The other film: The Innocence of Muslims

Another film that has hit the headlines – ‘The innocence of Muslims’ – merits comment particularly since it has sparked protests that have resulted in the death of several US officials in Libya.

Have you seen the film? It is absolutely ludicrous.

It’s low budget (though they say they spent $5 million on it), poorly edited, badly acted – I mean just really, really bad. It’s almost impossible to get through the trailer let alone the movie itself.

It’s even worse (if that’s an option) than Geert Wilders’ film, Fitna, which we did a remake on.

Clearly the incompetence of the far-Right is even more astounding than its racism…

Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it:

What I find most ironic out of all of this is how the producers of the film and their supporters – like the crackpot pastor Terry Jones of Stand Up America! – don’t see how they are one and the same with the Islamists.

Like the Islamists, everyone is guilty. No one is innocent, which explains the very pathetic title of their film.

By the way, did you hear that the pastor is holding a trial for Mohammad who will face execution if found guilty? Does he not realise Mohammad isn’t even a real live person? And I also love the whole Christian love (we’re better than Islam) bit that ends with a public execution.

Like I said, two sides of the same coin.

We must be able to scrutinise Islam

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to make public our support for Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary ‘Islam: The Untold Story’. We are indignant to learn that due to threats made on Holland, Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of the historical inquiry into the origins of Islam similar to the kind of inquiry that has been applied to other religions and histories in Britain for many years.

The threats and concerted attempt to stigmatise the documentary and its producers by attacking its credibility and even legitimacy as a field of inquiry is nothing less than an attempt to impose a blasphemy taboo by stealth and coercion against programming that scrutinises Islam.

Caving in to the coercive pressure of Islamists will have catastrophic effects on free inquiry and expression where it pertains to Islam. It would not only further silence academic, historical and theological scrutiny of Islam but would also have the chilling effect of exerting added pressure on Muslims and ex-Muslims who wish to dissent from and question Islam.

The CEMB urges Channel 4 to reconsider its decision and urges the public to view the documentary and write to Channel 4 calling for a repeat screening.

Religion not Pussy Riot is guilty of hooliganism

Three members of Pussy Riot were found guilty of ‘hooliganism’ driven by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in jail for staging an ‘obscene’ ‘punk prayer service’ at the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow as part of a protest against Putin.

If anything it is religion that is part of the hooliganism in society. What could be more hateful and obscene than a two year prison sentence for singing in a church?

FEMEN have the right idea. Watch then chainsaw a crucifix:

As I mentioned before, this is something I’d love to do in a mosque

One Law for All has changed the public debate on Sharia

Dear Supporter,

I wanted to write to give you a quick update on some of the things we’ve been doing recently, as well as some of our plans for the near future. Thank you, as always, for your support.

Meeting with Trevor Phillips

Recently, Maryam and I met with Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. We told him of our concerns at the existence of sharia tribunals in Britain and the treatment of women by these bodies. We also discussed the refusal of the Charity Commission to grant charity status to secular organisations such as the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain which was refused status by the Commission for being too political, despite the fact that the Islamic Sharia Council – which runs a system of sharia-based family law and promotes Islamism – is a registered charity. Mr Phillips was very supportive and promised to look in to these issues for us. He also agreed to contact Baroness Cox’s office at the House of Lords to discuss her Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Bill. [Read more...]

The struggle continues

On 11 July, the International Day against Stoning, brave women and men (including a 16 year old who had acid thrown on her face) marched to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul to denounce the brutal execution of Najiba, a young woman, by the Taliban four days ago.

See more photos here and be inspired. There are some here too.

By the way, days after the execution that outraged the world, Karzai (with the blessing of coalition forces) has invited the Taliban to disarm and join the political process!

Can there be anything more outrageous?

The struggle continues…

As an aside, some reports on the execution insist that under Sharia, it is impossible to determine whether adultery has taken place because 4 witnesses are needed. They conveniently forget to mention that a confession or pregnancy suffices to prove sex outside of marriage and that is how all victims are sentenced to death. A ‘confession’ always takes place after some form of torture and abuse.

