Secularism is my right; freedom is my culture

481845_10151455888700698_290280215_nBelow is my speech at the May 2013 Women in Secularism conference in Washington DC.

Participants joined in an action to defend Amina Tyler, Imad Iddine Habib, Bangladesh’s bloggers and Alex Aan (photo on left).

 

* The outrage over the attempted assassination of 15 year old Malala Yousefzai shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ education

* The mass protests against Islamists for the assassination of Socialist leader Chokri Belaid and Amina Tyler’s topless activism in Tunisia – My body is not the source of your honour and fuck your morals

* The anger over the murder of Neda Agha Soltan in broad daylight at a protest in Iran

* The February day of action against sexual terrorism in Egypt, Egyptian atheist Aliaa Magda ElMahdy’s nude scream against misogyny and the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters…

Even if you’re not looking, you can still see the immense resistance and dissent taking place.

It’s a new period of human development after decades of Islamism, US-led militarism, unbridled free market reign, cultural relativism and the retreat of all things universal.
Today is an era of the 99% movement and revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa – many of them female-led.

Whilst it may sometimes be hard to see given the perceived “gains” by Islamists in the region (in fact as counter-revolutionary forces aimed at suppressing the revolutions), the change of era is palpable.

Nonetheless, many post-modernist and culturally relativist Leftists, liberals, and feminists remain firmly on the side of the Islamists.

Any opposition to Sharia law, (which is based on the Koran, Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence), the veil, and Islamic misogyny are met with charges of racism and Islamophobia, cultural imperialism and more.

Those who say so though have bought into the culturally-relativist notion that societies in the Middle East and North Africa (and even the “Muslim community” in the west) are homogeneous, “Islamic” and “conservative”. But there is no one homogeneous culture anywhere.

Since it is those in power that determine the dominant culture, this point of view sees Islamist values and sensibilities as that of “authentic Muslims’. [Read more...]

Support those defying Islamism

The wonderful Karima Bennoune remembers those killed 40 days after the Boston bombings and calls for condemnation of Islamism. She says:

I would ask anyone who wants to support the rights of people of Muslim heritage in the United States in the wake of the Boston bombings, please do not so by explaining that jihadist terrorism is simply a response to US foreign policy, or a consequence of the alleged difficulties faced by Muslim youth in integrating into American culture, or the result of Russian bombing of Chechnya.

Many of us have criticisms of US foreign policy and that of other countries; integrating may indeed be challenging for those from immigrant backgrounds in many contexts; and Chechens did suffer through the intolerable flattening of their country by the Russian military between 1992 and 2009. (As far as I know the United States never bombed the province.) However, most Muslims, immigrants and Chechens have not become terrorists as a result. These things are no excuse for – or even explanation of – the choice to deliberately murder children and young people at a sporting event. Such a grave international crime has nothing to do with legitimate grievances and everything to do with extremist ideology and movements that indoctrinate and instrumentalize young people. We must defeat those movements which have killed so many civilians, especially in Muslim majority countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq and Pakistan.

I have just wrapped up three years of interviewing hundreds of people of Muslim heritage working against fundamentalism and terrorism around the world, and I learned many lessons from them that are helpful today. For example, Cherifa Kheddar, president of Algeria’s Association of Victims of Islamist Terrorism, or Djazairouna, who wrote right after 15 April to say how terrible the Boston bombings were. She told me that

“We cannot defeat terrorism by an anti-terrorist battle without doing the anti-fundamentalist battle.”

In other words, it is not just the violence of radical jihadis, but the underlying ideology of Islamism that we must confront. That ideology discriminates between Muslims and non-Muslims (as evidenced by Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s reported indignation that his Imam mentioned Martin Luther King, a non-Muslim, during a sermon), and between “good” and “bad” Muslims. It justifies egregious violence against women and civilians, or at least creates an environment conducive to them.

Of course, being an Islamist or a jihadist is not same thing as being a devout Muslim, and it is unhelpful when the US media simply describes radicalization as becoming “more religious”. This process is rather the adoption of a dangerous political stance that deploys religion in the service of an extreme agenda. The best way then to take a pro-human rights stance in the face of recent events is to support those people of Muslim heritage who are risking their lives to denounce and defy these movements. Many have raised their voices around the world in places like Afghanistan, but have rarely been heard in the west.

