Sudan apostasy case, New Report: Evangelising Hate – Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA); ex-Muslims internationally

Dear friend

I am writing to give you an update of the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, including a new report on the hate group Islamic Education and Research Academy, and also ask for your help in defending an “apostate” facing death in Sudan.

Sudan apostasy case

The 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 Yahya’s case represents 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 and calls on all groups and individuals to put pressure on the Sudanese government and help save Mariam’s life.

Sign the petition defending Mariam here.

Ex-Muslims Internationally

CEMB co-Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud and heads of affiliated groups, namely the Ex-Muslims of North America and Ex-Muslims of Scotland recently discussed the Mariam Yahya case on BBC World Service and why it is so hard to be an ex-Muslim. You can listen to the programme here.

Despite the many difficulties, atheism is on the rise in countries where Sharia law has influence or access to political power. Interestingly, the country where Richard Dawkins’ name is most searched is Iran. Recently, co-Spokesperson Maryam Namazie sent a video message to over 60 atheists meeting clandestinely in Jordan to congratulate them on their bold move and to pledge CEMB’s support.  Moreover, the first legal atheist organisation in the Middle East and North Africa has been established in Turkey. You can see their statement here.

New Report: Evangelising Hate – Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA)

A new CEMB report “Evangelising Hate” exposes the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) as a Hate Group. You can read the full press release and report here.

Whilst iERA purports to be a missionary-like charitable organisation, it is in fact a “soft Islamist” group, which acts as the Islamist movement’s public relations arm by promoting and normalising Islamist values, including inciting hatred against ex-Muslims, gays, Jews, women, non Muslims and a majority of Muslims who do not share their values. In Britain and the west, groups like iERA use multiculturalism (as a social policy that segregates “communities”) and cultural relativism as well as the rights language of diversity, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue to increase influence and access. Any opposition to their theocratic aims are met with accusations of racism and Islamophobia.

This timely report is being published just as the Charity Commission is investigating the group. Clearly, iERA must be classified as a hate group and have their charitable status withdrawn. These will help bring clarity to their agenda and can be a starting point for a wider investigation into the influence of Islamism in modern Britain.

It is important to note that the CEMB publishes its report on a day that the far-Right group Britain First (an off-shoot of the British National Party) has targeted yet another mosque in a campaign of hate. Like Islamism, Britain First is a far-Right political group that asserts collective blame, incites hatred and dehumanises those deemed ‘other’. Just as Islamists do not represent a majority of Muslims or those considered Muslim, fascist groups like Britain First do not represent a majority of Britons and those living here.

Our fight is against the far-Right of all stripes and variations – be it Britain First or iERA – and in defence of the rights of all people, irrespective of their background, race, belief, gender, sexuality… to secularism, universal rights and equality.

The new CEMB report has been forwarded to the Home Office, the Charity Commission and the Department for Education, amongst others.

New office space

We have moved into a new office space near Kings Cross, thanks to the fantastic support of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK. The office is shared with One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation.

We will have an official opening in the near future and will let you know about it when the time comes.

11-12 October 2014 Conference

Please don’t forget to register and buy tickets for a historic two-day conference in London with secular, including ex-Muslim activists from across the world, and particularly the Middle East and North Africa who have been imprisoned and persecuted for their atheism.

Whatever you do, don’t miss the conference if you can help it. You can register and pay for your tickets here.

Keep Supporting Us!

If you like the work we do and want to help or continue helping us, please donate! Your support has been instrumental so far and will further our important work.

A huge thanks to those of you who donate on a monthly basis; it has made a world of difference being able to depend on regular support. We need a lot more help so please do join our small but important group of monthly donors or give us a one off donation if you can. Here’s information on how to donate.  We also still need more volunteers if you have some time to spare.

We look forward to continuing – together – our fight for atheism, secularism, rights and equality and countering the far-Right, racism and cultural relativism in the months and years to come.

Warmest wishes
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: [email protected]
web: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/

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

Support ex-Muslim atheist Nasir Irshad! He must be granted asylum in the UK

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is pleased that an Afghan atheist recently gained asylum and protection in Britain for his atheism. Whilst this is being hailed as the first case of its kind, the CEMB has worked on countless asylum cases over the past several years with a rising number securing asylum based on their atheism and due to a well-founded fear of persecution for apostasy and leaving Islam.

