Secularism is the way to defend women’s rights

My opening remarks on Women in Islam in a discussion with Tehmina Kazi of British Muslims for Secular Democracy at AHS University Of Birmingham conference on Religion in 21 Century.

Women in Islam have no rights. It’s the same in any religion. Even if was “progressive” for its time – which I don’t buy – it’s not enough for 21 Century women.

I know religious texts can be interpreted to be more “women-friendly” but I have yet to see interpretations that are good enough for me at least.

And anyway I think it’s dangerous to leave women’s rights to the mercy of interpretations – especially since it is those in power – very often Islamists – that determine women’s place in society.

For me, “Islamic feminism” is an oxymoron like “Islamic human rights;” they are antithetical to each other. If there are better laws for women in some countries where Islam plays a role, it is not because of Islam but because of secular movements calling for the separation of religion from the state and law.

If we want to have an impact on women’s rights, however, this is not the key conversation to be had. After all, it is hard to reconcile my views – as an atheist who has left Islam- with the view of one who believes in the tenets of Islam.

The more important conversation in my opinion is where there can be and are points of agreement between many atheists and believers, amongst others and that is that whatever one’s views on religion and Islam, religion in the state and law is detrimental for women and her rights.

In fact, Islam in the state and the law is the end of women’s rights.

To have this discussion, we must first separate the conflation between Islam (an idea), Islamism (a far-Right political movement) and Muslims (people with as many different points of view as any other). The three are often seen to be one and the same – incidentally both by the far-Right and the post-modernist Left. The far-Right uses criticism of Islam and Islamism to attack Muslims; the post-modernist Left uses it to defend Islam and Islamism under the guise of defending Muslims.

When we conflate real live human beings with religion and the religious-right wing we not only fail to see the humanity of the “other,” but also the immense dissent and resistance. We therefore cannot see the commonalities in our struggle for women’s rights and equality. The conflation of Islam, Islamism and Muslims homogenises Muslims and sees the authentic Muslims as an Islamist. It fails to see that many issues – often seen as “people’s right to religion” are highly contested/challenged by those deemed “Muslims” and that they are in fact Islamism’s “right” to oppress and control women – whether in the areas of gender segregation, Sharia laws or the veil.

There are countless examples of this huge political fight against the Islamists by those deemed to be of “Muslim heritage” and how these contestations are ignored in Europe with only Islamism’s narrative given credence.

In Iran, for example, women are fighting hard to enter sports stadiums where they are banned due to gender segregation rules. In Britain, however, gender segregation is actively promoted. One good example of this is when in December 2013, Universities UK, a regulatory body, endorsed gender segregation in its guidelines on external speakers, saying: “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 familiar separate but equal arguments we heard during racial apartheid in South Africa.)

UUK was eventually forced to withdraw its guidance after women’s rights campaigners and secularists protested the guidelines; as a result of our campaigning efforts, the Equality and Human Rights Commission ruled against it saying: “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.”

Sharia family codes are another area where women’s rights campaigners have fought hard to oppose discriminatory laws. Under Sharia’s civil code a women’s testimony is half that of a man’s, women have limited right to divorce whereas men have unilateral right to divorce, child custody is given to the father at a pre-set age irrespective of the welfare of the child and marriage contracts are entered into between the man and the woman’s male guardian.

The Islamic Sharia court in Britain explains why a woman’s testimony is half that of a man’s: ‘If one forgets, the other can remind her.’ It’s the difference between a man and a woman’s brains.’ ‘A woman’s character is not so good for a case where testimony requires attention and concentration.’ It goes on to say it is not ‘derogatory’ but ‘the secret of women’s nature.’

According to human rights campaigner Gita Sahgal, “there is active support for sharia laws precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can’t be a problem …”

But this is an area of fightback for many years.

In Algeria, women’s rights activists singing for change label 20 years of Sharia in the family code as 20 years of madness.  They sing:

“I am telling you a story

Of what the powerful have done

Of rules, a code of despair

A code obsessed with women…”

“This law must be undone…!”

In Iran, after the establishment of Sharia law there, the Iranian Lawyers’ Association came out in full force against the new religious codes only to be met with arrest and exile; some opponents were even charged with apostasy, which is a “crime” punishable by death…

But here, the British government has so far failed to defend women’s rights and equality and even groups like the British Humanist Association state that Sharia courts are people’s “right to religion;” its Chief Executive has stated after visiting a Beth Din and the Islamic Sharia Council that he was “left without a single secularist reason to say that they should not be allowed to operate as they do.”

Also, despite its discriminatory nature, the Law Society in Britain issued a practice note for solicitors on how to draw up ‘Sharia-compliant’ wills, stating that:

“… illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir…”

The note was withdrawn only after the protests of women’s rights campaigners and secularists.

It’s the same with regards the veil, burqa and niqab, which are highly contested.

In Iran, for example, there is an unveiling movement though improper veiling and unveiling is punishable by a fine, arrest, and up to two months in prison.

In Iran, billboards will compare unveiled women to  unwrapped sweets – free for the taking. Here in Europe, pressures include calling improperly veiled women “hoejabis.” Despite this, “progressives” often defend the hijab as a “right” and a “choice” when, socially speaking, it has been imposed by brute force. Defenders of the veil here in Europe forget that there is a corresponding right to unveil and for unveiled women not to be perceived as whores and sources of fitnah.

What I want to say is that in areas where there is a huge fight taking place, like against Sharia law, the veil or gender segregation, rather than siding with those defending women’s rights and equality, there is often a defence of the Islamists under the guide of defending “Muslims.”

How to change things? We need to move beyond regressive identity politics and begin to side with those who defend women’s rights and equality – whether they are believers or atheists.

Moreover, secularism is a minimum precondition for women’s rights.

 

Confronting Islamism with Secularism, Free Expression and Citizenship Rights

The below is my speech prepared for European Parliament meeting on 23 February 2016.

Today, I would like to focus on the importance of defending secularism, universalism, free expression, and citizenship rights in confronting Islamism.

To begin with, let me clarify the distinctions between Islam (an idea), Muslims (people) and Islamism (the religious-Right). The three are often conflated to the advantage of the Islamists and to the disadvantage of dissenters and freethinkers.

Let me explain.

Islamism is a political movement with state power. Whilst it relies on religion as well as terror and violence, it is firmly rooted in political equations for the extreme-Rightwing restructuring of society.

All religious-Right movements – whether it’s the Hindu-Right, Christian-Right, Jewish or Buddhist-Right are fundamentally comparable, albeit with differences as in any phenomenon and depending on their power and influence.

The fight for secularism and universal values is first and foremost a fight against the religious-Right in general and Islamism in particular – whether in Europe or globally.

Islam on the other hand is a religion like all others and can and must be open to criticism, even mockery and blasphemy. When you can be killed for leaving Islam, the celebration and normalisation of blasphemy and apostasy  are important forms of resistance.

This is increasingly difficult, not just in countries under Islamic law, but here in Europe too where much-needed criticism is often equated with bigotry and discrimination against the “Muslim minority.” Accusations of Islamophobia are often used to scaremonger people into silence rather than out of any patronising “concern for minorities” – as if “minorities” do not need or have the right to criticise religion and the religious-Right.

This homogenisation of entire “communities” and societies refuses to acknowledge that there are many within those who are considered “Muslims” who oppose Islamism or disagree or dislike some or all of the tenets of Islam just like there are those who oppose the Christian-Right and disagree with or dislike tenets of Christianity. Equating criticism of Islam with bigotry aids the Islamists in their imposition of “secular” blasphemy laws using rights language to censor and limit the right to free expression. Freedom of expression without the right to criticise religion is meaningless. Such criticism has been key for social progress. In the age of ISIS, it is also crucial for the defence of rights and equality.  It helps to dismantle and subvert the sacred and its political role and open the space for dissent where none is permissible or acceptable by those in power.

