Urgent Action: Atheist Ex-Muslims Sher Shah Jogzei, Syed Muhammad Tabish and Muhammad Shamoon must be granted asylum by Home Office

Pakistani ex-Muslim atheists Sher Shah Jogzei, Syed Muhammad Tabish and Muhammad Shamoon are currently detained in Harmondsworth IRC, which is a Cat B prison. Their crime? They have left Islam and want to live a life free from threats and intimidations prevalent in Pakistan.

Jogezai’s date for deportation has been set for 5th August 2014. Tabish’s deportation on 5th August has been cancelled and he has been granted 5 days to prepare for a fresh asylum trial.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Case Manager Tanjir Sugar visited the three men at the detention to find out more about their cases and offer support. One of the men, Sher Shah was harassed by some of his fellow Muslim detainees. Rather than being given protection, he has been taken into isolation.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain knows only too well the dangers involved for those who renounce Islam and become atheists in countries where Sharia rules apply. Pakistan is officially an Islamic Republic. The government often uses its blasphemy law to prosecute atheists and those who allegedly hurt religious sentiments or defame Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

The above three men face great risk of persecution for openly and publicly leaving Islam and for being critical of Islam if they are returned. They have also been ostracised from their families and have no safe place to return to.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain calls on the Home Office to immediately release Pakistani ex-Muslim atheists Sher Shah Jogzei, Syed Muhammad Tabish and Muhammad Shamoon from detention and grant them asylum.

To support the cases of these men, please Tweet the Home Office: @ukhomeoffice or write to Home Secretary Theresa May asking for their right to asylum at 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF or via email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

CEMB November Update: Apostasy, Sex Segregation and Islamist Double-Speak

ecmuslimlogoHello

APOSTATES IN ISLAM REPORT
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) and Atheist Alliance International have 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.

AGAINST SEGREGATION OF THE SEXES
CEMB has joined others in condemning the endorsement of gender apartheid by Universities UK in British universities. Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory. Separate is never equal and segregation is never applied to those who are considered equal. By justifying segregation, Universities UK sides with Islamist values at the expense of the many Muslims and others who oppose sex apartheid and demand equality between women and men. Please sign the petition, and find out how to join the sex apartheid busters and protest at UUK offices on 10 December here.

UPDATE ON NAHLA MAHMOUD AND LIB DEMS SCANDAL
CEMB is appalled that the Cambridgeshire Lib Dems has decided to side with their member and former councillor Salah al Bandar rather than CEMB Spokesperson, Nahla Mahmoud, who he has threatened. The head of the Cambridgeshire Lib Dems has stated that the matter is closed after commissioning an “independent translation,” which has not been made available to the public. Terms like Kafir(a), Murtad(a) and Fitnah are only ever derogatory and threatening and must be seen as such. Clearly, the group is the latest victims of Islamist double-speak. Whilst the matter may be closed for them, it is certainly not for CEMB. We will be commissioning our own independent translation, which will be made available to the public. More details can be found here.

EX-MUSLIM GROUPS
A number of ex-Muslim groups have recently formed and affiliated with the CEMB, including Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), Ex-Muslims of Austria and Ex-Muslims of Scotland. [Read more...]

I support International Imad Day

imadToday is International Imad Day to stand with 22 year old Imad Iddine Habib who has received threats after his establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco and to exert pressure on the Moroccan government to guarantee his security and respect freedom of expression and thought. Rather than prosecute freethinkers, the government should prosecute those who issue fatwas and death threats against the likes of Imad.

On 15 May, add your name to the list of signatories below; send letters of protest to the Moroccan embassy in your country of residence; Tweet #Imad, #Atheist, #exMuslim; do an act of solidarity, including posting a photo of yourself holding a message like Imad has done (you can also email the photo to exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com as Imad has been banned from updating the Council of Morocco’s Facebook page); click “like” on the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco’s Facebook page and more.]

