The veil a choice? Hardly!

ENTRY UPDATED and incorrect photo replaced with a video made by Reza Moradi and a quote from Mansoor Hekmat:

For those who are in love with the veil and keep going on about how it’s a ‘right’ and ‘choice’, here’s a video just for you.

Someone definitely forgot to tell the child it was her ‘right’ and ‘choice’. But then such terms are for western public consumption.

Like foot binding, FGM, suttee, and chastity belts, the veil is a form of control over women and girls. Socially speaking and for most, it is anything but a choice and a right.

And for children, as I’ve said many a time, it is a form of child abuse.

As Mansoor Hekmat has so eloquently said:

We say that putting a veil on the heads of children and adolescents who have not come of legal age should be prohibited in law, because it is the imposition of a certain clothing on the child by the followers of a certain religious sect. It so happens that the defence of the civil rights of the child and the child’s right to choose (not an absolute in itself) require that this imposition be legally prevented. The child has no religion, tradition and prejudices. She has not joined any religious sect. She is a new human being who, by accident and irrespective of her will has been born into a family with specific religion, tradition, and prejudices. It is indeed the task of society to neutralise the negative effects of this blind lottery. Society is duty-bound to provide fair and equal living conditions for children, their growth and development, and their active participation in social life. Anybody who should try to block the normal social life of a child, exactly like those who would want to physically violate a child according to their own culture, religion, or personal or collective complexes, should be confronted with the firm barrier of the law and the serious reaction of society. No nine year old girl chooses to be married, sexually mutilated, serve as house maid and cook for the male members of the family, and be deprived of exercise, education, and play. The child grows up in the family and in society according to established customs, traditions, and regulations, and automatically learns to accept these ideas and customs as the norms of life. To speak of the choice of the Islamic veil by the child herself is a ridiculous joke. Anyone who presents the mechanism of the veiling of a kindergarten-age girl as her own ‘democratic choice’ either comes from outer space, or is a hypocrite who does not deserve to participate in the discussion about children’s rights and the fight against discrimination. The condition for defending any form of the freedom of the child to experience life, the condition for defending the child’s right to choose, is first and foremost, to prevent these automatic and common impositions.

Why the ‘Ex’ in Ex-Muslims

The wonderful author, activist (and friend) Taslima Nasrin writes the following in her message to the Council of Ex-Muslims to mark its 5th anniversary:

I congratulate British ex-Muslims for their bravery. Even though I do not consider myself an ex-Muslim because I was never really a Muslim or a believer, I feel close to Maryam Namazie and the other members of the ex-Muslim organisation. Atheists who were Christians but became atheists later do not call themselves ex-Christians. Why should atheists who were Muslims or born in Muslim families but became atheists later be called ex-Muslims? We should not be identified separately from other atheists. Fighting Islamists and Islam is not only our responsibility; it is the responsibility of all sane people. We are all here to make the world a better place.

In principle,  I agree with Taslima and I’ve said as much many times.

But it is called ‘ex-Muslim’ in order to provoke and challenge not to separate and segregate.

You don’t need an ex-Christian organisation because former Christians are not killed for leaving Christianity (in the most part in this day and age at least). With Islam, it is a very different matter. Yes your religion or atheism is your business but not when you are killed for it. Then ‘coming out’ is a form of resistance and dissent.

This has nothing to do with creating yet another false and bogus identity. It’s all about taking a stand with others (the organisation is open to all atheists and agnostics) to demand a strict separation of religion from the state and the curtailment of religion’s role in the public space. But with a special focus on Islam because of what Islam and political Islam represent in our world today.

And of course opposing Islamism and defending secularism is not the task of ex-Muslims or even atheists alone. But that is why there are many other campaigns and activities like One Law for All and Equal Rights Now. Each plays its own role, has its own significance and pushes back religion and defends humanity in its own way.

I will leave it at that for now. I hope to explain this further in my talk at the 23 June lunch celebrating the 5th anniversary of the CEMB.

I’d love to do this in a mosque

Two young women, Maria Alyokhin and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, have been arrested as part of an investigation into an all-female band of activists called Pussy Riot that staged an ‘obscene’ ‘punk prayer service’ at the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow as part of a protest against the election campaign. (By the way, the New York Times has kindly provided another video link with the sound turned off for those readers with tender sensibilities who ‘want to guard their ears against the song’s Russian obscenities’.)

Seriously, I would love to do this in a mosque…

Of course the church has demanded the criminalisation of blasphemy following their protest (surprise, surprise). Also, a criminal case has been opened on hooliganism charges, punishable with up to seven years in prison.

To support the band, follow their Twitter @pussy_riot.

(Link via Adam Barnett)

Prayers at council meeting is less messy than looking at sheep entrails

The excellent National Secular Society has won a legal challenge to prayers during local government council meetings.

Nonetheless, the government is activating powers it says will allow councils to hold prayers. Well I suppose you can’t blame them for hoping that prayer will succeed where they have failed.

But seriously, the NSS is not saying people aren’t allowed to pray. Pray all you like. No one cares least of all those of us who have better things to do with our time. Just don’t do it on tax payer’s time and in your role as a public official.

As Nicholas writes in an email:

The Romans would look at sheep entrails before commencing a battle… Praying before a council meeting is less messy but unlikely to help the outcome. Councillors could opt for carrying a rabbits foot or a lucky horseshoe. Putting in professionals who can set budgets and stick to them would be a more intelligent way to help tax payers and recipients of services in a recession.