When masses of people are homogenised and seen to be one and the same with the Islamists, the right to free expression is reduced to a western demand rather than a universal one. But no one needs free expression more than those challenging or living under the boot of the religious-Right – where criticism of religion is often seen to be analogous with criticism of the state with serious consequences.

This gives added importance to the free expression of those of us who live here in Europe. Our criticism can help push open the space for dissent particularly for those who are unable to do so or who are paying with their lives.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is an excellent example of this. When CEMB was formed nearly 9 years ago to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam and to challenge apostasy laws, there were hardly any ex-Muslims willing to speak publicly. Today there are many who do so, asserting their right to atheism, including in countries where it is a prosecutable offence – primarily via social media.

In December 2015, for example, the CEMB initiated #ExMuslimBecause; within 24 hours it had trended on Twitter with 120,000 Tweets from 65 countries. This despite the fact that atheism is seen as a serious challenge to Islamic states. Saudi Arabia, for example, introduced a law in 2014 that defines “atheism as terrorism.” And 14 states impose the death penalty for atheists: Afghanistan, Iran, Islamic State, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Even in Europe, many ex-Muslims remain in the closet and fear upsetting their families, facing ostracisation or placing themselves in danger. Ex-Muslims are often seen though Islamist eyes with labels of Islamophobic, “native informants,” and “coconuts” and are accused of “inciting hatred and discrimination” against Muslims.

Nonetheless, the right to religion has a corresponding right to be free from religion, including for those labelled “Muslims.”

Though dissent is often portrayed as a betrayal or an attack on the “Muslim community,” it is in fact very much part of everyday life as I mentioned before. Everything from the veil, Sharia Law to gender segregation… are highly contested and challenged. Yet because of the homogenisation of “Muslims” and their conflation with Islamists, there is this absurd perception that there is no dissent. It’s as if we don’t have any atheists, secularists, free thinkers, women’s rights campaigners, socialists, democrats… amongst those labelled Muslims. From this point of view, the default and “authentic” Muslim is always the Islamist.

Identity politics and multiculturalism (not as a lived experience but as a segregationist social policy) including the Iraq-isation of the world has so essentialised “Muslims” that solidarity with or opposing bigotry against “Muslims” usually means that the postmodernist Left end up in siding with Islam and Islamism rather than with dissenters and political and social movements and ideals.

This is why, for example, the Feminist Society and LGBTQ+ Society at Goldsmiths University absurdly issued a statement of solidarity with the Islamic Society whose “brothers” attempted to disrupt and intimidate my talk on “Apostasy, Blasphemy and Free Expression in the Age of ISIS,” rather than with me.

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

This has also been the position of successive British governments whereby multiculturalism and multi-faithism has been promoted as social policies to defend religion’s role in the public space, impose religious identity as the only marker to define citizens, and hand large sections of citizens to be managed and controlled by regressive Islamist organisations and imams.

There are no more citizens but segregated communities with their own faith schools, faith-based services and even faith-based courts: Separate and Unequal.

But you cannot be a 21 century human being and live under Islamic rules – whether in Europe or elsewhere – and not clash with it. It’s impossible. You don’t need to draw a cartoon of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, to do this.

Just celebrate Valentine’s Day and see what happens. From Indonesia, to Pakistan, to Iran, there are edicts and directives trying to stop people from celebrating it – without success. Last year in Saudi Arabia, five Saudi men were arrested by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and sentenced to 32 years in prison and 4,500 lashes for holding a Valentine’s Day party with “unrelated women, drinking and dancing.” In Islamic schools here in Europe, Valentine’s Day is frowned upon as un-Islamic.

Take any other aspect of people’s lives and this clash is evident. Take music.

ISIS recently beheaded a 15 year old boy for listening to western music on his CD player at his dad’s shop.

In Iran, a metal band called Confess face the death penalty for blasphemy; “advertising against the system”; forming and running an illegal band and record label in the “satanic ‘metal & rock’ music style”; writing anti-religious, atheist, political and anarchist lyrics.

In Mali, the Islamists have banned music. Aliou Toure, the lead singer of Mali’s Songhoy Blues says: “We had no idea that one day we could be forbidden from playing music, because music is universal… It’s like being forbidden to see the woman you love. Music for us is like a woman we love.”

In Britain, too, groups like the Muslim Council of Britain advise that children of Muslim parents should avoid “harmful” music.

As I said, people’s daily lives clash with Islamic rules. If it didn’t – if it was people’s culture and religion, there would be no need for absurdly titled “Commissions for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” or the “morality police. “Islamists would not need to impose their laws with such indiscriminate violence and repression.

In fact, the terrorism we have witnessed in Paris and London but mainly mosques and markets and schools in many cities across the “Islamic” world is just the tip of the iceberg. Sharia law controls and restricts every aspect of people’s lives making clashes inevitable, particularly since a large majority of the populations in the Middle East are under 30.  And of course this does not even begin to include those who risk their very lives by criticising Islam directly. People like:

Raif Badawi, sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes in Saudi Arabia

Bangladeshi bloggers, like Avijit Roy, hacked to death for criticising Islam

Hesameddin Farzizadeh, 23 year old writer and student who has been sentenced to 7 years in prison, 74 lashes and the death penalty for apostasy in Iran for a book examining the history and questioning facets of Shi’a Islam

Abdulaziz Dauda, also known as Abdul  Inyass, an Islamic scholar sentenced to death in Nigeria for blasphemy for a lecture which was deemed to be blasphemous against Islam’s prophet

Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist who lives in Saudi Arabia, who has been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ for his poetry which the regime claims has questioned religion and spread atheism

27 Sudanese Muslims from the Qurani sect, charged with apostasy and disturbing the public peace for considering the Quran holy but believing that the Hadith are not authentic

Or Egyptian poet Fatima Naoot given a 3-year sentence for insulting Islam Eid Al-Adha’s tradition of slaughtering sheep as the “greatest massacre committed by human beings”…

The list is endless.

It makes me laugh to hear Sam Harris say “the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.” Or the far-Right like Pegida  saying that they are the only ones “critical of Islam,” crying crocodile tears for the victims of Islamism whilst dehumanising and vilifying its victims and survivors, including by equating refugees with ISIS – all in order to defend what is fundamentally a “white, Christian Europe” against what they perceive to be the Muslim/migrant “savage hordes.”

The defence of the clash of civilisations theses ignores the fact that “Secularism and fundamentalism are not ideas stitched into people’s DNA,” according to writer Kenan Malik. In reality, there is a clash between theocrats on the one hand and secularists, including many “Muslims” on the other.

What is often forgotten in all this talk equating Islam and Islamism with “Muslims” is that Islamism has been build on the mass graves of our dissenters – Muslims, Ex-Muslims, religious minorities, political dissidents, transgressors and others.

In Iran, an entire generation has been slaughtered for this movement to maintain itself in the state. There are similar stories in many places such as in Algeria where the term “green fascists” was coined.

One has to see this immense dissent in order to begin to separate people from the Islamists and to ally with and show solidarity with progressive social and political movements and see the commonalities in our fight for secularism and against Islamism in Europe and across the globe.

Identity politics ignores and negates the plurality and dissent and fails to see the social and political struggles and class politics.

“The result of all this,” says Kenan Malik, “is that solidarity has become increasingly defined not in political terms – as collective action in pursuit of certain political ideals – but in terms of ethnicity or culture.”

This is the story of our lives.

Take the example of 27 year old Farkhunda accused by a mullah of being an “infidel” who burnt verses of the Koran in Afghanistan. She was attacked by a mob in Kabul, lynched, stoned, run over, burnt and her body thrown in a river whilst onlookers and police stood by.

What could she expect when she goes against “Muslim sensibilities” tweeted one of these absurd liberal Left do-gooders who only seem to do good for religion and the religious-Right but never women? But wasn’t Farkhunda Muslim too? Actually she was very devout and had gone to the local mullah to tell him to stop selling amulets to women.

