Screams against Islamism

‘I will be celebrating my 27th birthday in a few days and as I enter into a new year of my life, I think it is time to renounce religion openly…The CEMB is doing a great job by providing a forum for Ex-Muslims and taking a stand against the brutality of this religion.’ – Hassan

‘After 20 yrs of Islam, I finally gave up the prison for my freedom. My main issue with Islam is the awful injustice against women and as a woman myself I could not stand for a religion which belittles me…well done CEMB for creating this unified voice for ex-Muslims!’ – Pariah

Dear friends

These are just two of the many testimonies of ex-Muslims on the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s (CEMB) website and forum. [Read more...]

Maryam Namazie on 19 November Jinn and Tonic Show

Maryam Namazie has been confirmed as a guest co-host on “The Jinn and Tonic show” on November 19th, 2011. The Jinn and Tonic Show is a bi-weekly live Internet chat show discussing Islam, including calls from Muslims. It is the sister show of The Magic Sandwich Show and is akin to an Islamic oriented version of The Atheist Experience. [Read more...]

Not to worry, the hidden imam will sort us out

Sign says: ‘Women’s entry into work and society has caused youth unemployment, their inability to marry, and corruption in the Islamic society. I give my condolences to all Muslims in Iran and the Mahdi*.’ [*The Mahdi is the hidden imam who just won't come out of hiding until it's the 'End of Days'. [Read more...]

100 lashes for buttock squeeze or for not dying laughing?

The Islamophobia watch police have been busy criticising French weekly Charlie Hebdo for poking fun at Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, rather than condemning the firebombing of its offices for daring to speak about Islam. The ‘offending’ cover had Mohammad saying ’100 lashes if you don’t die laughing’. This they found completely inappropriate. However, around the same time, two Iranian footballers, face actual lashings for a buttock squeeze (see video below) and the Islamophobia watch police are predictably silent. [Read more...]

Love not Hate, Charlie Hebdo’s Brilliant Response

Thanks to Olav for sending me the cover of this week’s edition of Charlie Hebdo, the French publication firebombed last week for mocking Mohammad, Islam’s prophet. In this week’s issue, the publication is printing messages of solidarity including mine. The cover says Love is Stronger than Hate.

Simplicity is killing us…

In September 2011, I spoke at a meeting on Sharia law in Copenhagen, Denmark organised by the Danish atheists. The discussion was on sharia law but as in most talks on the issue, I also dealt extensively with the far-Right, the racist scapegoating and blaming of immigrants and Muslims for the crimes of Islamism and also the pathetic excuse of a pro-Islamist left who sides with Islamism at the expense of the population at large… [Read more...]

Finally, a more woman-friendly Koranic verse (it had to be made up though)

You have all read or know of the famous Koranic verse or sura al-Nisa (The Women), which basically speaks of the ‘excellent’ status of women under Islam. It says things like how a women is worth half that of a man and that’s it’s alright to beat a disobedient woman (spare me any comments on – but only lightly!). Well for those of you who cannot stand to hear that sura anymore, we have a new one for you. [Read more...]

Sorry but Islam and Mohammad are not off-limits

Charles Hebdo, the French publication that was firebombed a few days ago for mocking Islam and Islam’s prophet Mohammad is gathering messages of solidarity to publish in its next issue, which will be out this Wednesday in France. Here’s mine:

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo’s office but the attack does bear the hallmarks of the political Islamic movement as – for them – this is business as usual and all in a day’s work. They bomb offices, threaten anyone who criticises Islam and Islamism, and where they have political power they slaughter those who speak their minds in cold blood and in broad daylight.

Those who condemn the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo’s office whilst also criticising the publication for mocking Islam’s prophet Mohammad are (at best) missing the point (and more likely apologists for the Islamists). [Read more...]

When the Hezbollah Came to my School: Why I Became an Atheist

For those of you who don’t know much about my background and why I became an atheist, my piece in 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why we are Atheists may be an interesting read. It’s the first time I have published it on my blog below:

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped being a Muslim. Looking back, it seems to have been a gradual process and a direct result of my personal experiences, though I would like to think (or hope) that I would have eventually become an atheist.

Having been raised in a fairly open-minded family, I had no real encounter with religion that mattered until the Islamic movement took power on the back of a defeated revolution in Iran. I was 12 at the time. [Read more...]

