See my speech at the INR5 Conference in Vancouver, Canada in June this year.
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
This 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…]
Watch today’s BBC Big Questions on whether human rights laws have achieved more than religion for humankind with Peter Tatchell, myself and others.
Difficult question to answer given all the “wonderfulness” that is religion…
As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was established in 2007 to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam and religion. We have done this by challenging apostasy and blasphemy laws and facilitating a public renunciation of Islam and a rise in atheism. We have also been there for many ex-Muslims facing persecution by Islamists or family members – around 300 a year – including one-on-one support. Our web-forum has given thousands a network to rely on, including threads in Arabic and Urdu. The ex-Muslim movement has grown tremendously since our establishment with affiliated councils in a number of countries such as France, Turkey and Morocco.
The CEMB’s campaigning work (with One Law for All and other allies) is also finally paying off. Atheism has been recognised in Britain as a grounds for asylum with legal decisions no longer guided by whether the apostasy can be kept private. Also, the Law Society has withdrawn its discriminatory Guidance on Sharia wills and Universities UK has taken back its guidance endorsing gender segregation. Sharia courts are now being scrutinised after many years of silence and appeasement.
Thanks to your support, the CEMB has made a huge difference in the lives of countless people and society at large. But we have a lot more work ahead.
In the coming year, we aim to further focus on women ex-Muslims, organise a tribunal against Sharia, produce a report and video on women apostates, organise a secular film festival, set up the International Front for Secularism as well as exposing Islamist “hate speech” against ex-Muslims and Muslims who dissent with others.
To so do, we are in desperate need for funds, including for an office computer and printer, production costs and expenses related to organising the high profile events.
Any support you can provide will help us make our plans a reality, will be greatly appreciated and will continue to make a huge difference.
If you are able to donate, please make your cheque payable to ‘CEMB’ and send it to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX. You can also donate via Paypal.
Thanks again for your on-going help and support.
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
Original Art is dangerous
28 April 2015
Interview with Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia El Fani
Background: According to Salman Rushdie, “original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or… controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.”
Happy International Workers’ Day: May Day support for jailed labour activists in Iran
Shocking News of the week: Rise in executions in Iran and April 25 day against executions in Iran
Insane fatwa of the week: Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs says toilet paper is halal!
Good news: Thousands of Turkish students demand Jedi and Buddhist temples in response to mosque at university
هنر نوآور خطرناک است
۲۹ آوريل ۲۰۱۵
مصاحبه با فیلمساز تونسی نادیا الفنی
به گفته سلمان روشدى “هنر نوآور نه در محيط بى خطر بلكه در لبه پرتگاه بوجود مى آيد
هنر نوين خطرناك است٬ به چالش ميكشد، مورد سوْال قرار ميدهد، فرضيات را واژگون ميكند. كدهاى اخلاقي را به هم مى ريزد، به گاوهاى مقدس بى احترامى ميكند. مى تواند شوكه آور، زشت و يا بحث انگيز باشد
و اگر ما به آزادى اعتقاد داريم، اگر مى خواهيم هوايى را كه استنشاق مى كنيم فراوان و تازه باشد، اين هنر است كه نه تنها بايد از حق وجودش دفاع كنيم بلكه بايد آن را گرامى بدانيم
هنر سرگمى نيست، در عالى ترين شكلش، انقلاب است”
روز جهانی کارگر: حمایت اول ماه مه در دفاع از فعالان کارگری زندانی در ایران
اخبار تکان دهنده هفته: افزايش اعدام ها در ایران و روز 25 ماه آوریل عليه اعدام ها در ایران
فتوای احمقانه هفته: کاغذ توالت حلال
خبر خوب : هزاران نفر از دانش آموزان ترکیه خواهان معابد جداى (از فيلم جنگ ستارگان) در پاسخ به مسجد در دانشگاه
The International Front for Secularism expresses great concern about the assassination of another atheist in Bangladesh and calls on secularists and progressive people around the world to speak up publicly in defence of endangered atheists and to clearly identify the murderers of Washiqur Rahman as part of a far-right political movement, masquerading as a religious one, that needs to be combated the world over.
(To add your name to the list of signatories, please post as a comment below and your name will be added to this list on a regular basis) – updated 10 May 2015
The below is a shortened version of my speech at Marea Feminist Review and Consulta Torinese per la Laicita public events in Genoa and Turin, Italy during 27-30 March 2015.
Today, we are all Farkhunda.
You know her by now – a 27 year old woman 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. (See full report here.)
Immediately after her brutal murder, some Afghan officials like Senator Zulmai Zabuli and deputy minister of information and culture Simin Hasanzada sought to justify her killing. A mullah of Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, Ayaz Niazi also justified it and said: “At such a situation, there is no need to go and check the girl whether she is sick or okay,” he warned following reports that she had mental health problems. He added: “Be careful O people! It will be a big mistake if they [perpetrators] were sent to the jail. The people will stand against this and then they cannot be controlled” – the usual threats – by religious gatekeepers of power – in support of the perpetrators on behalf of “the people”. Of course we heard justifications here in the west too. Someone Tweeted: “what does she expect if she burns the Koran” as if a book is worth more than a human life. Back in Kabul, her family was advised to leave their home for safety reasons; it was in fact they who had said she had mental health problems in order to safeguard their lives…
So far, this is a story we have heard many times over many years. A woman accused of a crime against religion or religious morality – real or imagined – who is tried and executed either by mob (or Islamist) violence or by the state’s violence in the form of Sharia law on behalf of “the offended sensibilities of the people”.
