Video: Goldsmith University Islamist thugs fail to disrupt speech on blasphemy and apostasy


Maryam Namazie spoke on “apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS” on 30 November 2015 at Goldsmiths University at the invitation of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH).

Goldsmiths Islamic Society (ISOC) called for the talk’s cancellation saying Maryam’s presence is “a violation to [their] safe space,” and that she will “incite hatred and bigotry, at a very sensitive time for Muslims in the light of a huge rise in Islamophobic attacks.”

When the talk went ahead as planned, ISOC “brothers” attended the meeting in order to disrupt and create a climate of fear and intimidation. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ISOC “SISTERS” AND OTHER MUSLIMS ATTENDING DID NOT SUPPORT OR DEFEND THEIR THUGGISH BEHAVIOUR.

Despite the many attempts of the ISOC “brothers,” the meeting ended successfully and raised critical issues, including that criticism of Islam and Islamism are not bigotry against Muslims who are often the first victims of Islamism and on the frontlines of resistance. The meeting also helped expose the Islamists for what they are – thugs who cannot tolerate dissent.

Freedom of expression and the right to criticise and leave Islam without fear and intimidation is a basic human right.

For more details on what happened, see this link.

You can also see a clip of a similar speech at Warwick University.

Filmed by Sarah.

Apostasy, Blasphemy and Free Expression in the Age of ISIS

Below is my speech “Apostasy, Blasphemy and Free Expression in the Age of ISIS,” which I gave at Warwick University on 28 October 2015. I had been initially barred by the Student Union but the talk went ahead after protests. I gave a similar speech a week earlier at Trinity College Dublin, after my talk had been cancelled by a student group earlier this year after I refused last-minute restrictions on my talk.

You can read my talk below and/or watch the video:

I am glad to be speaking at Warwick University after I was initially barred because the Student Union absurdly decided that I was “highly inflammatory” and could “incite hatred” on campus.

The Student Union has since apologised, thanks to pressure from Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society and many of you.

And so here we are.

Conflating criticism of Islam (a religion) and Islamism (a religious-Rightwing political movement) with bigotry against Muslims (who are people like anyone else) is nothing new. This conflation has led to a disturbing trend towards censorship of much-needed criticism of Islam and Islamism on university campuses.

The days when unconditional free expression was championed by universities as a cornerstone of all rights is long gone.

It’s no longer unconditional free expression that is seen to be intrinsically good and progressive but a defence of censorship and self-censorship.

Of course, as writer Kenan Malik says, no one puts it that way. No one says they are pro-censorship (not even the most heinous regimes).

“‘I believe in free speech but…’ may well be a motto of our times,” says Malik.

“I believe in free speech, but” not if it undermines “security”, is “gratuitously offensive”, “provocative”, “inflammatory”, “Islamophobic”, and “discriminatory” or if it has the potential to “insult” and “hurt” religious sensibilities or “incite” hatred…  All things, by the way, which I have been accused of.

In particular, criticism of Islam and Islamism is seen to be so harmful as to be equated with bigotry against Muslims though of course this is not the case just as criticism of Christianity or Britain First is not bigotry against Christians.

Postmodernists, such as the Guardian’s David Shariatmadari  and the Labour Party’s Seamus Milne consider criticism of Islam “antisocial” and “even dangerous” – something, by the way, I have also often heard from their Ayatollah friends in Iran as well as the Saudi or Pakistani regimes.

In my opinion, criticism of Islam is deemed dangerous not because of some patronising “concern for minorities” but because in the age of ISIS, it subverts and challenges the sacred which has always been a tool for the control of society in the interests of the dominant class under the guise of defending “public sensibilities” and “morality.”

Criticism of Islam challenges religion in political power and opens the space for dissent where none is permissible or acceptable.

Ironically, the critics of religion have never been free to express themselves, yet we are the ones deemed harmful, and inciting hatred when in fact it’s the opposite. It’s the blasphemers and apostates who have faced persecution throughout the ages.

Clerics and the religious-Rightwing have always been free to promote religion – any religion. And religion has always had a privileged position in societies, and even more so where it has influence on the state or is in power – Britain included.

Clearly, freedom of expression without the right to criticise religion is meaningless. Such criticism has been key for social progress. Historically, it has been intrinsically linked with anti-clericalism.