Below are a few acts of solidarity with Imad;

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Athiest Alliance International President Carlos A. Diaz

Atheist Alliance International President Carlos A. Diaz

 

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Yasmine Vinck from Belgium

Yasmine Vinck from Belgium

Ghulam Mustafa Lakho statement

Jaya

Here’s one from activist Rafiq Mahmood in Indonesia:

rafiqMy name is Rafiq Mahmood and I am an ex-Muslim. I live in Indonesia which claims to be the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

It is not my fault that I am an ex-Muslim. After many years of struggling with doubt I realised that I didn’t believe in Islam any more. I could not say the Kalima because it wasn’t true. I have not done anything wrong. I would be lying if I said I believed when I did not. Why should I be punished, put in prison or threatened by the mob with death? I can’t help it if I don’t believe. I am being honest. I am not convinced. If I am not convinced then I do not believe.

There are many people like me. There are many young people struggling with doubt. Why should they have to hide and run away from the police or angry people if they honestly and truthfully admit that Islam doesn’t convince them any more? It is up to Islam to persuade us, not up to us to persuade ourselves. Belief is not something that can be forced. It comes from inner conviction. If there is no inner conviction then there is no belief.

There is nothing wrong with not believing. Groups like the ex-Muslim Council of Morocco and its predecessors such as the ex-Muslim Council of Britain and Germany exist to give support to people who feel like us, to say, “We are not alone,” and to share our thoughts and hopes for a better world where people can be free to be themselves. The ex-Muslim Councils say that it is possible to leave your religion. A religion based on fear is not something that has a sound foundation at all. It is like trying to sit on a boiling kettle to prevent the lid coming off.

There is also nothing wrong with saying why we are ex-Muslims and what we don’t like about Islam. If Islam is, as we are always being told, the truth, then our arguments can be met with better arguments. Sticks and prison or the beheading sword are not better arguments. They are the admission of defeat, the admission that there are no ideas left and you have to resort to violence.

It is a disgraceful and shameful thing that good, intelligent and caring people like my friend Alexander An is in prison here in Indonesia for merely posting a link on facebook. A gentler and more truly peace-loving person I have yet to meet. Now another brave young man, Imad Iddine Habib, is facing pressure from the authorities in Morocco for daring to offer a support network for those, like us, who no longer buy into Islam.

It is utterly disgraceful that the King, whose duty is to all his people, should permit the High Council of Ulemas, which he chairs, to decree a fatwa of death to those who, like us, leave Islam. It brings his throne and his Kingdom into the gravest disrepute. Such a death penalty is a penalty for being honest, for striving to be normal citizens living in the open and fulfilling their part for the common benefit of all. Ex-Muslims are not bad people. We care deeply for the good of the community and for each other. Why should our contribution to society be denied by throwing us in jail, making us flee to Western countries or cutting us off from life itself?

Ex-Muslims are ordinary people. We are not enemies of the state, although we do want a better, freer state where everyone has equal opportunities to fulfil their potential and serve the community. We do want to see secular states emerge because we feel that secularism gives everyone the best chance of being themselves, whether they are religious or not. There is no shame in being an ex-Muslim. We just want to be open and honest and to be ourselves.

I fully support International Imad Day (15 May) and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco.

Rafiq Mahmood
Bogor
West Java
Indonesia

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.

Council of Ex-Muslims: Updates and Reminders

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Dear friend

I wanted to write a quick note updating you on the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, reminding you of some important events, and asking for some help.

March 14: International Day to Defend Blasphemers and Apostates

We will be organising another international day to defend blasphemers and apostates. On the day we will be publishing our report on the status of apostates internationally with Atheist Alliance International and highlighting a number of cases, such as that of Alex Aan, Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, Raif Badawi, Turki Al-Hamad and Hamza Kashgari.

Ex-Muslim groups in the USA and France

Waleed Al-Husseini, the Palestinian blogger and atheist who CEMB advocated on behalf when he was arrested by the Palestinian Authority in 2010 is now in Paris, France and is organising a Council of Ex-Muslims of France with our help. For those interested in joining or assisting in the establishment of the new organisation, click here.