(Link of protest via Mina Ahadi)

It has to stop

I have just been informed that a Dutch MP of the Socialist Party, Harry van Bommel, has successfully submitted a resolution in the Dutch parliament calling for the Dutch government to instigate an initiative during the 67th UN General Assembly with the goal of an international condemnation and prohibition of stoning.  The resolution has been accepted.

Clearly, we need other parliaments doing the same as we need to end stoning now.

The lives of tens of women and men depend on it.

In Iran, at least 22 people await death by stoning sentences.

In Sudan, Intisar Sharief Abdala was sentenced to death by stoning.  The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies says of her case:

On 22 April 2012, judge Sami Ibrahim Shabo sentenced Intisar Sharief Abdala to death by stoning and ordered the case file to be sent to the high court for the confirmation of the sentence subsequent to a lapse of appeal period. The case was initially put before the court alongside two others accused: Lutfi Abu-Alros Jaeo and Alrisala Khamis.

The court acquitted the second accused for insufficient evidence against him; the third accused recently killed in a car accident. All three were illiterate and stated in the police and trial record that they don’t know to write or read.

Intisar is believed to be 20 years old, although some reports state that she is a minor. [Human Rights Watch says she is under 18, is imprisoned with her 5 month old baby and her feet shackled.] [Read more...]

Stoning must end now

In commemoration of 11 July, International Day against Stoning, we call on people worldwide to demand an end to the barbaric practice of stoning to death.

11 July has been chosen by the International Committee against Stoning to mark the day that 31 year old mother of two, Maryam Ayoubi, was stoned to death in 2001 under Khatami’s ‘reformist’ presidency. Though she had fainted out of sheer fear, she was nonetheless carried out on a stretcher and stones were thrown at her body until she was dead.

Stoning is a medieval act of barbarity that the Islamic regime in Iran and other Islamic gangs and states use to mete out punishment against women who have sex outside of marriage and in some cases also against men and homosexuals. It is a tool to frighten people into submission.

Even so, there is ample opposition and resistance to stoning in countries where women are stoned to death. In Iran, in particular, where the regime has stoned to death hundreds of people, there is an extensive social movement against stoning. It has become impossible for the regime to stone people in public for a very long time now and the practice of stoning has effectively been suspended, particularly after the campaign to defend Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. [Read more...]

Allah ordered the execution

Below is a Reuter’s report of a woman being executed near Kabul, Afghanistan by the Taliban this Sunday. It says she was accused of adultery and that Taliban members were ‘sexually involved’ with her, possibly via rape, and that she was tortured and killed to settle a dispute…

Watching the very disturbing video, I can’t help but think how alone she is in her last moments. She looks behind once and then faces away from the Islamist crowd.

I am taken aback by the fact that she makes no sound and no plea.

Men in the crowd say Allah ordered the execution with smiles on their faces after she is shot countless times in what seems to be an eternity.

At times like this I wonder how the world carries on.

Like W H Auden, I too wish clocks would be stopped and pianos silenced.

And of course so does many a nameless, faceless beloved left behind, maybe her loving parents, children, or the love of her life…

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message [She] Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

[She] was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

(Video Link via Mersedeh Ghaedi)

Not that kind of atheist

It seems the wonderful PZ Myers considers me a ‘Humanist’ Atheist. In his blog entitled ‘what kind of atheist are you?’ he says my type of atheist has the following strengths and weaknesses:

Strengths: This is the heart of an atheist movement that will endure and grow. Ignore it and we can expect atheism to fade away.

Weaknesses: Pragmatically fickle. If the atheist movement does not address human concerns, they’ll leave and follow institutions that do. Why be an atheist if an inclusive, progressive church were to do a better job? Why be an atheist if we neglect the concerns of women or minorities, or belittle civil rights?

As an aside, the very thought of being labelled a humanist and pragmatist gives me the shivers. I despise pragmatism, and though I have no problems per se with being called a humanist, I feel increasingly uncomfortable with the label given the fact that pragmatism – and not principle – is such a large part of mainstream Humanism. As I’ve said in my recent speech at the fifth anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, pragmatism doesn’t change the world – it maintains the status quo. And we so desperately need to change it.

