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...]

We are behind you

The UCL Atheist president has resigned. To those who have resigned and the ones who will take their places: Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid. We are behind you and we aim to win…

As an aside, the UCL Union said in a statement: ‘The atheist society has agreed they will take more consideration when drawing up publicity for future events.’ I suggest that the UCL Union take more consideration when censoring free expression and appeasing Islamists. They are not going to get away with it anymore.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION

The president of Queen Mary atheist group has not resigned. She just sent me the following email:

I have not resigned. I want to see the society through this turbulent time at least untill the police investigation has been resolved.

I will then review the situation and decide how to proceed with the society.

I am happy to answer any other questions that you may have, and look forward to rescheduling the talk.

Jennifer

 

 

It’s not just about you or Jesus and Mo

Recently, there have been a number of high profile attacks on free expression by Islamists often supported by educational institutions and others.

What I find most absurd about it all is how the fundamental debate on Islam and free expression has become framed within a context of offence, racism and discrimination.

What has happened here in the west is that the Islamic movement’s inhuman, barbaric and medieval sensibilities and values are portrayed and excused as the offended sensibilities and values of all ‘Muslims’.

Islamist threats, violence and terrorism are tactics and pillars of the political Islamic movement, and have nothing to do with ‘Muslim sensibilities’. Whilst we are all offended at least some of the time (and very often by Islam itself), most of us – religious or not – Muslim or not – never resort to death threats and violence. If they were really people’s own sensibilities and beliefs, Islamic states and movements wouldn’t need to resort to such indiscriminate violence and to Sharia law. [Read more...]

The truth surrounding Rafiq Tagi’s assassination must come to light

The below letter by writers and campaigners, including Taslima Nasrin and Salman Rushdie, will be submitted to the EU today when Mina Ahadi meets with delegates about the need for a condemnation of and investigation into writer and Islam critic Rafiq Tagi’s assassination: [Read more...]

If it’s alright with the Guardian, we won’t welcome Islamism

You have to love the Guardian. They never waiver from defending political Islam every which way they can.

They have published yet another article on why we should support Islamism in the Middle East.

Wadah Khanfar, the director general of al-Jazeera tells us that Islamism is just Muslims involved in the public sphere.

To me that’s like saying Stop Islamisation of America or Teabaggers are just Americans involved in politics or the English Defence League is just Britons involved in the public sphere. Err is that what they are calling far-Right fascist politics today and if so I must have missed the memo. [Read more...]