In light of the abysmal situation for ex-Muslims in many countries under Sharia law, as highlighted in our recent report “Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam”, asylum and protection for apostates and ex-Muslim atheists is a basic right.

Whilst the numbers of those being granted protection are increasing, there are still large numbers of ex-Muslims facing refusals and deportation to countries where they face death at worst and a loss of liberty and rights at best.

One such case is that of Muhammad Nasir Irshad who is currently detained at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre awaiting deportation to Pakistan where he faces a real risk of persecution because of his atheism. His appeal has been refused; he had no legal counsel during his appeal given that legal aid was also refused him and he has been fast-tracked for deportation. The Home Office has refused his claim asserting that ex-Muslim atheists are not in danger in Pakistan.

Nasir Irshad has approached the CEMB to assist with his case. We call on the Home Office to immediately cancel any attempts to deport Nasir and to grant him the protection he deserves and which is his right. Needless to say, the Home Office will be held accountable for Nasir’s life and liberty.

For more information, contact:
Maryam Namazie
Council of Ex- Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: [email protected]
web: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/

Ex-Muslims of North America has formed

EXMNAEx-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) Press Release
October 22, 2013

Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) exists to build a community and provide a sense of solidarity for Ex-Muslims: people who used to identify as Muslim, and who no longer do so. We cater exclusively to the needs of Ex-Muslim atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, and freethinkers.

At present, several communities of Ex-Muslims are being organized in cities across North America and all over the world. EXMNA’s goal is to expand and connect people with each other, so that Ex-Muslims have a place to call their own in every major North American city, and a community they can turn to for networking, support, and solidarity. Many people who leave Islam face the apostasy stigma, and are forced to hide. As Ex-Muslims, we are acutely aware of the need for safety for apostates from Islam. We foster alliances and affiliations with other atheist, skeptic, and humanist groups within and outside North America to fulfill our common goals. We hope to galvanize support from secular and progressive groups, as well as those Muslims who believe in freedom of, and from, religion.

In today’s political climate, Ex-Muslims stand between polarizing discourses of Islam and Muslims, and are often marginalized, dismissed, and silenced by both sides. As people who were raised Muslim or converted to Islam, and then left Islam because we could no longer believe in it, we cater to neither bigots who treat Muslims as a monolith, nor apologists who try to shield Islam from scrutiny. We do not wish to promote hatred of Muslims. We ourselves were Muslim once. Many of our families and friends are Muslim. We understand that Muslims come in all varieties, and we do not partake in erasing diversity among the world’s Muslims.

While we denounce the bigotry of those who promote their racist and xenophobic ideas under the guise of criticizing Muslims, we also denounce the cultural and moral relativism of those who propagate the idea that all criticism of Islam is inherently racist. We work closely with the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), a UK-based, internationally recognized organization, founded in 2007, that has been instrumental in starting the movement to create a space for apostates. Ex-Muslims often have first-hand and well-researched knowledge about Islam’s various facets. We are uniquely positioned to use our voices and experiences to help bridge the polarized discussion of Islam. In order to further that goal, we have just launched the Ex-Muslim Blogs Project which broadcasts the voices of a diverse array of Ex-Muslim writers.

EXMNA is largely composed of local groups with a great degree of autonomy, united organizationally under the umbrella of the Ex-Muslims of North America. EXMNA’s humble beginnings were in the Ex-Muslim communities that began in Toronto (2011) and Washington DC (2012). Today, we have member groups operating and growing in regions throughout North America, including Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, D.C., Ontario, and Quebec.

Visit our website to learn more about us, to join one of our local groups, or to find out how you can start one in your city.

Website(s): http://www.exmna.org and http://www.exmuslimblogs.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/exmna
Twitter: https://twitter.com/exmuslimsofna
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1-855-EXMUSLIM (media department)

Kafir Comedy Club

kafir comedy clubHold this date all

Kafir Comedy Club
29 November 2013 @ 7-9 PM
Hosted by DJ Zee Jay & Maha
Open mic comedy for interested kuffar starts at 8 pm.