There is an assumption in the Humanist Atheist label that people like me are in the atheist movement for support and if we don’t get it we will go elsewhere. Even a church (gasp, shudder)!?

The reality is that we don’t have the support we deserve but we’re still here.

This is because we ex-Muslims have a stake in the atheist movement just as much as anyone else. We’re not outsiders.

I am an atheist not because the atheist movement cares about rights (it doesn’t) or has been overly supportive (which it hasn’t) but because I despise religion and Islam.

I have become an atheist – not because it’s pragmatic – but as a result of my battles against the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamism. The Islamic regime of Iran recently wrote a piece on me called ‘Get to know this anti-religion woman’.

If I had to say what type of atheist I am, I’d say a militant atheist.

Strengths:  We need militancy in the face of religious barbarity. Can we please stop tiptoeing around, appeasing, and tolerating religion?

Weaknesses: None. There are enough people compromising on all our behalves, thank you very much.

UPDATE: PZ has made an important correction!

(Link via Chris Roche)

How dare you not defend Alex!

In a letter to the editor in the latest edition of the National Secular Society’s very excellent Newsline, Raymond Carlise writes:

I have considered Edward Conduit’s appeal to sign the petition in defence of the Indonesian atheist who has been jailed for saying there is no God, but have concluded that I cannot sign [the] Avaaz petition for Alex.
There may well be no God for Alex, as for you or for me. With the Indonesians however it’s evidently a different matter. The limits of subjectivity and of objectivity have to be recognized.

Really?

Hmm. But isn’t Alex also an Indonesian? What about his culture and opinion? Or does that not count?

This is the same racist cultural relativism that sees the ‘other’ as one and the same with the state and established religious institutions that oppresses them and ignores and justifies violations of rights and freedoms at the expense of countless dissenters such as Alex.

Raymond would never hold such appallingly low standards for himself – after all, the Church of England is the established church and the queen, its head. There are bishops in the House of Lords and prayers in parliament, councils and schools. The UK is not a secular society by any means so whilst Raymond may be a secularist or atheist – if I may paraphrase his words – ‘with the British however it’s evidently a different matter’…

How dare he not defend Alex and worse still justify this lack of empathy and basic human solidarity by hiding behind a racist notion that ‘Indonesians’ are different and deserve less.

If the world was filled with people who thought this way, we’d still have slavery, racial apartheid and women without the right to vote.

Thankfully that is not the case.

Alex, a young civil servant, has been sentenced to two and a half years merely for saying there is no god on facebook. The case is being appealed by Islamists who think the sentence is too short!

Secularists everywhere must be at the forefront of defending him. If you haven’t done so already, do it now.

Sign Ed Conduit’s petition and one that was initiated earlier on Alex’s behalf.

Write to the Indonesian authorities here and demand his release.

We must not and cannot leave Alex alone.

I just won’t allow it.

The courage to think

Over one hundred people joined the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s hugely successful 5th anniversary celebration luncheon in London on 23 June 2012.

Guests heard from philosopher AC Grayling, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, writer Gita Sahgal, singer/songwriter Shelley Segal, dancer Maryam Freeflower, DV8 Physical Theatre Director Lloyd Newson, and poet Lilith. Magician Neil Edwards also performed whilst CEMB founder Maryam Namazie gave the closing address. Fariborz Pooya was Master of Ceremonies.

In his keynote address, AC Grayling said: ‘…The history of the world and not just the western world but of the world in the last 3-4 centuries has turned on the very crucial fact – the fact that there were people who had the courage to think for themselves…’

Lawrence Krauss said: ‘…We are all ex-Muslims… it’s true in the sense that all of us are fighting ignorance and superstition and a world where policies are made and people are oppressed on the basis of these things…’

Writer Gita Sahgal said: ‘…Council of Ex-Muslims is particularly important because it is dangerous to declare yourself having lost faith even in Britain and in fact in some places it is getting more dangerous. One of the reasons it is getting more dangerous is because …there is virtually no support from any public source for people who have actually left their religion.’