But “the people” as Mullah Ayaz Niazi learnt well includes many – led by women – who were outraged by Farkhunda’s brutal murder and would not justify it.
The ensuing protests meant that her family did not have to flee their home but could stand their ground. Her mother was able to say “I am proud of my daughter” and her brother, Najibullah, was able to announce that he is changing his second name to Farkhunda in memory of his sister. It showed that people would respect her and not “the people’s offended sensibilities”. A group of young people renamed the street leading to the area of her attack as Farkhunda’s Street and a tree was planted on the spot where her body was thrown. Also 28 men have been arrested with 13 policemen suspended following the attack. And all because of protests – most important of which included that women carried Farkhunda’s body– going against Islamic customs – to her gravesite and with her family’s permission. They surrounded her coffin right until the end, gave her the respect she deserved, and chanted: “we are all Farkhunda”.
And when Ayaz Niazi, the 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.”
What the protests around Farkhunda’s murder show are that “the people” of Afghanistan do not all agree. That “Muslims” are not all the same. Just like “Christians”, Italians and the Church and pope and Northern League are not one and the same.
In Afghanistan, too, there are women and youth who break taboos and change narratives and there are many men who stand with them against religion’s encroachment in people’s lives and against Islamism – the religious-Right. [Read more…]
I am travelling today to Italy to join celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of Marea Feminist Review (yes there are feminists in this world who stand with us against Islamists and the religious-Right rather than excusing them).
I’ll be joined by FEMEN’s Inna Shevchenko, Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia ElFani, and Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas. Can’t wait.
At every public meeting I speak, I will say “I am Farkhondeh” till I can speak no more.
Here are the events I will be taking part in for those of you who are near Genoa and Turino:
27-31 March 2015
Marea Feminist Review Anniversary, Italy
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the anniversary celebrations of a feminist review in Genoa and Torino, Italy with Inna Shevchenko, Nadia El Fani, Marieme Helie Lucas and others.
Details of Genoa event can be found here.
Details of Turin event can be found here.
You See Trinity College Dublin, it is possible to hold events without adding last minute restrictions to silence dissenters of Islam and Islamism…
This is a shortened version of my speech for a public meeting organised by the NE Humanists on 19 March 2015.
Dissent and criticism of religion has always been a crucial aspect of free expression. Such criticism has been key for human progress and is needed more than ever in the age of ISIS. For many of us, therefore, standing with Charlie, honours our own dissenters.
Those who condemn the massacre in Paris but blame Charlie for “offending Muslim sensibilities” have bought into the Islamist narrative that “Muslims” are Islamists who are more offended by cartoons than mass murder. This erroneous conflation between Muslims and Islamists is often promoted in the media by Guardian types and the pathetic excuse of a Left – and I say this coming from the Left myself – to justify its cosy alliances with and appeasement of “our” fascists against “their own”.
The far-Right also makes this conflation so as to promote its anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agenda. And of course the Islamists use it to deflect any criticism as racism and an attack on a community or people. It is useful for the British government too in “managing” its “minorities” on the cheap by handing them over to parasitical imams and self-appointed “community leaders”.
This conflation is validated by multiculturalism (not as a wonderful lived experience but as a social policy) and multi-faithism, which segregates and divides people into homogenised religious and cultural “communities” and sees people as one and the same as the religious-Right.
“Muslims” in Britain are outsourced to Islamist groups to do as they wish with “their communities” – Sharia courts, forced marriages, child marriages, the burqa, Islamic schools, segregated university meetings… The “other” is different so doesn’t deserve the same rights and freedoms.
But clearly no “community” or society is homogeneous. There is dissent; there is class politics at play. There are social and political movements contesting and challenging the Islamists, Sharia law and Islam day in and day out.
Amongst those “Muslims”, which Islamists feign to represent, there are atheists, socialists, secularists, women’s rights campaigners like me… And also many believing Muslims – who call themselves Muslims – but who are opposed to Islamism, the veil, and Sharia and do not murder even when they are “offended” by cartoons.
Conflating Muslim with Islamist does a disservice to the many dissenters. It places collective blame. It implies that the “authentic” Muslim is a terrorist and fascist.
And it’s wrong to equate the two. It’s like conflating the BNP with the British, the English with the English Defence League and Sharia Watch, Americans with the Tea Party or the Christian-Right and Indians with the Hindu-Right.
You can see the distinction between Muslims and Islamists– if you want to. After the attack on Charlie, many “Muslims” or those labelled as such sided with Charlie.
What is packaged as “offence” is really Islamism’s imposition of blasphemy laws and theocracy under the pretext of respect for “Muslim sensibilities”. Only in Europe does this far-Right fascist movement use “offence” or Islamophobia to silence and censor. In countries where they have state power, there is no need for such niceties. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, the “offenders” are called what they are – apostates, blasphemers, enemies against god, the corrupt of the earth, heretics – and legally murdered in broad daylight in the same way Charlie Hebdo’s journalists were “executed”.
Terrorism and indiscriminate violence, including via Sharia laws, have been pillars of Islamist rule for decades, aiding in creating a climate of fear and as a warning to those who refuse to submit.
Raising the question of “offence” absurdly implies that civility and manners are all that are needed to stop abductions and the slaughter of generations from Nigeria, Iran to Algeria. But “offence” is a smokescreen. It serves to legitimise Islamist terror and blame the victims. It’s no different from blaming a woman who was raped for the rape – if only she had been better dressed. If only she had not had so much to drink. If only she had stayed home like good girls do instead of wandering the streets at night. If only…
These “explanations” are not meant to clarify the context but to condemn the woman who has been raped. The same is true of those who explain the terrorists’ mindset – they were angry at the depiction of Mohammad, they were not integrated, they faced racism… the aim of such justifications is to put the blame on Charlie, on the murdered, on the innocents slaughtered by Islamism.
Blaming Islamist terrorism in Paris on Charlie’s cartoons is like blaming Avijit’s book for his being hacked to death or Raif’s website for his lashes. What did Malala Yousefzai do to warrant being shot in the head on a school bus? She shouldn’t have “offended” the Taliban by going to school? What did the abducted girls in Nigeria or the 54 killed in one day in separate suicide attacks including on a busy marketplace in Nigeria do? Were the Islamists who killed dissenters like Avijit or Salwa – including via the state apparatus – “not integrated enough”, had they faced racism in their societies; were they abused by the security services? And what about the many who have been abused by the Islamists or US militarism, who have faced racism, who have been disenfranchised and marginalised and have instead joined protest movements, unions and progressive actions that defend human beings and their rights and lives and not beheadings.
Cage Prisoners, a “human rights organisation” (which Amnesty International was working with despite criticism from Gita Sahgal, their head of gender unit and supported by the likes of the Socialist Workers Party and John Rees) recently described Mohammad Emwazi or Jihadi John as a “beautiful young man” and blamed the beheadings he had carried out on his being beaten and threatened by the security services.
But I have been badly beaten by NYPD (when protesting against the 1991 Gulf war parade) and have been threatened with beheading by Islamists. I have faced racism. I am also outraged at US intervention in Iran. I am particularly incensed at how the powers that be decided at the Guadaloupe Conference that they preferred an Islamic state to the left-leaning revolution in Iran during the Cold War and still I do not, would not, behead for anything.
Imagine all the people in Iran or Saudi Arabia languishing in prison or the many who have lost their loved ones to this killing machine? If they all resorted to beheadings – no one would be left.
An unequivocal condemnation of terrorism and a defence of the terrorised – no ifs and buts are the only principled and human response. But it’s not enough. It’s also important to stand firm against Islamism and its “political wing” that has permeated British society – what Southall Black Sisters’ Director Pragna Patel calls Shariafication-by-stealth, which includes the rise of Sharia courts, the burqa and gender segregation at universities (which is an attack on women) as well as Islamic schools, which deny children rights because they were born into Muslim families. This is where even more get it wrong, including the British Humanist Association. (This in no way implicates all humanists and secularists – after all some of our greatest supporters have been local humanist groups and well known humanists.)
In a debate with me a few years ago, the then Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips (now a BHA trustee) called Sharia courts “people’s right to religion”. Andrew Copson, its Chief Executive, has stated on Facebook on 8 December 2014 that he had visited a Beth Din and the Islamic Sharia Council with three of his fellow commissioners on the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life and was “left without a single secularist reason to say that they should not be allowed to operate as they do”.
In the Law Society debacle where the Society had endorsed discriminatory practices by issuing Sharia-compliant guidance on wills, the current BHA Head of Public Affairs, Pavan Dhaliwal, wrote: “The issue has been totally blown out of proportion… It’s just advice so that solicitors can provide a service to (Sunni) Muslim clients who want a will that fits with their beliefs. It does not claim to do any more than that.” [Read more…]
I wrote a blog post earlier about my refusal to abide by conditions imposed by Trinity College Dublin for my speech on Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism which I am to give this Monday.
Aoife, the chair of the society which had invited me is contesting my version of things so I find it necessary (also for transparency’s sake) to post all correspondence below. There is not much since Aoife only contacted me today (well technically last night as it is 2am now) after things came to a head. Another student organiser has been in touch with me the whole time and been arranging my visit. If there is any miscommunication, it seems to have been promulgated by Aoife to “manage” the situation in the same way that they were hoping to manage me.
Even if it was Aoife who suggested a moderator, it has come about as a result of “pressure”. Also security concerns of my antagonising the “Muslim students” and being “one-sided” which were raised with student organiser have nothing to do with student security no matter how many times Aoife says it does.
Aoife is trying to manage a bad situation by blaming it on miscommunication but you know what folks, I was not born yesterday.
This reminds me of my speaking tour in 2011 Australia where I went to give my speech at the University of Western Sydney on “Sharia law & human rights”. When I got there, it had become a panel due to “pressure” and the audience were forced to listen to another view before I was even allowed to speak…
Anyway, here are the emails. The name of the student organiser has been left out at his/her request.
