Behnam Ebrahimzadeh was sentenced to another seven years, 10 months and fifteen days imprisonment

23-behnamFree Them Now News Release
Behnam must be released immediately

Based on recent news, Behnam Ebrahim-Zadeh – one of the well-known and popular labor leaders – was sentenced to another seven years, 10 months and 15 days imprisonment at the Islamic Republic’s appeals court. On December 29, 2014, Judge Salavati – one of the criminal judges of the Islamic Republic – had sentenced Behnam to 9 years and 4 months imprisonment. The sentencing included seven and half years based on unreal charges and manmade accusations such as association and planning for the purpose of committing a crime against national security and relations with the Mujahedin, 17 months for propaganda against the regime, relations with Ahmad Shahid and possession of a satelite system. In a letter, Behnam contested this criminal verdict, denied the charges and any connections with the Mujahedin. Following this contest, the Appeals Court issued the new criminal verdict for Behnam.

Behnam has been in prison since June 12, 2010and has served five years of his original sentence. He is a labor and children rights activist. He has also been the voice of humanity and freedom in prison. That is why they have not released him from prison and have tried and sentenced him again, based on delusional charges. On behalf of Behnam and his family, we should have a worldwide protest against this criminal decision of the Islamic Republic. We should support him and his family any way we can.

Behnam Ebrahim-Zadeh is currently in ward 2 of Rajai-Shahr prison, known as Dar-ol-Quran (the home of Quran). This is a ward for prisoners of conscience and also dangerous criminals. Placing him next to common criminals is always a kind of torture and a threat to his life.

Behnam is in very poor physical condition. He suffers from arthritis in the neck area, severe back pain, kidney disease and gum disease. While his health has declined due to the tortures and pressures during his imprisonment, he is deprived of receiving medical care. To receive anything in this ward one must pay. He even has to pay for his dental care and this is an increased pressure on him. When he suffers from pain he gets transferred to the prison clinic, which lacks any proper medical facilities. Despite Behnam’s need for immediate medical attention, the prison officials refuse to transfer him to a hospital outside the prison system.

Despite all these pressures, Behnam has insisted on the legitimacy of his struggle and demands his rights in prison. One of his immediate demands is to be transferred to the ward for political prisoners and a prison furlough to spend time with his family. This last one is particularly significant since (as reported before) his son, Nima is suffering from cancer and his wife and son are also being tortured because of his imprisonment.

Behnam Ebrahim-Zadeh is a well-known symbolic figure in prison. He needs the highest form of worldwide support. We expect all humanitarian organizations and labor unions to support him. We expect them to pressure the Islamic Republic and demand a commute of his sentence and his release from prison. These organizations should also demand the release of all labor and political prisoners and demand a stop to threats and summons of all labor activists and leaders. We eagerly await your response and reaction to this request. Please support us in gaining freedom for Behnam Ebrahim-Zadeh and labor activists any way you can.

Free Them Now
Shahla Daneshfar,
Mehran Mahbobi,

Joint letter in defence of Bangladeshi bloggers

Here’s a joint letter in defence of Bangladeshi Bloggers. You can see updated signatories here.

To Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid,

We, concerned members of the blogging and activist community of Bangladesh and internationally, along with representatives of human rights organisations and other civil society organisations and supporters, wish to protest in the strongest possible terms the institutional attack on Bangladeshi citizens who profess humanist, atheist or secularist views.

In the last two years, five bloggers (variously identifying as humanist, rationalist, atheist, and variously writing about science, humanist values, against Islamist extremism, or in favour of human rights and justice) have been murdered, hacked to death by assailants acting for fundamentalist militant groups (according to their own claims of responsibility). These victims are: Ahmed Rajib Haider, the science author Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Das, and Niladri Chatterjee (pen name Niloy Neel). Four of these murders have occurred since February this year. In other cases, individuals like Jafar Munshi and Anjali Devi have been killed for alleged or perceived acts of ‘defamation of religion’, such as refusing to enforce hijab on students. And since 2013, supporters of the Shahbag movement and the war crimes justice process (the accused being Islamist leaders) have also been brutally murdered by similar Islamist entities. The victims include: Ashraful Alam, Arif Raihan Deep, Nurul Islam Faruki, Jagat Jyoti Talukder, Jakaria Babu.

The murderers and their ideological supporters are of course to be condemned and must be brought to justice.

In addition, instead of helping to confront this outrageous injustice, political and state institutions have begun blaming the victims themselves and making matters worse.

Following the murder of Niladri Chatterjee on 7 August, the Inspector General of Police engaged in victim-blaming, called for self-censorship, and threatened bloggers — the very people who are being murdered — with legal action under the current quasi-blasphemy law. Meanwhile, despite some counter-terrorism operations, the police have comprehensively failed to disrupt the networks that are ordering or carrying out these cowardly attacks. Even with two of the killers caught at the scene (after the murder of Washiqur Rahman) and claims of responsibility made openly on social media and via news outlets, still the attacks go on, and the extremists behind the killings remain at large. Instead of calling for vigilance and evidence against the murderers from the general public, police have instead encouraged the public to report alleged atheistic writings.

Faced with fresh death threats against numerous named Shahbag activists and others branded “enemies of Islam” in the week after the most recent murder, a police spokesperson told those threatened merely to “lodge police complaints” if they thought they were being followed! This is a grossly inadequate, highly negligent response to what is evidently a most serious and potentially fatal threat. [Read more…]

Mass protests in Iraq: ‘Neither Shia nor Sunni, but secularism’

Iraq-secularismThe protests, which started in several cities in southern Iraq last week, quickly spread to the rest of Iraq, reaching their peak on 7 August. Around half a million people came out in Baghdad alone, chanting slogans against the corrupt and reactionary rulers. Hundreds of thousands of others have demonstrated in Samawah, Al Diwaniyah, Basra, Nasiriyah, Najaf and Amarah. Slogans such as ‘Neither Shia nor Sunni, but secularism’, ‘The religious regime has ripped us off’, show the real meaning of the protests of the people of Iraq.

Starting on 31st July in Baghdad, Basra, Najaf and Amarah, the protests spread to Sulaymaniah, Rania, Qaladiza, Chamchamal, Darbandikhan and Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan. The power and water cuts in Iraq’s deadly heat wave gave the pretext for people to voice their deep anger and discontent against poverty, insecurity, lack of rights and Iraq’s corrupt and reactionary government. According to reports from the Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq, several well known workers’ leaders, such as Falah Alwan and Saeed Nema, as well as the prominent women’s rights activist Hana Edward, spoke at Baghdad’s rally today. According to this report, left and secular forces have played a leading role in these protests.

We support the struggle of the people of Iraq for freedom and call on the people in Iran to support these protests. The people of Iran have experienced the barbaric rule of the Islamic Republic and share a common cause with the people of Iraq, and welcome the escalation of their just struggle. The slogan chanted by the people of Iraq today, ‘Neither Shia nor Sunni, but secularism’, is a key slogan of the people of Iran too. The reactionary Islamic regimes in Iraq and Iran should get lost so people can gain control over their lives.

Victory to the struggle of the people of Iraq!

Worker-communist Party of Iran

7 August 2015

Religion and Violence

See our latest Bread and Roses TV programme. We will begin taping new programmes in September.
Have a good summer!

Religion has advanced through violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing, Bread and Roses TV
21 July 2015
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Interview with Dan Barker, Freedom from Religion Foundation
Also on Iran nuclear agreement, women escaping from ISIS, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Ramadan fatwas, and photos from Pluto
Background: Religion has been advanced through violence, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. It’s not all peace and love. Despite many of the inhuman tenets of religion, however, people – including the religious – are more than the religions they were born into.
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Adam Smith

گسترش مذهب همواه با خشونت، كشتار و پاكسازي قومي عجين بوده است، برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مريم نمازى و فريبرز پويا
۲۲ ژوئیه
مصاحبه با دان بارکر، بنیاد رهایی از دین
همچنین در مورد توافق هسته ای ایران، زنان فرارى ازداعش، بهنام ابراهیم زاده ، فتواهای ماه رمضان، و عکس ها از پلوتو
گسترش مذهب همواه با خشونت، كشتار و پاكسازي قومي عجين بوده است.
مذهب صلح و محبت نيست
با وجود همه اصول غير انساني مذهب ، انسانها ، همچنين انسانهاي مذهبي ، بيشتر از آنچه مذهب براي انها قائل است ميباشند.
كارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: آدم سميت

Yousef Muhammad Ali trial date set for 14 September

I had written about the trial of Yousef Muhammad Ali in Iraqi Kurdistan for criticising Islam earlier. His hearing date (originally set for 15 June) was delayed to 14 September 2015 to give the judge time to receive further documentation on his case. Please keep the pressure on. Below is a letter from Yousef about his situation.