What became very obvious after her murder was that not all Afghans or Muslims or Muslim men have the same “sensibilities.” Women carried her body– going against Islamic customs – to her gravesite and with her family’s permission encircled by a chain of men to protect them. They surrounded her coffin right until the end, gave her the respect she deserved, and chanted: “we are all Farkhunda.” And when a mullah who had justified Farkhunda’s killing, tried to join them, they refused, created a circle around her gravesite, and forced him to leave.

Azaryun, a youth activist says, “That is what Farkhunda teaches me: together we can change the narrative that others write about women. We stood up against the most respected mullah. We carried the coffin and buried her.”

Neayish, a medical student, said: “It was the first time I realized my real power and told myself that I’m breaking the boundaries of tradition.”

So “the people” of Afghanistan do not all agree. “Muslims” are not all the same. And I place Muslims in quotes since not everyone living in Afghanistan or Iran are Muslims or Islamists just like not everyone is Britain is Christian or Pegida.

Everywhere, from Iran to Afghanistan and Algeria and in the heart of Europe there are women and men who break taboos and change narratives and stand against religion’s encroachment in people’s lives and against Islamism.

Islamism’s culture is not the culture of the many who refuse and resist. It’s not ours.

As Women Living Under Muslims Laws says: Islamism’s ” main target is the internal democratic opposition to their theocratic project and to their project of controlling all aspects of society in the name of religion, including education, the legal system, youth services, etc. When fundamentalists come to power, they silence the people, they physically eliminate dissidents, writers, journalists, poets, musicians, painters – like fascists do. Like fascists, they physically eliminate the ‘untermensch’ – the subhumans – among them ‘inferior races’, gays, mentally or physically disabled people. And they lock women ‘in their place’, which as we know from experience ends up being a straight jacket…”

Of course with the rise of Islamism, appearances of religiosity increases but much of this is imposed or as a result of pressure and intimidation and state-driven or political “revival.”

In the past several decades, the rise of Islamic states and movements in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Europe; the constraints on free expression; the imposition of Sharia law, increased veiling and gender segregation are the direct result of a rise of Islamism and not due to people becoming more devout.

Let’s not forget that Islamism was brought to centre stage as a political tool in aid of US foreign policy during the Cold War in an attempt to create a ‘green belt’ around the then Soviet Union. In contemporary history, the rise of Islamism can be linked to the establishment of an Islamic regime in Iran on the back of a suppressed left-leaning revolution. Of course, now, it is a movement that stands on its own two feet and brings misery wherever it rears its ugly head.

Despite this, let’s also remember that the rise of Islamism has seen a corresponding rise in atheism, women’s liberation and secularism in “Muslim” societies and communities – a form of backlash and resistance.

Social media and the internet have had similar effects to the printing press, giving masses of people access to ideas and information normally censored and suppressed by Islamist state controlled media. It’s also given people the opportunity to say the unsayable, break taboos and question the status quo. A quick look at only the Arab atheist pages recently censored by Facebook gives a small idea of what I can the tsunami of atheism.

There are countless examples of this huge political fight against the Islamists by those deemed to be of “Muslim heritage” and how these contestations are ignored in Europe with only Islamism’s narrative given credence.

In Iran, for example, women are fighting hard to enter sports stadiums where they are banned due to gender segregation rules. In Britain, however, gender segregation is actively promoted. One good example of this is when in December 2013, Universities UK, a regulatory body, endorsed gender segregation in its guidelines on external speakers, saying: “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 familiar separate but equal arguments we heard during racial apartheid in South Africa.)

UUK was eventually forced to withdraw its guidance after women’s rights campaigners and secularists protested the guidelines; as a result of our campaigning efforts, the Equality and Human Rights Commission ruled against it saying: “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.”

Sharia family codes are another area where women’s rights campaigners have fought hard to oppose discriminatory laws. Under Sharia’s civil code a women’s testimony is half that of a man’s, women have limited right to divorce whereas men have unilateral right to divorce, child custody is given to the father at a pre-set age irrespective of the welfare of the child and marriage contracts are entered into between the man and the woman’s male guardian.

The Islamic Sharia court in Britain explains why a woman’s testimony is half that of a man’s: ‘If one forgets, the other can remind her.’ It’s the difference between a man and a woman’s brains.’ ‘A woman’s character is not so good for a case where testimony requires attention and concentration.’ It goes on to say it is not ‘derogatory’ but ‘the secret of women’s nature.’

According to human rights campaigner Gita Sahgal, “there is active support for sharia laws precisely because it is limited to denying women rights in the family. No hands are being cut off, so there can’t be a problem …”

But this is an area of fightback for many years.

In Algeria, women’s rights activists singing for change label 20 years of Sharia in the family code as 20 years of madness.  They sing:

“I am telling you a story

Of what the powerful have done

Of rules, a code of despair

A code obsessed with women…”

“This law must be undone…!”

In Iran, after the establishment of Sharia law there, the Iranian Lawyers’ Association came out in full force against the new religious codes only to be met with arrest and exile; some opponents were even charged with apostasy, which is a “crime” punishable by death…

But here, the British government has so far failed to defend women’s rights and equality and even groups like the British Humanist Association state that Sharia courts are people’s “right to religion;” its Chief Executive has stated after visiting a Beth Din and the Islamic Sharia Council that he was “left without a single secularist reason to say that they should not be allowed to operate as they do.”

Also, despite its discriminatory nature, the Law Society in Britain issued a practice note for solicitors on how to draw up ‘Sharia-compliant’ wills, stating that:

“… illegitimate and adopted children are not Sharia heirs … The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir … Non-Muslims may not inherit at all … a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir…”

The note was withdrawn only after the protests of women’s rights campaigners and secularists.

It’s the same with regards the veil, burqa and niqab, which are highly contested.

In Iran, for example, there is an unveiling movement though improper veiling and unveiling is punishable by a fine, arrest, and up to two months in prison.

In Iran, billboards will compare unveiled women to  unwrapped sweets – free for the taking. Here in Europe, pressures include calling improperly veiled women “hoejabis.” Despite this, “progressives” often defend the hijab as a “right” and a “choice” when, socially speaking, it has been imposed by brute force. Defenders of the veil here in Europe forget that there is a corresponding right to unveil and for unveiled women not to be perceived as whores and sources of fitnah.

What I want to say is that in areas where there is a huge fight taking place, like against Sharia law, the veil or gender segregation, rather than siding with those defending women’s rights and equality, there is often a defence of the Islamists under the guide of defending “Muslims.”

How to change things? We need to go back to basics. It is the human being who has rights, deserves respect and equality, not religions, cultures and beliefs and certainly not the religious-Right.

“Muslims” or those labelled as such – whether citizens of Europe for generations or migrants who arrived today – are individuals not to be collectively blamed or held to account for Islamism’s crimes. Also religion or culture cannot trump human rights. A defence of universal rights in the face of cultural relativism is most needed and urgent.

Key in all this is secularism.

Secularism (the separation of religion from the state) is a precondition for safeguarding individual rights; is not western but universal; and is a fundamental right and necessity for all, particularly for those living outside of the west or in minority communities here in Europe.

In fact, the articulation and defence of secularism is more urgent than ever given the encroachment on civil rights and freedoms by the religious-Right (particularly Islamism) and the urgent need for solidarity with the palpable fight-back in many communities and societies.

Whilst secularism is often portrayed as anti-religion, it in fact guarantees the right to religion and belief.

This is not the case when religion has a role in the state. The death penalty for apostasy or blasphemy, including against believers, is one example of many. In Iran 130 offences are punishable by death, including heresy and enmity against god.

Secularism also defends the right to expression of belief even whilst limiting the role of expression in the public space. For example, the Christian-Right calls for laws forbidding reproductive rights for all citizens yet laws granting such rights do not force Catholics to practice either contraception or abortion.