Also, Muslimish, a group of US-based ex-Muslims and Muslims with questions about Islam, has regular meetings in NYC, Detroit and online and are launching new groups in Washington DC and Chicago. For more information, click here.

[Read more...]

Why I Left Islam Live Show

On December 15th at 9PM GMT/UK time The Jinn And Tonic Show will be discussing the subject “Why I left Islam.” The panel will consist of a small number of atheists and a Muslim, Akber Chaudhry.

This live show will feature calls in from ex-Muslims who are going to talk about why they decided to abandon Islam and their experiences in doing so. A number of ex-Muslims have already agreed to call in and it will also be possible for viewers (of any religious/non-religious position) to call in and ask questions / tell their story on the day via Skype. If you are an ex-Muslim or a Muslim convert and wish to reserve a position in the call-in queue in advance then email TheJinnAndTonicShow@gmail.com and include your SkypeID + what you would like to discuss.

This should be a very interesting show, so don’t miss it!

The show will be broadcast here.

Recordings of previous shows are available here.

Statement on adding ex-Muslim to the LSE Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society name

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) unequivocally supports the London School of Economics Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society’s decision to add ‘ex-Muslim’ to its name.

This is a positive move that will give heightened visibility and a sense of belonging to ex-Muslims who are often not seen and not heard.

Even if some (though not all) ex-Muslims at LSE identify as humanists, secularists and atheists, the public presence of ex-Muslims in a student society helps to acknowledge the dissent within a “Muslim community” that is in no way homogeneous  This is all the more important given the family pressures and Islamist threats many face for renouncing Islam. As is well known, apostasy is still an offence punishable by death in a number of countries under Sharia law.

The students’ union’s professed concern that the “contentious” move could create an unsafe environment for apostates is empty posturing and a disingenuous excuse for its decision to reject the name change. Rather, its decision is an effort to revert back to the status quo and prevent heightened attention to this issue. [Read more...]

An unnecessary provocation?

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s fifth anniversary celebration was absolutely fantastic. Here’s my speech.

Thank you for joining us on the fifth anniversary of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).

People often ask why ex-Muslim?

Is it not an unnecessary provocation?

Provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us this all the time. Don’t say you are an apostate, don’t invite others to apostasy and there need be no killings.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know Islamism – this far-Right regressive movement…

They’ll say: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise the veil, Sharia, Islam… and no one need get hurt.

But Islamists need no excuses.

If you’re a girl going to school in Afghanistan, you will have acid thrown in your face or be poisoned.

If you’re Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia, you may face the death penalty for tweeting about Mohammad.

If you’re Hilath Rasheed in Maldives, you will have your throat cut for questioning Islam.

If you’re Alex Aan in Indonesia, you’ll face several years in prison for saying ‘there is no god’ on Facebook…

And 20 June is the anniversary that marks the slaughter of an entire generation in Iran. Many were killed after one minute ‘trials’ for responding ‘no’ to the question: ‘do you believe in god?’ Families were told to pay for the bullets that killed their loved ones before being given their bodies. Others were buried in mass graves.

Islamists need no excuses.

Of course, in a favourable climate of multiculturalism and cultural relativism – where are all values and beliefs are equal and equally valid – and for western public consumption, Islamists like to blame victims and dissenters for their barbarity.

We are the ‘aggressive atheists’ (compared at times with the Taliban no less) yet we are the ones who are being killed, imprisoned, threatened or forced to flee.

A lot of us can’t even say we are atheists/ex-Muslims, yet we are accused of denying people’s right to religion. Nonsense, we are fighting for a corresponding right to be free from religion. And any way, religion in the state, educational system and the Sharia ‘[in]justice system is not about a personal right to religion but about political power.

And this is a crucial point.

The Council of Ex-Muslims may be many things to many people. It may be a support system, via the Meet-up Group and Forum. It may be a helping hand to secure the right to asylum or find refuge and a safe home. For some it is important for its fight against multiculturalism and a false ‘homogeneous Muslim community’ or in defence of secularism and universal rights…

But first and foremost the CEMB is a challenge to political Islam. It is meant to shock and provoke.

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

Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.

Thank you.