You can read the rest of the piece here.
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On Woolwich: Islamism is the problem

Anything can be justified – a war on Iraq or bombs on buses and decapitations on the streets of London. But having justifications doesn’t necessarily bring legitimacy or mean that they are true.

Just as the Iraq war was not about the liberation of Iraqi women or weapons of mass destruction, the cold-blooded murder of a soldier in Woolwich is not about retaliation for the war on Iraq or Afghanistan. (Just as the English Defence League’s convergence on Woolwich and attacks on mosques have nothing to do with demands for “justice”.)

The decapitation was an act of terror, pure and simple, and characteristic of Islamism and far-Right politics which uses terrorism as a key tool in instilling fear and for social control. The main target of this terror is usually civilians in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere (and often with the acquiescence and appeasement of western governments via funding for or close relations with Islamic organisations and states, defending Sharia law, and the curtailing of universal and citizenship rights and secularism).

As Women Living Under Muslim Laws says: “Fundamentalist terror 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…”

Islamism is the main reason behind the murder in Woolwich and the slaughter of countless people across the world for the past several decades – not Muslims or those labelled as such who are in fact Islamism’s first victims and on the frontlines of resistance. Also, whilst Islamism sees Islam as a tool for the far-Right restructuring of power structures, the movement is not fundamentally about Islam as an ideology but about political Islam (gaining power and ruling via Sharia law). Ironically, political Islam and far-Right neo-conservatism and militarism are two sides of the same coin – both seek power and control through sheer violence, terrorism and by targeting civilians…

Of course times are changing. The new era of revolutions and uprisings – many of them women-led – is the real challenge to the far-Right, including Islamism, and terrorism. Only a humanity speaking on its own behalf can and will bring this movement to its knees. And whilst that fight has already begun, how it ends will depend on real solidarity with Islamism’s victims and dissenters and an unequivocal defence of universal human values, freedom, equality and secularism.

In defence of nude protest: freedom is my culture

600286_500584530000840_728079130_nNews Flash: 15 April 2013: There are reports that Amina has escaped from her detention but is still not fully safe or free. We await the day she is free and safe – hopefully soon. More information here.

13 April 2013: Today, FEMEN activists stormed a conference at which Tunisian president Marzouki was speaking at in Paris shouting “Free Amina”. They also chanted: “Who killed Chokri Belaid?” We continue to demand the freedom and safety of 19 year old Tunisian FEMEN activist Amina who is being detained by her family after receiving death threats for posting a topless photo of herself. Below is my response to criticism of topless activism in support of Amina:

****

The International day to defend 19 year old Tunisian FEMEN activist Amina was not “racism”, “colonialism”, or “cultural imperialism” as some have said.

It was just good old fashioned human solidarity – across borders and boundaries (many of them constructed).

Those who say otherwise have bought into the culturally-relativist notion that societies in the Middle East and North Africa (and even the “Muslim community” in the west) are “Islamic” and “conservative”.

Whilst those in power determine the dominant culture, there is no one homogeneous culture anywhere.

Those who consider nude protest as “foreign” and “culturally inappropriate” are only considering Islamism’s sensibilities and values, not that of the many who resist.

Clearly, in the same way that there are opponents of nude protest and supporters of the veil in the “west”, there are also supporters of nude protest and opponents of the veil in the “east”.

This shouldn’t be surprising. A large young population in many countries of the Middle East and North Africa brings with it challenges to the status quo as does the recent women-led revolutions and the backlash against Islamism. When one is faced with an Islamic movement that considers you to be worth half of a man and demands that you be bound, gagged, veiled, and segregated, then nudity becomes an important form of resistance and dissent as well as solidarity. Islamists want us covered up, hidden, and not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply.

Those who claim outrage at our nudity on behalf of all “Muslim women” are merely attempting to conflate Islamist with “Muslim” (who comprise of innumerable people with countless characteristics). They do it so that Islamism can feign representation, restrict dissent, and prescribe the limits of “acceptable” expression.

But no one speaks for everyone.