But that is just too much to ask…

People’s beliefs are only respectable to themselves

The below is an interview with the late Marxist Mansoor Hekmat on the ‘Fight against Religion’. And a fight it is…

This like everything else of his is a must read:

Azar Majedi: In a recent interview with Porsesh magazine you said, “secularism is a set of minimum conditions”, and that [you] “do not want just secularism, but a conscious fight against religion on the part of society.” What are the characteristics of such a fight?

Mansoor Hekmat: In talking about religion, and particularly Islam in this period [in history], we should bear in mind that we are talking about a phenomenon that can be shown to be the source of suffering, oppression, indignity and humiliation for people. So, we are confronted by a problem, by a disaster, which has to be mitigated in very much the same way that one deals with drug addiction, for example. Drug addiction is not considered a private matter alone, and there are efforts to eradicate it. [In other words,] even if people are allowed to use drugs, you will still not consider that enough of a reason for them to do so, and believe something must be done to urge them to grow out of that habit. It is the same with religion. Religion is a phenomenon involving the freedom of the individual to believe in anything, and yet believing in a set of intellectual, political, and civil beliefs called religion, [in general,] and Islam, [in particular,] has played havoc with people’s lives and, as a result, you fight against it in the same way you would fight against any other disaster. Relinquishing it to the “private affair of the individual” is not, in my view, sufficient in and of itself. What I mean is society must do something so that Islam is eradicated. Simply put, we must do something so that the people themselves eradicate it willingly and voluntarily, may not be influenced by it, held captive to it, and oppressed, made wretched, and drowned in superstition. What is the solution? Education – a free state that educates its citizens on political, social, civil, historical, biological, physical, and natural facts [of life]; civil laws that protect the people against the encroachments of religious firms, against the religion industry. In my opinion, religion is to be looked on as something like the tobacco industry. Everyone is free to smoke, yet you legislate against tobacco companies so that they are not able to take advantage of people’s addiction, not cause too much damage to their health, and not have a free hand in drawing children and youngsters into addiction, etc. In the same way, there must be similar laws with regards to religion. There must be laws so that the religion industry, quite a business in its own right, cannot ruin people’s lives. It is possible to do something during a generation’s time so that a free society would be built which will have eradicated religion just like malaria or drug addiction. [Read more…]

Be afraid; be very afraid!

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the UK is a Christian country ‘and we should not be afraid to say so’ in a speech in Oxford on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. And he staunchly defended the role of religion in politics and said the Bible in particular was crucial to British values.

Whilst the rise of politicised religion allows a prime minister in one of the most secular societies (socially speaking) to spout such nonesense, we know better. Religion and politics has always meant nothing more than witch burnings and inquisitions.

That which is celebrated and considered British values today is the result of an enlightenment and a battle against Christianity. It’s a gain secured despite Christianity not because of it.

And Cameron is in good company. Look at the type who get ‘excited’ over his promotion of the role of religion and politics: [Read more…]

More hellfire waiting just for you if you celebrate Christmas

Islamist Anjem Choudary says ‘Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire. Protect your Paradise from being taken away – protect yourself and your family from Christmas.’

And Deacon Fred, the pastor of the Landover Baptist Church, says: ‘Jesus will roast unsaved children in hell for celebrating Christmas without his permission.’ [This seems to be a well-known site that pokes fun at Christianity. Don’t blame me though for believing it was real – it sounded very Christian!]

Ahh the peace and love that is religion…


(Via Divana Ippoliti on Facebook)

Religious trauma in ex-Muslims

CBT Today, the magazine of the British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies, recently published a feature on the psychological effects (fear of hell and guilt) in ex-Christians. Ed is writing an article on the effects in ex-Muslims. In response, Hassan Radwan writes: ‘Hell is one of the main reasons I left Islam and it is still an issue that I keep coming back to and have made videos about it on Youtube. [Read more…]

Religion and Fascism work hand in hand; if in doubt ask the Pope!

I have emailed a number of people asking them to respond to the absurd claim that communism and fascism are alike – something that the far-Right and Right in general have been peddling. I am still working on my entry but couldn’t wait until then to post the following brilliant comment received from Hamid Taqvaee yesterday:

In response to the question of communism and fascism being alike I have the following brief points:

1- In theory and according to its ideological principles, fascism is racist; it’s against Jews, the disabled, gays, and so on. Communism, on the other hand, in theory and principle, is pro the equality and freedom of all people.

2- In comparing the two, Right-wing groups refer to ‘existing’ communism (such as the Soviet bloc, China, and so on). What was practiced in those cases was in fact not communism and completely opposite and despite what communism in theory and principle represents. What has happened in these cases had and has nothing to do with what communism advocates.

In the case of fascism and religion, however, when they attack and kill other races, women, gays and people of other or no religions, they act in complete accordance with their belief and ideology. Religions believe in killing for God and they have done so all along history and are doing it today everywhere they can.

3- What has saved the people of Europe from the atrocities of the church in the Middle Ages and from what the people of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are experiencing today, is the renaissance, the enlightenment and atheism.

4- Finally, religion and fascism work hand in hand. If in doubt ask the present Pope!

Hamid Taqvaee, Leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran