Equality and Human Rights Commission rules that gender segregation is unlawful

Protests-equality_2764314kPress Release
23 July 2014

One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, the Centre for Secular Space, and the LSESU Atheist Secularist Society have welcomed the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) ruling against gender segregation in universities and students’ unions.

On 17 July, the EHRC published its guidance on gender segregation, stating that: “Gender segregation is not permitted in any academic meetings or at events, lectures or meetings provided for students, or at events attended by members of the public or employees of the university or the students’ union.”

The EHRC’s ruling came after a campaign of a broad coalition of women’s rights and secular activists who have opposed Universities UK’s guidelines on external speakers in universities, which said that: “Assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating. Both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.”

The campaign saw a petition signed by almost 10,000, an open letter co-signed by renowned human rights activists and secularists like AC Grayling, Peter Tatchell, Polly Toynbee, Fatou Sow, Richard Dawkins and Yasmin Rehman as well as support from political leaders like Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna MP and Stewart Maxwell SMP. It culminated in a letter sent to UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights Farida Shaheed, and a protest attended by more than 100 activists in front of the office of Universities UK, which received media coverage from major national and international news outlets. As a result, the UUK withdrew its guidance.

Maryam Namazie, one of the main organisers of the campaign, commented: “The EHRC ruling is good news indeed. Finally common sense has prevailed with equality trumping religious beliefs and the religious-Right, which is really what the demand for gender segregation is. It’s an Islamist demand to gain access and institutionalise its values whilst limiting civil rights and equality under the guise of the ‘right to religion’. A victory here is a triumph for equality between women and men but also against Islamism.”

Chris Moos of LSESU ASH said: “This is a great victory for gender equality in the UK. It is great to see that the EHRC has found a clear answer to the claims of the proponents of segregation, specifically that segregation is a ‘religious right’ whose denial amounts to discrimination, that ‘voluntary’ segregation can be reasonably practised in an educational setting and that the provision of a ‘mixed’ seating area makes segregation somehow less discriminatory. Hopefully, universities and students union will now live up to their responsibilities and prevent segregation.” He added: “However, the exemptions that the ruling provides, legitimising gender segregation in religious settings, leave a bitter aftertaste. Equality is a human right that cannot be ‘exempted away’ – it is therefore saddening that British legislation still puts religion above considerations of equality.”

Gita Sahgal, Director of the Centre for Secular Space said: “The Centre for Secular Space would like to congratulate all the students who opposed gender segregation at some risk to themselves. Their stand resulted in a campaign which has lead to the ruling by the EHRC. Universities UK and university authorities should be ashamed of themselves. Rather than stopping gender segregation they endorsed it or did nothing about it.”

Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters, commented: “We welcome the ruling. Had the UUK guidance endorsing gender segregation gone unchallenged, it would have had a profoundly detrimental impact on black and minority women who already struggle to assert their fundamental rights to education, freedom and independence. The whole sorry affair is symptomatic of a bigger battle waged by the religious-Right (aided and abetted by public bodies like the UUK) to control women’s minds and bodies. We must remain alert to the dangers of religious fundamentalism in all religions because its very goal is to use public spaces to gain power and to destroy the very principles of democracy and the universality of women’s human rights.”

You can read a full analysis of the ruling of the EHRC and its likely impact here.

For further enquiries please contact:

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
[email protected]
077 1916 6731
@maryamnamazie

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
[email protected]
02085719595
@SBSisters

Chris Moos
LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
[email protected]
074 2872 0599
@LSESUASH

Law Society, Gender Segregation, Islamism in Schools, our opposition to Sharia Watch campaign, October 2014 conference and new office space

ol4a2Dear Friend

I am writing to give you an update of our work.

Law Society Protest

One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, Centre for Secular Space and LSE SUASH organised a successful 28 April rally at the Law Society to oppose the Society’s legitimisation of discriminatory Sharia-compliant rules. The rally finished with protesters tearing pages from a copy of the Equality Act and pinning them to the fence of the Law Society, symbolising its contravention of the Act.More details on the rally can be found here.

The Law Society has yet to back down and is even organising a new training course to “highlight some basic concepts and requirements of the Islamic Shari’a applicable to” wills and inheritance and family and children! How utterly shameful!

One Law for All will continue to demand the withdrawal of the Law Society guidance, which discriminates against Muslim women, “illegitimate” children and non-Muslims amongst others. The guidance sides with Islamist values at the expense of all others; some of the main references in the it are Islamists who defend death by stoning and gender segregation.

We urge you to write to the Law Society at the below address calling on them to withdraw!
The Law Society’s Hall
113 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1PL
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7242 1222
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7831 0344
You can also contact them via their website.

As I explain in a recent editorial, Sharia law is pure madness and should have no place in a modern legal system.

Whilst some groups and individuals insist that the opposition to the Law Society is a whole lot of fuss over nothing, Southall Black Sisters’ Director Pragna Patel explains why ‘equality before the law’ is not just an empty phrase.

Gender segregation

The Law Society protest is reminiscent of the recent fight against Universities UK’s discriminatory guidance legitimising gender segregation at universities. UUK withdrew its guidance after our protests.

One Law for All is currently working on a survey and report on the issue. If you have information on gender segregation at universities in the UK, please get in touch with us at [email protected].

Islamism in Schools

We recently met with an advisor to Michael Gove at the Department for Education to discuss our concerns over Islamism in schools after the “Trojan Horse” plot came to light. At the meeting, One Law for All reiterated its concern about the increasing influence of Islamists at schools and universities and the adverse implications for children and the society at large. Given the Government’s misguided policies of multi-faithism and religion’s ever expansive role, it is not unsurprising that we are witness to increased segregation, discrimination and extremism.

One Law for All provided DfE with information on Islamism in schools and universities. If you know of any Islamist-influenced schools that should be brought to their attention, please email us the details as soon as possible.

Whilst it is crucial to battle Islamism in our schools, the lasting and effective option would be to end faith schools and ensure that schools (and universities) are secular spaces for all irrespective of the beliefs of parents.

One Law for All opposes new Sharia Watch campaign

As you all know, Co-Spokesperson Anne Marie Waters resigned in November 2013. What you don’t know is that her resignation followed more recent political disagreements on some key issues, including One Law for All’s refusal to collaborate with the members of racist and far-Right groups and our insistence on the need to distinguish between Muslims/immigrants and Islamists. “Walking a Tightrope: Between a Pro-Islamist Left and the far-Right” was written in response to the disagreements in question.

Given the context of Anne Marie’s resignation, her initiation of “Sharia Watch” and her leaving the Labour Party and joining UKIP as a candidate should be seen as an attempt at organising a “respectable” rightwing response to the issue of Sharia law and the furtherance of a politics that is diametrically at odds with One Law for All’s. As I mentioned in “Walking a Tightrope”, whilst frustration and a sense of betrayal at the Pro-Islamist Left is understandable, finding solace in and partnership with the racist Right and far-Right is not.

Since its establishment last month, Sharia Watch has publicised links like “Muslim Rape Culture” from the ghastly Frontpage Magazine, given updates on the far-Right Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller and the English Defence League, publicised videos like “Sacrificing our Daughters: On the Psychology of Islamic Rape Gangs”, and written a piece on how halal meat funds terrorism!

We want to make very clear that we have no links with Sharia Watch, UKIP or Anne Marie Waters and will oppose their brand of racist hate politics every step of the way.

One Law for All is proud of the broad-based coalition of secular Muslim, ex-Muslim, non-Muslim, atheist…  groups and individuals it has helped shape over nearly 6 years of organising and activism. As is very clear from our work, our fight is not just a fight against Sharia; it is first and foremost a fight against Islamism and the religious-Right as well as countering racism and for equality, universal and citizenship rights, international solidarity, and secularism.

11-12 October 2014 Conference

We are busy organising what looks to be a historic two-day conference in London with secular activists from across the world, and particularly the Middle East and North Africa, who are fighting – often on the frontlines  – for civil rights and secularism and against Islamism and the religious-Right.

Whatever you do, don’t miss the conference if you can help it. And get your tickets now before it is too late. You can register and pay for your tickets here.

For your information, on 11 October, there will be a banquet dinner and entertainment, including a performance from our Sounds of Freedom Music competition finalists.