Amina speaks for me and us, and for a new women’s liberation movement that is confronting misogyny head on. It’s a movement where nudity is seen to be an important challenge to the veil and Islamism.  And “Islamic feminists” speak for their movement; for the abomination that is Sharia law, gender apartheid, and the veil. They are deafeningly silent on the death fatwa against Amina and countless others. And they are more concerned with defending Islamism and Islam, than defending women’s rights and equality. One such critic of the nude protests, Shohana Khan, who is described as a “London based freelance writer” in the Huffington Post, is in fact the deputy media representative of Hizb ut Tahrir, a far-Right Islamist organisation.  Another “journalist”, Yvonne Ridley, has worked for Press TV, the propaganda arm of the Islamic regime of Iran and is a patron of an Islamist-front organisation called Cage Prisoners.

The nude protest in support of Amina has nothing to do with “cultural imperialists” patronisingly “rescuing Muslim women” anymore than the fight for women’s suffrage was a rescue attempt and a form of cultural imperialism (after all the idea was “foreign” to begin with).

Only those who see their rights and lives as separate and different from those deemed “other” and who have bought into (or are selling) Islamism’s narrative can see solidarity and the demand for equality in this warped way. [Read more...]

On 25 April 2013 we stand with Bangladeshi bloggers and activists!

bangladesh_bloggers_arrested_apr2013_demotix_468In January, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed. In February, 35 year old atheist blogger involved in the Shahbag protests, Ahmed Rajib, was brutally killed. Islamists continue to threaten prominent bloggers and have called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”.

Rather than defend freedom of expression and protect freethinkers, the Bangladeshi government has arrested several bloggers, promised to pursue others, and shut down websites and blogs.

We, the undersigned, call for 25 April to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists. On this day, we urge groups and individuals to rally at Bangladeshi embassies, contact members of parliament in their countries of residence, highlight the situation, write protest letters, carry out acts of solidarity, Tweet #Bangladesh #Bloggers, and sign this petition.

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

Freedom of expression, including to criticise Islam and Islamism as well as to blaspheme, is a basic right.

Signed (organisations mentioned also endorse the day of action): [Read more...]

You must use the word Islamist!

The AP has revised its stylebook to no longer include the term Islamist. They explain why:

Islamist” is frequently used as a label for conservative Islamic political movements, particularly Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the group’s Palestinian offshoot. It generally carries a negative connotation.

Has the AP thought that maybe it carries a negative connotation because fascistic movements – religious or otherwise – generally do?

The disgusting Council on American-Islamic Relations which has previously lobbied AP to drop the term because they say it “has become shorthand for ‘Muslims we don’t like'” and “is currently used in an almost exclusively pejorative context” is elated:

We believe this revision is a step in the right direction and will result in fewer negative generalizations in coverage of issues related to Islam and Muslims.

Of course Islamists and their lackeys will often interchange and conflate Islam, Muslim and Islamist in order to feign representation and to save Islam and Islamism by equating any criticism as racism and an attack on people. But Islam as a belief and Islamism as a far-Right political movement cannot be off limits to criticism.

Even if the AP drops the term by accepting the Islamist narrative and capitulating to it, we refuse.

As an aside, AP has also dropped using the term “illegal immigrant”, which is a good thing. No human being is illegal. They might be undocumented but they are not illegal. Human beings are more than their immigration status.

AP, see the difference? One is about real live human beings; the other is a far-Right political movement.

If Islamism is so concerned about  negative generalisations, it can start by ending its very indiscriminate murder and mayhem.

(News via Terry Sanderson)

On 4 April, we will breast them!

A-Million_AminasOn 4th April, actions will be held in Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Brussels, Frankfurt, Gothenburg, Kiev, London, Malmo, Milan, Montreal, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, San Francisco, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw and more to mark 4 April, the International Day to Defend Amina. (See actions listed below.)

These actions along with countless other activities including posting topless photos, writing letters of protest to the Tunisian government, and Tweeting #Amina will aim to stand with 19 year old Tunisian and FEMEN activist, Amina, who has been threatened to death for posting a topless photo of herself in support of women’s rights. Amina has since disappeared and is being held by her family against her will.

