Nudity is freedom

I just got back from yesterday’s brilliant FEMEN Paris action in support of women in the Middle East and North Africa.

Most certainly, nudity is freedom…


Censored Femen: Paris Nudite – Liberte manifesto… by TECHNOLOGOS

In addition to FEMEN Activists and I, other protestors included popular Lebanese actress Darina Al Jondy and well-known French women’s rights activist Safia Lebdi. I have ‘No Sharia’ on my body and ‘I am not your honour’ on my arms; my sign says ‘I am not a commodity’ in Persian. Here’s a few more photos:

By the way, you can read an article in the Global Post on the Topless Revolution here. 

A debate with ‘Human Rights’ Watch

If you recall, a while back, I and a number of other campaigners and rights organisations wrote an open letter to ‘Human Rights’ Watch Director Kenneth Roth criticising his apologetic stance towards Islamism. The letter was recently published in the New York Review of Books Blog along with a response from the organisation.

It’s basically the same old, same old.

HRW insists that it is possible that ‘a government guided by political Islam might be convinced to avoid such discrimination’ by saying there is a difference between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Erdogan in Turkey but Erdogan is not like the Taliban because of the role of secularism in Turkey and not because of ‘diverse, interpretive strains of Islam’.

It goes on to say that those of us who signed the letter ‘insist on “separation of religion from the state,” presented as “the most basic guarantee of rights.” But that is obviously not what the people of Egypt and Tunisia, when given a choice, voted for.’

Whilst I have discussed why this is so elsewhere, suffice it to say that irrespective of people’s ‘choices’ – if you can really call it that – shouldn’t HRW be more concerned about well err, human rights? If a ‘majority’ (which can sometimes even be a minority in parliamentary democracies) chooses to bring the death penalty back or vote the far-Right British National Party into power in the UK, would HRW be as eager to call for engagement? It is only eager to do so when it comes to the people of the Middle East and North Africa because in its worldview Islamism represents the will of the people. [Read more...]

To Human Rights Watch: Separation of religion from state is the most basic guarantee of rights

An Open Letter to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Dear Kenneth Roth,

In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.

You say, “It is important to nurture the rights-respecting elements of political Islam while standing firm against repression in its name,” but you fail to call for the most basic guarantee of rights—the separation of religion from the state. Salafi mobs have caned women in Tunisian cafes and Egyptian shops; attacked churches in Egypt; taken over whole villages in Tunisia and shut down Manouba University for two months in an effort to exert social pressure on veiling. And while “moderate Islamist” leaders say they will protect the rights of women (if not gays), they have done very little to bring these mobs under control. You, however, are so unconcerned with the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities that you mention them only once, as follows: “Many Islamic parties have indeed embraced disturbing positions that would subjugate the rights of women and restrict religious, personal, and political freedoms. But so have many of the autocratic regimes that the West props up.” Are we really going to set the bar that low? This is the voice of an apologist, not a senior human rights advocate. [Read more...]

Human Rights Watch – You are Disgusting!

Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth says in the group’s annual report that the past year’s Arab Spring uprisings across the region have shown it is vital for the West to end its policy of backing ‘an array of Arab autocrats’ in exchange for supporting Western interests. So far so good.

But then the organisation and Roth fall for the same old affliction of the post-modernist left, which is that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Therefore, according to this sad piece of logic (or lack thereof) if the Islamists replace the bad autocrats, then they must be good. Really?

He says: ‘The international community must … come to terms with political Islam when it represents a majority preference, he said. ‘Islamist parties are genuinely popular in much of the Arab world, in part because many Arabs have come to see political Islam as the antithesis of autocratic rule.’

I beg to differ. Even if a majority prefers something, it doesn’t necessarily make it good and right, nor does it mean that the new option is the ‘antithesis of autocratic rule’. Islamism is also autocratic and in many places supported by the West.

And the reality is very different. A majority don’t support Islamism unless you believe that people like to have their rights and freedoms limited and are different human beings from those sitting in the plush Human Rights Watch offices. [Read more...]

Nude photo of Egyptian blogger is a scream against Islamism

Student, atheist and blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, 20, posted naked pictures of herself on her blog to show her “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. Showing her body particularly at a time when Islamists in Egypt are trying to secure power is the ultimate act of rebellion. Don’t forget Islamists despise nothing more than a woman’s body. In case you didn’t know, women are the source of corruption and chaos and must be covered up at all times and not seen and not heard. [Read more...]

On the ‘Arab Spring’ and its links with the 99% movement – A must read!

Here’s the edited transcript of a TV International interview I did with Hamid Taqvaee on the Arab Spring, broadcast during October 2011. He’s leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.

Interview with Hamid Taqvaee

Maryam Namazie: Is the Arab Spring linked to the global 99% movement?

Hamid Taqvaee: Of course it is linked! First of all, they are linked because the roots of both movements are the same and that’s the economic situation or crisis worldwide. Some of the main slogans of the revolution in Egypt were about bread, unemployment, and poverty and you see the same thing happening in the West. That’s one thing that connects the two. The other is that the form and method of protest is similar. The whole idea of occupying Wall Street comes from Al-Tahrir Square in Egypt. And it’s not only Egypt and New York of course.  In every other place in the world we had seen the idea of occupying the streets and reclaiming the streets for ourselves. With the idea of occupation, comes the idea of control. We have to take control, we the people, the 99%, have to take everything into our own hands. You can say that the idea is a new one, and it is the basic idea of the Arab Spring, the Middle East revolutions and the protests in the West. It’s not only demonstrations; it’s not about a one day protest and then going home. It’s about taking to the streets, remaining there, and taking control. [Read more...]