It’s the same today.

Criticism of Islam and the state are analogous in many places like Saudi Arabia,  Islamic State, or Iran where anything from demanding women’s equality or trade union rights to condemning sexual jihad and the ‘Islamic cultural revolution’ (led by people such as Ali Shariatmadari, which banned books and ‘purified’ higher education) can be met with arrest, imprisonment and even the death penalty.

Of course, there is a distinction between Islam as a belief versus Islamism, which is a far-Right political movement.

But Islam is not just a personal belief – if it were we would be not be having this discussion. It plays a political role in the form of laws and policies and as states and extreme-Right political movements.

When the religious-Right are in power , “religion is at the centre of the struggle for change,” according to Iranian Marxist Hamid Taqvaee.  If you want to defend equality between women and men; or put an end to male guardianship rules: you will inevitably come face to face with religion.  You want gay rights; the right to organise 1st May rallies and the right to strike: you will eventually confront religion.

Religion is not just a personal matter between a believer and his or her god but regulations imposed on society with real and brutal punishments and repercussions for those deemed transgressors.

The veil, for example, is far from a personal “choice” and “right.” Socially speaking, on a mass scale, it is enforced through compulsory veiling laws and acid-attacks, imprisonment, fines, as well as pressures which look upon unveiled women as whores, immoral and sources of fitnah in society. Calling an “improperly” veiled woman in Britain – “Hoejabi” – is part of that pressure.

Under such circumstances, criticism of religion is key for the defence of rights and equality.  It’s also a critical necessity in order to dismantle and undermine the sacred and its political role.

And it’s not just about religion’s role “over there.” Islamism is a vast network with global reach.

The Islamic regime in Iran, for example, sentences artist Atena Faraghdani to over 12 years in prison for a cartoon and “illegitimate sexual relations short of adultery” for shaking hands with her lawyer and violating gender segregation rules whilst here in Britain, Universities UK endorses gender segregation (now withdrawn due to our protests) and a student organiser advises me not to shake hands prior to a debate on Sharia law out of “respect” for some Islamist (of course I made a point to shake hands as I have no respect for an idea that sees me as so haram that a man cannot shake my hands – call me what you will).

Islamism as a political movement is a global killing machine that affects people everywhere. Islamists hack atheist bloggers to death in Bangladesh whilst placing UK-based Bangladeshi bloggers on death lists and ‘lovely’ British jihadis kill for ISIS whilst a UK-based organisation CAGE promotes ‘defensive jihad.’

Limiting free expression to that which is acceptable for the Islamists (as it is those in power that determine the limits of expression) restricts the right to speak for those who need it most.  It is telling people like myself that we cannot oppose theocracies and religious laws we have fled from or that people living under the boot of the religious-Right or faced with segregation and “Sharia courts” right here in Britain must not refuse or resist. It’s “our” culture and religion after all. We have no choice but to submit.

Ironically, the post-modernist ‘Leftists’ pushing this line have one set of progressive politics for themselves (they rightly want gay marriage, women’s equality and the right to criticise Archbishops and the pope,  as well as the Christian-Right including Britain First or EDL) and another for us. We are merely allowed to make demands within the confines of Islam and identity politics and only after taking note of the “power imbalance.” As an ex-Muslim migrant woman, I am supposedly a minority within a minority but this “power imbalance” never seems to be part of any calculation.

If we speak, we are labelled “native informants” by so-called progressives.  And the far-Right accuses us of practicing taqiyaa if we oppose their scapegoating of Muslims and immigrants and their placing of collective blame on the “other.” I have also been accused of practicing taqiyya by the likes of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller – that is whereby “we Muslims” (obviously we’re all the same and no one seems to be able to tell us apart) are allowed to lie to advance the cause of Islam – gaining the trust of naive non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them.

What those conflating Islam, Islamism and Muslims miss – both on the “Left” as well as the far-Right – is that many Muslims are also critics of Islamism and even Islam. In fact, Muslims or those presumed or labelled such – like myself – are often the first victims of Islamism and at the forefront of resistance. After all, not everyone in the “Islamic world” or “Muslim community” or those labelled “Muslim students on campus” are Muslims and even if they are, religion is not the only characteristic that defines them. Moreover, the rise of Islamism has brought with it a corresponding rise in the demand for atheism, secularism, and particularly women’s liberation. Also, ordinary Muslims – like all other believers – pick and choose and mould their beliefs to make them compatible with contemporary life, which is why they often don’t recognise their religion in the Islamists.

