Nearly 200 signatories call to dismantle parallel legal systems

15 June 2015

Women’s rights and secular organisations urge the new government to take concerted measures to stop the development of parallel legal systems and to facilitate full and proper access to justice for all citizens and to one secular law for all.

For decades, successive governments have appeased undemocratic religious power brokers in minority communities who have sought to gain power through multicultural and now multi-faith social policies. These policies have led to the homogenisation of minority communities including the ‘Muslim community’ and have recognised and legitimated ‘non-violent’ Islamists as ‘community representatives’, outsourcing legal justice to what are in effect kangaroo courts that deliver highly discriminatory and second-rate forms of ‘justice.’ Over the years, we have witnessed with increasing alarm the influence of ‘Sharia courts’ over the lives of citizens of Muslim heritage.

Any government inquiry into ‘Sharia courts’ must also examine the impact of the draconian cuts in legal aid that have adversely affected access to justice for the most vulnerable. Many abused women from minority backgrounds, for instance, are increasingly forced to either represent themselves in court in what are often complex family legal proceedings or go to ‘Sharia courts’ that operate entirely outside the rule of law. The loss of legal aid contributes to a context that is conducive to the consolidation of privatised and unaccountable forms of justice and ‘Sharia courts’ are amongst the main beneficiaries.

Though the ‘Sharia courts’ have been touted as people’s right to religion, they are in fact, effective tools of the far-Right Islamist movement whose main aim is to restrict and deny rights, particularly those of women and children. ‘Sharia’ laws are highly contested and challenged in many countries, including in Muslim-majority countries across the globe – from Iran to Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Pakistan. Those of us in Britain who oppose ‘Sharia courts’ and all other religious forms of arbitration over family matters, are part of the same movement that challenge the religious-Right and defend the principle of one law for all underpinned by the notions of universalism, human rights, secularism and equality.

Opposing ‘Sharia courts’ is not racism or ‘Islamophobic’; it is a defence of the rights of all citizens, irrespective of their beliefs and background to be governed by democratic means under the principle of one law for all. What amounts to racism is the idea that minorities can be denied rights enjoyed by others through the endorsement of religious based ‘justice’ systems which operate according to divine law that is by its very nature immune from state scrutiny.

We have seen recent victories against the accommodation of ‘Sharia’ codes within law and policy in the UK. Using equalities and human rights legislation, we have successfully challenged both the Universities UK for issuing guidance that condones gender segregation in universities and the Law Society for endorsing discriminatory ‘Sharia’ codes in the area of inheritance. As well as challenging draconian state measures that criminalise whole communities and aid and abet xenophobia, anti-Muslim bigotry and racism, it is vital that we also push back the Islamist narrative and challenge ‘Sharia courts’ since they clearly represent yet another assault on our civil liberties.

We also urge the government to withdraw from its intention to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. Such a move will represent a break from what was the most important social contract to have emerged between European States and citizens, following the Second World War. The agreement to sign up to a simple set of standards that uphold human decency and universal values led to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to standards that protect and uphold the rights of all people in the face of state and non-state abuses of power. Now more than ever, we need the Human Rights Act to challenge the arbitrary and unaccountable power of ‘Sharia courts.’

We, the undersigned, therefore, call on the new Government to:

1. Reinstate legal aid in all areas of civil and criminal law to ensure equal access to justice for all.
2. Recognise that ‘Sharia’ and other religious courts deliver arbitrary and unaccountable forms of ‘justice’ that discriminate against women and children in particular. Citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.
3. Abolish the use of ‘Sharia courts’ and all other religious arbitration forums, including the Beth Din, in family matters since they undermine the principle of equality, non discrimination and universal human rights that must be enjoyed by all citizens.
4. Reject calls for state regulation of ‘Sharia’ and other religious courts and tribunals. This will only legitimate parallel legal systems in the governance of family matters.
5. Re-affirm the principle of the separation of religion and the law. The law is a key component of securing justice for citizens and one law for all.
6. Desist from repealing the Human Rights Act 1998. This move will strip all vulnerable people of their right to protection and justice.

