Bread and Roses: On Apostasy

See this week’s Bread and Roses TV programme in English on the issue of apostasy and the execution sentence of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim in Sudan. In this week’s programme, I speak with Nahla Mahmoud, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

The Persian programme will be broadcast via New Channel TV tomorrow and will be available then.

Next week’s programme is on Stealthy Freedoms and women unveiling in Iran. What does this movement represent to you? Send us any questions and comments or even 30 second videos to broadcast on our programme to the below:

Bread and Roses
نان و گل سرخ
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Email: nanogolesorkh@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/NanoGoleSorkh
Twitter: @NanoGoleSorkh
Youtube: youtube.com/breadandrosesTV
Telephone: +44 20 3287 6128

By the way, we have managed to raise £2000 of the £15,000 we need for a video mixer, computer, microphones and lighting for the programme. There’s only 20 days left so please help if you can. See our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. Right now, we have to manually edit footage from 4 separate cameras on a computer that keeps shutting down. It takes too long to produce each programme, which makes it impractical over the long-term. A video mixer and computer will make things easier!

Thanks for any support for our free-thinking, taboo-breaking work.. We’ll owe you one.

Urgent Action: Mariam Yahya Ibrahim must be freed immediately

mariamThe Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is outraged to learn of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim’s death sentence in Sudan for apostasy. The heavily pregnant Mariam has also been charged with adultery and imprisoned with her toddler.  She and her husband are Christian but the judge insists she is Muslim.

Mariam is not the first to be charged with apostasy. The case of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, the Sudanese theologian who was hanged in 1985, remains vivid in the minds of all Sudanese. More recent cases include the 129 people charged with apostasy in South Kartoum/Hay Mayo and forced to repent in order to escape the death penalty.

Adultery cases are also not new. The cases of Intisar Shareef, Sadia Idris Fadul and Amouna Abdallah are amongst those reported.

Mariam Yahya’s case represent a great number of similar cases where individuals cannot choose or express their beliefs nor have many inalienable rights because of Sharia law.

CEMB condemns Sharia law and in particular articles 126 and 146 of the Sudanese criminal code which punishes apostasy and adultery. Apostasy and adultery are not crimes; executing human beings, including for their beliefs or their consensual sexual relations should be.

CEMB demands the immediate release of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim. The right to belief, religion and atheism are basic rights and must be respected.

We ask all groups and individuals to put pressure on the Sudanese government and help save Mariam’s life.

You can also sign a petition here to defend Mariam.

They kill atheists and we are deemed terrorists!

BlmEbgHCEAA4lmmHere is my opening statement on the International Atheism panel with Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar and Cristina Rad at AACon2014:

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions.

Islam is no different except that Islamism – an extreme Right movement with Islam as its banner – is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

To the degree it has power, that is the degree it controls every single aspect of people lives and society via its Sharia laws – from what people wear, who they have sex with, to what they are allowed to think.

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives.

One of the characteristics of an Islamic inquisition is the policing of thought. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe they can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist? Being a murtad is the most heinous of crimes. Saudi Arabia just issued a law equating atheism with terrorism.

The bitter irony! They kill us and we are the terrorists.

Apostasy is a prosecutable offence in 30 countries under the influence of Sharia and punishable by death in 11.
Of course there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates in the Koran and Hadith – sayings and actions of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet.

From a religious standpoint, preventing apostasy is crucial to the preservation of Islam as Islamic “scholar” Qaradawi says. I use the term scholar lightly. As Dawkins says, you do need to read more than one book to be considered a scholar. But apostasy laws and the execution of apostates are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

It’s used to silence anyone who questions Islamic rule. Most recently, Roya Nobakht in Iran has been charged with apostasy for saying the regime is “too Islamic” and in Bangladesh, two high school students have been arrested for apostasy for questioning the Jamaat Islami.

Challenging apostasy laws therefore is first and foremost a political challenge. Hence the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims, an atheist organisation, found now in the UK, Germany, Scandinavian countries, Austria, France, North America and also in Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

Don’t forget Christianity also used to execute its apostates. It’s not that the tenets, dogma, and principles of Christianity have changed since the days of the inquisition but rather its social and political influence and its relation to the state. A religion that has been reined in by an enlightenment is very different from one that is spearheading an inquisition.