Conflating criticism of Islam and Islamism with bigotry against Muslims sees dissent through the eyes of Islamists and not the many who refuse and resist. For those who have bought into the Islamist narrative, there are no social and political movements, class politics, dissenters, women’s rights campaigners, socialists… – just homogenised ‘Muslims’ [read Islamists] who face ‘intimidation’ and ‘discrimination’ if an ex-Muslim woman speaks on an university campus.

This is the problem with multiculturalism and identity politics. The homogenised group identity is the only one that seems to exist. The “authentic Muslim” is always reactionary, fully veiled (throw in a burqa and niqab for good measure), pro Sharia courts and gender segregation, pro death penalty for apostates and gay people, anti-Semitic and of course always anti-free expression.

As Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas says: “What is most upsetting is the implication that oppressed people can only turn out as fascists, never revolutionaries. Is this really what the left in Europe now believes?” She adds: “Can the left accept that citizens are assigned a ‘minority’ identity against their will, on the basis of their name, or their geographical origin, or that of their families? Can the left accept that this communal identity supersedes their civil rights? This was done to the Jews under Nazism. Will the left accept that it be done to Muslims, and those presumed to be Muslims, regardless of their personal religious beliefs? If the left is serious about supporting oppressed minorities, it should realise that those who speak in the name of the community do not necessarily have the legitimacy to do so. By supporting fundamentalists, they simply chose one camp in a political struggle, without acknowledging it.”

“The result of all this,” says Kenan Malik, “is that solidarity has become increasingly defined not in political terms – as collective action in pursuit of certain political ideals – but in terms of ethnicity or culture.”   And since those in power determine the dominant culture, many Student Unions and those on the “Left” side with Islamism at our expense. They don’t see that at its core, this is a fight between theocrats and the religious-Right on the one hand and secularists and those fighting for social justice on the other. It’s a fight taking place within and across communities and borders, including and especially amongst those within what is labelled the Muslim community or world. [Read more…]

The Netherlands: Asylum for Fauzia Ilyas

Ms Fauzia Ilyas, who founded Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAAP) affiliated to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, has been forced to flee to the Netherlands after a Lahore court initiated criminal proceedings under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law and issued an arrest warrant. Her ex-husband has custody of her 8 year old daughter because she had left Islam.

Fauzia’s colleague, A. Gilani, who is the current spokesperson for AAAP, is also in hiding in Pakistan.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain urges the Dutch government to grant Fauzia protection. Her life and freedom are at risk if she were to be returned to Pakistan.

Moreover, the Pakistani government must end the persecution of those exercising their freedom of expression and belief. There is no place for blasphemy laws in this day and age.

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…]

We must support ‘Esha’

I recently blogged about ‘Esha’, a young woman facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

Some of you have been asking questions about the case so here is more information from rights activist and journalist Rahila Gupta who is raising money for her case. Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain supports ‘Esha’s’ case and has donated money to her legal fund. Please help if you can – even if it’s not very much. Every little bit helps:

Over a year ago, a friend of mine, a British Pakistani actor got in touch with me after his annual visit home to Lahore.  He was very troubled by a blasphemy case that he had come across which appeared to have blighted the lives of two young people who had neither contacts nor money without which it is impossible to get out of a sticky situation in countries like Pakistan. He knew I was a long term member of Southall Black Sisters and wondered if I could help. But our funding covers services to women facing domestic violence in this country and only stretches to the Asian sub-continent if British Asian women have been abducted there in order to be forced into a marriage or abandoned there so that British Asian men may marry again. The fate of a young Pakistani woman languishing in a prison on false charges of blasphemy lay outside our remit, although not outside the bounds of our sympathy and solidarity. As I listened to the story and then spoke to ‘Mo’ and read the legal papers, I was very moved by their plight and decided I would do what I could to support them as an individual but with the support of all the contacts that SBS had forged in its 35 years of existence, including Maryam Namazie and the Council for Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).