Signatories [Read more…]


raifActivist and blogger Raif Badawi was first arrested on 17 June 2012. Three years later he remains in prison on charges that are politically motivated. To mark the third anniversary of his arrest we are holding a Day of Action here in London.

Raif Badawi had already spent almost two years in prison before being convicted in May 2014 for ‘insulting Islam’ and founding a liberal website. He received a fine of 1 million riyals (£175,000) and a ten-year prison sentence. In addition, the court in Jeddah sentenced Badawi to 1,000 lashes.

On 9 January 2015, after morning prayers, Badawi was flogged 50 times. This punishment was due to continue every Friday until he had received a total of 1,000 lashes. However, subsequent floggings have not gone ahead, initially because Badawi was deemed not to have recovered sufficiently from the previous punishment. No explanation has been given for the postponement of further floggings. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has now announced its decision to uphold this draconian sentence.

Meanwhile, Badawi’s lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, is serving 15 years in prison, for his peaceful activism.

We call for Raif Badawi’s sentence of flogging to be overturned, as well as for his conviction to be quashed.

We demand that the Saudi authorities release Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair immediately.

We urge the UK government to cease providing arms to the Saudi government whilst it continues to abuse human rights.

Join us.

17 June 2015 Day of Action for Raif Badawi

From 1.30pm – Protest Letter Delivery at Downing Street:

Organisations and individuals actively campaigning for Raif Badawi’s release will be holding a rally opposite Downing Street from 1.30pm. At 2pm, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and activist Peter Tatchell will join Jo Glanville (Director, English PEN), Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and International Front for Secularism), Pete Radcliff (Free Raif UK) and Melody Patry (Index on Censorship) to deliver a letter signed by over 600 groups and individuals to the Prime Minister.

From 6.30pm – Public meeting at Portcullis House:

Representatives of campaigning organisations will come together with MPs to discuss and consider how best to secure the release of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair. Speakers include:

• Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
• Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Arms Trade
• Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
• Stewart McDonald, Scottish National Party
• John McDonnell, Labour Party, Hayes and Harlington
• Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All
• Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

The meeting will take place in the Boothroyd Room on the first floor of Portcullis House. The entrance to Portcullis House is on the Victoria Embankment. Please be aware that there will be standard security searches as with many other government buildings.

Social Media Protest

We’re also asking people across the world to join the Day of Action on social media, by lobbying the Saudi authorities and sending messages of support to Raif and his family. Join the call for Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair’s immediate release using the hashtags #FreeRaif and #FreeWaleed

Please consider pledging a tweet or Facebook message to our Thunderclap for Raif Badawi. The message will be sent en masse as part of the Day of Action.

You may also wish to include the following Twitter handles:

Raif Badawi – @raif_badawi
Ensaf Haider – @miss9afi
Waleed Abulkhair – @WaleedAbulkhair

For more information on the campaign and to get involved, visit website.


Atheism Association of Turkey is fighting for a better Turkey

This week’s Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV
With Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya

Atheism Association of Turkey is fighting for a better Turkey
Interview with Morgan Elizabeth Romano and Zehra Pala  of the Atheism Association of Turkey
Background: The Atheism Association in Turkey is second public atheist organisation formed in what is known as a Muslim-majority country, the first being Morocco. In less than a year of its founding, its website was blocked by a Turkish court citing Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Law, which forbids “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them.” Meanwhile, the Association has had to install a panic button in their office due to death threats.
Shocking new: Rise of child ‘marriages’ in Iran
Insane fatwa: Fatwa against discount coupons
Good news: Legislation in France barring supermarkets from wasting unsold food
Director: Reza Moradi
Translation: Mohammad B

برنامه نان و گل سرخ مجله ای سیاسی – اجتماعی در کانال جديد
با مريم نماۯى و فريبرۯ پويا
سازمان آتئیسم در ترکیه براى تركيه بهترى مى جنگد
مصاحبه با مرگان رمانو و زهرا پلا از انجمن بى خدايان ٺركيه
سازمان اته ايستهاي تركيه بعد از مراكش دومين سازمان علني اته در كشورهاي با اصطلاح اسلامي است
دو كمتر از دو سال بعد از بنيان گذاري اين سازمان سايت اينترنتي ان بوسيله دادگاه جنايي تركيه تحت عنوان و با رجوع به قوانين عدم تحريك مردم و اشاعه نفرت و دشمني با مردم بلوكه شد
در حقيقت اين سازمان براي يك تركيه بهتر ميجنگد
اخبار تکان دهنده جدید: افزايش ‘ازدواج’ کودکان در ایران
فتوای احمقانه: فتوا بر علیه کوپن های تخفیف
خبر خوب: قانون در فرانسه عليه اتلاف مواد غذایی به فروش نرفته
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: محمد ب


به برنامه نان و گل سرخ کمک مالى هفتگى کنيد براى فقط ىک دلار در هفته

Promoting Secularism in the Age of ISIS

140624160439-lv-isis-tshirt-for-sale-online-00001526-story-topThis is my speech at the 5th Imagine No Religion conference in Vancouver, Canada during 5-7 June 2015.

The global rise of Islamism in particular and the religious-Right in general has turned the demand for secularism into an urgent task and necessity.

There are those in academia who theorise about a ‘post-secular’ world and insist that secularism lacks relevance, particularly for ‘non-Westerners.’  In the age of ISIS, though, you don’t have to look far to see that secularism is not only still relevant but that it’s a matter of life and death for countless people across the globe. In fact, no-one understands the need for secularism better than ‘non-westerners’ living under the boot of the religious-Right.

The post-secularists tell us that the rise of Islamism and the religious Right is linked to a religious revival. But this is not true. Of course with its rise, there are political pressures to keep up religious appearances, homogenise religious identity, and define religion as the only characteristic of entire societies, communities and people but this is very often enforced by violence.

‘Any classification and labelling has a purpose behind it,’ says the late Iranian Marxist Mansoor Hekmat. ‘Islam has been around in Iran for one thousand four hundred years and has obviously left its mark on certain things. But this is only one element in portraying this society – the same way that oppression, monarchy, police state, industrial backwardness, ethnicity, language, script, political history, pre-Islamic way of life, people’s physical characteristics, international relations, geography and weather, diet, size of country, population concentration, economic relations, level of urbanisation, architecture, etc. are. All of these express real characteristics of the society. Now if out of the hundreds of factors that create differences between Iran and Pakistan, France and Japan, someone insists on pointing to the presence of Islam in some aspects of life in this society and brands all of us with this label – from anti-religious individuals like Dashty, Hedayat and you and I to the great majority who do not see themselves as believers and are not concerned about Islam and the clergy – then they must have a specific agenda. Iran is not an Islamic society; the government is Islamic. Islam is an imposed phenomenon in Iran, not only today but also during the monarchy, and has remained in power by oppression and murder.’

The labelling of entire people, societies and communities as Muslim or Islamic is part and parcel of the Islamist agenda to feign representation and gain power and control.

And let’s be clear, it is more about power and control than religion. This distinction between religion and the religious-Right (a political movement) is clearer if you look at other religious-Right movements like the Buddhist-Right in Burma or Sri Lanka and their progroms against Muslims, the Hindu-Right’s massacre of Muslims in Gujrat, the Christian-Right’s bombing of abortion clinics or the Jewish-Right’s assault on women or as settlers in the Palestinian territories. Like the Islamists, they use religion to justify violence (or discrimination – depending on their influence) but you cannot explain these movements by religion alone.

Islamists, for example, are not all doctrinaire, literalist or fundamentalist and include a wide range of groups from ISIS, to the pragmatic and conservative factions of the Islamic regime of Iran to ‘soft’ Islamists (they don’t want to kill you just yet via terrorism) and even ‘Islamic Protestants or reformers’ like Abdolkarim Soorosh. Islam is the banner for their extreme-rightwing restructuring of society. But their movement is firmly rooted in political equations to gain power – primarily through violence and terror.