You can see a video of the event below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Photos of the event can be found here.

The CEMB also received many wonderful messages of support and solidarity to mark its fifth anniversary, including from Richard Dawkins, Taslima Nasrin and Mina Ahadi.

In her closing address, Maryam Namazie said: Whilst CEMB is many things to many people… it is first and foremost a challenge to political Islam. It is meant to shock and provoke. Throughout history that is how barbarity has been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.’ She went on to say: ‘Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.’ You can read her full speech here.

The CEMB is grateful to all those who have volunteered their time, and supported or donated to the organisation over these five years.

We look forward to your continued support and another successful five years!

For more information, please contact:
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 2387,  London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
[email protected]
www.ex-muslim.org.uk

NOTES:

1. The CEMB is desperately seeking free office and/or meeting space in central London. If you can offer such space, please contact us as soon as possible.

2. We depend on donations and legacies to continue our important work so please donate if you can.

Richard Dawkins: A most popular figure

Richard Dawkins was on Aljazeera’s The Stream last week. I was invited on a Google+ panel to ask questions, though I was only able to ask two.

Anyone who watched it could plainly see the programme’s bias in favour of religion. Look no further than the title labelling Dawkins a ‘polarising’ figure and the opening comment about his being called an ‘atheist fundamentalist’, which is of course the religious lobby’s sad attempts at equating atheism with Islamism and religious ‘fundamentalism’. Not that any of the bias was able to stop Dawkins from giving his usual brilliant responses.

But seriously, comparing Dawkins’ children’s book on science with religious indoctrination, saying Islam and science were compatible and that the barbarism of Islamism was the result of atheism and secularism surely had to be some of the most absurd assertions ever made by apologists for religion and Islam.

There is still much to say about the claims made in the programme by both hosts and guests and hopefully one day soon I will attempt to respond to the Islam-related ones but for now, if you haven’t seen the clip, watch it.

As an aside, the restricted format of the programme made it difficult to respond to Dawkins’ kind words about me and thank him. Suffice it to say that I have been walking around with an extremely large head for the past few days…

There is some sanity after all

A German court has said that a child’s right to physical integrity trumps religious and parental rights in a case involving a doctor who carried out a circumcision on a four year-old that led to medical complications.

The decision, which is not binding, has caused ‘outrage’ amongst religious groups.

By the way, the decision – since the BBC fails yet again to mention anyone other than the religious lobby – has also been the cause of jubilation amongst children’s rights defenders and people generally concerned with child welfare.

A Jewish organisation has said the decision ‘attacks’ ‘religious freedom’ and the ‘right of religious communities to self-determination’.

But it’s the child that must take precedence – and for once, he has.

There is some sanity after all.

As an aside, but actually central to all this, is the excruciating pain the four year old must has gone through for his parents’ ‘religious freedom’.

It makes me sick to my stomach…

Female Genital Mutilation is illegal; so should male circumcision.  End of.

I could have told you that for free

Did you hear about Islington social services paying over £8,000 for a consultant to travel to Africa to investigate whether they should send a boy in their care to the Congo for an exorcism?!

I could have told them NO! and for free.

The consultant – who actually accepted the job – was told that the child would be starved from fluid and food for three days, met children who were scared and traumatised, and said that children were often shaken, beaten and sprayed with chilli peppers and even cut with razor blades (and that’s only what they told him). He adds:

Whilst I found the family and the church to be very friendly, I cannot recommend that the child be allowed to go through a deliverance service such as that envisaged.

Very friendly indeed.

Seriously, though, if anyone is paying attention, those involved in this decision should be kept as far away from children as possible.

But then knowing how things work, they will most probably be given medals for cultural sensitivity…

(News link via Anne Marie Waters)

An unnecessary provocation?

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s fifth anniversary celebration was absolutely fantastic. Here’s my speech.

Thank you for joining us on the fifth anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).