New Office

Great news! 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 the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain 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.

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 secularism, rights and equality and countering racism and cultural relativism in the months and years to come.

Warmest wishes

Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
One Law for All
BM Box2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: [email protected]
web: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/

Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8122621.

Survey on Gender Segregation at Universities

Dear friend

One Law for All, in conjunction with Southall Black Sisters and Fitnah, is conducting a survey as part of a research project investigating the nature and impact of segregation, specifically gender segregation, at universities in the United Kingdom.

If you have experienced gender segregation at a university, please take a few moments to respond to the questionnaire online by 31 March 2014. This research project is conducted in full compliance with the Ethics Guidelines of the Social Research Association. Your data will be treated as confidential and your participation will remain anonymous.

For more information about this research or to provide more in depth information, please contact: [email protected]

Thank you for your participation.

Warmest wishes
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson

NOTES:

1. Please don’t forget to book early for the international Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London during 11-12 October 2014 so you can get the Early Bird Special Rates. The conference has a fantastic line-up of well known secularists from across the world. It is a not-to-be-missed event. We do hope to see you there!

2. I am hoping to start a new TV programme broadcast in Iran and the Middle East via Satellite called Bread and Roses. If you want to support the taboo-breaking, freethinking programme which will deal with a lot of the issues raised by One Law for All, please donate here. No amount is too little and every bit will help get equipment to tape the much-needed programmes.

To UN: UK Public institutions continue to fail to uphold an environment free of discrimination

CAMPAIGNS-protests-against-universities-uk-guidelines-on-gender-segregation_347312114 January 2014

Ms. Farida Shaheed
Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Dear Ms. Shaheed,

We write to draw your attention to the increasing incidence of gender segregation on public university campuses in the United Kingdom, and to seek your intervention in this matter.

Gender segregation reinforces negative views about women, undermines their right to participate in public life on equal terms with men and disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities, whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled.

The practice first came to light after two men were forcibly removed from the ‘Women’s’ section and several students were refused entrance to the ‘female only’ section at a public debate at University College London (UCL) on 9 March 2013 between the Islamist Hamza Tzortzis and the American cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, organised by Tzortzis’s Islamic Education and Research Academy. Seating at the event was divided such that men were seated at the front of the lecture theatre and women at the back. The two men were readmitted only after Lawrence Krauss threatened to pull out of the debate (video) if segregation was enforced. Following an internal investigation, UCL banned the organisers from conducting events on their campus in future and reaffirmed its Policy on Gender Segregation.

We are compelled to seek your intercession in this matter after Universities UK (UUK), the representative body of British universities, issued, on 22 November 2013, Guidance for universities on ‘External speakers in higher education institutions’. The Guidance featured a hypothetical case study (of a visiting speaker who insisted that the audience be segregated by gender) which concluded that “assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating”. The case study triggered a protest by students and women’s rights campaigners outside the London offices of UUK on 10 December 2013, and, following sustained criticism, was withdrawn on 13 December, pending further legal advice. (The original guidance is attached: ExternalSpeakersInHigherEducationInstitutions.)

UUK has claimed that the case study was merely ‘hypothetical’. However, besides UCL, there have been several cases of students complaining about gender segregation, for example at Leicester University and Queen Mary University London. A poll by the Times Higher Education revealed that out of 46 universities that responded, 29 do not have prohibitions against gender segregation in place. The Federation of Islamic Students Societies, for example, has issued guidelines on how to run a successful Islamic student society. These prescribe to “maintain segregation between brothers and sisters, keeping interaction between them at a minimum”.

Universities UK claims that it has still not abandoned the case study, which is merely pending “review”. Instead, a number of public statements made by their Chief Executive, Nicola Dandridge, and by the organisation itself, give us reason to fear that the case study may quietly be reintroduced to the report, with purely cosmetic alterations that do not neutralise the danger it poses to gender equality and women’s rights.

We hope you will appreciate that it is difficult enough resisting gender-segregation in public spaces even with equality and human rights legislation demonstrably in our favour, and that a recurrence of this Guidance will irretrievably damage the cause of gender equality and women’s rights in Britain by emboldening the apologists of this practice.