‘Esha’ was arrested in March 2012 for having torn up the pages of the Qu’ran. Although I disagree with the whole notion of blasphemy and find it ridiculous that a legal case should be fought on the basis of whether she did or she didn’t, what is worse is that she didn’t even do it. She had an argument with a friend of hers who then shopped her to the authorities. It is a common way of settling scores in countries like Pakistan. I have provided some of the statistics in another article. Her friend is prepared to drop the case if Esha pays her £20,000 and gets her a job in Dubai – none of which is within Esha’s reach.

Since her arrest in 2012, Esha has lost every single bail application (four times so far). At one hearing of her case, she was attacked by some extremists so all future hearings take place in prison for her protection! This means that Mo does not get to see her at all. He is not allowed to visit her in prison because he is not related to her.  Before he went into hiding, they would meet in court. They have been unable to hire the best lawyers and Esha has been represented by people who appear to be just going through the motions.

The one bit of luck they have had so far is that Mo was put in touch with an influential Reuters journalist who knows one of the most well-known human rights lawyers in Pakistan, Asma Jahangir, who has agreed to represent Esha in her bail hearings for free. This is a turning point because the treatment that Esha is getting in prison has affected her mental health and she has already attempted suicide twice. Asma has agreed to take it all the way up to the Supreme Court, if necessary, where she believes Esha will be successful. This process should take till September 2015.

Meanwhile there is the question of her actual trial. She has found an extremely good lawyer, at long last. He has agreed to take on her case for an extremely reasonable fee. In a country where lawyers and other supporters of ‘apostates’ have been killed, many charge the high fees to pay for protection. However, the case has to make its way up again from the lower courts where the judges are too afraid for their lives and it is bound to fail. In the last three years of legal proceedings, there have been five judges and the decision is still pending.

However, even reasonable fees are beyond the reach of Esha and Mo. Esha has no family support. Her father married again and her stepmother has ensured that her father has cut off all contacts. In any case, anybody supporting someone like Esha is branded a kaffir and attracts the wrath of the extremists. Mo is in hiding and cannot work. His family have cut him off because they feel that he’s wasting his life.

When I first started supporting the case, I was inspired by the case of the Sudanese woman, Meriam Ibrahim who was released from prison where she was held on charges of apostasy after a worldwide blitz of publicity and American pressure. We thought that publicity would help Esha and Mo too. However, the advice I received subsequently from human rights organisations was that Mo’s life would be in even greater danger. After all, Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman in prison in Pakistan since 2009, received massive publicity and look where that got her. She is still in prison and is sentenced to die by hanging. Her husband has fled the country because of threats to his life. So Esha and Mo are pseudonyms but their stories are real.

Of course, the whole system needs to be demolished. But every individual that escapes the clutches of this system hopefully helps to weaken it. This is why I have started a fundraising drive. This is why Maryam Namazie and CEMB are supporting this case.  All of us have campaigned against religious fundamentalism as we have seen the impact of it on the vulnerable sections of our communities: women, LGBT communities and other religious minorities.

I hope you will be able to contribute something, however small, to this fundraising drive. Please go to this link if you can support Esha’s case.

Support 24 year old Esha in Pakistani prison charged with blasphemy

4135696_1428760585.3251“Esha” a 24 year old woman has been cut off from the world in her prime and is languishing in a Pakistani prison for the last three years on false charges of blasphemy brought against her by her best friend after they had an argument. She stands accused of having torn pages from the Qur’an and having slept on them. Although there have been several hearings, her trial  is still pending  for a complex variety of reasons – one of them being that there have been five different judges, each fearing for his life. You can read more about her here.

She has no family to take an interest in her except for a dedicated young man, “Mo”, whom she met on a visit to court and who, on hearing her story and seeing her isolation, has been trying to support her. Blasphemy is a serious offence in a deeply religious country like Pakistan and punishable by death. Blasphemy laws have been used to persecute minorities like the Christians or to settle personal scores. Several prominent people have been killed  for supporting those accused of blasphemy. Only recently a Christian couple were burnt alive for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an.

“Mo” has gone into hiding after he  received death threats. He is unable to work now and therefore, unable to raise the kind of fees that are charged by lawyers. For this kind of case, the fees are extremely high because of the danger posed to anyone associated with it. This is why we cannot use their real names.