From: Maryam Namazie [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 21 March 2015 01:38
To: ‘Society for International Affairs’
Subject: RE: Speaking Engagement at Trinity College Dublin (Monday, 23rd March)
I think you are missing the point here. Of course el Mekki is given free access. In my experience there is never any question raised about Islamists as they are seen to be one and the same with “Muslims” which is untrue. It is usually raised with regards my speaking engagements, and this is not a new experience for me.
The security mentioned concerns over one-sidedness and “antagonising Muslim students” with the person who I have been in touch with all along regarding this event. Clearly such concerns are not matters of student security but the usual matter of avoiding “offence” – and it is usually us ex-Muslims that are seen to be antagonistic and not the Islamist speakers who promote our murder.
Your email tonight was the first I had received from you – someone else was organising this for me – so I am more prone to believe that it is your impression that is mistaken and not the other way around.
From: Society for International Affairs
Sent: 21 March 2015 01:02
To: Maryam Namazie
Subject: Re: Speaking Engagement at Trinity College Dublin (Monday, 23rd March)
The situation is slightly difficult for me to comprehend as I feel we aren’t talking about the same event anymore. I think this has gone completely awry. I don’t know where you got the impression that Security were imposing restrictions on you. If that was communicated to you, I apologise as that would never happen in Trinity, and I would fight to uphold any individual’s right to express themselves freely. I also am upset that you have been given the impression that Trinity authorities are backward, on the contrary: it was never a matter of potentially causing offence, I believe that Kamal el-Mekki’s presence proves that Trinity authorities do not interfere with college society’s activities. College Security have never once asked me about the content of your speech, just who will be attending the event (Trinity students as per society rules and insurance reasons) and numbers for fire and safety reasons. They did not realise it was being facilitated by SOFIA and therefore were nervous about an individual hosting the event. But I personally cleared that and assured them that I had it under control.
I am disappointed that you are not going to be with us on Monday, and I wish you had waited until I had gotten in contact. I was attending a wake service then went for dinner and all I had was my dying mobile phone which I told [the organiser contact] I would be in contact with you tonight.
Sorry this has gone so dramatic.
On 21 March 2015 at 00:19, Maryam Namazie
Thanks for your email. The issues raised by security were clearly not about student safety but about the fear of my causing offence. Raising concerns of one-sidedness and implying my defence of the right to apostasy would be antagonising are political positions not security matters. Regardless of who added a condition of my having a chair to “moderate” me, I find that to be unacceptable. It astounding that an Islamist who defends death for apostates can speak at your college without any such issues being raised, whilst I who am one of their targets, must be “moderated” and have limitations placed on my audience. My conditions are very clear. I have mentioned them here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2015/03/20/tcd/. I will not be coming if there are any restrictions.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
All the best
From: Society for International Affairs
Sent: 20 March 2015 22:41
Subject: Speaking Engagement at Trinity College Dublin (Monday, 23rd March)
As Chair of the Society for International Affairs (SOFIA) I am delighted to welcome to Trinity College Dublin, on Monday. I apologise for not getting in touch earlier this evening but I was away from my laptop and our first point of contact deserves more than a hasty/shoddy email sent off my phone. [The organiser contact] has done a good job so far in putting things in motion.
Just so we are on the same page, could you inform me of your expectations of your visit to Trinity, and I’ll outline the same. You may have heard earlier today Trinity Security were concerned about the safety of the university students. Due to miscommunication, I was not aware until midday today that [the organiser contact] had not passed on basic SOFIA practice of being reserved for our members to you. As such, I was more than alarmed when Trinity Security contacted me and I was put in an awkward situation where it looked as though I was in breach of Trinity’s commitment to student safety by advertising our event externally. I was not informed that you would be advertising it on your website either.
Not wanting the event to be jeopardised, I suggested that you could be joined by another, an academic Dr Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity who is eager to meet you. I have asked him if he would do me the honour of chairing/introducing you. Dr Pierce’s status as member of staff also will be advantageous for SOFIA if a group of individuals log a complaint against our event on Monday as he will be in the position to speak on our behalf when the complaint is reviewed by the College Deans. I can personally vouch for Dr. Pierce’s character as a friendly party. (https://www.tcd.ie/ise/staff/a-pierce.php)
SOFIA is a young society but we pride ourselves on previously hosting speakers with varied views, but that’s what adds to the richness of our members learning.
Before I forget, are there any special requests? Sometimes our guests wish us to respect Chatham House rules and other times there have been strict measures imposed such as extensive background security checks for SOFIA members who wish to attend and metal detector scanning of attendees and their belongings.
SOFIA’s aim is to be a platform for discussion, but in a safe environment where individuals are free to express themselves without fear of being threatened after the discussion. We implement certain measures to ensure that all our guests, are afforded a courteous audience.
Looking forward to meeting you on Monday.
Aoife Noelle Ngo
Society for International Affairs
I am to speak at Trinity College Dublin on Monday 23 March 2015 on “Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism”.
I’ve just been informed, however, that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is “one-sided” and would be “antagonising” to “Muslim students”; they threatened to cancel my talk. After further consultation with college management, they have decided to “allow” the event to go ahead with the following conditions:
* All attendants of the event must be 1) Trinity students and 2) members of the society hosting the talk.
* For “balance”, they require that a moderator host the event; Prof. Andrew Pierce of the Irish School of Ecumenics has kindly agreed to do so.
I, however, will not be submitting to any conditions, particularly since such conditions are not usually placed on other speakers.
I intend to speak on Monday as initially planned without any restrictions and conditions and ask that TCD give me immediate assurances that I will be able to do so.
It is crucial that I be able to speak against Islamist fascism and honour our dissenters deemed apostates, blasphemers, heretics… whether ex-Muslims, Muslims or non-Muslims.
I particularly insist on being able to do so in light of the fact that only last month – 25 February – Kamal El Mekki who advocates the death penalty for apostasy was given space to speak at an event hosted by the “Muslim” Student Association. No conditions were placed on his talk and security did not threaten to cancel the event nor inform the Association that the speakers’ position on death for apostates would “antagonise” ex-Muslim and Muslim students who do not support apostasy laws.
Interestingly, when the college’s Central Societies Committee was informed of El Mekki’s view on apostasy, they could not “see why there can even be a discussion about cancelling the event” and that his video was simply “explanatory and not advocatory”!
The video they were alerted to shows El Mekki advising his audience on how best to explain the death penalty for apostates. He tells them to start with the simplest example so that the need for the death penalty can be easily understood. In the video, he says:
The question is ‘Why is the apostate killed in Islam?’…if someone leaves their allegiance to their country they should be killed, so if they leave their allegiance to Allah nothing happens?
…in Islam, of course, you know, it’s a very different system. It’s not like somewhere you heard someone leaves Islam and you just go get him and stuff like that. First of all it’s done by the authorities, there are procedures and steps involved. First of all they talk to him, yeah, about, yanni, the scholars refute any doubt that he has on the issue, they spend days with him refuting and arguing with him, trying to convince him. Then they might even, yaani, threaten him with the sword and tell him ‘You need to repent from this because if you don’t you repent you will be killed.’ And if he insists on being killed that means really, really believing in that. And then, after the procedures take their toll, and then at the end, by the authority of the ruling body, it’s done.
This is beyond outrageous given the social and political reality where apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in 11 countries and especially at a time when it has come to light that British Islamists are executing apostates for ISIS after having been “radicalised” in British universities. Also it does a disservice to the many Muslims who oppose Islamism and apostasy laws by conflating “Muslim” students with Islamism or the religious-Right.
Trinity College Dublin, I am awaiting your response.
For those who want more information on this “beautiful young man”, see here – oh sorry that was Jihadi John who was beautiful according to Cage.
One does get confused when they all (the Islamists) say the same thing…
Watch this week’s Bread and Roses TV programme with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya:
Celebrating Nowruz and remembering the highlights of the past year with Chris Moos, Gita Sahgal, Imad Iddine Habib, Mersedeh Ghaedi, Pragna Patel and Sirvan Ghaderi
17 March 2015
Shocking News: Quran teacher in Turkey telling children who don’t wear hejab, they deserve to be raped
Insane Fatwa: Khamenei and his criticism of existing policy on contraception, describing it as an imitation of western lifestyle turning Iranian women into baby-making machines
Good News: Sweden tore up arms deal with Saudi Arabia due to human rights situation and Raif Badawi’s case
Background Briefing: The Persian New Year called Norooz marks the first day of spring. It is partly rooted in the Zoroastrian tradition, but is an ancient holiday that was celebrated thousands of years ago. When the Islamic regime of Iran first took power, it tried to ban the pagan celebration but couldn’t stop the celebrations. The advent of another year is a good time to reflect on the past and renew hopes for a future that will see positive changes in Iran beginning with an end to the Islamic regime and its brutality.
۱۸ مارس ۲۰۱۵
ياد بهترينهاى سال با کريس موس؛ گيتا ساهگل؛ عماد الدين حبيب٬ مرسده قائدى؛ پراگنا پاتل و سيروان قادرى
اخبار تکان دهنده از معلم قران در ترکيه است که به شاگردهاى ۱۳ ساله گفته بود حقشان است تجاوز بشوند چون حجاب نمى پوشند
فتواى احمقانه از خامنه اى در مورد وسايل بيشگيرى
اخبار خوب از سوئد و لغو قراردادهاى اسلحه به خاطر وضعيت حقوق بشر
در مورد تم برنامه
جشن باستانى نوروز٬ پيام آور بهار و سال نو ميباشد؛ ساليان درازى است که مردم اين روز را فرخنده ميدارند؛ مرتجعىن اسلامى از همان روز نخست به قدرت در ايران تلاش ناموفقى را براى منع کردن اين جشن غير اسلامى آغاز کردند. اما تا کنون با شکست روبرو شده اند
آغاز سال نوىن زمان مناسبى براى تامل در مورد سال گذشته و نوين کردن اميد و آرزو براى آينده ميباشد
پايان حکومت اسلامي اولين قدم مثبت را براى آينده اى ايران به ارمغان مياورد
This week’s Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya on Women’s liberation movement as the greatest threat to Islamism
International Women’s Day Special
10 March 2015
Shocking news of the week: “human rights organisation” CAGE justifies the beheadings carried out by British jihadi Mohammad Emwazi.
Insane Fatwa of the week: From ISIS and its directives that women mustn’t slap their thighs!
Good news of the week: Maryam Namazie’s topless action in support of women’s rights and against Islam and Islamism.
Discussion of the week: We show a film made by Femmes Filment on the historic protest against compulsory veiling in 1979 in Iran and discuss it. 8 March International Women’s Day must commemorate the 1979 protests of Iranian women against Khomeini’s compulsory veiling order which captured the imagination of people across the world. The protests were suppressed by brute force and the control of women and their bodies a basis of the regime in Iran. Nonetheless, the women’s liberation movement against the veil and Islamic rule is the greatest threat faced by the regime today.
جنبش رهائى زن بزرگترين تهديد به اسلام سياسى
برمانه ۸ مارس
۱۱ مارس ۲۰۱۵
در اين برنامه فيلمى از تظاهرات سال ۵۷ عليه حجاب اجبارى را نشان مى دهيم و حولش بحث مى کنيم
۸ مارس روز جهاني زن را نمي توان بدون سخن گفتن و يادآوري اعتراضات زنان در سال
عليه فرمان خميني جهت حجاب اجباري گرامي داشت
اين اعتراض توجه جنبش جهاني زمان را به خود جلب كرد
اين اعتراضات با خشونت بي پايان سركوب شد و كنترل زنان و بدن آنها به ستون حكومت اسلامي تبديل شد
البته بعد از ٣٦ سال حكومت اسلامي جنبش زنان عليه حجاب و قوانين اسلامي بزرگترين تهديد است رژيم با ان روبرو ميباشد
اخبار شکه آور اين هفته در مورد سازمان اسلامى در انگليس و توجيهاتش در دفاع از جهادى انگليسى
فتواى احمقانه از داعش
خبر خوب در مورد اعتراض برهنه مريم نمازى براى روز جهانى زن
Here are a few upcoming events that are either organised by the Council of Ex-Muslims and One Law for All or are by others in which I am speaking. More details can be found here.
16 March 2015, central London by Kings Cross station, 19:00-21:00 hours
International Women’s Day CEMB and One Law for All evening drinks with Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters.
£3 entry (waged); £1 entry (unwaged). E-mail email@example.com to register.
19 March 2015
NE Humanists Event, Newcastle
Maryam Namazie will be speaking in Newcastle.
23 March 2015, Trinity College Dublin
Maryam will be speaking on Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism.
27-31 March 2015
Marea Feminist Review Anniversary, Italy
Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the anniversary celebrations of a feminist review in Genoa, Torino and Imola, Italy with Inna Shevchenko, Nadia El Fani, Marieme Helie Lucas and others. [Read more…]
FARSI AND FRENCH BELOW
Commemorating 8 March, International Women’s Day
Islam, like all religions, despises women.
Islamism and its Sharia laws are obsessed with controlling and restricting women.
Under their rule, the “perfect” woman knows “her place”: veiled, segregated, erased from the public space. She is the “disappeared”. Bound and gagged. Not seen or heard.
For the Islamists, being a free woman is the greatest crime.
So yes I am a free woman. I am a Kafir. Je Suis Charlie, Neda, Avijit, Salwa, Sadiq, Sameera, Rafiq, Monir, Katia*… the innumerable slaughtered over many decades in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
But still I rise.
I am, we are, Islamism’s greatest threat – a women’s liberation movement that will bring them – from ISIS to the Saudi and Iranian regimes – to their knees.
* In January 2015, Islamists attacked Left satirical publication Charlie Hebdo for their caricatures of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, killing 17 in Paris, including at a Kosher supermarket.
* In June 2009, Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead by the Islamic regime of Iran at a mass demonstration in Tehran and became an icon of the protest movement.
* In February 2015, atheist Avijit Roy, 42, was hacked to death in Bangladesh because of writings critical of Islam.
* In June 2014, Libyan rights activist Salwa Bugaighis, 51, was shot dead in Benghazi for opposing the Islamists.
* In September 1992, Sadiq Abdul-Karim Malallah was publicly beheaded in al-Qatif for apostasy and blasphemy.
* In September 2014, women’s rights activist Samira Salih al-Nuaimi, 54, was seized from her home by ISIS after her messages on Facebook criticising the destruction of religious sites in Mosul and publicly executed for apostasy.
* In November 2011, Azerbaijani writer and journalist Rafiq Tagi, 61, was assassinated by Islamists in Baku. He had a death fatwa against him for his writings deemed critical of Islam and Mohammad, Islam’s prophet.
* In August 1983, Monir Hashemi, 29, a communist political activist, was executed in Iran along with her husband, Javad Ghaedi and her brother-in-law Sadegh Ghaedi.
* In February 1994, Islamists ambushed and killed Katia Bengana, 17, as she left school in Algeria. She had been warned to wear the hijab and had refused.
Photos and bodypainting by Victoria Gugenheim.
در گراميداشت ۸ مارس٬ روز جهانى زن
اسلام٬ مانند تمام مذاهب٬ از زن متنفر است.
كنترل زن مركز ثقل اسلام سياسى و قوانين شريعه است.