Should you wish to investigate these incidents, we would like to forewarn you of a common misconception that has been encouraged by apologists for this practice, namely that it is “voluntary”. It is not, inasmuch as it is beyond dispute that attendees at these events are expected to sit in specific zones, on pain of eviction. The prefix “voluntary” merely implies that such events will sometimes have three sections – men’s, women’s and mixed. We hope you will agree that this token concession does little to address our principal objection to this practice, which is that it amounts to the appropriation of a public space in the name of religion or culture, in a manner that undermines the dignity of both men and women and creates a hostile, degrading and humiliating environment for women. We also hope you will concur that, for many women, particularly those from ethnic minorities, the ‘choice’ of mixed/segregated seating is often made under considerable duress.

Finally, we would also like to draw your attention to a legal note submitted to UUK by Radha Bhatt, an undergraduate student of the University of Cambridge, which provides a succinct illustration of the manifest illegality of gender segregation under Britain’s Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights, and reminds UUK of its Public Sector Equality Duty towards the imperatives of eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between those who share protected characteristics.

We are concerned that beyond the cases we have brought to your attention, there is a persistent issue of discrimination through gender segregation at public universities in the UK and also elsewhere. Recently, for example, a professor at York University in Canada faced reprimand for upholding gender equality in his classroom. Gender segregation is often done in the name of respecting cultural and religious rights with culture, religion and ethnicity often presented as inextricably intertwined and seen to supersede women’s rights and equality in the hierarchy of rights.

Even though the UK is a signatory to CEDAW and despite the fact that the issue has been brought to the attention of university administrators and policy makers, public institutions in the United Kingdom continue to fail to uphold an environment free of discrimination.

We thank you for your consideration, and look forward to your intercession on this pressing human rights issue.

Yours Sincerely,
Radha Bhatt, undergraduate student of the University of Cambridge
Marieme Helie Lucas, Founder of Secularism is a Women’s Issue
Nahla Mahmoud, Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Chris Moos, Secretary of LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters
Abishek Phandis, President of LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Fatou Sow, International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws

For further enquiries please contact:

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
[email protected]
077 1916 6731
@maryamNamazie

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
[email protected]
02085719595
@SBSisters

Chris Moos
LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
[email protected]
074 2872 0599
@LSESUASH

In support of professor Grayson and gender equality at York University

York University is standing by its sexist decision to allow a student to be excused from a group project because the presence of women interfered with his “firm religious beliefs” even after his professor refused the request. To defend professor Grayson and gender equality, please sign the petition here.

Here’s a letter we have signed in support of Professor Grayson.

Dear Professor Grayson

We are writing to you in full support of your decision to uphold gender equality in your class at York University.

Whilst religious belief is absolute, manifestation of belief is not and can be limited to uphold gender equality. Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory.

In the UK, the representative body of Universities in the UK met with widespread opposition when it issued guidance endorsing gender segregation; it was forced to withdraw their guidance after the prime minister intervened. A legal notice issued this week on behalf of a female student reiterates that “gender segregation reinforces negative views specifically about women, undermines their right to participate in public life on equal terms with men and disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities, whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled.”

A petition has been initiated in your support and reminds York University of its duty to eliminate discrimination and advance gender equality. We would like to see a clear, principled, and earnest retraction from York University’s administration, including from Mr. Martin Singer, Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Noël A. J. Badiou, Director at York University’s Centre for Human Rights, of this transgression of women’s equality. This irresponsible move by York’s administration sets a dangerous precedent for women’s rights in Canadian universities. We hope that York’s administration starts to understand the implications of capitulating to bigotry and sexism under the guise of religious exceptionalism. As one of the biggest educational institutions in Canada, York must send the message to Canadians and to the world that racism, homophobia, and sexism, are always unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

We all stand in solidarity with you and all those who support rights and equality for all people.