Look, we know it’s not easy defending yourself constantly against a religious mob. So take a break from the Facebook forums and let out the frustration with a laugh. If you’ve got some steam to let off, this is your night to do it. RSVP below to get on the list. But don’t laugh too much, Hell awaits us all later.*

Sponsored by the Council of Ex-Muslims Britain.

[email protected] | The George, 213 Strand, London (nearest Tube: Temple) | Friday November 29, 2013, 7 PM

* “Let them laugh a little: much will they weep: a recompense for the (evil) that they do.” (Surah At-Taubah 9:82)

Entry: £3. £1 for unwaged.

Statement on the takfir campaign against activist Nahla Mahmoud

Nahla Mahmoud MCU

Below is a statement by several Sudanese rights activists against Salah Al Bandar’s takfir campaign against Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud. Takfir is an originally Arabic word that literally means pronouncement of unbelief against someone; it is similar to the ecclesiastical concept of ‘excommunication’. Takfir in Islam is a justification for capital punishment.

Drawing on our belief  of and responsibility towards defending all rights and freedoms, and based on our principled position towards supporting the freedoms of expression and belief, as two basic rights for every human being and  as well as our stance on supporting the fundamental right to life and personal security, we, the undersigned, would like to  declare our solidarity with Nahla Mahmoud in the face of the takfir/death threats and intimidation campaign being orchestrated by Mr. Salah Al Bandar against her. We also call on the British authorities to protect Nahla and put an end to the violation by Mr. Al Bandar of her right to life and personal security as well as her rights of belief and freedom of expression, and to obligate him to stop intimidating her and her family in Sudan.

[Read more...]

Remembering Irtaza

irtazaHere’s my tribute to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s young member and activist Irtaza Hussain who tragically committed suicide on 11 September. I gave it at last night’s evening drinks event with philosopher Arif Ahmed:

Irtaza was an active member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. In his membership statement he wrote: “Islam quite simply did not provide enough answers at all and was fairly credulous. What is absolutely appalling is the state of ignorance within Muslims and how many of them make claims about Islam’s monopoly on knowledge yet still being miles away from having a proper appreciation of academia.”

Irtaza was well known amongst us. He joined our events, spoke to the media on our behalf, and defended the right to leave Islam, reason and free expression whenever he could. Despite all the torment and hurt and despair, he never stopped speaking out and helping others. Irtaza even contributed to a soon to be published report on the status of apostates from Islam for CEMB – a report which he will never get to see.

In one essay he had written in 2012, which he asked me to look over, he ends saying: “The critical thinking involved and the logical fallacies that we see as convenient are not just mere instructions considering the doors they have opened and the apathy that they have eliminated. They are powerful tools that we should be proud to have used them and we must continue to use them because we have strong reasons to do so. We must pat ourselves on the back and continue to do good as we do because not only are we bringing passion into the lives of many and ours; we are doing good and eliminating the bad within humanity. Let us continue to hold on to these progressive values and preach them with the regard that we have showed in disciplined discourse, with the use of reason and standing up for progressive values. We have a voice and we continue to use it.” [Read more...]

Update on the threats against Nahla Mahmoud

nahlaAs you know, following an interview on Channel 4 on Sharia law, Islamists threatened Sudanese secular campaigner and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud with death, calling her a “Kafira” and “Murtada” who has offended Islam and brought “fitnah”. One of those making the threats was Salah al Bandar (or Salah al Bander) who has until recently been a Liberal Democrat Councillor.

Spencer Hagard, Chair of the Cambridge Liberal Democrats, initiated an investigation into the allegations against al Bandar and found them “groundless”. Instead, he said the inquiry “increased [his] previously high esteem for” al Bandar. This despite the fact that an independent translation was not carried out by the Lib Dems to verify the threats made nor was any of the documented threats made against Nahla Mahmoud addressed other than to say that the quotes were a “gross distortion”, and “utterly misrepresented”. See article on this here.

Kafir(a) and Murtad(a) are well known derogatory terms meaning infidel and apostate; moreover, fitnah is another derogatory term against disobedient women who are seen to be the source of chaos or affliction in society. Given that apostasy is punishable by death in ten countries including Sudan, and a prosecutable offence in many more, the terms can hardly be considered positive and open to distortion.