Many have already taken a stand in her defence. Over 106,000 people have signed a petition and a large number have posted topless photos in her defence.

In the last interview she gave before she was kidnapped, she said women in Tunisia are ready for change: “That women have reached the height of self-determination: we no longer obey any authority, neither family nor religious. We know what we want and we make our own decisions.”

This is the wonderful woman we stand up for and with on 4th April to call for her freedom and safety and demand the prosecution of those who threaten and detain her.

Islamist cleric Adel Almi called for Amina’s flogging and stoning to death because he said Amina’s revolutionary actions would bring misfortune by causing “epidemics and disasters” and “could be contagious and give ideas to other women…”

On 4 April 2013 – International Day to Defend Amina – we will remind him, the Islamists and the world that the real epidemic and disaster that must be challenged is misogyny – Islamic or otherwise.

On 4 April we will breast them! [Read more...]

Institutional incompetence or moral cowardice?

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was horrified to learn of sex segregation at an Islamist-organised event in University College London last weekend.

Whilst the behaviour of the organisers is wholly predictable (it has since come to light that UCL were repeatedly informed of their intention to segregate the audience beforehand), the university’s failure to uphold such a fundamental principle of equality as non-segregation is staggering.

UCL was the first university in England to be founded on an entirely secular basis and to treat women and men equally in admissions. At this point in time it is unclear whether the university’s complicity in enforcing a gender segregation policy was the result of institutional incompetence or moral cowardice. Regardless, UCL must realise that their reputation as pioneers of equality in academia now risks being reduced to tatters unless action is taken immediately to ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.

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

Sex segregation not miscommunication

On March 9, the Islamic Education & Research Academy (a nice sounding front for Islamism) organised a “debate” at the University College in London between atheist Lawrence Krauss and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis entitled “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” I guess that’s what they call it when they don’t have political power.

Just in case you don’t know about IERA, here’s more information. I’ve also written a post about them in the past, aptly titled: “For those who don’t know the difference between a Muslim and an Islamist“.

Despite sex-apartheid and segregation of the sexes at the event, the debate shockingly went ahead. I was returning from an 8th March conference in Germany. Had I been there, I would have been arrested before I would have allowed the debate to go ahead.

For all those who stayed on as if it was business as usual: you remind me of those who sat through “debates” with racists at racially segregated events. How utterly shameful.

Lawrence Krauss has Tweeted: “Met with IERA people today, who told me there was no intent to have enforced gender segregation. Problem was communication to and from staff.” IERA lies. Sex apartheid and misogyny is a pillar of their existence. It does make me wonder when people will stop believing their propaganda and instead side with human principles and equality?

By the way, here is a letter written by Chris Moos to UCL about the event:

I am writing to inform you that I was shocked about the manner in which the event was carried out yesterday.

1) The organisers clearly and repeatedly violated UCL’s Equality and Diversity policy. Not only did they enforce gender segregation, but five security guards of the organiser intimidated and attempted to physically remove audience members who refused to comply, falsely claiming that these attendees had been disruptive. Both male and female audience members felt intimidated by the actions of the organiser’s security guards.

Only after Professor Krauss threatened trice to leave the debate if the organisers should continue to enforce gender segregation (follow this link), the organisers cleared one row of the women’s area and allowed the male attendees to sit there, thereby maintaining forced gender segregation. Notably, the women who were sitting in that row were not asked by the security guards whether they would feel comfortable with a man sitting next to them, or whether they would be willing to move. Forced gender segregation was thus maintained. [Read more...]

Impossible not to see

01-8marsFrankfurt (2)Below is my speech at the wonderful International Women’s Day event in Frankfurt.

• 15 year old Malala Yousefzai shot by the Taliban for defending girls’ education.
• Egyptian atheist Aliaa Magda ElMahdy’s nude scream against misogyny and hypocrisy.
• The outrage over the assassination of socialist leader Chokri Belaid in Tunisia.
• The “Harlem Shake” in Egypt in front of the Muslim brotherhood headquarters.

Even if you’re not looking, it is becoming impossible not to see the immense and modern resistance and dissent taking place day in and day out – even in the darkest corners of the globe.