She is being sexually harassed by the superintendent of the prison. As she has rejected his advances, he has withdrawn all basic privileges such as medicines, visitors, even a  mattress to sleep on. She is locked up 24/7 in a cell that is not heated in the winter and not cooled in the summer when temperatures can reach a baking 45c! She has attempted suicide twice and her poor mental health is a cause of real worry. She has stomach ulcers, skin allergies and kidney problems as well.

“Esha” and “Mo” are completely trapped.  ‘Esha’ says ‘I have lost all faith in society. I have been cut off from life, from the world, from education. I have lost the will to live.’

Although it is vital to Esha’s mental health that she leaves  prison, if her bail hearing is successful, neither of them have any money even for rent or food. Mo’s own family feel he’s wasting his life and are threatening to cut him off.  He says, ‘I was 27 when I met Esha. I have spent all my life savings on her. My life is in danger from extremists and I have lost family, friends and peace of mind. Why am I doing this?’

This money will go towards Esha’s legal fees and associated expenses for a lawyer who is highly recommended. “Mo” is desperate to get the legal case on the road before “Esha’s” next attempt on her life.

Please donate as generously as you can.  The money will be used to pay legal fees and welfare costs.

Thank you!

Blasphemy laws give ‘respectability’ to violence

Blasphemy laws give ‘respectability’ to violence
31 March 2015
Interview with Bob Churchill, Head of Communications of the International Humanist and Ethical Union
Blasphemy laws give “respectability” to violence against people and women. Islamists and the religious-Right in particular have placed a false moral equivalency between hurt “sensibilities” and human lives where none exist. A world without blasphemy laws would be a better one.
Shocking news of the week: The museum attack in Tunisia by Islamists
Insane fatwa of the week: Indonesia’s highest Islamic clerical body issues fatwa proposing death penalty for people caught having gay sex
Good news of the week: Protests in Afghanistan led by women against the heinous killing of Farkunda

قوانين منع توهين به مقدسات، وسيله توجيح خشونت عليه مردم است؛ برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مريم نمازى و فريبرز پويا
۱ اوت ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با باب چرچيل؛ از سازمان بين المللى اومانيستها
قوانين منع توهين به مقدسات، وسيله توجيح خشونت عليه مردم است. اسلاميون از جريحه دار شدن احساسات بعنوان اصلي به اهميت و حتي مهم تر از حق زندگي مردم سخن بميان مياورند.
دنيا بدون قوانين منع توهين به مقدسات دنياي بهتري ميباشد.
اخبار شکه آور هفته: حمله اسلامى ها در موزه تونس
فتواى احمقانه: از اندونزى عليه هم جنسگرايان
اخبار خوب: اعتراضات وسيع در افغانستان براى فرخنده
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: خسرو قريب

Like Mukto-muna, we are united in our grief and remain undefeated


We are outraged by the senseless and brutal hacking to death of well known scientist, atheist and writer Avijit Roy and the serious attack on his wife and blogger, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, by Islamists in Bangladesh.

Avijit had received numerous threats over the years for publishing articles critical of Islam, and promoting secular views, science and social issues on the Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona (Free Mind), which he founded. He had travelled to Bangladesh from the US to attend a book fair where his book “The Virus of Faith” was being launched. It was whilst he was returning from the fair, that he was brutally killed.

This is not the first time atheists and secularists have been attacked in Bangladesh. In addition to the well known threats received by writer Taslima Nasrin, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed and Ahmed Rajib killed in 2013. In 2004, Humayun Azad, a secular writer and professor at Dhaka University, was also attacked and later died.

Whilst Islamists have continued to threaten prominent bloggers and called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”, the Bangladeshi government has done little to defend the lives and security of freethinkers. In 2013, the government even arrested bloggers and shut websites down instead of arresting the Islamists involved.

We stand united in our grief for Avijit Roy with Mukto-muna but remain undefeated. We unequivocally condemn the attack on Avijit and his wife and also the many threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to prosecute the Islamists involved, guarantee the safety of dissenters and respect free expression. Freedom of expression, including to criticise Islam and Islamism as well as to blaspheme, is a basic right.

We are all Avijit.

Initial Signatories [Read more…]

Free Al-Baz now!