Rather than addressing the specific threats made against Nahla Mahmoud, al Bandar mentions his “dedicat[ion] to individual human rights”, including with organisations like Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT).

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain finds this wholly unacceptable and calls on the Lib Dems to provide a detailed response with regards the complaint against al Bandar. His questionable “human rights” record is irrelevant and can hardly be used in his defence.

SOAT, the group al Bandar cites as proof of his commitment to human rights, has in fact had problems with him. Founding members of the organisation wrote a letter in September 2008 saying that the board of trustees headed by al Bandar was acting “opposite to its vision and values.” They went on to say: “we have serious concerns and doubts about the constituency and legitimacy of the current board of trustees of the organisation. We believe that the election procedure of the board was inappropriate, lacked transparency and equal opportunities to participate. In fact it has been manipulated. As a result, we have explained and informed the UK Charity Commission of the current situation.” The letter can be seen here. [Read more...]

Join Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s 6th Anniversary celebrations

The sixth anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is being held tomorrow on 15 June 2013 at 12:00pm for a 12:30pm start at an Italian restaurant in central London.

The keynote speaker will be writer Kenan Malik. Other speakers and acts include Magician Neil Edwards, Centre for Secular Space’s Executive Director Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and CEMB co-spokesperson Maryam Namazie. CEMB co-Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud will be the MC for the event. Special guests present include scientist Richard Dawkins.

There are still a few tickets left if you hurry. Tickets for the event, which includes a three-course meal and glass of wine at a wonderful Italian restaurant, are £35.00 per person or £30.00 for students/unwaged.

To purchase tickets, pay via Paypal or Worldpay. Click on the donate button, then email us at [email protected] to confirm so we can send you further details.

Additional donations are welcome to help ensure the attendance of CEMB volunteers at the event.

If you are in London, don’t miss it!

Rim Razek must be granted asylum in the US

Updated: 13 June
Today is the last day of Rim’s campaign. Donate now. Here’s a blog post from “Between a veil and a dark place” on why you should.

****

reemRim Razek writes to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain:

I was born in Egypt. I come from a strictly religious background; most members of my family are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite being brought up by parents who tried to censor art, music, and certain books, I was constantly searching for answers and looking for ways to get around the censorship. By the time I was sixteen, I had read numerous books on philosophy and religion and had come to conclusions that led me to leave Islam, conclusions I knew would make me a social outcast once anyone found out about them. After a period of inner conflict, I decided I wasn’t going to let society dictate what I believe or how I should live my life. I resolved to take off my veil and wrote an article called “Mass Hysteria,” saying that the veil is nothing more than a political and misogynistic tool used by Islamists in order to gain power and control while it provides no reflection of piety or morality as advertised. I also compared the freer attitude of Egyptian women in the sixties with the present.

After I published this article and a picture of myself without the hijab, I was thrown in a mental asylum and subjected to electroshock treatments as a punishment; I have recently blogged about for the first time. This was a traumatic experience. After getting out of the asylum and pretending to conform for a while, I returned to being outspoken. I made a video about how indoctrinating children with religious ideologies is child abuse and my friend Kacem Elghazali posted it on his blog atheistica. I took part in my friend Aliaa Elmahdi’s campaign by posting pictures of myself with and without the veil. [Read more...]

You better not touch him

imadThe last email the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain received from 22 year old Imad Iddine Habib, the founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco (the first atheist organisation in a country with Islam as a state religion), spoke of more threats and a final warning from the Moroccan government.

In the email, he said:

My Father has been interviewed by secret agents at work, they asked him about my activities, my beliefs, my relations and if some foreigners visit me, and they told him that I have to stop, and that I am considered an enemy of the country by showing bad things about it … and [that] it is the last warning before they react.

Since then, he has gone into hiding after security officials raided a home to possibly arrest him.

His latest Facebook post says:

Hey Everyone,

I would like to thank everyone who supported me, asked about me by any mean! Those whom I didn’t reply didn’t add me as a friend, as I am blocked, I couldn’t reply at them! Thank you All, you made me so proud of being part of this big and united family of rational and free thinkers!

