting puppetry by the hired workers’ representatives in the Supreme Council of Labour, and the conniving by the [government’s] Labour House to impose a disgraceful pay on the working class in Iran, the detention of Jamil Mohammadi and the handing of a three and a half year sentence against him, the detention of Shapour Ehsanirad, Parvin Mohammadi and Tehran bus workers on May Day, the re-sentencing of jailed worker Behnam Ebrahimzadeh to a further nine and a half years in prison, harassment of labour activist Mohammad Jarahi in the central prison of Tabriz, the appointment of one of the highest ranking intelligence officers to the post of Labour Minister, and the full deployment of intelligence and security personnel in this ministry, etc., these actions mean nothing other than forcing the workers to yield to absolute slavery and declaration of an open war on the life and livelihood of the working class in Iran by the so-called ‘prudence and hope’ government of the marauding capitalists.
Undoubtedly, just as the repressions so far by the rulers against workers’ leaders, representatives and activists have failed to impede the struggle of the workers in Iran for a human life, as witnessed in the ongoing protests and strikes by thousands of workers and teachers around the country, so the sentences against Jafar Azimzadeh and Jamil Mohammadi will not dent the resolve and determination of workers and members of the Free Union of Workers in their defence of the right to life and livelihood of workers.
The Free Union of Workers of Iran, while condemning the six-year prison sentence and the two-year ban on activity against Jafar Azimzadeh, declares that it will not remain silent on such vicious sentences against Jafar Azimzadeh and Jamil Mohammadi, and will protest against these sentences both inside Iran and by taking this case to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Our Union will not let these two staunch labour activists, who are among the distinguished leaders of the Free Union of Workers and the workers’ movement in Iran, to be sacrificed to the repressive interests of a pillaging minority, who by imposing extreme poverty on millions of working-class families see no other tasks for themselves in running the country than ripping off workers of their meagre earnings.
Jafar Azimzadeh and Jamil Mohammadi have not committed any other crime than round-the-clock struggle to improve the condition of workers, and curb the raids on workers’ bare tables by the plunderers, through such campaigns as the 40,000-signature petition and legal protests for a rise in the minimum wage and by launching complaints against those who have ripped workers off. The conviction of these two activists and the passing of the six-year sentence against Jafar Azimzadeh in the space of only 13 days is happening at a time when no action has been taken after one year in response to the complaint by Jafar Azimzadeh, Jamil Mohammadi and their colleagues, on behalf of 1,000 workers, against Saeed Mortazavi and others who have ransacked workers’ savings in the Social Welfare Fund, leaving them to continue to live in their billion-Toman homes on the spoils they have pocketed.
There is no doubt that taking such brutal measures against workers who have complained against those who have robbed them of their earnings, and who are demanding an end to the economic oppression against millions of working-class families, will not only not force us workers to surrender to the existing oppressive situation, but will add to the hatred and disgust of the workers and people of Iran towards the current situation.
The Free Union of Workers of Iran
15 March 2015
Translated from the Farsi original by Free Them Now! – Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran
Watch this week’s Bread and Roses TV programme with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya:
Celebrating Nowruz and remembering the highlights of the past year with Chris Moos, Gita Sahgal, Imad Iddine Habib, Mersedeh Ghaedi, Pragna Patel and Sirvan Ghaderi
17 March 2015
Shocking News: Quran teacher in Turkey telling children who don’t wear hejab, they deserve to be raped
Insane Fatwa: Khamenei and his criticism of existing policy on contraception, describing it as an imitation of western lifestyle turning Iranian women into baby-making machines
Good News: Sweden tore up arms deal with Saudi Arabia due to human rights situation and Raif Badawi’s case
Background Briefing: The Persian New Year called Norooz marks the first day of spring. It is partly rooted in the Zoroastrian tradition, but is an ancient holiday that was celebrated thousands of years ago. When the Islamic regime of Iran first took power, it tried to ban the pagan celebration but couldn’t stop the celebrations. The advent of another year is a good time to reflect on the past and renew hopes for a future that will see positive changes in Iran beginning with an end to the Islamic regime and its brutality.
۱۸ مارس ۲۰۱۵
ياد بهترينهاى سال با کريس موس؛ گيتا ساهگل؛ عماد الدين حبيب٬ مرسده قائدى؛ پراگنا پاتل و سيروان قادرى
اخبار تکان دهنده از معلم قران در ترکيه است که به شاگردهاى ۱۳ ساله گفته بود حقشان است تجاوز بشوند چون حجاب نمى پوشند
فتواى احمقانه از خامنه اى در مورد وسايل بيشگيرى
اخبار خوب از سوئد و لغو قراردادهاى اسلحه به خاطر وضعيت حقوق بشر
در مورد تم برنامه
جشن باستانى نوروز٬ پيام آور بهار و سال نو ميباشد؛ ساليان درازى است که مردم اين روز را فرخنده ميدارند؛ مرتجعىن اسلامى از همان روز نخست به قدرت در ايران تلاش ناموفقى را براى منع کردن اين جشن غير اسلامى آغاز کردند. اما تا کنون با شکست روبرو شده اند
آغاز سال نوىن زمان مناسبى براى تامل در مورد سال گذشته و نوين کردن اميد و آرزو براى آينده ميباشد
پايان حکومت اسلامي اولين قدم مثبت را براى آينده اى ايران به ارمغان مياورد
This week’s Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya on Women’s liberation movement as the greatest threat to Islamism
International Women’s Day Special
10 March 2015
Shocking news of the week: “human rights organisation” CAGE justifies the beheadings carried out by British jihadi Mohammad Emwazi.
Insane Fatwa of the week: From ISIS and its directives that women mustn’t slap their thighs!
Good news of the week: Maryam Namazie’s topless action in support of women’s rights and against Islam and Islamism.
Discussion of the week: We show a film made by Femmes Filment on the historic protest against compulsory veiling in 1979 in Iran and discuss it. 8 March International Women’s Day must commemorate the 1979 protests of Iranian women against Khomeini’s compulsory veiling order which captured the imagination of people across the world. The protests were suppressed by brute force and the control of women and their bodies a basis of the regime in Iran. Nonetheless, the women’s liberation movement against the veil and Islamic rule is the greatest threat faced by the regime today.
جنبش رهائى زن بزرگترين تهديد به اسلام سياسى
برمانه ۸ مارس
۱۱ مارس ۲۰۱۵
در اين برنامه فيلمى از تظاهرات سال ۵۷ عليه حجاب اجبارى را نشان مى دهيم و حولش بحث مى کنيم
۸ مارس روز جهاني زن را نمي توان بدون سخن گفتن و يادآوري اعتراضات زنان در سال
عليه فرمان خميني جهت حجاب اجباري گرامي داشت
اين اعتراض توجه جنبش جهاني زمان را به خود جلب كرد
اين اعتراضات با خشونت بي پايان سركوب شد و كنترل زنان و بدن آنها به ستون حكومت اسلامي تبديل شد
البته بعد از ٣٦ سال حكومت اسلامي جنبش زنان عليه حجاب و قوانين اسلامي بزرگترين تهديد است رژيم با ان روبرو ميباشد
اخبار شکه آور اين هفته در مورد سازمان اسلامى در انگليس و توجيهاتش در دفاع از جهادى انگليسى
فتواى احمقانه از داعش
خبر خوب در مورد اعتراض برهنه مريم نمازى براى روز جهانى زن