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is outraged to learn about the arrest of Egyptian blogger and atheist Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al-Baz (also known as Ben Baz) in Kuwait for merely exercising his right to free expression, conscience and belief. He has been arrested since 2 January 2013 and charged with blasphemy. There will be a hearing on his case on 28 February 2013.

Al-Baz is in real danger. In May 2012, the Kuwaiti parliament passed new amendments to allow for cruel and inhuman penalties, including long-term imprisonment and death, for blasphemy. Only recently, a man was sentenced to ten years in prison for Twitter blasphemy.

The CEMB condemns the Kuwaiti government’s imprisonment of Al-Baz and calls on the government to immediately and unconditionally release him and all those being held on blasphemy charges. [Read more…]

Doing the Taliban proud

The bad news is that a Pakistani court has sentenced 25 year old Hazrat Ali Shah to death for blaspheming against Mohammed and the Koran during a quarrel in his village in northern Pakistan in March 2011. Mother of five Asia Bibi also remains in prison whilst appealing her death sentence for ‘derogatory’ comments about Mohammad.

At least Pakistan has dropped blasphemy charges against 14 year old Rimsha for allegedly burning verses of the Koran (most likely only because the imam in question has tampered with the evidence).

Now all that the government needs to do (in this matter) is to rescind the blasphemy legislation altogether and immediately free all those imprisoned on blasphemy charges.

Isn’t it ironic how the Pakistani government tries to give itself a more humane portrayal by defending Malala Yousefzai vis-a-vis the Taliban whilst simultaneously issuing blasphemy rulings that would make the Taliban proud? If the Taliban and their Islamist brethren could, they would easily and LEGALLY sentence Malala to death for blasphemy.

Not that they aren’t trying.

The disgusting Sharia4Pakistan has called for Malala to be put on ‘trial in a Shariah court for the crimes she has been accused of’ – which according to them include insulting and belittling Islam and espionage!

By the way, Al-Mohajiroun – and the British Islamist Anjem Choudhary – are even holding a conference on 30 November to issue their fatwa against Malala and more.

Well it is a fight after all. They want to defend their medieval and barbaric rules in the face of the immense tide of support for Malala with their usual threats and fatwas.

What they haven’t realised is that they have already lost…

DIY Blasphemy


This is final blog for for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty:

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence.

The third was a guest post from Marieme Helie Lucas entitled Honour the dissenters.

The fourth was on Salman Rushdie and the need for blasphemy.

The fifth blog post is Calling all blasphemers to submit their own acts of blasphemy to the comments section.

The sixth blog post shows why open mike nights just don’t work under Sharia law.

The seventh post is a guest blog from Sue Cox entitled Enough!

The eighth post is Nothing can appease the Islamists.

The ninth post is two guest posts from Nobel Prize Winner Harry Kroto and Writer Tarek Fatah: Murder of Humans and Animals

Nothing can appease the Islamists

Thanks to the counter-revolutionary Muslim Brotherhood and president Morsi, the charge of blasphemy is on the rise in Egypt, including against two children aged 8 and 9.

Alber Saber, a 27-year-old computer science graduate, has also recently been charged with blasphemy.

When an angry mob tried to break into their home after neighbours accused Saber of uploading sections of the ridiculously bad film, Innocence of Muslims, his mother called the police who then promptly detained Alber for “his own protection.”

Later, when his mother went to the police station to pick him up, she was surprised to find that charges had been pressed against him rather than the mob that was trying to break into their home.

Yes, quite…

I too am still often surprised by how easily men, women and children are sacrificed to appease the Islamists.

But nothing will appease them. Appeasement will only legitimise and encourage their mob violence and their murder and mayhem.

Instead, we need to stand up to them, defend the right to blaspheme, and real solidarity with those on the frontlines dissenting and resisting day in and day out.


I’m blogging every hour on the hour for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty:

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence.

The third was a guest post from Marieme Helie Lucas entitled Honour the dissenters.

The fourth was on Salman Rushdie and the need for blasphemy.

The fifth blog post is Calling all blasphemers to submit their own acts of blasphemy to the comments section.

The sixth blog post shows why open mike nights just don’t work under Sharia law.

The seventh post is a guest blog from Sue Cox entitled Enough!



This is a guest post from the fantastic Sue Cox, Survivors Voice Europe for Day of Agreement to mark International Day against the Death Penalty:

I reckon I would last about  ten minutes in the  morning with my “no dissent” day!