People often ask why ex-Muslim?

Is it not an unnecessary provocation?

Provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us this all the time. Don’t say you are an apostate, don’t invite others to apostasy and there need be no killings.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know Islamism – this far-Right regressive movement…

They’ll say: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise the veil, Sharia, Islam… and no one need get hurt.

But Islamists need no excuses.

If you’re a girl going to school in Afghanistan, you will have acid thrown in your face or be poisoned.

If you’re Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia, you may face the death penalty for tweeting about Mohammad.

If you’re Hilath Rasheed in Maldives, you will have your throat cut for questioning Islam.

If you’re Alex Aan in Indonesia, you’ll face several years in prison for saying ‘there is no god’ on Facebook…

And 20 June is the anniversary that marks the slaughter of an entire generation in Iran. Many were killed after one minute ‘trials’ for responding ‘no’ to the question: ‘do you believe in god?’ Families were told to pay for the bullets that killed their loved ones before being given their bodies. Others were buried in mass graves.

Islamists need no excuses.

Of course, in a favourable climate of multiculturalism and cultural relativism – where are all values and beliefs are equal and equally valid – and for western public consumption, Islamists like to blame victims and dissenters for their barbarity.

We are the ‘aggressive atheists’ (compared at times with the Taliban no less) yet we are the ones who are being killed, imprisoned, threatened or forced to flee.

A lot of us can’t even say we are atheists/ex-Muslims, yet we are accused of denying people’s right to religion. Nonsense, we are fighting for a corresponding right to be free from religion. And any way, religion in the state, educational system and the Sharia ‘[in]justice system is not about a personal right to religion but about political power.

And this is a crucial point.

The Council of Ex-Muslims may be many things to many people. It may be a support system, via the Meet-up Group and Forum. It may be a helping hand to secure the right to asylum or find refuge and a safe home. For some it is important for its fight against multiculturalism and a false ‘homogeneous Muslim community’ or in defence of secularism and universal rights…

But first and foremost the CEMB is a challenge to political Islam. It is meant to shock and provoke.

Throughout history that is how barbarity has been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.

Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.

Thank you.

Beware of those who hide behind ‘choice’

I find that people often hide behind ‘choice’ in order to defend their position.

But that to me is a cop-out.

I think it’s always better to start with principle. You’re less likely to go wrong.

Do I support the US bombing of Iran? Do I support the veil? Do I support religion? The death penalty? Torture? Sharia law? Before I even know how many people ‘choose’ any of the above, my answer is a resounding no.

Clearly, just because people choose something, it doesn’t necessarily make it right. And we know this because we are always fighting for changes and for social justice – however small – in our homes, workplaces, schools, and neighbourhoods.

In fact many changes – from ending slavery, giving women the right to vote, to ending racial apartheid – came about by changing a majority’s view on how the world should be.

But for some reason, this common sense approach goes out the window when it comes to anything Islamic.

We hear for example that adult women have a ‘right to choose’ the veil or Sharia courts in Britain. But the use of the terms choice and rights are highly deceptive. Firstly, many are pressured into wearing the veil or going to these courts.

Also there is very little choice when living under what I call an Islamic inquisition. Islamists don’t let you pick and choose but will threaten or intimidate anyone who transgresses their medieval norms. They threaten you if you are not veiled. A good example is the Muslim woman councillor of Tower Hamlets, Shiria Khatun, who was given death threats for not veiling. And the same applies to Sharia courts. Women are told that not accepting the court’s rulings are equivalent to apostasy and disbelief.

Using terms such as rights and choice are merely public relations ploys by Islamists and their supporters. And it’s often used by others to shrug responsibility towards important matters facing us today.

After all one can justify or ignore anything by saying it’s a ‘choice.’

The Islamic hadith (sayings and actions of Mohammad) on stoning comes to mind. It is said that a woman begged Mohammad thrice before he reluctantly agreed to stone her to death.

‘Scholars’ of the Institute for Oriental Studies in India have reported that out of 40 eyewitness accounts, only two women ‘involuntarily’ threw themselves on the burning pyres of their dead husbands in order to legitimise suttee. The rest, they say, made a ‘voluntary choice.’