تحت حاکميت اسلاميون٬ زن ايده آل زنى است محجبه٬ مطيع٬ فرمانبردار. محو از ملا عام. “ناپديد” شده. اسير و خاموش.
براى اسلاميون٬ زن آزاد بودن٬ بزرگترين جرم است.
بنابراين، آرى من زن آزادم. کافرم. من چارلى٬ ندا٬ آويجيت٬ سلوى٬ صادق٬ سميرا٬ رافق٬ منير٬ کاتيا*… هستم – قتل عام شدگان بيشمار طى دهه ها در خاورميانه٬ آفريقاى شمالى و آسيا.
اما هنوز بر خيزم.
من و ما٬ بزرگترين تهديد عليه اسلاميون ميباشيم . جنبش رهائى بخش زنان آنان را – از داعش تا جمهورى اسلامى ايران تا رژيم عربستان سعودى – به زانو خواهد آورد.
* در ژانویه سال ۲۰۱۵، اسلاميون به نشريه چپ شارلی ابدو جمله کردند و ۱۷ نفر را در پاريس ترور کردند.
* در ماه ژوئن سال ۲۰۰۹، ندا آقا سلطان توسط عوامل رژیم اسلامی ایران در یک تظاهرات توده ای در تهران به ضرب گلوله کشته شد و به یک مظهر جنبش اعتراضی تبدیل شد.
* در فوريه ۲۰۱۵ اسلاميون آويجيت راى را به خاطر نوشته هاى انتقادي اش ازاسلام در بنگلادش به قتل رساندند.
* در ژوين ۲۰۱۴ فعال حقوق بشر سلوى بوقعيقيص را اسلاميون در ليبى ترور کردند.
* صادق عبد کریم مالالله در سال ۱۹۹۲ در عربستان سعودى بخاطر ارتداد و توهین به مقدسات اعدام شد.
اعدام شد. * در سپتامبر ۲۰۱۴ سمیرا صالح النعیمی فعال حقوق بشر بعد از انتقاد به داعش براى تخریب اماکن مذهبی در موصل در فیس بوک بشر
* در نوامبر ۲۰۱۱، نویسنده آذربایجانى رافق تقی توسط اسلاميون در باکو ترور شد.
* در سال ۱۹۸۳، منیر هاشمی، یک فعال سیاسی کمونیست، در ایران به همراه همسرش، جواد قائدی و برادر همسرش صادق قائدی اعدام شد.
* در سال ۱۹۹۴ کاتىا بنگانا شاگرد ۱۷ ساله به خاطر رد کردن حجاب در الجزاير ترور شد.
عکسها و نقاشى بدن: ويکتوريا گوگنهايم.
French, thanks to FEMEN France
“L’islam, comme toutes les religions, méprise les femmes.
L’islamisme et ses lois de la charia sont obsédés par le contrôle et la restriction des femmes.
Sous leur domination, la femme “parfaite” connait “sa place”: voilée, victime de ségrégation, effacée de l’espace public. Elle est absente : ligotée et bâillonnée . Ni vue ni entendue.
Selon les islamistes, être une femme libre est le plus grand des crimes.
Alors oui, je suis une femme libre. Je suis un kafir. Je Suis Charlie, Neda, Avijit, Salwa, Sadiq, Sameera, Rafiq, Monir, Katia * … les innombrables abattus sur plusieurs décennies au Moyen-Orient, Afrique du Nord et en Asie.
Mais encore une fois, je me lève.
Je suis, nous sommes, la plus grande menace pour l’islamisme – le mouvement de libération des femmes qui le fera tomber”.
We are outraged by the senseless and brutal hacking to death of well known scientist, atheist and writer Avijit Roy and the serious attack on his wife and blogger, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, by Islamists in Bangladesh.
Avijit had received numerous threats over the years for publishing articles critical of Islam, and promoting secular views, science and social issues on the Bengali-language blog, Mukto-mona (Free Mind), which he founded. He had travelled to Bangladesh from the US to attend a book fair where his book “The Virus of Faith” was being launched. It was whilst he was returning from the fair, that he was brutally killed.
This is not the first time atheists and secularists have been attacked in Bangladesh. In addition to the well known threats received by writer Taslima Nasrin, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed and Ahmed Rajib killed in 2013. In 2004, Humayun Azad, a secular writer and professor at Dhaka University, was also attacked and later died.
Whilst Islamists have continued to threaten prominent bloggers and called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”, the Bangladeshi government has done little to defend the lives and security of freethinkers. In 2013, the government even arrested bloggers and shut websites down instead of arresting the Islamists involved.
We stand united in our grief for Avijit Roy with Mukto-muna but remain undefeated. We unequivocally condemn the attack on Avijit and his wife and also the many threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to prosecute the Islamists involved, guarantee the safety of dissenters and respect free expression. Freedom of expression, including to criticise Islam and Islamism as well as to blaspheme, is a basic right.
We are all Avijit.
Initial Signatories [Read more…]
This week’s Bread and Roses TV – A Political Social Magazine on New Channel TV with Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya is on who is responsible for the terrorist attacks on Paris and Copenhagen. FARSI BELOW.