My name is Yousef Muhammad Ali. I was born in Iraq in 1987. At a very young age, I started to go to a local mosque to study the Islamic faith with my neighbor who was an imam. I was also attending main stream school.

After a while, I decided to drop off from the school to concentrate on my religion studies ‘Sharia Law’ in the mosque. I did study Sharia Law until 2009. During my study, I realized that respect for human being is not existed in the Islamic law not only for people from other societies but also for people of its society. I discovered that Sharia Law is not based on logic and science. Therefore, I refused to accept Islam any further!

Based on my own experiences, I decided to perform a research in an academic and philosophical way. As a result, I decided to give up my aggressive faith and became an apostate. Apostasy in Islam is punishable by death. I started to find out more about my father’s beliefs.

My father was not a worshipper or follower of any religion. People used to ask him about the reason of not being an Islam while I was a follower of the religion. He replied “I am not responsible of his religious view! He can choose whichever religion he desires.” My parents never argued with me regarding my religious views.

In the Islamic countries, you have no right to choose your belief. You become a part of that country and its religion. There is no way out from that reality .In 2009, I renounce my faith completely. I went back to high school at Darbandikhan, my home city. [Read more…]

WPI statement on Iran nuclear deal

Finally, after protracted talks between the Islamic regime of Iran and the P5+1, and following the framework accord agreed in Lausanne in April, the parties have signed a deal, which will come into force after ratification by the UN’s Security Council. The Islamic Republic has conceded wide-ranging restrictions on its nuclear programme: the level of uranium enrichment, the number of centrifuges, the reconfiguration of Arak heavy water production facility and signing up to the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), allowing more extensive inspections. In return, the West’s economic sanctions against Iran will be removed over a defined period of time. The arms embargo will remain in force for up to five years, and the ban on import of ballistic missiles for up to eight. Thus, with the Iranian regime’s capitulation to the US and European states, its nuclear efforts, which pursued military objectives, while inflicting severe hardships on the people and subjecting the society to a climate of insecurity, will be limited for at least a number of years.

There is no doubt that this deal is not tantamount to an improvement in the relations of the Islamic Republic with the West and its integration in the world economy. The conflict with the West will continue on several fronts. For the regime’s factions, too, the deal will provide another basis for the intensification of their infightings.

From the viewpoint of the overwhelming majority of the people of Iran, who wanted an end to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear efforts and the economic sanctions, this deal is a victory for them, and at the same time a huge political defeat for the Islamic Republic, paving the way for an escalation in mass struggles for ‘welfare and dignity’.

Factions within the regime and their supporters, including the so-called reformists, claim that this deal will result in an economic opening and a political relaxation, and demagogically try to persuade people to support Rouhani and await his government’s supposed miracles. However, the nuclear deal will not of itself lead to an improvement in the economic condition of the people. The regime will try to push ahead with the austerity programmes and cuts in living standards in the name of ‘economic reconstruction’ and ‘encouraging foreign investment’. So any improvement in the economic condition of the people and any political and cultural opening can only come about as a result of an escalation in strikes and people’s protests. The workers, women and the youth must unify their ranks even more to drive back the regime and enforce their demands on the parasitical rulers.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran calls on workers, women, the youth and the masses of the people to turn this development into a stepping-stone in the fight for their demands and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Worker-communist Party of Iran
14 July 2015

Support Ex-Muslim Women’s Project


Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was founded in 2007 to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam, challenge Islamism and apostasy laws, highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, and provide support and a network.

Apostasy is punishable by death in 13 countries and pressures and intimidation make it hard to leave Islam even in more secular societies. There are many ex-Muslims right here in the west who lead double lives as “closet atheists”.

Whilst a lot has changed for the better since CEMB was formed, women are generally invisible in much of the public space even though many outspoken ex-Muslims are women. This is because the persecution is considered “private”. Violence and discrimination against women are considered “people’s culture”, thereby making it more “respectable” and tolerated.