On the flip side, there are sharia law courts in Britain, where women’s rights are discriminated against. Where the law is secular, women have equal rights and access not available to them under religious laws. Restricting these sharia courts would still allow women to give up their rights to alimony or child custody in a civil court if they felt they deserved nothing whilst protecting the many who don’t want to or are coerced into giving up their rights under sharia.

What is often touted as ‘religious rights’ here in Europe is in fact an imposition by the religious-Right and Islamists and aims to implicate the state in the implementation of inequalities in the name of rights. There is, however, no right to oppress and discriminate against.

As author and human rights lawyer, Karima Bennoune says:

“…in applying freedom of religion, both those who believe and those who choose not to believe, as well as those who seek to manifest belief and those who do not wish to be coerced to do so, must be taken into consideration. This is only possible in a framework of secularism…

“…The term secularism here means emphasis on the temporal over the religious in law and an accompanying minimization of the role of religion in the functioning of the state and legal system. The significance of the temporal for human rights is not that it is always morally superior to the religious, [though I would argue it is] but rather that it is contestable. The temporal allows space for dissent which the ‘you cannot argue with God’ paradigm forecloses.”

Those who consider a demand for secularism as ‘culturally inappropriate,’ ‘western,’ or ‘colonialist’ are only considering Islamism’s sensibilities and values, not that of the many who resist. Islamism is a form of colonialism though it is seen as ‘authentic.’ Islamists in Niger or Mali are de-Africanising the “lived Islam” there, for example, and the niqab and burqa were unheard of in many countries just a few decades ago.

Plus even in many western countries the fight for secularism is not over. Britain for example, has an established church. The queen is the head of the Church of England. There are unelected bishops in the House of Lords and daily prayers in Parliament. Even in France, which is renowned for its secularism, judges take Sharia law into account in, for example, the annulment of marriage and have even introduced Sharia’s civil code for some of its citizens of North African descent via bilateral agreements.

Also, what is often forgotten is that believers can be secularists too.  Recent surveys in France show that about 25% of the population in France is atheist, with the same percentage being Christian and also Muslim. 75% of the population, however, are secularists.  Research carried out by Southall Black Sisters in the UK shows that many women, including those who are ‘deeply observant want to be able to traverse different religious spaces for their social and emotional lives and secular spaces for their activism and advice.’

There are strong secular movements in so-called Muslim-majority countries like Iran, Pakistan, Algeria and Mali, despite the great risks involved. Karima Bennoune has brought to light many such groups and individuals in her recently published book, the title of which is based on a Pakistani play where the devotional singer who is beaten and intimidated for singing deemed ‘un-Islamic’ retorts: ‘Your fatwas do not apply here.’

The uprisings and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the mass protests against Islamists for the assassination of Socialist leader Chokri Belaid in Tunisia; the vast secular protests in Turkey against Islamisation; the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarter in Egypt and the largest demonstration in contemporary history against the Muslim Brotherhood – 33 million people – are all evidence of that.

The systematic and theorised failure to defend secularism and people’s, particularly women’s, civil rights in many countries and communities, only aids and abets the religious-Right to the detriment of us all – believers and none.

As British philosopher AC Grayling has said: secularism is a fundamental right. Today, given the influence of the religious-Right, it is also a precondition for women’s rights and equality and for rights and freedoms in the society at large. It must be actively defended, promoted, and articulated.

Christianity, witchcraft and child abuse

Christianity, witchcraft and child abuse
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
23 February 2016
Interview with Nigerian Humanist Movement Founder Leo Igwe
Also “elections in Iran
ISIS beheads youth for listening to music, missing Friday prayers and stoning women to death
Campaign against child “marriages” in Lebanon
Expansion of Kindness Walls
Fatwa against Valentine’s Day
Australian doctors defending child asylum seekers
Editing: Fariborz Pooya
Translation: Mohammad Basham
Subtitles: Bahram M
Producer: Maryam Namazie

مسیحیت سحر تقویت و همچنین خود را به عنوان یک راه حل ارائه
برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
مصاحبه با ليو ايگوه٬ موسس جنبش اومانيست نیجریه
همچنین ” انتخابات” در ایران
وحشى گرى داعش
مبارزه با ” ازدواج ” كودكان در لبنان
گسترش دیوارهاى مهربانی
فتوا علیه روز ولنتاین
پزشکان استرالیا در دفاع پناهجویان کودک
اديت: فریبرز پویا
ترجمه : محمد باشام
زیرنویس: بهرام م
تهيه كننده : مریم نمازی

Free Speech: It’s not free unless it’s free for everyone

The below is Maryam Namazie’s opening remarks at Spiked Conference: The New Intolerance on Campus on “No Platform: should hate speech be free speech?”

Freedom of speech in British universities is under heavier assault than ever before in large part due to the proclaimed desire by the National Union of Students (NUS) to maintain student safety by turning university campuses into ‘safe spaces’ where students are apparently shielded from anything they might find offensive or hateful.

With the increasing numbers of people being no-platformed at universities, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that offence and hate are highly contested – which is why even legal codes dealing with them are so varied in different countries.

All too often, too, limits on speech are set by those with the loudest voices or the most political influence, like religious bodies or student unions or the state. Once limits are set, it’s a slippery slope with no end in sight.

In the name of tolerance of all, we end up with intolerance of all.

I know, of course, that hateful speech exists. My 10 year old son asked me recently if his Muslim grandparents (who have worked and lived in NY for over 30 years) will have to leave America if Trump becomes president. As an apostate from Islam and a migrant, I know that hateful speech – whether from Islamists or far-Right groups like Pegida – can be dehumanising and intimidating.

But banning speech deemed hateful doesn’t stop discrimination and of course anyone can be accused of it – even human rights activist Peter Tatchell. Also, it’s those with power that determine what constitutes hate – not to stop discrimination – but very often to regulate socially unacceptable speech and stifle “deviance” and dissent.

Per the NUS, for example, Islamic Societies can invite speakers who promote the death penalty for apostates from Islam yet my progressive counter-narrative is considered “hate” speech. Also, despite a context where apostates from Islam – a minority within a minority – are threatened with death for what is deemed blasphemy/ apostasy, criticism of Islam is seen to be the same as violence against believers even though there is a huge distinction between speech and action.

Moreover, even if we agree that certain speech is hateful – which we don’t – is banning it the best way to challenge it? If that were the case, there would have been no social movements against racial apartheid, for civil rights, for women’s, gay or refugee rights if you could defend people who are the target of hate speech by merely banning speech. Banning speech it is in fact dangerous as it lulls us into a false security and prevents us from doing the more important and difficult work of addressing and challenging hate head on.

It’s a false assumption that one can combat hate by censorship. Also when one considers that it is those in power who can most censor and also normalise discrimination and “hate,” the absurdity of banning hate speech becomes all the more apparent.

By their very nature, universities in particular should be places where orthodoxies are challenged and opinions questioned. Why go to university at all if you feel you have to be ‘protected’ from views you dislike?

Fundamentally, though, the NUS’ “concern” for “student safety” and sensibilities gives “progressive” cover to what is fundamentally a corporate approach to risk management in light of tuition fees. As does multiculturalism, not as a wonderful lived experience but as a social policy, where criticism of Islam and Islamism are erroneously conflated with an attack on Muslims.

Clearly, free expression is vital for any university and society at large. And it is not free unless it is free for everyone, including those whose views are deemed distasteful, “deviant” and even “hateful,” as long as they are not inciting violence.

What we need is not more restrictions on free speech, but the opposite. What we need is a change in NUS policies that stifle expression and dissent on campus.

“Limiting free expression is not just censorship,” as Salman Rushdie says, “but an assault on human nature.”

“Human beings,” he says, “shape their futures by arguing and challenging and saying the unsayable; not by bowing their knee whether to gods or to men.”