Signed

Ariane Brunet, Programme Director, Centre for Secular Space
Chris Moos, Secretary of LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Esam Shoukry, Spokesperson of Defence of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Founder of Global Secular Humanist Movement
Farzana Hassan, Writer and Women’s Rights Activist
Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
Kiran Opal, Human Rights Activist, Ex-Muslims of North America
Lalia Ducos, Women’s Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights
Lawrence Krauss, Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist
Marieme Helie Lucas, Secularism is a Women’s Issue
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of Fitnah and One Law for All
Mina Ahadi, Coordinator of International Committee Against Execution and Stoning
Muhammad Syed, Ex-Muslims of North America
Nas Ishmael, Ex-Muslims of North America
Peter Tatchell, Director of Peter Tatchell Foundation
Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters
Raheel Raza, President of Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow
Richard Dawkins, Scientist
Sadaf Ali, Ex-Muslims of North America
Sarah Haider, Ex-Muslims of North America
Siamak Amjadi, Coordinator of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
Soraya Chemaly, Writer
Tarek Fatah, Founder of Muslim Canadian Congress
Zari Asli, Founder of Friends of Women in the Middle East Society

Joint statement on legal note to Universities UK against their guidance condoning gender segregation

Protests-equality_2764314kJoint statement of Southall Black Sisters, One Law for All, Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation and LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society

We are pleased to learn of the legal note submitted to Universities UK (UUK) yesterday in the name of Radha Bhatt, a student of Cambridge University, against their Guidance condoning gender segregation. (Legal Note can be found here: 560365 Letter to Universities UK 06 01 2014 (final).)

We share Radha’s apprehensions that gender segregation reinforces negative views specifically about women, undermines their right to participate in public life on equal terms with men and disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities, whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled.

Radha’s legal submission makes it unmistakably clear that despite UUK’s protestations, the law could scarcely be more unequivocal on gender segregation. The practice is specifically condemned by the Equality Act as amounting to less favourable treatment of women. We hope it will be noted that this condemnation applies equally to ‘voluntary’ segregation, a notorious misnomer used to pressure students to comply with ‘Mixed’ and ‘Segregated’ zones.

The existing rights legislation recognises that gender segregation undermines the dignity of both men and women and creates a hostile, degrading and humiliating environment. We hope Radha’s representations will remind UUK of its Public Sector Equality Duty towards the imperatives of eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between those who share protected characteristics.

Abhishek Phadnis, President of the LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society commented: “The beliefs of visiting speakers are no excuse to legitimise discrimination against women or any group. We applaud Radha for her principled and courageous stand, and hope that UUK will heed her solicitors’ advice to redraft its guidance to reflect the manifest illegality of gender segregation. Following up on our rally against gender segregation, we are looking forward to continuing to work with Southall Black Sisters, One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation to ensure that the rights of all students in the UK are fully upheld at all times.”

Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters commented: “We welcome the legal advice which clearly states that UUK’s position on gender segregation in universities breaches both domestic and international human rights and discrimination law in substance and in process. We note that not a single women’s rights organisation was consulted about the guidance. Had it gone unchallenged, it would have had a profoundly detrimental impact on black and minority women who already struggle to assert their fundamental rights to education, freedom and independence. The whole sorry affair is symptomatic of a bigger battle waged by the religious right (aided and abetted by public bodies like the UUK) to control women’s minds and bodies. We must remain alert to the dangers of religious fundamentalism in all religions because its very goal is to use public spaces to gain power and to destroy the very principles of democracy and the universality of women’s human rights.”

Maryam Namazie, spokesperson for One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation said: “For too long, cultural relativists have excused discrimination against women in the name of ‘respect’ for religious beliefs. Whilst the right to belief is absolute, the right to manifest it is not. Equality must trump religious beliefs, particularly if we want to respect human beings rather than beliefs. Moreover, let’s not forget that Muslims are not a homogeneous group. Endorsing segregation of the sexes means siding with far-Right Islamists – like Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, the Islamic Education and Research Academy and the Islamic Human Rights Commission – at the expense of rights and equality of many Muslims, ex-Muslims and others. We unequivocally support Radha’s stand and will continue to fight for an end to gender segregation at universities, including via teams of sex apartheid busters and a rally on March 8th.”

You can find regular updates on our campaign here.