As a leading ex-Muslim organisation, CEMB aims to raise awareness, provide a network, support and assistance, and further open the space for women to play a more actively public role in opposing Islamism and defending equality, freedom from religion, and secularism.

The Challenge

While the experience of women varies around the world and within countries, hundreds of millions of women are subject to honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and domestic violence. They may be denied educational and career opportunities, shamed, and taught that they are worth less than a man, being forced to wear a veil and having their movements controlled. For those who wish to leave Islam, the challenges can seem insurmountable, especially since women are seen to be the gate-keepers of “honour”.

Those who wish to leave, will often have to lead double lives. If found out, they can be ostracised or worse. It can be very lonely without support from those who have already experienced leaving Islam and living a life without religion. [Read more…]

Yousef Muhammad Ali faces trial for criticising Islam

UPDATE: Yousef Muhammad Ali’s trial has been delayed to 14 September 2015 to give the judge time to receive further documentation on his case.

Yousef Muhammad Ali, born in 1987, faces trial on 13 July in Iraqi Kurdistan for criticising Islam. Please take urgent action right away and write to the Kurdish regional authorities to drop charges and to arrest those who have threatened him instead.


Yousef Muhammad Ali who spent many years studying Islam and Sharia law made a presentation in school on the Big Bang Theory. Islamists in his class instigated a fatwa against him. Also he faced threats when he criticised Islam on Facebook. Upon receiving a number of death threats, he contacted the police and filed a grievance against a perpetrator. His case was sent to a public tribunal in Darbandikhan, which rather than address the threats to Yousef Muhammad Ali’s life, had him arrested. He was then transferred to Sulaymaniyah jail. On 15th December 2014, his sentence was renewed until the 22nd December 2014. After campaigning by rights activists and journalists in Kurdistan and abroad he was released on bail on 17 December 2014. His hearing date is on 13 July 2015.


You can write to the below:

Kurdistan Parliament Email & Contact number:

Ministry of Justice Email & Contact number:

Kurdistan Regional Government Email:

Please also copy me in the emails so I can forward it to his solicitor:

Defend 4 facing death and imprisonment for homosexuality in Iran

The International Committee against Execution in Iran calls on gay rights organisations to initiate a widespread, international campaign to defend the rights of LGBT in countries under Islamic rule, including Iran.

Based on recent news reports, two individuals in Sirjan and Bandar Abbas have been sentenced to 25 years in prison charged with homosexuality. 27 year-old Mojtaba Mohilpour was sentenced in the criminal court of Sirjan presided by Judge Tohidi. Hassan Hayati was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in branch 1 of the criminal court of Hormozgan Province, presided by Judge Ab-roshan. Hassan Hayati was first arrested and imprisoned at age 16. He was again arrested later for homosexuality and has now been in prison for seven years.

These are only examples of the brutal and inhuman treatment of LGBT. Hossein Shool and Alireza Firooz-Abadi have been sentenced to death for homosexuality.

The lives of LGBT are in danger in countries where Islamists such as ISIS have a presence and power. In 2015, ISIS brutally murdered several homosexuals and threw a number of them off of cliffs in Iraq and Syria.

At a time when there are gay pride events across Europe and North America, and gay marriages recognised, the situation of LGBT in countries under Islamic rule cannot be ignored.

The International Committee Against Execution is initiating an international campaign in defence of LGBT, and invites all to assist us in saving the lives of those facing execution, imprisonment and persecution for their sexuality.

The Secretariat of the International Committee Against Execution
July 11, 2015

کمیته بین المللی علیه اعدام
International Committee against Execution (ICAE)

Broadcast the news of executions in Iran too!

An open letter from the International Committee against Execution to Walter Steinmeier, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Germany

Dear Mr. Steinmeier, please broadcast this news as well!

In the German news media and many news programs of major networks, there is a lot of talk about the negotiations of the “Five plus One” group with the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and minute by minute reports of these negotiations are shared with the public. On behalf of the International Committee against Execution we request that you occasionally cover other stories as well. Among them is a letter we have recently received from a prison in Iran, called the Central Prison of Karaj:

“Wednesday, July 8, 2015 – At Karaj Central Prison, where up till now there was the capacity to execute four people (i.e. there were four gallows for execution), a week ago they started increasing the number of gallows to eight. Once the month of Ramadan is over, there will probably be many executions. The unit in charge of executing sentences at Shahreh-Rey Court has announced that there will be many executions after Ramadan. All the prisoners and death-row inmates are scared. Can something be done to prevent these murders? We are scared.”