You don’t need religion for human values

You don’t need religion for human values
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
15 February 2016
Interview with German/Turkish author Arzu Toker
Also on death toll in Syria and refugee crisis
Greece’s Alexis Tsipras cozying up to Iranian regime
Press TV and sexual harassment of Sheena Shirani
Iranian youth get app to dodge morality police
Outrage as Riyadh video shows religious police ‘abuse’
Iranian Metal Musicians Jailed, Facing Possible Execution; Free Confess
Saudi Arabia “Islamic” police doll arrest
Breast feeding adult men
Woman saying no to compulsory hejab in Iran
Editing: Fariborz Pooya
Translation: Mohammad Basham
Subtitles: Bahram M
Producer: Maryam Namazie

مذهب برای ارزش انسانى لازم نیست
برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
مصاحبه با نویسنده آرزو توكر
همچنین آمار مرگ و میر در سوریه و بحران پناهندگان
الکسیس سیپراس با جمهورى اسلامى رابطه
پرس تی وی و آزار و اذیت جنسی شینا شیرانی
اپ گرشاد
بازداشت كانفس؛ گروه متال در ايران
بازداشت عروسک
شير دادن به مردان بزرگسال
نه حجاب اجباری در ایران
اديت: فریبرز پویا
ترجمه : محمد باشام
زیرنویس: بهرام م
تهيه كننده : مریم نمازی

SUPPORT BREAD AND ROSES WITH AS LITTLE AS $1 A WEEK:به برنامه نان و گل سرخ کمک مالى هفتگى کنيد براى فقط ىک دلار در هفته

For ‘Regressive Left’, all Roads End in Supporting Islamism

For ‘Regressive Left’, all Roads End in Supporting Islamism, Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Interview with Nora Mulready, Labour Party Activist
In this week’s programme: Ongoing migrant crisis, Turkish government’s attacks against Kurdish areas, Obama’s mosque visit and gender segregation, another insane fatwa on blasphemy, and defiant joggers turning Baghdad’s road of death into highway of hope.

براي چپ عقب رو همه راه ها به طرفدارى از اسلام سياسى ختم ميشود؛ برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
مصاحبه با نورا ملردى؛ فعال حزب كارگر انگليس
در برنامه این هفته: بحران مهاجرت، حملات دولت ترکیه علیه مناطق کردنشین، اوباما و مسجد و جنسیت تبعیض نژادی، یکی دیگر از فتوای دیوانه در توهین به مقدسات، و تبدیل جاده مرگ بغداد به جاده اميد
ترجمه : مچمد باشم
زیرنویس: بهرام م
اديت: فرىبرز پويا
تهيه كننده: مریم نمازی

SUPPORT BREAD AND ROSES WITH AS LITTLE AS $1 A WEEK:به برنامه نان و گل سرخ کمک مالى هفتگى کنيد براى فقط ىک دلار در هفته

MARYAM NAMAZIE: Why I had to face down the bullies trying to silence my supposedly ‘offensive’ stance on Islam

2FEAE44E00000578-3391194-image-a-30_1452297932020Original published in Daily Mail on 9 January 2016

This week marked the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.

The atrocity was a brutal attack not just on human life but also on the principle of free speech, one of the pillars of human civilisation. In the aftermath of the killings, people across the world united to express their support for that essential liberty.

Yet today, freedom of speech in British universities is under heavier assault than ever before.

In this case, the weapon of destruction is not the barrel of a gun but the proclaimed desire to maintain student safety by turning university campuses into ‘safe spaces’ where students will be shielded from anything they might find offensive.

Within our society, there should of course be safe spaces – such as women’s refuges – for victims of violence, discrimination and abuse. But it is wrong to hijack this concept as a means of stifling open debate within the higher education system.

By their very nature, universities should be ‘unsafe spaces’ where orthodoxies are challenged and opinions questioned. Why go to university at all if you feel you have to be ‘protected’ from views you dislike? That is a recipe for intellectual paralysis. Indeed, most human progress stems from a willingness to embrace ‘unsafe’ or ‘offensive’ ideas.

Moreover, what is considered ‘offensive’ or ‘hate speech’ is highly subjective. All too often the limits of speech are set by those with the loudest voices or the most political influence, like religious bodies or student unions or the state authorities. Once the limits are set, it’s a slippery slope. Limiting free speech silences and censors dissenting voices which most need to be heard.

That has certainly been my recent experience of British university life. I am an Iranian-born ex-Muslim woman who campaigns against Islamism and is critical of all religions, including Islam.

The central theme of my work is the promotion of equality, secularism and universal rights for all, including ex-Muslims, Muslims and migrants.

Despite my progressive outlook, my opposition to Islamism has led to regular attempts to silence me through so-called ‘safe space’ policies. To the ‘safe space’ brigade, I must be ostracised because of my supposedly ‘offensive’ stance on Islam, even though I am the target of frequent abuse and even death threats.

In one recent example of this trend, the Islamic society at Goldsmiths University in south London tried to get my talk to the students’ Atheist Society cancelled on the grounds that I would violate their ‘safe space’ policy by inciting ‘hatred and bigotry’. When this attempt to gag me failed, the Islamic Society president and its ‘brothers’ sought to create a mood of fear and intimidation at my talk.

It was the same story at Warwick University in October, when the student union tried to bar my talk to the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society (WASH) because I am, apparently ‘highly inflammatory and could incite hatred on campus’. Fortunately, the student union’s decision provoked a wave of protests, and my visit was able to go ahead.

By their very nature, universities should be ‘unsafe spaces’ where orthodoxies are challenged and opinions questioned. Why go to university at all if you feel you have to be ‘protected’ from views you dislike?

But these two cases show very clearly how ‘safe space’ policies are being used to silence critics by promoting the Islamist narrative, which conflates criticism of Islam and Islamism with bigotry against Muslims.

The Goldsmiths Islamic Society’s approach is all the more absurd given that it has invited speakers who defend jihad and the death penalty for apostates.

In the fashionable tale of victimhood cultivated by Islamic Society leaders and their Student Union allies, there is a deeply patronising view of Muslim students as a single, homogeneous body with one regressive mindset. But this is completely false.

During my talk at Goldsmiths, Muslim women and migrants of Muslim background spoke up against the aggressive behaviour of the Islamic Society members.

I have also received letters from other Muslims at the talk who agreed with me, but felt too intimidated to act. So when student unions side with Islamic societies against people like myself, they are not ‘protecting’ Muslims against bigotry, but siding with Islamists.

In their campaign to stifle free speech, the ‘safe space’ ideologues seek to equate ‘offensive’ speech with real harm. But their argument could hardly be more hollow. The expression of ideas, even if offensive and hurtful, is not the same as causing mental or physical injury.

That’s not to say that hate speech doesn’t exist. Groups like Britain First express hatred against migrants, Muslims and apostates every day. But you can’t stop hate speech by stifling free expression. Free expression is vital for any society. And it is not free unless it is free for everyone, including those whose views are deemed distasteful and even hateful, as long as they are not inciting violence.

What we need is not more restrictions on free speech, but the opposite.

For that, we need an end to the bullying ‘safe space’ policies adopted by the National Union of Students.

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

SEE VIDEO BELOW

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

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

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

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

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

For more details on what happened, see this link.

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

Filmed by Sarah.