It’s a new period of human development after decades of Islamic terrorism, US-led militarism, unbridled free market reign, cultural relativism and the retreat of all things universal.

Much of it is based on the actual occupation of public spaces – citizens taking back control. Content-wise, its demands are deeply rooted in a criticism of the current economic crisis, capitalism, inequality, mass unemployment, and poverty as well as dictatorship and Islamism.

The high visibility and presence of women in the resistance is a hallmark of this era. A “female” revolution which contradicts and finally brings to an end the racist cultural relativism and multi-culturalism where people are boxed into imagined homogenous ‘communities’ and where dictatorship and Islamism are forever deemed to be part of people’s ‘culture’.

Labelling the Arab spring a winter does a disservice to this resistance, denies its very existence by only focusing on Islamism and oppressive forces, and hinders the expression of solidarity and support that is crucial in any fight of this nature.

The foot soldiers of the revolutions have been workers, the unemployed, youth, women, the poor… Islamists didn’t spearhead the revolutions nor have they been instrumental in them. They were nowhere to be seen. And the revolutions’ demands were not Islamist ones.

After all, Islamism has certain characteristics – such as the demand for Sharia law or veiling, which were not people’s demands when they took to the streets.

Any gain for Islamism in this period is a gain for the establishment and for the counter-revolutionary forces and must be seen as such.

I worry whether secularists and women’s rights campaigners outside the region are ready for this new era to show real solidarity and support… [Read more...]

La lucha continua

Atheist blogger, 35 year old Ahmed Rajib known by his online identity Thaba Baba, had his head hacked apart with a machete one day after attending anti-Islamist protests in Bangladesh.

This is the usual Islamist response to any opposition: assassination, decapitation and sheer barbarity.

But nothing – not even the brutal murder of yet one more of our beloved – can intimidate the ever increasing rage.

The biggest protests Bangladesh has seen in decades against the country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and well-known war-criminal, Abdul Quader Mollah, and the female factor, are yet another example of how the new age of revolutions can bring an end to Islamist politics.

The death penalty even for the most vile amongst us is never the solution though.

After decades of Islamist politics of death, we must move to one that defends human life and rights.

La lucha continua… We will carry on the work of Ahmed Rajib…

A few things about Sharia and Islamism

Haven’t had time to write a blog post today but wanted to bring attention to a few things:

* Several Ahmadi Muslims have been arrested for publishing ‘blasphemous’ books about their faith. This is what happens when Islamist values are seen to be one and the same with Muslim values. Then a large number of Muslims are no longer ‘real Muslims’ and face threats, persecution and intimidation. Religion is a private matter; the sooner we can get rid of Islamism, the sooner people can believe in Islam or not without fear.

* Roy Brown from the International Humanist and Ethical Union just informed me that somebody tried to kill writer Lars Hedegaard in Denmark today. Roy received this news: “The guy rang his doorbell pretending to be the postman delivering a package. When Lars opened the door he tried to shoot him in his head, but missed. Lars went into a fight with him, managed to get the gun off him, the guy managed to get hold of the gun again and Lars went into a new fight with him while he tried to shoot again, but the gun didn’t go off. After this resistance the guy fled.” You might recall that Lars was previously fined for making insulting remarks about Islam. it is most likely the work of Islamists. Appalling that someone who has made some ‘insulting’ remarks must die but Lama’s father goes free! What an upside down world!

When I spoke in Denmark a while back, Lars and I disagreed on many a thing but one thing is certain: no-one must be threatened, intimidated, or censored for “insulting” Islam or religion… It’s a little thing called free expression.

*  By the way, the brilliant Nahla Mahmoud has written a piece on Sharia law here as a follow up to her Channel 4 piece on Sharia.

* When you get a chance, take a look at a movie on Sharia made by President of Free Muslims Toronto Chapter, Hassan Mahmud, here.

Iran: two sides to the story

Jafar Panahi’s “This is Not a Film” provides an important glimpse into the extent and nature of the Islamic regime of Iran’s oppression and the injustices of Sharia law.

His entire film-making career has been – in his own words – “constructed around the notion of restriction, limitation, confinement and boundaries”.

Take any week in the life of this regime and its true nature becomes as clear as daylight.