The month of Ramadan will be over in a few days and it appears that the Islamic Government of Iran will increase the widespread, barbaric group executions of prisoners, particularly those convicted of drug related offenses.

In Iran, one person is executed every two hours. The number of executions has considerably increased, particularly during the nuclear negotiations and the Lausanne agreement. Now, with a nuclear agreement in sight, the Islamic Government of Iran is going to kill more people and increase the number of gallows in prisons to show its might to the masses and to silence those who struggle with poverty, oppression and suppression, and those who witness the Regime backing out of its important ideological slogan, meaning its war with the great Satan. If you are still interested in these “boring” news, please cover this letter from the prisoners and death-row inmates and their fears, in your future reports.

Mina Ahadi
The International Committee against Execution
July 11, 2015

We seldom realise we are apes

Watch today’s Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya broadcast via New Channel TV.
14 July 2015
Interview with Colin Goldner who coordinates the Great Ape Project plus
* Trials of Yousef Muhammad Ali in Iraqi Kurdistan for criticising Islam and Moroccan women for wearing skirts
* Khaleel al-Dakhi who has rescued more than 500 women and girls from ISIS territory
* Where is Saeed? who disappeared when regime in Iran attacked student protests in July 1999
* Also women waxing hurts god’s work, didn’t you know and Ramadan and brothels
Background: Great apes, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans are our closest living relatives. They are intelligent. can reason, are self-aware and share a range of human emotions. They have a similar lifespan to humans and form strong family bonds which they maintain for life. According to Richard Dawkins, “We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes.” The Great Ape Project advocates a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on non-human great apes.
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Khosro Gharib

۱۵ ژوئیه
مصاحبه با کالین گلدنر؛ مسئول پروژه كپي كبير و
ودر بازار محاکمه یوسف محمد علی در کردستان عراق بخاطر انتقاد از اسلام و زنان مراکشی برای پوشیدن دامن
نجات بیش از ۵۰۰ زن و دختر از داعش
سعید کجا است؟ و ۱۸ تير
رمضان و تنفروشى و اپيلاسيون زنان
در مورد مصاحبه
خانواده كپي كبير، شامل شامپانزهها، بونوبوها، گوريل ها و اورانگوتانها ، نزديكترين فاميل ما در دنياي موجودات هستند.
آنها داراي هوش و منطق، خود آگاهي و يك سلسله احساسات انساني مشترك با ما ميباشند.
دوره هاي زندگي آنها شبيه انسانها است . انها داراي روابط خانوادگي بلند مدت و براي تمام طول زندگي خود ميباشند .
به گفته ريچارد داوكينز “ما ميپزيريم كه مانند كپي كبير هستيم ، ولي هيچ گاه نمي پزيربم كه خود ما كپي كبير هستيم “.
پروژه كپيكبير خواهان برسميت شناختن بيانيه حقوق پايه اي كپي كبير از جانب سازمان ملل ميباشد
فقط در ٤١ كشور دنيا منع خشونت عليه كودكان به قانون تبديل شده است
ما شديدا به دنياي امن تري براي كودكان نياز داريم
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
مترجم: خسرو قریب

We need a safer world for children

We need a safer world for children
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
7 July 2015
Interview with rights campaigner Farideh Arman
Shocking news: Afghan Court acquittal of instigator of Farkhunda murder
Insane fatwa: Malaysian Mufti calls for modest dress in “respect of Muslims”
Good new: Sohail Arabi’s execution order suspended
Question: Why our programme is called Bread and Roses
Protest time: Children’s rights activist Atena Daemi sentenced to 14 years in prison
Slice of Life: Greece
Plus Ramadan jokes for you
Background: According to Unicef, of every ten children in the world, one lives in a war zone. A child is killed by violence every five minutes in the world with most of those deaths occurring outside war zones. Those living in poverty are more likely to be the victims of violence. Millions feel unsafe in their homes, schools and communities. Children victims of violence have brain activity similar to soldiers exposed to combat and more than 30% are likely to develop long-lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Only 41 countries have an explicit ban on violence against children. We need a safer world for children today.
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Khosro Gharib