I listened to the radio today and heard  some idiot spouting about the need to “curb” the “hysteria” surrounding the victims of Jimmy Saville. Of course I would forget my resolve and shout at the radio! It is a cause that is close to my heart and I would be unable to control my reactions! If I couldn’t express my feelings , and I know many simply can’t I think I would burst.

Although I have to say, I have wondered why it has taken the disgusting behaviour of some weirdo “celebrity” to cause the communal  outrage, (dreadful though it was)  and yet the thousands upon thousands of  catholic clergy sexual abuse survivors , and the thousands upon thousands of women subjugated by Islam, or living under the threat of Sharia law,with all the horrors that entails,  seems  to have passed everyone by?

But it was ever thus, atrocities go on for years under people’s noses, and suddenly one incident seems to capture their imagination and create a communal scream.

In my experience sometimes it takes a small shift  to open ones eyes to the greater picture, that is why we as activists continue with our “small shifts”.

As you know, my own crusade is against the subjugation of human beings by the catholic church, but  being with you on various rallies, you have opened my eyes too!

I thank you all in One law for all for showing me  the realities of the  suffering of others at the hands of radical Islam.

It is very easy when you are passionate about something to be insular, to imagine that your cause is the one that matters and that somehow you have the monopoly on suffering. But of course, the beast may have  different names, the religion may have another face, but the subjugation of human beings is the same cruel  monster.

I know I will not be capable of “a no dissent” day, and thank you for showing me what that must feel like to someone who has no choice.

I can’t be at the flash mob (and that has pissed me off too !) But every hour on the hour  I  send you heaps of smiles and love and solidarity!

I can only hope that the Saville debacle will allow us to hold a mirror up to ourselves as a colluding society and Shout  ENOUGH of these appalling abuses, of subjugation, of denial of women’s rights and gay and lesbian rights, ENOUGH hiding behind Sharia Law and Canon Law, and for that shout each and every one of us is responsible.


I’m blogging every hour on the hour for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty:

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence.

The third was a guest post from Marieme Helie Lucas entitled Honour the dissenters.

The fourth was on Salman Rushdie and the need for blasphemy.

The fifth blog post is Calling all blasphemers to submit their own acts of blasphemy to the comments section.

The sixth blog post shows why open mike nights just don’t work under Sharia law.

Calling all blasphemers

Blasphemy is an important form of resistance against the Islamic inquisition.

Why not join me in your very own act of blasphemy?

Mine (for now at least) is not so original but it’ll do very well: It’s a pineapple called Mohammad, courtesy of Reading University’s Atheist Group:

Why not post yours or link to your favorite act of blasphemy in the comments section below and I’ll award the best one with a  Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar, which is pretty blasphemous too.


This is the fifth blog post for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty.

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence.

The third was a guest post from Marieme Helie Lucas entitled Honour the dissenters.

The fourth was on Salman Rushdie and the need for blasphemy.

There is a need for blasphemy

In the recent BBC documentary on The Fatwa: Salman Rushdie’s Story, writer Hanif Kureishi says:

Rushdie speaks in the book for Muslims. This is an extremely important book. He speaks for their doubts. He speaks the bits of them that they actually think and feel sometimes – do I really believe in all this stuff – but can’t say. He, at considerable personal cost, has spoken a truth that millions of other people want to speak and for which he is being punished. If writers are devils it is because they speak in the face of the religious-Right.

In his new memoir, Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie argues that there is a need for blasphemy:

The writers of the French enlightenment had deliberately used blasphemy as a weapon, refusing to accept the power of the Church to set limiting points on thought.

Blasphemy against Islam is our weapon too. It is our refusal to submit, it is our anti-clericalism and the anti- the Islamic inquisition of our era…


This is the fourth blog post for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty.

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence.

The third was a guest post from Marieme Helie Lucas entitled Honour the dissenters.

Honour the dissenters

The below is a guest post from the brilliant Algerian secularist, Marieme Helie Lucas, to mark Day of Agreement. It is a must read.

In the past few weeks, in several countries, groups of citizens have openly taken a stand against Muslim fundamentalists, including armed ones.