As Algerian sociologist and founder of Secularism is a Women’s Issue Marieme Helie Lucas says, this movement ‘is by no means a tool of the poor against the rich, of the Third World against the West, of people against capitalism. It is not a legitimate response that can be supported by the progressive forces of the world. Its main target is the internal democratic opposition to their theocratic project and to their project of controlling all aspects of society in the name of religion, including education, the legal system, youth services, etc. When fundamentalists come to power, they silence the people, they physically eliminate dissidents, writers, journalists, poets, musicians, painters – like fascists do. Like fascists, they physically eliminate the ‘untermensch’ – the subhumans -, among them ‘inferior races’, gays, mentally or physically disabled people. And they lock women ‘in their place’, which as we know from experience ends up being a straight jacket…’

In fact, it’s this internal opposition that makes the Islamists so brutal. They would not need to use such unrelenting violence if it were people’s culture and religion… if everyone submitted. The hijab, for example, which is the first imposition by Islamists when they gain influence is not a personal choice for a vast majority of women today though it is touted as such. It is highly contested and challenged as in the women’s unveiling movement in Iran and is one of the main areas of fight-back as is ‘Sharia law.’ Of course countless liberals here in the west – groups like the British Humanist Association – defend the burqa as people’s right to dress and Sharia courts as people’s right to religion.

We are often made to believe that this is clash of civilisations or an antagonism between a ‘secular West’ and a ‘religious East’ but it’s not. It’s a global struggle between secularists, including many Muslims and believers on the one hand, and theocrats and the religious-Right on the other taking place within and across borders around the globe.

We’re also told this is about racism and discrimination against minority communities or societies in the South, but it’s not. It’s a defence of people and universal rights against the religious-Right.

After all no society or community is homogeneous. There is dissent and political and social movements and class politics at play.

Take the example of 27 year old Farkhunda 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.

What could she expect when she goes against ‘Muslim sensibilities’ tweeted one of this absurd liberal Left do-gooders who only seem to do good for religion and not women? But wasn’t Farkhunda Muslim too? Actually she was very devout and had gone to the local mullah to tell him to stop selling amulets to women.

What became very obvious after her murder was that not all Afghans or Muslims or Muslim men have the same ‘sensibilities.’ Women carried her body– going against Islamic customs – to her gravesite and with her family’s permission encircled by a chain of men to protect them. They surrounded her coffin right until the end, gave her the respect she deserved, and chanted: ‘we are all Farkhunda.’ And when a 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.’

So ‘the people’ of Afghanistan do not all agree. ‘Muslims’ are not all the same. And I place Muslims in quotes since not everyone living in Afghanistan or Iran are Muslims or Islamists just like not everyone is Canada or Britain is Christian or fundamentalist.

Everywhere, from Iran to Afghanistan and Algeria, there are women and men who break taboos and change narratives and stand against religion’s encroachment in people’s lives and against Islamism. To accept the label of Islamic and the homogenisation of entire populations is to accept Islamism’s narrative and not that of the many who resist.

In Bangladesh, for example, there are Islamists killing and threatening beloved atheist bloggers like Avijit Roy but there is also a deeply secular movement against them, including 24 villages that have become known as Jamaat free villages – or terrorist free villages.

Religion is not the only marker for our societies nor is it the most important. [Read more…]

Upcoming Events: Vancouver and London

5-7 June 2015
Vancouver, Canada
I 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. Can’t wait!

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 Ex-Muslims North Founder Behzad Sandbad 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 Maajid Nawaz, Founder of Quilliam Foundation CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie Master Magician Neil Edwards Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel Nari Diganta Activist Rumana Hashem National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson.
Tickets: £18 (waged); £10 (unwaged)
To register, please email your name and mobile number to  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.

What are you waiting for? Get your tickets today!