Challenging it means having the courage to think for oneself, as philosopher AC Grayling says of the Council of Ex-Muslims, breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam, and paving the way for others to do so.

It’s mainly though an important aspect of the fightback against Islamism.

Some will ask why we cannot just call ourselves atheists and not ex-Muslims but atheist alone cannot describe the risks and challenges we face.

Others will say our Council is an unnecessary provocation.

It’s a provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us all the time: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise … and no one need get hurt.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know this movement.

Islamists need no excuses. Murder and mayhem is part and parcel of their movement.

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

They say we are not allowed to leave Islam.To them I say: We are not waiting for your permission.

(Photo Evan McHugh)

New Report: Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam

Apostasy_Report_Web_Page_001The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Atheist Alliance International have just published a new report on the Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam with the support of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK.

The report examines sources for laws that prohibit apostasy from Islam, reviews legislation and government policies in various countries that persecute apostates and blasphemers, and highlights the cases of some of the many persecuted individuals, with a focus on atheists, secularists and freethinkers.

You can read the report here: Apostasy_Report_Web.

Apostasy and Islam: Support Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Dear friend

For the past six years, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has been a “beacon of hope” for many.

As the first organisation of its kind, the CEMB has been established to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam; highlight the problems ex-Muslims face; provide a network for support; raise awareness; and campaign for freedom of belief and expression, atheism and secularism and against apostasy and Sharia laws. According to Elle Quebec magazine, the launch of the ex-Muslim movement was ‘a real revolution.’

Our activities include assisting ex-Muslims (several thousand over the past 6 years) with their apostate asylum cases, finding safe houses and refuges for those fearful for their lives, as well as assisting against child abduction, honour crimes, forced marriages and more from countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and UAE.

We have produced several educational materials, such as the ‘Guidelines for Ex-Muslims and Frontline Practitioners’ and ‘Apostasy and Asylum in the United Kingdom.’ The CEMB is currently working on an anthology on and by ex-Muslims and a report on the status of apostates internationally.

Our active web forum with over 3,000 members is particularly important in supporting ex-Muslims. It represents a safe space where ex-Muslims can come together to discuss their problems and help each other. The forum includes sections on health and wellbeing and gender and sexuality, a parents’ corner, a resource centre and more. It is known for exposing Islamists and Islamic laws, and publishes articles and videos debunking Islamic myths and claims, including “science in the Quran”.

CEMB is part of an international network of ex-Muslim organisations, including Muslimish in the USA, a Council in Morocco – the first in a country with Islam as its state religion, new groups in France and New Zealand, amongst others.

Help us to continue our important work: volunteer your skills; ‘Like’ our Facebook page; follow our Twitter account @CEMB_forum; join our events; and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Please donate if you can. No amount is too small and every bit helps.

As you well know, the issue of apostasy without a focus on Islam is irrelevant in this era as it is only Islam that kills its apostates due to Islamism’s access and influence. The CEMB is an important challenge to this regressive movement.

Support us today.

Thank you.

Maryam Namazie
Nahla Mahmoud
Spokespersons

NOTES:

1. Launch of Council of Ex-Muslims of France

Join us for the launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France on Saturday 6 July 2013, 14.00-17.00 hours, Paris, France. Speakers include Palestinian blogger Waleed Al-Husseini, Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia El-Fani, Secularism is a Women’s Issue Coordinator Marieme Helie Lucas, and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s Maryam Namazie.

PLEASE NOTE: You must register for the event at cafem1310@live.fr. If you are not registered, you will not be permitted entry. Space is limited.

2. Anthology of and by Ex-Muslims

Be part of the very first anthology of and by ex-Muslims. Share your story with the world. Help others like you. Tell the world you exist! 31 July 2013 is the deadline for submissions. Find out more here.

3. Report on 6th anniversary lunch of CEMB

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) held a successful 6th anniversary celebration luncheon in London on 15 June 2013. Guests heard from writer Kenan Malik, Centre for Secular Space Director Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, and CEMB co-Spokesperson Maryam Namazie. Magician Neil Edwards also performed. CEMB co-Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud was Master of Ceremonies. Special guests present included Richard Dawkins. See videos of the event here.