Women in Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan: “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always” – Khaled Hosseini
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
10 November 2015
Interview with Fatima Mohamad Kazim by Farideh Arman on situation of women in Afghanistan
Also on stoning of Rokhshana in Afghanistan, Iranian actress banned for removing hejab on social media, another Bangladeshi secularist killed, funeral of labour activist Koorosh Bakhshandeh, Saudi ban on marriage with certain nationalities of women and female cricket in Pakistan against the Islamists
Translation: Mohammad Basham
Director: Reza Moradi

زنان در افغانستان: “مانند یک سوزن قطب نما٬ انگشت اتهام مرد همیشه یک زن را پیدا می کند. همیشه “- خالد حسینی
برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
۱۱ نوامبر
مصاحبه با فاطمه محمد کاظم توسط فریده آرمان در مورد وضعیت زنان در افغانستان
همچنين در مورد سنگسار رخشانه در افغانستان، صدف طاهريان و حجاب؛ به قتل رسيدن دیگر از سکولاريستهاى بنگلادش، تشییع جنازه فعال کارگری کورش بخشنده، ممنوعیت عربستان به ازدواج با ملیت خاصی از زنان و کریکت زنان در پاکستان علیه اسلاميون
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
مترجم: محمد باشام

Apostasy, Blasphemy and Free Expression in the Age of ISIS

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

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

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

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

And so here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the same today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women’s Liberation from Religion, Bread and Roses TV

Women’s Liberation from Religion
Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
October 6, 2015
Interview with Annie Laurie Gaylor, Founder of Freedom from Religion Foundation on religion and women and
UK and Saudi Government secret deal
Men taking to social media in Iran in defence of women’s equality
Soheil Arabi’s death sentence for allegedly insulting Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, commuted to reading 13 religious books and studying theology for two years. Also serving a separate seven-and-a-half-year sentence for allegedly insulting the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Fatwa on “Jilboobs” from Indonesia
Khebez Dowla or State Bread, a rock band and their concert during flight from Syria ruled by war criminals where music has died.
Director: Reza Moradi
Translation: Mohammad Basham

PART 1:

PART 2:

رهایی زنان از مذهب
برنامه نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
مصاحبه با آنی لاری گیلور، بنیانگذار بنیاد آزادى از مذهب
همچنين معامله مخفی دول انگلستان و عربستان سعودی
مردان در ایران در دفاع از برابری زنان
تغيير حکم اعدام سهیل عربی
فتوا در مورد حجاب و سينه
و گروه راک از سوريه و کنسرت آنان در حين فرار
كارگرادان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: محمد باشم
قسمت اول:

قسمت دوم:

Warwick Student Union and the Islamist Narrative

Warwick Student Union (SU) has officially responded to the uproar surrounding their decision to refuse the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society (WASH) request to have me as a speaker in October.  They deceptively imply that the uproar over their denial is premature as a “final” decision has not been made.

And so the white wash begins.

The Warwick Atheists Society has published an excellent rebuttal, including correspondence from the SU, which confirms what was said from the outset: “..we are going to have to decline authorisation for her attendance on campus” citing “flags” and unnamed articles “written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus.”

You can see the screenshots below:

Page1

page2

Also as stated from the outset, WASH has appealed the decision and has been waiting for a response ever since.

page3

page4

I have already briefly addressed the SU’s initial decision: the Islamists incite hatred, not us. But there is a serious question that remains unanswered: which articles, written by myself and “others”, have so concerned the SU? These need to be published in full – for the sake of transparency – and so we can all judge for ourselves.

The SU cannot accuse me of potentially inciting hatred – a prosecutable offence – and then deny me the evidence to defend myself. Needless to say, I am also very interested to learn of the “others” they have relied on.

I insist that these be made available without delay.

The issues for me are very clear.

“Incitement to hatred” is against people not ideas or the extreme religious-Right. You can dislike or even hate an idea like religion and a far-Right political movement like the KKK, Britain First or Islamism and not incite hate against people who are believers or members of political groups.

I think religion should come with a health warning – like cigarettes – it kills. I also think Islamism is a far-Right movement – the fascism of our era – but that is not same as inciting hatred against people. Don’t forget, even though I am an ex-Muslim, my loved ones, like my parents, are Muslims. My grandmother wore the hejab; my grandfather was an Islamic scholar.

This is not hard to understand. There might be members on the SU who are atheist, who think Christianity is superstition and who dislike and even hate the pope, the Christian Right, the EDL, and the BNP but don’t hate “Christians”. Also, they should be able to see that not all “Christians” are the same. Many are Christian in name only. And even though Britain has an established church and bishops in the House of Lords, they understand that the society is not Christian nor are many who are labelled as such. This is common sense. They just can’t seem to see it when it comes to the “other”. Then any criticism is seen to be “discrimination” against and “intimidation” of “Muslim students”. Isaac Leigh, president of Warwick Student Union, says as much in the Independent: “The initial decision was made for the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their university campus… rather than in the interest of suppressing free speech.”

Why does Leigh think that my criticism of Islam and Islamism is an attack on “Muslim students”? Which Muslim students? All of them? Why did he not think that “Christian students” would be discriminated against and intimidated by the wonderful Philosopher AC Grayling and his talk on Atheism and Humanism?

It’s a racism of lower expectations – “Muslim students” must be protected from hearing any criticism of Islam or Islamism as if there are no dissenters and even closet ex-Muslims amongst them.

Clearly, the SU has bought into the Islamist worldview (and also that of identity politics/multiculturalism pursued by successive British governments) that “Muslims” are a homogeneous community that need to be managed by parasitical and reactionary imams, sharia courts and Islamist organisations rather than viewed as equal citizens and as students (with more than one characteristic that defines them). They cannot see that even “Muslim students” have the right to dissent and to hear dissenting voices.

If dissenters cannot speak, what does the SU suggest we do? I don’t want to be a Muslim. I was “born” Muslim out of no choice of my own – a lottery of birth. I want to be able to shout my atheism from every rooftop without looking over my shoulder. I abhor the veil and gender apartheid. I want to be equal to men. I don’t want my rights to be culturally relative. I want to, I need to, speak out against the Islamic regime of Iran and ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

Members of the SU speak as they choose but we cannot?

Says who?

Those in power restrict and limit free expression and determine what is acceptable to the status quo and what is not.

In Iran and Saudi Arabia and the Caliphate, they label it blasphemy, apostasy and heresy and call you kafir and murtad and immoral and kill and imprison and flog you and throw acid in your face. Here, they and their apologists call it Islamophobia to silence critics who are somewhat out of their reach.

The SU’s infringement of the right to criticise religion and that which is deemed sacred and taboo limits the free expression of those who need it most. Saying Islam and Islamism are off limits means first and foremost that the victims and survivors of Islamism are not allowed to do one of the only things at their disposal in order to resist. It is telling people they cannot oppose theocracies and religious laws and call for secularism in the Middle East and North Africa. It is telling people they cannot oppose sharia and call for universal rights for all. It’s telling women they do not have the right to be equal. It’s telling ex-Muslims they don’t have a right to live if they want to reveal that they are atheists. It’s telling people who need free expression most that they must remain silent and accept their lot in life.

But this is more than a question of placing limitations on the free expression and attempts at silencing dissenters. It’s buying into the Islamist narrative that blames the victims. The Bangladeshi government blames the bloggers, the Saudi government blames Raif for his lashes and equates atheists with terrorists, the Islamic regime in Iran blames Atena Farghadani’s cartoon for her 12 years in prison…

The blame, however, lies squarely on the shoulders of those who threaten, kill and actually incite hatred, not those of us who refuse and resist.

Warwick SU, publish the articles you refer to; give evidence for your serious accusation against me and if not, withdraw the accusation. Mostly, show some courage and decency and rectify your mistake so that I can come as planned and speak at your university without delay.

For me, it is not a question of if I will speak but when.

Yousef Muhammad Ali faces trial for criticising Islam

UPDATE: Yousef Muhammad Ali’s trial has been delayed to 14 September 2015 to give the judge time to receive further documentation on his case.

Yousef Muhammad Ali, born in 1987, faces trial on 13 July in Iraqi Kurdistan for criticising Islam. Please take urgent action right away and write to the Kurdish regional authorities to drop charges and to arrest those who have threatened him instead.