ما شديدا به دنياى امن تري براى كودكان نياز داريم
برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
۸ ژوئیه
مصاحبه با فریده آرمان٬ فعال حقوق انسان
اخبار تکان دهنده: دادگاه مجدد قاتلين فرخنده در افعانستان
فتوای احمقانه: مالزی و لباس زنان
خبر خوب: لغو حکم اعدام سهیل عربی
سئوال: چرا اسم نان و گل سرخ
زمان اعتراض آتنا دائمی به 14 سال زندان محکوم
لحظه اى از زندگی: یونان
به علاوه جوک در مورد ماه رمضان برای شما
در مورد مصاحبه
بنا بر گفته يونيسف، از هر ده كودك در دنيا يكي از انها در منطقه جنگي زندگي ميكند اما هر پنج دقيقه يك كودك در مناطق غير جنگي در نتيجه خشونت كشته ميشود
فقر شرايط خشونت بار زندگي كودكان را محتمل تَر ميكند
مليونها كودك در خانه ، مدرسه و محلهاي زندگي خود احساس امنيت نمي كند
كودكاني كه مورد خشونت قرار ميگيرند همانند سربازانى كه در جبهه جنگ بوده اند ٣٠٪ احتمال بروز درازمدت استرس روحي را دارا ميباشند

فقط در ٤١ كشور دنيا منع خشونت عليه كودكان به قانون تبديل شده است
ما شديدا به دنياي امن تري براي كودكان نياز داريم
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
مترجم: خسرو قریب

Videos of Council of Ex-Muslim of Britain’s 8th anniversary celebration

Here are the videos of the 8th anniversary celebrations of the CEMB. Enjoy!

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s 8th anniversary celebrations, London, 20 June 2015
Masters of Ceremony: Fariborz Pooya and Behzad Sandbad

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain held its 8th anniversary celebrations in London on 20 June 2015. Below are the videos of the event. You can also see some photos here.

CEMB gives inspiration and hope across the world
National Secular Society President Terry Sanderson

It’s people fleeing religious persecution that will stand against Islamism not representatives of “British Islam”
Centre for Secular Space Director Gita Sahgal
[Read more…]

Free expression matters plus ISIS, Fatwas and Fast-Defying

Freedom of expression matters
30 June 2015
Interview with Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder, including on Raif Badawi
Background: Freedom of expression matters. It is not a luxury, a western value and it’s not up for sale. Sometimes – actually more often than not – it is all we have to speak truth to power. In fact, free expression is a demand of those without power vis-a-vis the powers that be. It’s a cornerstone of other rights and freedoms and becomes most significant and finds real meaning when it criticises that which is taboo, forbidden and sacred.
Shocking news of the week: ISIS attacks on Kobane, Kuwait, Tunisia and France
Insane fatwa of the week: Saudi cleric says women should not look at footballers’ thighs
Good new of the week: 30 people on death row in Iran pardoned by families
Question of the week: On the veil and racism
Plus a drink in solidarity with all those being arrested and persecuted for defying fasting rules during Ramadan.
Protest Time: Urgent Action for Atena Farghadani sentenced by Islamic regime of Iran to 14 years and 9 months for a cartoon!

آزادی بیان مهم است، نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
۱ ژوئيه ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با جیمی ولز، بنیانگذار ویکیپدیا، از جمله درمورد رائف بدوي
اخبار تکان دهنده هفته: حملات داعش در كبانى؛ كويت؛ تونس و فرانسه
فتوای اخمقانه هفته: زنان و ران فوتبالیسها
خبر خوب: بخشش ۳۰ نفر در انتظار اعدام در ایران در يك ماه
سوال هفته : حجاب و نژادپرستی
به علاوه شراب در همبستگی با تمام کسانی که بازداشت و مورد آزار و اذیت مى شوند براى روزه خوارى
آتنا فرقدانیا وقت اعتراض:
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
ترجمه: خسرو قریب

Ramadan: the month of torture

Commentary on Ramadan from Yasaman Bayani, Human Rights Activist who we interviewed on Bread and Roses recently.