For further enquiries please contact:

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
[email protected]
077 1916 6731
@maryamNamazie

Pragna Patel
Southall Black Sisters
[email protected]
02085719595
@SBSisters

Chris Moos
LSE SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
[email protected]
074 2872 0599
@LSESUASH

Campaign against gender segregation will persist

fitnah-UNVEILED4-jan14-A4-v2.1_Page_01Dear friend

Thank you so much for all your support during 2013, particularly for our most recent campaign against gender segregation at universities in the UK, which we organised in conjunction with Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation, Southall Black Sisters, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society.

Nearly 9,500 signed our petition against guidance issued by representative body Universities UK (UUK) endorsing segregation of the sexes. Soon after our emergency 10 December rally at the UUK office and the ensuing public outcry, Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to oppose sex segregation at universities and UUK withdrew its guidance.

Whilst this fight has been won, the battle continues particularly since UUK aims to redraft its guidance rather than rescind it altogether.

The Campaign against Gender Segregation at UK Universities will persist to press on until there is no room for segregation of the sexes at universities, including by organising teams of sex apartheid busters and a huge march and rally against gender apartheid on 8 March 2014, International Women’s Day. We are also getting legal advice.

As Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas says in an interview in the latest issue of Fitnah’s monthly, Unveiled: “Whether [it’s segregation] at the back or on the side, the old argument is always that this is done to protect women – for their own good, of course, and by doing so to restrict their freedom of movement… What is discriminatory is to assign a place to somebody, whatever that place may be. It says: keep to your place; to women’s place! Universities have no business pandering to such requests, and if they do, what’s next? Fundamentalist speakers will only address audiences where females are fully covered? It seems we are already witnessing some of the next steps. According to media reports, in one instance at a UK university, women were not only segregated but had to give their questions in writing to the speaker, whilst men could raise theirs… What is sure is that fundamentalists will not stop here and will produce more and more demands, since the aim is not to get satisfaction for a specific demand, but to gain political ground.”

In my editorial in the same issue, I write: “Gender apartheid is an Islamist demand to increase power and influence by asserting medieval rules on women and the society at large. The groups lined up to defend UUK’s indefensible position are all hard-core Islamists who hide behind ‘Muslim’ and religion to push forward their regressive and misogynist far-Right politics…: FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies), for example, has just had their winter council in December with Kamal El Mekki as speaker who supports death for apostates. Hizb-Ut-Tahrir says gays should be killed and has been classified as a hate group. iERA’s [Islamic Education and Research Academy] Abdurraheem Green says disobedient women should be beaten; iERA won’t even publish on their website the photos of their women speakers (for women-only events of course)…  The British jihadi Iftikhar Jaman who recently died in Syria fighting for Al-Qaeda affiliate ISIS was part of iERA’s dawah team… The irony of such groups defending sex apartheid out of concern for ‘women’s comfort’ is lost on the likes of UUK.” You can see the latest issue of  ‘Unveiled’ here.

Some of the media coverage on this scandal can be found here and include a BBC World Service and Channel 4 News debate between myself and the Islamist Hizb-Ut-Tahrir. You can also see my 4thought.tv interview in favour of banning the niqab here.

You can find out more about other aspects of our work in 2013 by visiting our website. Please also see a post by Anne Marie Waters who has left her position as One Law for All co-Spokesperson and also my blog entry on ‘Walking a tightrope: between a pro-Islamist Left and the far-Right’.

In the coming year, particularly important for us will be a conference we are co-organising on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London during 11-12 October 2014. You can register for the conference now. Also help us raise funds needed to invite secular activists from across the world and strengthen the global secularist front against the religious-Right.  One way to help is to donate items for an auction which will be held sometime early next year.  You can also help by joining our small but growing group of monthly donors or give us a one off donation if you can. Here’s information on how to donate. We also need office space in central London if you can help.

Finally, we would like to thank you once more for your donations and in-kind help including as volunteers, by providing free meeting space at a local language school and by helping with publicity, our campaigns, design, editing, and more. We want to particularly thank those of you who donate on a monthly basis; it has made a world of difference being able to depend on regular support.

We look forward to continuing – together – our fight for secularism, rights and equality in 2014 and beyond.

Wishing you a happy New Year and warmest wishes

Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
One Law for All
BM Box2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: [email protected]
web: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/