BACKGROUND

Yousef Muhammad Ali who spent many years studying Islam and Sharia law made a presentation in school on the Big Bang Theory. Islamists in his class instigated a fatwa against him. Also he faced threats when he criticised Islam on Facebook. Upon receiving a number of death threats, he contacted the police and filed a grievance against a perpetrator. His case was sent to a public tribunal in Darbandikhan, which rather than address the threats to Yousef Muhammad Ali’s life, had him arrested. He was then transferred to Sulaymaniyah jail. On 15th December 2014, his sentence was renewed until the 22nd December 2014. After campaigning by rights activists and journalists in Kurdistan and abroad he was released on bail on 17 December 2014. His hearing date is on 13 July 2015.

PLEASE SUPPORT HIM BY WRITING TO THE KURDISH AUTHORITIES AND URGING THEM TO RELEASE HIM.

You can write to the below:

Kurdistan Parliament Email & Contact number:
parliamentsite@perleman.org
00964662230242

Ministry of Justice Email & Contact number:
dad@mojkurdistan.com
00964662551983

Kurdistan Regional Government Email:
info@dmi.krg.org
admin@dmi.krg.org

Please also copy me in the emails so I can forward it to his solicitor: maryamnamazie@gmail.com.

We seldom realise we are apes

Watch today’s Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya broadcast via New Channel TV.
14 July 2015
Interview with Colin Goldner who coordinates the Great Ape Project plus
* Trials of Yousef Muhammad Ali in Iraqi Kurdistan for criticising Islam and Moroccan women for wearing skirts
* Khaleel al-Dakhi who has rescued more than 500 women and girls from ISIS territory
* Where is Saeed? who disappeared when regime in Iran attacked student protests in July 1999
* Also women waxing hurts god’s work, didn’t you know and Ramadan and brothels
Background: Great apes, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans are our closest living relatives. They are intelligent. can reason, are self-aware and share a range of human emotions. They have a similar lifespan to humans and form strong family bonds which they maintain for life. According to Richard Dawkins, “We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes.” The Great Ape Project advocates a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on non-human great apes.
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Khosro Gharib

۱۵ ژوئیه
مصاحبه با کالین گلدنر؛ مسئول پروژه كپي كبير و
ودر بازار محاکمه یوسف محمد علی در کردستان عراق بخاطر انتقاد از اسلام و زنان مراکشی برای پوشیدن دامن
نجات بیش از ۵۰۰ زن و دختر از داعش
سعید کجا است؟ و ۱۸ تير
رمضان و تنفروشى و اپيلاسيون زنان
در مورد مصاحبه
خانواده كپي كبير، شامل شامپانزهها، بونوبوها، گوريل ها و اورانگوتانها ، نزديكترين فاميل ما در دنياي موجودات هستند.
آنها داراي هوش و منطق، خود آگاهي و يك سلسله احساسات انساني مشترك با ما ميباشند.
دوره هاي زندگي آنها شبيه انسانها است . انها داراي روابط خانوادگي بلند مدت و براي تمام طول زندگي خود ميباشند .
به گفته ريچارد داوكينز “ما ميپزيريم كه مانند كپي كبير هستيم ، ولي هيچ گاه نمي پزيربم كه خود ما كپي كبير هستيم “.
پروژه كپيكبير خواهان برسميت شناختن بيانيه حقوق پايه اي كپي كبير از جانب سازمان ملل ميباشد
فقط در ٤١ كشور دنيا منع خشونت عليه كودكان به قانون تبديل شده است
ما شديدا به دنياي امن تري براي كودكان نياز داريم
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
مترجم: خسرو قریب

The Islamic regime in Iran is result of crime against humanity

Bread and Roses TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya on the June 20, 1981 anniversary of the slaughter of political prisoners.
16 June 2015
Interview with rights activist Yasaman Bayani.
Background: From 20 June 1981 the Islamic regime of Iran attacked and executed hundreds of people a day; they closed down newspapers and crushed the opposition. This was the point of the Islamic Republic’s establishment not 1979 Iranian revolution… Many do not remember it but it is an important moment in the formation of the Islamic Republic. We must remind today’s generation that the Islamic Republic is the result of a massive crime against humanity during the 1980s. This must be remembered, recorded, stated, exposed and not forgotten, especially since many of those who organised the murders and killings still run the country.
We show the trailer of a film called “The ones who said No” by Nima Sarvestani
Shocking news of the week is the curfew for women in Aceh Province, Indonesia after 11pm.
Insane fatwa of the week is against going to Mars.
Good new of the week is: Syrian women pulling off their burqas to show they are free from ISIS
Question of the week: From Mehdi asking us to respect people’s beliefs
Director: Reza Moradi

SUPPORT BREAD AND ROSES WITH AS LITTLE AS $1 A WEEK:به برنامه نان و گل سرخ کمک مالى هفتگى کنيد براى فقط ىک دلار در هفته

Atheism Association of Turkey is fighting for a better Turkey

This week’s Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV
With Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya

Atheism Association of Turkey is fighting for a better Turkey
Interview with Morgan Elizabeth Romano and Zehra Pala  of the Atheism Association of Turkey
Background: The Atheism Association in Turkey is second public atheist organisation formed in what is known as a Muslim-majority country, the first being Morocco. In less than a year of its founding, its website was blocked by a Turkish court citing Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Law, which forbids “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them.” Meanwhile, the Association has had to install a panic button in their office due to death threats.
Shocking new: Rise of child ‘marriages’ in Iran
Insane fatwa: Fatwa against discount coupons
Good news: Legislation in France barring supermarkets from wasting unsold food
Director: Reza Moradi
Translation: Mohammad B

برنامه نان و گل سرخ مجله ای سیاسی – اجتماعی در کانال جديد
با مريم نماۯى و فريبرۯ پويا
سازمان آتئیسم در ترکیه براى تركيه بهترى مى جنگد
مصاحبه با مرگان رمانو و زهرا پلا از انجمن بى خدايان ٺركيه
سازمان اته ايستهاي تركيه بعد از مراكش دومين سازمان علني اته در كشورهاي با اصطلاح اسلامي است
دو كمتر از دو سال بعد از بنيان گذاري اين سازمان سايت اينترنتي ان بوسيله دادگاه جنايي تركيه تحت عنوان و با رجوع به قوانين عدم تحريك مردم و اشاعه نفرت و دشمني با مردم بلوكه شد
در حقيقت اين سازمان براي يك تركيه بهتر ميجنگد
اخبار تکان دهنده جدید: افزايش ‘ازدواج’ کودکان در ایران
فتوای احمقانه: فتوا بر علیه کوپن های تخفیف
خبر خوب: قانون در فرانسه عليه اتلاف مواد غذایی به فروش نرفته
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
ترجمه: محمد ب

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به برنامه نان و گل سرخ کمک مالى هفتگى کنيد براى فقط ىک دلار در هفته

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Promoting Secularism in the Age of ISIS

140624160439-lv-isis-tshirt-for-sale-online-00001526-story-topThis is my speech at the 5th Imagine No Religion conference in Vancouver, Canada during 5-7 June 2015.

The global rise of Islamism in particular and the religious-Right in general has turned the demand for secularism into an urgent task and necessity.

There are those in academia who theorise about a ‘post-secular’ world and insist that secularism lacks relevance, particularly for ‘non-Westerners.’  In the age of ISIS, though, you don’t have to look far to see that secularism is not only still relevant but that it’s a matter of life and death for countless people across the globe. In fact, no-one understands the need for secularism better than ‘non-westerners’ living under the boot of the religious-Right.

The post-secularists tell us that the rise of Islamism and the religious Right is linked to a religious revival. But this is not true. Of course with its rise, there are political pressures to keep up religious appearances, homogenise religious identity, and define religion as the only characteristic of entire societies, communities and people but this is very often enforced by violence.