Whatever my fate will be in the next hours, the next days, the next weeks; killed, beaten, jailed, or anything else, I am not sorry for what I have done since I became an activist few years ago, I have shared with many people here thoughts and ideas, and so many awesome memories.

Both police and people are looking for me, I have nowhere to go, my life is at high risk… However, I am Happy, because I am not the only one fighting for a better world, I hope I will be the last man persecuted because of Dogmatisms, Religions, or Myths.

Whatever I’ll be, KEEP FIGHTING, I love you all.

PS: There is no god but Minnie Mouse.

– Imad Iddine Habib

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain unequivocally condemns efforts of the Moroccan government to silence Imad. Rather, the government should be prosecuting those who threaten Imad and apostates with death, including members of Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas who recently issued a fatwa decreeing the death penalty for Moroccans leaving Islam.

This is our final warning to the Moroccan Government. Hands off Imad, prosecute those who threaten and incite murder, and respect freedom of expression and thought.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain calls on all to condemn the Moroccan government and defend Imad.

On 15 May join us in defending Imad. He is all of us.

More details will follow.

Defend Bangladeshi Bloggers, Events, Ex-Muslims in Morocco and More

bangladeshibloggersHello

We are writing to give you an update on some important actions and events.

25 APRIL: INTERNATIONAL DAY TO DEFEND BANGLADESHI BLOGGERS

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and others have called for 25 April to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists. Please spread the word, sign this petition today, and stand with and for Bangladeshi freethinkers.

As you may know, in January, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed. In February, 35 year old atheist blogger involved in the Shahbag protests, Ahmed Rajib, was brutally killed. Islamists continue to threaten prominent bloggers and have called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”. Rather than prosecute the Islamists, the government has arrested some bloggers and shut down blogs and sites.

We unequivocally condemn the attacks on and threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to guarantee their safety, respect free expression and prosecute Islamists who threaten, attack and harm critics.

On 25 April, we urge groups and individuals to rally at Bangladeshi embassies, contact members of parliament in their countries of residence, highlight the situation, write protest letters, carry out acts of solidarity, Tweet #Bangladesh #Bloggers and more.

You can find more information here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Please don’t forget about our upcoming events and join us:

On 15 June, we will celebrate the CEMB’s sixth anniversary at a luncheon with keynote speaker Kenan Malik. Other speakers/acts include comedian Kate Smurthwaite and CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie. The luncheon starts at 12pm for 1230pm start at a central London location.

Book your tickets today. [Read more...]

A few calls for help

arabahwazi-e1358711689740

Protest executions in Iran

Kamil Alboshoka, a human geography student at Kingston University has asked that I publicise his campaign to defend 5 Ahwazi Arabs facing execution in Iran, including members of his family and friends.  Mohammad Ali Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and his brother Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka, and teachers Hashem Sha’bani Amouri, and Hadi Rashidi (or Rashedi) are charged with “enmity against god” and “corruption on earth”.  Here are details of where you can write your protest letters.

 

Write for Ex-Muslim Anthology

The wonderful Allat is putting together an anthology of personal stories of Ex-Muslims. Profits from the anthology will go to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

If you’re interested:

– Write your own story of how you came to leave Islam and what the consequences have been for you. It can be published under a pseudonym. All stories must be factual and based on one’s own life experiences.
– Your piece should be between 800-2000 words long (about 3-8 pages, double spaced).
– Stories of women, LGBTI people, former converts, and those still living Islamic-majority countries are encouraged, though all stories are welcome.
– She can help put together your story if you need help.
– Deadline for submitting your story is 31 May 2013.

If you know other ex-Muslims who would like to be part of this anthology, feel free to send them the text of this post and have them email her at [email protected] to propose their story.

Allat adds:

If you are planning to be part of this anthology, let me know as soon as you can. I will be keeping a tally of who’s going to be in it so I can plan the structure of the book. Please do NOT wait till May to let me know if you’ll be part of it.

This is a great opportunity if you have a story to tell the world about your apostasy and its effects on your life, and you don’t want to have to write your own book. It’s also a great way for all of us to give back to the CEMB as any and all proceeds will be going towards this organization.