In Mali, on a number of occasions, citizens attempted to stop public amputations, stonings and floggings; Malian women also attacked AQMI (Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique) in an attempt to stand up against the imposition of a so-called ‘Islamic dress code’ that is totally alien to their culture ( but have you heard anyone in Europe stand up in defence of their right to preserve their culture, their traditional way of dressing which is NOT the freshly imported so-called ‘Islamic veil’ Saudi style?). In response, fundamentalist armed groups fired at them with sub-machine guns.

In India, in the city of Ahmadabad, two citizens stood their ground facing crowds demonstrating against the anti-Muslim video: The Innocence of Muslims. They held posters saying ‘just don’t watch it!’. They were seriously hurt.

In Iran, a woman beat up a cleric who made comments about her supposedly anti-Islamic outfit. She told him to look the other way, and when he persisted, she beat him up. We can be sure she will pay a dire price for it.

In Libya, on the site of the attack in Benghazi, demonstrators held signs apologising for the murder of the US Ambassador and expressing in various ways a ‘not in our name’ stance that distanced themselves from the killers. It was also citizens who initiated the expulsion of the armed militia from the cities, whilst government troops only came in later.

In Afghanistan, demonstrators physically confronted the authorities when they renamed a university with the name of a religious-Right leader.

In Tunisia, women regularly take to the streets to defend their constitutional rights and to oppose any setbacks on equality under the law between citizens –men and women.

In Pakistan, women’s organisations have been demonstrating for a secular state, with a clear separation of politics from religion, for several years now.

One could give many more examples from other countries.

These citizens are the future of their countries and of humanity. But when have European media properly reported on these events? Where has such news been given front-page attention?

How long will it take for the European Left and human rights organisations to defend the courageous people who stand up to fundamentalists at risk to their lives, rather than their oppressors and killers?

Why is it assumed that fundamentalists, i.e. neo-fascist religious extreme-Right, represent and defend the ‘real Islam’?

Why is it assumed that all those who oppose fundamentalists are anti-Islam renegades – and that therefore, if they get killed, well… they deserve to die?

Why are secularists considered ‘Islamophobic’ when they are anti-fundamentalist?

And why does the Left persistently use the terminology that has been coined by the fundamentalists: ‘sharia law’, ‘Islamophobia’, ‘fatwa’, etc… a terminology that secularists have persistently denounced and deconstructed.

The ten year long resistance to armed fundamentalism in Algeria and its 200,000 victims did not manage to change the views of the Left and human rights organisations vis-a-vis fundamentalism. Nor, it seems, the internal resistance that today, in many countries, is making itself visible.

But something may change their minds: the attempted assassination on a child in Pakistan – Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old supporter of education for girls. They shot at her and took responsibility for the attack. They declared that they would attack her again if she survives, and that anyone against the Taliban will be executed. Must it not be clear at long last that a child demanding her right to education is considered a supporter of ‘the West’, an enemy of Islam (since the Taliban claims that they are the only legitimate representatives of Islam), an ‘apostate’, and one that deserves to be physically eliminated? As all us ‘kafirs’ deserve to… [Read more…]

It is possible not to cause offence


This is my second blog entry for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty.

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

No-one is safe, not even 14 year olds

Yesterday, the Taliban critically wounded Malala Yousafzai, the lovely and brave 14 year old Pakistani girl, on her way home from school.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said they targeted Yousafzai because she generated ‘negative propaganda’ and was the ‘symbol of the infidels and obscenity’. If she survived, Ihsan said, the Taliban would try to kill her again.

Sounds familiar?

After all, she dared to  defend the right of girls to an education, particularly offensive to the Taliban which had banned them from attending school, amongst many other things.

When religion is in power, any challenge to it – even something as simple as a girl wanting to go to school – can be deemed offensive, obscene and blasphemous.

And this is exactly why no-one – not even a 14 year old – is safe.

In light of this stark reality, calls for blasphemy laws and censorship is nothing short of a defence of the Taliban herds and their vile Sharia rules because it denies people their thoughts, their words, their expressions, and their resistance and dissent.

All at the expense of sweet Malala and the innumerable like her – challenging Islamism day in and day out by demanding to live  21st century lives.

Today is for her and them.


This is my first blog entry for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty. I will be blogging every hour, on the hour, and will have some guest posts too.