‘Any classification and labelling has a purpose behind it,’ says the late Iranian Marxist Mansoor Hekmat. ‘Islam has been around in Iran for one thousand four hundred years and has obviously left its mark on certain things. But this is only one element in portraying this society – the same way that oppression, monarchy, police state, industrial backwardness, ethnicity, language, script, political history, pre-Islamic way of life, people’s physical characteristics, international relations, geography and weather, diet, size of country, population concentration, economic relations, level of urbanisation, architecture, etc. are. All of these express real characteristics of the society. Now if out of the hundreds of factors that create differences between Iran and Pakistan, France and Japan, someone insists on pointing to the presence of Islam in some aspects of life in this society and brands all of us with this label – from anti-religious individuals like Dashty, Hedayat and you and I to the great majority who do not see themselves as believers and are not concerned about Islam and the clergy – then they must have a specific agenda. Iran is not an Islamic society; the government is Islamic. Islam is an imposed phenomenon in Iran, not only today but also during the monarchy, and has remained in power by oppression and murder.’

The labelling of entire people, societies and communities as Muslim or Islamic is part and parcel of the Islamist agenda to feign representation and gain power and control.

And let’s be clear, it is more about power and control than religion. This distinction between religion and the religious-Right (a political movement) is clearer if you look at other religious-Right movements like the Buddhist-Right in Burma or Sri Lanka and their progroms against Muslims, the Hindu-Right’s massacre of Muslims in Gujrat, the Christian-Right’s bombing of abortion clinics or the Jewish-Right’s assault on women or as settlers in the Palestinian territories. Like the Islamists, they use religion to justify violence (or discrimination – depending on their influence) but you cannot explain these movements by religion alone.

Islamists, for example, are not all doctrinaire, literalist or fundamentalist and include a wide range of groups from ISIS, to the pragmatic and conservative factions of the Islamic regime of Iran to ‘soft’ Islamists (they don’t want to kill you just yet via terrorism) and even ‘Islamic Protestants or reformers’ like Abdolkarim Soorosh. Islam is the banner for their extreme-rightwing restructuring of society. But their movement is firmly rooted in political equations to gain power – primarily through violence and terror.

As Algerian sociologist and founder of Secularism is a Women’s Issue Marieme Helie Lucas says, this movement ‘is by no means a tool of the poor against the rich, of the Third World against the West, of people against capitalism. It is not a legitimate response that can be supported by the progressive forces of the world. Its main target is the internal democratic opposition to their theocratic project and to their project of controlling all aspects of society in the name of religion, including education, the legal system, youth services, etc. When fundamentalists come to power, they silence the people, they physically eliminate dissidents, writers, journalists, poets, musicians, painters – like fascists do. Like fascists, they physically eliminate the ‘untermensch’ – the subhumans -, among them ‘inferior races’, gays, mentally or physically disabled people. And they lock women ‘in their place’, which as we know from experience ends up being a straight jacket…’

In fact, it’s this internal opposition that makes the Islamists so brutal. They would not need to use such unrelenting violence if it were people’s culture and religion… if everyone submitted. The hijab, for example, which is the first imposition by Islamists when they gain influence is not a personal choice for a vast majority of women today though it is touted as such. It is highly contested and challenged as in the women’s unveiling movement in Iran and is one of the main areas of fight-back as is ‘Sharia law.’ Of course countless liberals here in the west – groups like the British Humanist Association – defend the burqa as people’s right to dress and Sharia courts as people’s right to religion.

We are often made to believe that this is clash of civilisations or an antagonism between a ‘secular West’ and a ‘religious East’ but it’s not. It’s a global struggle between secularists, including many Muslims and believers on the one hand, and theocrats and the religious-Right on the other taking place within and across borders around the globe.

We’re also told this is about racism and discrimination against minority communities or societies in the South, but it’s not. It’s a defence of people and universal rights against the religious-Right.

After all no society or community is homogeneous. There is dissent and political and social movements and class politics at play.

Take the example of 27 year old Farkhunda accused by a mullah of being an ‘infidel’ who burnt verses of the Koran. She was attacked by a mob in Kabul, lynched, stoned, run over, burnt and her body thrown in a river whilst onlookers and police stood by.

What could she expect when she goes against ‘Muslim sensibilities’ tweeted one of this absurd liberal Left do-gooders who only seem to do good for religion and not women? But wasn’t Farkhunda Muslim too? Actually she was very devout and had gone to the local mullah to tell him to stop selling amulets to women.

What became very obvious after her murder was that not all Afghans or Muslims or Muslim men have the same ‘sensibilities.’ Women carried her body– going against Islamic customs – to her gravesite and with her family’s permission encircled by a chain of men to protect them. They surrounded her coffin right until the end, gave her the respect she deserved, and chanted: ‘we are all Farkhunda.’ And when a mullah who had justified Farkhunda’s killing, tried to join them, they refused, created a circle around her gravesite, and forced him to leave.

Azaryun, a youth activist says, ‘That is what Farkhunda teaches me: together we can change the narrative that others write about women. We stood up against the most respected mullah. We carried the coffin and buried her.’ Neayish, a medical student, said: ‘I was just crying.’ ‘It was a long trek… but all my energy was focused on giving Farkhunda a respectable burial. It was the first time I realized my real power and told myself that I’m breaking the boundaries of tradition.’

So ‘the people’ of Afghanistan do not all agree. ‘Muslims’ are not all the same. And I place Muslims in quotes since not everyone living in Afghanistan or Iran are Muslims or Islamists just like not everyone is Canada or Britain is Christian or fundamentalist.

Everywhere, from Iran to Afghanistan and Algeria, there are women and men who break taboos and change narratives and stand against religion’s encroachment in people’s lives and against Islamism. To accept the label of Islamic and the homogenisation of entire populations is to accept Islamism’s narrative and not that of the many who resist.

In Bangladesh, for example, there are Islamists killing and threatening beloved atheist bloggers like Avijit Roy but there is also a deeply secular movement against them, including 24 villages that have become known as Jamaat free villages – or terrorist free villages.

Religion is not the only marker for our societies nor is it the most important. [Read more…]

Bread and Roses: Gay marriage vote in Ireland a gain for humanity

Gay marriage vote in Ireland a gain for humanity
Bread and Roses with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Interview with Michael Nugent, Chair of Atheist Ireland
Background: In a referendum, 62% voted in favour of changing the Irish constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The landmark decision was celebrated across the world. A senior Vatican official, though, said it was a “defeat for humanity”. In fact, it as a defeat for homophobic religious values and a gain for humanity and 21st century human values.
Shocking news of the week: mass graves of migrants in Malaysia
Insane fatwa of the week: Masturbation leads to pregnant hands In afterlife
Good news: Vote for gay marriage in Ireland
Director: Reza Moradi
Translator: Mohammad B

رای ازدواج همجنس گرايان در ایرلند دست آوردى برای بشریت
نان و گل سرخ با مریم نمازی و فریبرز پویا
مصاحبه با مایکل نوجنت، رئیس ساۯمان آٺئيسٺهاى ایرلند
در يك رفراندم سراسري در جمهوري ايرلند ٦٢٪ از شركت كنندگان راي مثبت به تغيير قانون اساسي جهت برسميت شناختن ازدواج همجنس گرايان در آن كشور دادند
نتيجه اين انتخاب مهم مورد استقبال جهاني قرار گرفت
البته يك مقام بالاي واتيكان ان را “شكستي براي بشريت” ناميد
در واقع اين شكستي براي ارزشهاي مذهبي و ضد همجنس گرايان ولي دستاوردي براي بشريت و ارزشهاي انساني قرن بيست و يكم ميباشد
اخبار تکان دهنده از هفته: گورهای دسته جمعی مهاجران در مالزی
فتوای احمقانه هفته: ارۯاى جنسى مردان منجر به دست باردار در زندگی پس از مرگ
خبر خوب: رای برای ازدواج همجنس گرايان در ایرلند
کارگردان: رضا مرادی
مترجم: محمد ب