One point to remember: this is to include Ex-Muslim ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, DEISTS, PANTHEISTS, HUMANISTS etc. I am not looking for Ex-Muslim Christians as there are already some books on the market about them. This book will be promoted within Atheist/Skeptic communities.


Participate in survey on atheists

There is only one week left to participate in a survey unique to atheists and other non-religious people. The survey intends to understand your experiences as an atheist, including your involvement (if any) with secular organizations and your perceptions of discrimination and prejudice (if any) against you as an atheist. To participate in this survey, or to learn more about this study, click 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...]

Ex-Muslim Events, Poster Competition, International Apostasy Report and more

Dear friend

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has a number of events and meetings planned in the next few weeks.

On 11 December 2012 we are having end-year drinks for our members and supporters with philosopher A C Grayling from 18:30-20:00 hours in central London. Email [email protected] to RSVP. Entry is £10 per person; £7 for unwaged (including one drink and canapés). A C Grayling will be speaking on ‘Secularism as a Human Right’.

On 28 January 2013, there will be an ex-Muslim women’s coffee morning from 11:30-1:00pm and a meet-up for ex-Muslim asylum seekers and refugees 1:30-2:30pm in a central London location. To RSVP, email [email protected]

A CEMB-affiliated Manchester meet-up group has just been established by Sandbad. To join the group, visit here.

We look forward to seeing you at some of the above events! There is also, as always, the fantastic CEMB forum where you can meet like-minded individuals all day and every day.

POSTER COMPETITION

We are delighted to invite artists to submit a poster design for entry into our unique international poster competition, which aims to raise awareness on the status of ex-Muslims. The competition is open to everyone across the globe. For details, click here. You can also contact the competition coordinator Sultan Aman at [email protected] for more information. [Read more...]

Ex-Muslim Women Coffee Morning

Ex-Muslim Women’s Coffee Morning

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is organising a second meet-up for ex-Muslim women after the summer term to provide a safe space for meeting like-minded friends and discussing concerns. The second meet-up will be held on Friday 7 September from 11:30am-1pm in central London.

If you would like to join us, email Maryam Namazie at [email protected] or call 07719166731 for further details.

Post your messages of support for Council of ex-Muslims here

Messages of support to mark 5th anniversary of the
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Final Updated 28 June 2012

As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is celebrating its 5th anniversary on 23 June. We’re asking people to attend the fundraiser luncheon if they can, donate, and send messages of support to mark our birthday. Here are some messages we have already received.

Well done for standing up for rational and free thought, a universe and it’s life that exist due to physical and not magical forces. I applaud each and every one of you. Carry on in your wisdom, benevolence, rationality and humanity.
Regards
Martin Gallagher
An ex Christian

To Maryam and the Council of Ex-Muslims
I’d just like to add my thanks and appreciation for what all of you are doing. Here’s to a world freed of imaginary sky-gods!
Theophontes

Good for you and all.
Hyoid, from Neckbone, PA, USA

When ex-Christians think they’re ostracized and persecuted, we should remember the even greater strength and determination it takes to be an ex-Muslim. May you find fortune a gift of the Universe through all of your Lives.
Maxdevlin

Congratulations CEMB, on being a beacon of hope to many, and not least to progressives like my humble self who constantly encounter other “progressives” to whom Islam is above criticism! Happy 5th anniversary!
Taru Dutt

Courageous! Thank you for standing up. Happy anniversary.
Jim

Congratulations on your 5th birthday! I wish you success in your important work.
Alan Clark

Happy anniversary. Thanks for your great work.
I have been following your work in this blog.
It’s fresh, inspiring and make me put questions where I had answers
Paulo Alves Reis, Chateau-d’Oex – Switzerland

In a time when the cancer of fundamentalism is ravaging the Islamic community, and Islamist bullies are determined to drag the whole world back to the seventh century, the CEMB provides much needed support for former and questioning Muslims, as well as those of us affected by religious fundamentalism. Please accept my best wishes for the work you do.
Winterwind