Bread and Roses: Gay marriage vote in Ireland a gain for humanity

Gay marriage vote in Ireland a gain for humanity
Bread and Roses with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Interview with Michael Nugent, Chair of Atheist Ireland
Background: In a referendum, 62% voted in favour of changing the Irish constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The landmark decision was celebrated across the world. A senior Vatican official, though, said it was a “defeat for humanity”. In fact, it as a defeat for homophobic religious values and a gain for humanity and 21st century human values.
Shocking news of the week: mass graves of migrants in Malaysia
Insane fatwa of the week: Masturbation leads to pregnant hands In afterlife
Good news: Vote for gay marriage in Ireland
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Mohammad B

رای ازدواج همجنس گرايان در ایرلند دست آوردى برای بشریت
نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
مصاحبه با مایکل نوجنت، رئیس ساۯمان آٺئيسٺهاى ایرلند
در يك رفراندم سراسري در جمهوري ايرلند ٦٢٪ از شركت كنندگان راي مثبت به تغيير قانون اساسي جهت برسميت شناختن ازدواج همجنس گرايان در آن كشور دادند
نتيجه اين انتخاب مهم مورد استقبال جهاني قرار گرفت
البته يك مقام بالاي واتيكان ان را “شكستي براي بشريت” ناميد
در واقع اين شكستي براي ارزشهاي مذهبي و ضد همجنس گرايان ولي دستاوردي براي بشريت و ارزشهاي انساني قرن بيست و يكم ميباشد
اخبار تکان دهنده از هفته: گورهای دسته جمعی مهاجران در مالزی
فتوای احمقانه هفته: ارۯاى جنسى مردان منجر به دست باردار در زندگی پس از مرگ
خبر خوب: رای برای ازدواج همجنس گرايان در ایرلند
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
مترجم: محمد ب

17 June: day of action to Free Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu Al-Khair

A statement will be delivered to UK Prime Minister at Downing Street on Wednesday, 17th June – the 3rd anniversary of Raif Badawi’s imprisonment.

We will then be having a public meeting at Parliament at 6:30pm with speakers and representatives of supporting campaigns as well as experts on Saudi Arabia to consider how we take the campaign forward.

Please join @johnmcdonnellMP Glenys Kinnock @FitzMP @Cruella1 @PeterTatchell @MaryamNamazie Jun 17 Action on Saudi ‪#‎FreeRaif‬

More information available here.

Misogyny in the name of God

Just returned from Bergen International Festival where I participated in a panel discussion on Misogyny in the name of God with the fantastic Deeyah Khan, Gunnar Stålsett, Cecilie Ore and John Peder Egenæs. It was chaired by Hilde Sandvik.
امروۯ اۯ برگن نروۯ برگشٺم
در پانلى جالب با ديا خان شركٺ كردم در مورد ضديٺ با ۯن به اسم خدا
You can see the video here:

Some photos from the event:

kvinneforakt i guds navn 4

kvinneforakt i guds navn 5

Lausanne nuclear agreement with Great Satan

Lausanne nuclear agreement with Great Satan
26 May 2015
Interview with Hamid Taqvaee, Leader of Worker-communist Party of Iran
Background: The Lausanne nuclear agreement reached due to economic pressures negates the political identity of the Islamic regime, which has been based on opposing the “Great Satan”. This agreement will lead to a further weakening of the regime and raise the expectations of people in Iran.
Shocking news of the week: Threats against concerts of Shahin Najafi
Insane Fatwa of the week: Women must have sex with their husbands even on a camel!
Good news of the week: Mona Eltahawy’s new book ـ Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution

توافق هسته ای لوزان با شیطان بزرگ، نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
۲۷ مه ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با حميد ٺقوائى، رهبر حزب کمونیست کارگری ایران
قرارداد اتمي در نتيجه فشار هاي اقتصادي هويت سياسي جمهوري اسلامي در ضديت با شيطان بزرگ را نفي مي كند. نتيجه اين قرارداد ضعف بيشتر رژيم بوده و منجر به بالا رفتن انتظارات مردم ايران خواهد شد.
اخبار تکان دهنده هفته: تهدید کنسرت های شاهین نجفی
فتوای احمقانه هفته: زنان باید با شوهر خود حتی روى شتر سكس داشٺه باشند
نياۯ دارد؛ كٺاب جديد منى الطحاوي اخبار خوب: حجاب و پرده بكارٺ: چرا خاور

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 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.

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 Namazie
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

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.


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*