The fight for a secular society in Iran is intrinsically linked to the fight for a secular one in Britain

I received the following letter from ‘a group of students from Tehran University the other day. They wrote: ‘We are a group of Iranian students at Tehran University. We found about your group activity two years ago when you held an event on 10th of October 2008 (International day against the Death Penalty). We all were very interested in your group since most of us inside Iran hate any religion ruling us, we are all born in Muslim families but hate Islam more than any other religion so we are also ex Muslims. But we were very disappointed when we realized that you use our cause and suffering inside Iran to achieve your goals such as one law for all in Britain. For example this year you are planning to use Neda’s anniversary to rally against sharia law. Neda, Ashkan, Sohrab and those of our friends who died in Iran and those who are in prison, are paying a price for the freedom of Iran. Don’t mix things; don’t use our suffering to achieve your objectives. You can have separate rallies for your problems in Britain, and if you care about Iran (which I am sure you care) have a rally for Iran but with all the respect to England, we don’t like you to use the name of our dearest Neda, the symbol of freedom in Iran, to achieve your goals in Britain. We would like to concentrate our effort to free ourselves. We were very very disappointed that the communist ideas of your group are more important to you than freedom of Iran. We want freedom and democracy and None of us know what happens to us in our next demonstration on days of June 2010, some of us may die or end up in prison but we are happy to pay the price for it. We don’t want any religion or communist ideas to come and rule us. We are tired of being used. In a free Iran, we do not want atheists mullahs and communists to come and rule us with different form of fundamentalism.’

My response follows:

Thanks very much for your email. I appreciate receiving your comments. I would like, however, to make the following points:

* Neda’s murder has affected all of us deeply – not just those of us living in Iran or exiled but ordinary people everywhere. I think this is mainly because her cold-blooded murder was seen by many across the world in a way that countless murders by the Islamic regime over thirty years have not been. How could anyone not be moved? But also I think it is because her demand for freedom against all odds – her desire to live a life worthy of the 21st century – is really a demand for people all over – irrespective of where they were born.

So I think it is actually quite apt for us to remember Neda in our battle for equal rights in Britain or wherever we happen to live and whether we are Iranian or not. It is not ‘using’ her but holding her dear and not allowing the world to forget her in the fight that still lies ahead. I mean were civil rights activists in America ‘using’ Stephen Biko (killed by the apartheid regime of South Africa) when promoting equal rights there?

Rather, showing solidarity – mobilising towards it – across borders – means being able to show the real links between people in Iran and those living in Britain and elsewhere.

Reducing the protests and resistance of Neda and people in Iran (and those of us in exile who have fled because of our activities, lost many a loved one and continue to be threatened with death and have our families in Iran harassed by the regime because of our activities abroad) into a national sort of suffering that only those still in Iran are privy to misses the point.

* Moreover, Neda is linked to the issue of Sharia law in more ways than one. Sharia law is not ‘Britain’s personal problem’ and Neda is not ‘Iran’s problem.’ They are both the result of the rise of the political Islamic movement of which the Islamic regime is a cornerstone. In fact Sharia law in this country came into being in the late 80s after the establishment of the Islamic regime of Iran. The fight for a different and secular society in Iran is intrinsically linked to the fight for a different and secular one in Britain.

* You say you hate Islam more than any other religion but in my opinion religions are all alike. If given political power they will do what Islam has done and have in the past. A ‘kinder’ religion is only one that has been pushed in a corner and out of the public space. Islam only seems worse today because we are living through an Islamic inquisition. And this Islamic inquisition like the Christian one in centuries past must be pushed back by a new enlightenment that is being shaped in my opinion in Iran.

* So I do think actually that it is important to ‘mix things.’ The fight against Sharia in Britain is an important front in the ongoing battle of the people of Iran against the Islamic Republic. Also, Sharia law has been used by the far-right to promote its anti-immigrant and racist agenda. They want no Sharia in Britain but don’t mind the Church of England’s role here nor care a whit about people struggling elsewhere or even in the ‘Muslim community’ here with similar problems. ‘Mixing’ the two – whilst standing up for people everywhere and showing the humanity of us all – also attacks the cultural relativism and racism that is rampant and excuses gross violations in the name of culture and religion for the ‘other.’

* Finally, One Law for All or the Council of Ex-Muslims are not communist organisations but I am a communist. You may not want or like my communist ideas but I do. And I believe strongly that worker-communism is a humane and much-needed movement (that has proven to be so over several decades and been at the forefront of everything from opposing the death penalty, refugee rights, secularism to equality not just in Iran, and also when many such issues were not fashionable in the Left). I have a right – as you do – to promote my ideas and debate them. In a ‘free Iran’ as you call it – whilst you many not want ‘fundamentalist’ atheists and communists alike, we must have a right to speak and organise and mobilise support as all other political groups and ideologies.

Otherwise it wouldn’t be very free would it? And both you and I will have to let people in Iran choose and decide what they want. I believe that in free and fair elections they will choose us but again for that we will have to wait and see…

Let me end by saying that I sincerely wish you all safety and success in your activities.

Warmest wishes

Maryam

Maryam Namazie