This past week, at least 22 people were executed in Tehran, Shiraz and Kerman. Every single one of them – as WH Auden has said – was someone’s north, south, east and west.

One of those killed under torture was 35 year old blogger Sattar Beheshti who was arrested a week earlier on bogus “national security” charges and whose parents were called yesterday and told: “prepare a grave; your son is dead”. His parents were not even allowed to prepare his body for burial – the regime did it for them – to prevent his tortured body from being seen.

Under totalitarianism and dictatorships like that of the Islamic regime of Iran, one eats “fear for breakfast, fear for lunch and for dinner, fear” as Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano says. That’s how the system works; how it maintains itself. You cannot rely on anything; and you can never be sure if you will survive a run-in with the authorities.

The best way I can describe it is that it is how things are under an Islamic inquisition

But fear and repression are only one side of the story.

It is in Panahi’s film. If Panahi is forbidden from making a film, them he will be filmed describing the film he is banned from making. And this refusal is as much a part of Iranian society – and even more so – than the repression.

There are countless examples – from the protests post 2009 fraudulent elections; the constant battle over the veil; regular labour strikes and sit-ins; the fight back from political prisoners and mothers of those killed or imprisoned…

And I think that is the very human and inspiring other side to the story that’s visible in Panahi’s film. It’s the refusal to submit and the extraordinary courage of sometimes very ordinary people. [Read more...]

This is about politics not religion

Below is my speech at the 22 September National Secular Society conference in London:

Sometimes I really don’t know what more to say.

What else can be said about Sharia law that– at least in your gut – you don’t already know?

It is based on the Koran, the Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence. Its criminal code includes stoning to death for adultery and execution for apostasy and homosexuality. In Iran, for example, there are over 130 offences punishable by death.

Its civil code – which is imposed by Sharia courts in Britain – is discriminatory and unfair particularly against women. Basically it is a code of death and despair.

Not breaking news, is it? After all it is religious law. And that’s what – in my opinion – religion does best. A court based on the Bible and Torah would be similarly discriminatory and barbaric.

Yet the numbers of people who continue to defend Sharia courts in Britain as people’s ‘right to religion’ is staggering.

And of course – any excuse – will do. The best I have heard recently has to be ‘I have a Muslim friend who says Sharia is not as you say it is’. End of. Their skepticism seems to apply to everything but Islam. [Read more...]

The other film: The Innocence of Muslims

Another film that has hit the headlines – ‘The innocence of Muslims’ – merits comment particularly since it has sparked protests that have resulted in the death of several US officials in Libya.

Have you seen the film? It is absolutely ludicrous.

It’s low budget (though they say they spent $5 million on it), poorly edited, badly acted – I mean just really, really bad. It’s almost impossible to get through the trailer let alone the movie itself.

It’s even worse (if that’s an option) than Geert Wilders’ film, Fitna, which we did a remake on.

Clearly the incompetence of the far-Right is even more astounding than its racism…

Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it:

What I find most ironic out of all of this is how the producers of the film and their supporters – like the crackpot pastor Terry Jones of Stand Up America! – don’t see how they are one and the same with the Islamists.

Like the Islamists, everyone is guilty. No one is innocent, which explains the very pathetic title of their film.

By the way, did you hear that the pastor is holding a trial for Mohammad who will face execution if found guilty? Does he not realise Mohammad isn’t even a real live person? And I also love the whole Christian love (we’re better than Islam) bit that ends with a public execution.

Like I said, two sides of the same coin.

You’re on the wrong side

I was recently criticised for ‘picking on Iran’.

Well, yes if you side with the Iranian regime, or don’t see anything wrong with it, then my opposing it may seem this way to you.

It is all about taking sides really.

The same applies to the discussion we are having here on the veil.

You either have a problem with it because it is a religiously sanctioned tool for women’s repression or you don’t have any problem with it and think it is merely another form of clothing.

You either consider child veiling a form of abuse because of what it represents for the child [it is the sexualisation of a child from a very young age, it is in place to prevent her from causing fitna or chaos in society if she is not covered up. It represents sex apartheid similar to racial apartheid but based on gender. It says she cannot mix with boys, go into certain fields of study, can't feel the wind in her hair because she is a girl...] or you just don’t.