The month of Ramadan, considered holy by Muslims, has start and we hear of people murdered by the ISIS (the Islamic State) or punished by different governments around the world imposing the religious laws on non-abiding people. For me who had to live under the reign of Islamic laws this brings many memories. During the month of Ramadan, we are deprived of one of our basic human rights: the right to eat in public. Eating, drinking and smoking in public is outlawed from dawn to dusk during this month and in countries like Iran, leads to arrest of the “offender” or sinner. At my university the cafeteria was closed for the whole month of Ramadan. It would only provide dinner after dusk. Most restaurants would also work in limited capacity. Otherwise they face threat and other harsh consequences by the religious authorities.

I have talked to many refugees and immigrants who have come to live in Canada and have asked them about their experiences in the month of Ramadan. Mahtab came to Vancouver as a refugee from Iran (Iran is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran). She told me her life story of being raised as the first child to a Muslim family in the southern city of Abadan and her experience in the month of Ramadan:

“For me it was the month of torture. My father was a worker and we lived in poverty. I was the first child and my father had decided to raise me as a Muslim woman. He woke me up before the dawn to eat. Then I was forbidden to eat until the dusk. I had no appetite to eat at 4:00 a.m. I hated to wake up that early in the morning. Then I had to go to school and refrain from eating and drinking for the whole day. I always lost a lot of weight during the month of Ramadan. At night, after breaking our fast and eating, my mother would take me to religious gathering that where filled with propaganda in favour of fasting. The mullas (Muslim clergy) who preached us about Ramadan told horror stories of what would happen to us if we refused to fast. We would all go to hell and burn in a ferocious fire. There were also snakes with seven heads that would attack non-fasting sinners and eat them as the mullas preached.

There were times that I was so hungry that I would eat something in hiding- a subversive act of sin. I felt guilty afterwards. I also had the most horrifying nightmares. I dreamt of being in a terribly hot place surrounded by aggressive snakes attempting to capture me. I would wake up with screams and my mother and aunts would spray cold water on me to calm me down. I cried and confessed that I ate while fasting and my mother sympathetically said to me “Dear daughter, why did you eat?”

When I was in grade 8 or 9, I decided that all of these fasting rituals and the Islamic teachings are too oppressive for me. I stopped practicing them.” [Read more…]

Join 200 women’s rights and secular organisations urging British government to stop parallel legal systems

One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, Centre for Secular Space, IKWRO and others plan to deliver the below statement to 10 Downing Street in the near future. If you and your organisation would like to sign on to the letter, please email by 30 August 2015. The letter has received coverage in the media, including on Thomas Reuters Foundation and RT.

Signatories Updated 30 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. [Read more…]

Support the Kurdistan Secular Centre (KSC)

The Kurdistan Secular Centre (KSC) was formally established at a 19 April public meeting in Suleymaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan, attended by hundreds of supporters and by national media. The Centre, created to promote secularism and the separation of religion from the state and governing system, was initiated by a number of prominent intellectuals, academics, trade unionists, human rights and political activists.

The current situation
In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Islam is cited in the draft constitution as the main source of legislation. Islam has great influence in the person status law and in the penal code, both of which discriminate against women in numerous ways and form a barrier to the creation of a culture of equality and human rights.

This system of law tolerates, openly or in effect, practices such as female genital mutilation, force marriage, inequality in divorce, child custody and inheritance, punishment of women for “adultery”, denial of abortion rights and allowing a rapist to escape punishment if he agrees to marry the victim. This discrimination facilitates a massive amount of violence against women and girls.

Furthermore religion plays a huge role in our education system, with children taught an ideology that warps their development socially and psychologically. Imams and lecturers mostly belonging to Islamist parties are given great freedom to indoctrinate children and young people. Dozens of religious schools have been established. The government itself has a Ministry of Religion that employs thousands of religious preachers to address hundreds of thousands of people every week, promoting a message that often justifies violence against women and children. This is well documented hundreds of video recordings.

The consequences of power of religion

Because of the power religion is gaining over individuals and over the life of society, freedom in general is limited. Intellectuals, critical thinkers, apostates, writers, poets, journalists, women’s rights activists and other political dissidents are constantly under threat and sometimes physically attacked. We have even seen assassinations by Islamist activists. Meanwhile the state in effect justifies this situation by threatening those who criticise religion with imprisonment. [Read more…]