4. For more information, contact:

Maryam Namazie
Nahla Mahmoud
Spokespersons
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com
web: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/

Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8059509.

Leaving Islam is not a crime

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Press Release

CEM-moroccoMorocco’s High Council of Ulemas (the highest government religious institution headed by the King) has issued a fatwa decreeing the death penalty for Moroccans who leave Islam. Currently, under Morocco’s penal code, those who impede or prevent worship face imprisonment and fines.

An attack on apostates is clearly a response to the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain reminds the government of Morocco that the right to religion has a corresponding right to be free from religion.

Leaving Islam is not a crime; issuing death fatwas against people, however, is.

We call on the Moroccan government to cancel the fatwa, guarantee the security of apostates and freethinkers and prosecute those who threaten citizens with death.

We call on the public to defend the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco and the right to atheism and renouncing Islam.

You can support the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco here.

We can’t leave Islam? Watch us!

apostasyJANDMOI was at Birmingham University yesterday speaking on apostasy and freedom of conscience for the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society’s Reason Week. We had an excellent discussion. Of course, there had been complaints about my speaking there (yes it is very controversial to defend the rights of apostates not to die!). The Society was even asked to record my speech in case of further complaints. Here’s my speech, just in case they need it in writing too:

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions. Repudiating religion is deemed to be the worst of crimes.

And in Islam it’s no different except that Islamism is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

To the degree it has power, that is the degree it controls every single aspect of people lives and society via its Sharia laws – from what people wear, who they have sex with, what music they listen to – even what they are allowed to think.

One of the characteristics of an inquisition is the policing of thought. Freethinking and freedom of conscience are banned. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe we can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist. Off with your head…

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives. Of course people resist day in and day out but that is a testament to the human spirit despite Islamism and Sharia.

If you look at the purpose of the Sharia ‘justice’ system, it is there to teach the masses the damnable nature of dissent and free thought. Where it has power, like in Iran, there are 130 offences punishable by death – from heresy, blasphemy, enmity against god, adultery, and homosexuality. But apostasy is the highest and most heinous crime.

Around 19 countries consider apostasy from Islam illegal and a prosecutable offence. Depending on the influence of Islamism and Sharia law, in places like Malaysia, Morocco, Jordan and Oman punishments vary from fines, imprisonment, flogging and exclusion from civil or family rights. In ten countries apostasy is punishable by the death penalty.

And whilst there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates, apostasy laws today under the Islamic inquisition are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

Of course, from a religious standpoint, apostasy is the unravelling of the entire system from within by those considered to be “members” of the imagined Muslim community (often out of very little choice of their own). Question one law, one hadith, one sura in the Koran, and you begin to unravel it all. To question and dissent denies the Islamic inquisitor the opportunity to feign representation. And it prevents the submission that they demand. If you are allowed to leave, you undermine it all.

Historically apostasy laws have always been used as a form of control. It’s no different today. Islamists use it as a means of political control. After all they represent god’s rule on earth and any opposition to their rule, is a direct affront to God himself. [Read more…]

We need your urgent support in 2013

Dear friend

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year!

In the past year, in which we celebrated our 5th anniversary, we continued to challenge religious identity politics and Islamism, defend free expression of Muslims and Ex-Muslims alike, oppose blasphemy and apostasy laws, raise awareness, support thousands of ex-Muslims here and abroad, as well as create a new “home” for the many left without a social network after renouncing Islam via our web-forum, social gatherings and events.

In the coming year, we plan to do much more with your help.

As a matter of urgency we ask that you start the year by intervening on behalf of a number of urgent cases, including that of Zanyar and Loghman Moradi who face imminent execution in Iran for “enmity against god” and “corruption on earth”; Raif Badawi, Turki Al-Hamad and Hamza Kashgari who face blasphemy and apostasy charges in Saudi Arabia; and Alex Aan who remains in prison in Indonesia for “tarnishing Islam”.

In 2013, we will step up our support of ex-Muslims, free expression and secularism, encourage the establishment of more ex-Muslim groups and meet-ups such as the one recently established in the North, publish a report on the status of apostates internationally, organise a poster campaign, and raise awareness. [Read more…]