If you don’t see it, you’re on the wrong side!

Conspiratorial nut-jobs, Nazis and extremists

Here’s a wonderful letter I received recently from a thoughtful ex-member of the far-Right British National Party. There is a lot we can learn from Alistair Barbour in challenging the far-Right. As I have said before, when the pathetic excuse of an ‘anti-fascist’ and Post-modernist Left allies itself with Islamic fascism, it leaves the space open for the far-Right to address this issue from an inhuman and racist perspective. That’s why the work of groups like One Law for All is so important. And it will be made all the stronger with voices such as that of Alistair’s. Alistair gave me permission to publish his letter in full.

Dear Ms Namazie.

I hope you don’t mind me sending this mail through this site I am a subscriber to your blog on ‘freethought blogs.com’ and received your posting relating to the far right. I have tried to send this article to that email address also but as it says ‘no reply’ I don’t hold out much hope of you getting it through that channel. If this email can not be sent to Ms Namazie would it be possible to let me know.

I am thoroughly ashamed to admit that a few years ago I was becoming very concerned about certain things in our country that I actually joined the BNP [the far-Right British National Party]. A shameful weight that I shall carry round my neck for ever. Please allow me to explain as briefly as I can.

I had never been one for watching TV and the internet was a total unknown source for me so I had heard little bits about the BNP but very little really. I was too busy working and bringing up 2 sons on my own. Looking back now I can see the pattern of why I became political.

There was real problems with the country, political Islam being one of the them. At the time I spoke to the 3 main party’s and they just appeared to not want to face up to some very real problems that society was facing. Anyways a friend of mine asked me to come to a political meeting, a BNP meeting. I thought what the hell, it will be interesting won’t it.

Anyways to try and be as brief as possible. I know now that I was primed. I had been thought the courts for a few years. My ex-wife had taken my house and left me with 2 sons. I definitely got the best deal, two great sons who are now young men,but I think at the time the anger with the unfairness in the system was festering. My sons were now older and I suppose I maybe noticed what was going on in my country. [Read more...]

To Human Rights Watch: Separation of religion from state is the most basic guarantee of rights

An Open Letter to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

Dear Kenneth Roth,

In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.

You say, “It is important to nurture the rights-respecting elements of political Islam while standing firm against repression in its name,” but you fail to call for the most basic guarantee of rights—the separation of religion from the state. Salafi mobs have caned women in Tunisian cafes and Egyptian shops; attacked churches in Egypt; taken over whole villages in Tunisia and shut down Manouba University for two months in an effort to exert social pressure on veiling. And while “moderate Islamist” leaders say they will protect the rights of women (if not gays), they have done very little to bring these mobs under control. You, however, are so unconcerned with the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities that you mention them only once, as follows: “Many Islamic parties have indeed embraced disturbing positions that would subjugate the rights of women and restrict religious, personal, and political freedoms. But so have many of the autocratic regimes that the West props up.” Are we really going to set the bar that low? This is the voice of an apologist, not a senior human rights advocate. [Read more...]

Human Rights Watch – You are Disgusting!

Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth says in the group’s annual report that the past year’s Arab Spring uprisings across the region have shown it is vital for the West to end its policy of backing ‘an array of Arab autocrats’ in exchange for supporting Western interests. So far so good.

But then the organisation and Roth fall for the same old affliction of the post-modernist left, which is that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Therefore, according to this sad piece of logic (or lack thereof) if the Islamists replace the bad autocrats, then they must be good. Really?

He says: ‘The international community must … come to terms with political Islam when it represents a majority preference, he said. ‘Islamist parties are genuinely popular in much of the Arab world, in part because many Arabs have come to see political Islam as the antithesis of autocratic rule.’

I beg to differ. Even if a majority prefers something, it doesn’t necessarily make it good and right, nor does it mean that the new option is the ‘antithesis of autocratic rule’. Islamism is also autocratic and in many places supported by the West.

And the reality is very different. A majority don’t support Islamism unless you believe that people like to have their rights and freedoms limited and are different human beings from those sitting in the plush Human Rights Watch offices. [Read more...]