It is very difficult for those in America who choose to reject the Christian religion. They face anger, hate, accusations, insults, loss of friends and family, loss of income (losing a job if employed – losing customers if an employer), and are unable to participate in government.
For Muslims, add to all of the above … the threat of injury or even death.
You people have redefined the word “courage.”
Neo

Congratulations on 5 successful years, and may you be a victim of your success and become unnecessary!
Stay free, stay fair, stay fun!
Allegra Sloman, Vancouver, Canada

Congratulations on the anniversary. Any organisation that celebrates those who have discovered the truth and turned away from their misogynistic, hate-filled and irrational religion should be congratulated. The difference with Islam is that it promises vengeance – murder – in THIS life, as opposed to the non-existent next one.
Your bravery is recognised.
Jon Pierson
Member of Atheist Ireland

Very best wishes to the CEMB on your 5th birthday. In those five years you’ve done great work to help provide new friends and a community to those would could be ostracised for transistions in outlook and thought.
Your campaigning work for rights both here and outside the UK has helped create change, and drawn attention to the fact that thought-crime is still an issue for so many in the world. The freedom to pursue evidence-based reasoning should not be accompanied by fear and loneliness – so here’s to the CEMB’s next five years.
Deborah Hyde, Editor-in-Chief, The Skeptic Magazine

Way to go, dear friends! I hope your enlightened example will inspire many more to break free form religious oppression! Good luck in your activities – and get your message especially among women: every mother who is able to think for herself will help her children think as well, rather than obey ideologies and tyrants!
Respect,
Teodora

My name is Mirko, I’m 22 and I’m from Italy. Your work is incredible, what you did is right and i hope all people of the world follow the message you have sent. I support your campaign and all you do for the women. Continue to fight and don’t give up Maryam.

For always being there, giving the highest form of empathy and sympathy and having thought provoking discussion in its various forms, I thank the forum members and staff. (As well as giving me the chance to be on T.V)
Mchawking

I just registered after reading Maryam Namazie’s FtB blog. She said to come over with any words of support and encouragement to all the ex-Muslim people here.
I do have nothing but appreciation, as well as a sense of awe, for all of you. I grew up in a family that was very wishy-washy about religion, in a secular country with pretty liberal teachers along the way in all my schooling. I didn’t have a culture surrounding me that insisted on belief and certainly not one that threatened violence if I ever voiced apathy or disbelief. I know some of you have come to your rejection of Islam from such dangerous places and I just want to let you know that I am amazed by not only your bravery, but your integrity for not remaining a mental prisoner of (if I may steal from Hitchens) the spiritual North Korea.
I wish all of you well, and certainly offer all the encouragement I can muster for all of you to keep on fighting for humanity, peace, justice and freedom. Every mind that you open up to reality and clarity is one less that will be imprisoned by fear and hatred, all in the cause of an imaginary dictator. Best luck and prosperity to all of you.
Tatanka

I come here for the people, and the atmosphere. There’s a great mix of intelligent discussion, venting of frustrations, shared support, and general silliness. As The Wyre said, there’s a solidarity here that you can’t find anywhere else, and it’s present even if a topic has nothing to do with Islam or religion. This forum is just as much about moving past Islam as it is about Islam.
And it just happens to be truly the best damn forum on the internet.
I’ve bolded the part that really sums up how I feel about this place. In the early months after I left Islam, I had no support outside of the people here. And even still, 4 years later, there’s nobody else that quite understands how Islam still has an effect on my life. I remember everything I learned and all the love and support I received (and still do!) from people here, and how it’s helped me grow and change and make sense of my life. And I hope to offer the same sort of support to others when I can. This community is invaluable.
Luthiel

CEMB has been a safe place for me to learn to stand and move forward after the effects of islam..
it has helped me realize what i need to work on, and has given me a sense of solidarity..
CEMB has become a place to turn to for advice, comfort, debate, and friendship.. it is in essence giving me what anyone would want from a family.. i have seen boys learn to discard their misogynistic ideas, and girls embrace their strength.. i am grateful to the group of people who courageously continue to speak out.. the voice of CEMB must continue to be echoed for the sake of those who have no voice.. CEMB will always be part of me..
Nessrriinn [Read more...]

Why the ‘Ex’ in Ex-Muslims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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