Clearly, there can be no choice under the unbearable pressures people and women in particular face. But even if it was a real choice (if you somehow manage to remove all the pressures involved), it’s a bad one for people, society and the world at large.

Iranian Marxist Mansoor Hekmat says it best in his interview on Islam and De-Islamisation:

I will not respect any superstition or the suppression of rights, even if all the people of the world do so. Of course I know it is the right of all to believe in whatever they want. But there is a fundamental difference between respecting the freedom of opinion of individuals and respecting the opinions they hold. We are not sitting in judgement of the world; we are players and participants in it. Each of us are party to this historical, worldwide struggle, which in my opinion, from the beginning of time until now has been over the freedom and equality of human beings. I will not respect the superstitions that I am fighting against and under the grip of which human beings are suffering.

Simple!

In response to my post explaining the ex in ex-Muslim, Mr. A Kundi‏ or @adnzafar says on Twitter:

@MaryamNamazie then don’t say #exmuslims. then there will be no killings. Simple!

Simple for who?

The defenders of Islamism are always on the ready to blame Islam’s victims for its crimes.

All you need to do to stop their killing machine is to stop speaking, stop criticising Sharia or the veil, stop holding hands, stop opposing sex apartheid, stop thinking and breathing…

A Kundi has things the other way around.

Stop Islamism and Islam’s role in the public space, push its back to the wall, send it back to the Middle Ages, then there will be no killings.

Simple!

 

Follow me on Twitter.

The veil must be opposed

I’m posting this speech of mine on the veil here for the pro-veil lobby. I’ll be sure to respond to comments in detail once the CEMB fundraiser is over.

Bahar a young woman living in Germany wrote: When you see me on the street I am veiled but do not think I am a Muslim. I have been forced to veil by my father and brothers; they will kill me if I don’t. Before I felt alone, but now I know I am not. This is a message she sent to Mina Ahadi, founder of the central council of ex-Muslims in Germany.

Of course, Bahar is not alone. There are innumerable women and girls in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to right here in the heart of Europe who know from personal experience what it means to be female under Islam – hidden from view, bound, gagged, mutilated, murdered, without rights, and threatened and intimidated day in and day out for transgressing Islamic mores.

The veil, more than anything else, symbolises this bleak reality.

In my opinion, it is therefore impossible to address the status of women under Islamic laws and defend women’s rights without addressing and denouncing the veil.

And this is why the veil is the first thing that Islamists impose when they have any access to power.

And also why improper veiling, its removal and its burning at demonstrations and gatherings – as often seen in Iran for example – or its removal when one leaves the home – in places where it is not the law of the land but that of self-appointed imams and family members – has become a symbol of resistance.

I know our opponents often argue that there are many more pressing matters with regards to women’s status. Why all the fuss they ask?

To me, it is like asking what all the fuss was about racial apartheid – or segregation of the races – in apartheid South Africa. After all there were so many pressing issues faced by Blacks in that country. I suppose that is why the then South African government kept asserting that separate does not mean unequal (which incidentally is an argument Islamists make all the time). We know otherwise.

And we know – at least in hindsight – why the physical act of segregation was crucial and symbolic of what it meant to be Black under apartheid.

Similarly, the veil is a symbol of sexual apartheid and the segregation of the sexes. In countries where Islam rules, like in Iran, the separate entrances for women in certain government offices; separate areas for women’s seating on buses for example; the banning of women from certain public arenas like sport stadiums; a curtain dividing the Caspian sea for segregated swimming and so on is what it means in practice to be a female under Islam. That people transgress these rules daily is a testimony to their humanity and not the laws or state that imposes it by force.

When we talk about the situation in Iran, some of these apologists will concede that compulsory veiling must be opposed (though I have yet to hear them oppose it other than in their argument’s in defence of the veil) but if it is a choice ‘freely’ made than one must defend the ‘right’ to veil.

I wholeheartedly disagree. [Read more...]