Following Paris and Copenhagen, the reasons behind the terrorist attacks have debated. Those on the far-Right and bigoted Right will say it is because of Muslim immigration whilst the anti-imperialist Left will blame US militarism and racism in Europe as the cause for terrorism. In fact, Islamism, the far-Right fascist movement is directly responsible for the attacks.
We show Maryam Namazie’s tribute to Charlie and others at the 2015 Secular Conference
Shocking News of the Week: Saman Nasim
Insane Fatwa: Khamenei
Good News: Mahin Alipour gets awarded as “hero of the day” by Swedish magazine
کى مقصر است براى حملات تروريستى در پاريس و کپنهاگ
۲۵ فوريه ۲۰۱۵
سخنرانى مريم نمازى در کنفرانس ۷ فوريه لندن در مورد حق و نياز انتقاد از اسلام: براى چارلى هبدو و چارى ها
در مورد برنامه: بدنبال حملات تروريستي در پاريس و كپنهاگ ، بررسي علل اين حملات به موضوع بحث و گفتگوي داغ تبديل شده است. راست افراطي و متعصب ، علت اين حملات را مهاجرت مسلمانان به اروپا ميداند. از جانب ديگر، چپ پست مدرنيست و ضد امپرياليستي، ميليتاريسم امريكا و راسيسم در اروپا را باعث و باني تروريسم اسلامي مي دانند. در واقع اسلام سياسي بعنوان يك جنبش فاشيستي و دست راستي مقصر است.
اخبار تکاندهنده: سامان نسيم
فتواى احمقانه: از خامنه اى
خبر خوب: جايزه قهرمان روز مهين علىپور
After the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, dissent and criticism of religion is a life and death necessity. It has been–and remains–key for human progress. See the full article here.
Dissent and criticism of religion has always been a crucial aspect of free expression. Historically, it has been intrinsically linked with anti-clericalism and the dismantling of that which is deemed taboo, sacred and untouchable by the gatekeepers of power.
Such criticism has been key for human progress and is still needed. In the age of ISIS, this criticism is a life and death necessity for those living under Islamism’s boot.
So yes, I am Charlie – no ifs and buts.
Those who condemn the massacre in Paris but blame Charlie for “offending Muslim sensibilities” (implying that they somehow got what they deserved) have bought into the Islamist narrative that “Muslims” are more offended by cartoons than mass murder.
This is validated by multiculturalism as a social policy and cultural relativism, which sees Muslim “communities” and “societies” as homogeneous and one and the same with the religious-Right.
So even though there is a rich historical and artistic tradition of depicting Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, over many centuries, it’s deemed offensive today.
And despite many Muslims or those labelled as such have sided with Charlie, it is the terrorists/fascists who are deemed to be the “authentic” Muslims.
The homogenised “culture of offence” discounts the many believing secularists, feminists, freethinkers, and atheists and socialists amongst those deemed “Muslim”.
It ignores the widespread dissent and resistance, which can also be seen in response to Charlie.
An Algerian copy editor Mustapha Ourad was gunned down in Charlie’s hallway.
Many “Muslims” joined rallies and held up “Je Suis Charlie” signs or pens.
A French Muslim cafe owner was threatened for putting up a “Je Suis Charlie” sign in his East London cafe.
Lassana Bathily, the Malian-born Muslim employee hid customers at the Paris kosher supermarket saving lives.
Even in Iran – a theocracy where blasphemy, heresy, apostasy, enmity against god, and another 130 offences are punishable by death – Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer showed her solidarity whilst journalists trying to rally in support of Charlie were attacked and prevented from protesting by security agents wielding clubs and chains.
An Iranian newspaper was shut down for publishing a photo showing solidarity with Charlie. In Turkey, two columnists from a daily are facing an investigation for ‘religious defamation’ after featuring the Charlie cover.
Cartoonists across the Arab world – from Egypt to Lebanon to Qatar and Jordan took a stand with Charlie and against the terrorists.
And still we are told that Charlie offended “Muslims” and must be held to account! [Read more…]
I spoke on a panel with you in November last year at the International Feminist and Secular Network in Paris.
I am writing to express my outrage at the cold-blooded murder of freethinkers at Charlie Hebdo today and to give my unequivocal support.
Freedom of expression and the criticism of religion and Islam are basic rights. Clearly, free expression without the right to criticise religion is meaningless. Throughout history, criticism of religion (that which is deemed sacred or taboo) has been intrinsic to human progress.
In the era of ISIS and the religious-Right, this criticism is a historical necessity and needed more than ever.
The Islamists who killed today said they were “avenging” Islam’s prophet but Mohammed cartoons are merely an excuse. The aim of such acts of terrorism – whether in Paris or Afghanistan – are to defend their theocratic and inhuman values. They must know that we too will defend our human values – secularism, equality, citizenship, the right to religion and to be free from religion, the right to criticise and mock religion… which are not “western” values but universal ones.
Today’s killers are part of the same movement that massacres schoolchildren in Peshawar, throws acid in the faces of “improperly veiled” women in Iran and crucifies secularists in Kobane. They need no excuses to commit murder and mayhem.
The battle to commemorate the lives lost today is an ongoing one. It’s a battle between secularists versus theocrats everywhere. And it is a fight that we have to win. No ifs or buts.