Lib Dems must publicly disassociate from al Bander’s hate campaign

Spencer Hargard, chair of the Cambridge Lib Dems has replied to the request to investigate Salah al Bander’s renewed hate campaign against CEMB co-Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud saying that al Bander has resigned. Mr Hargard, therefore, states that an investigation is no longer possible.

Interestingly, Salah al Bander is still listed on various Lib Dem websites as a member and also a local campaigner for the area of Trimpington in Cambridge. Furthermore, al Bander still uses his Lib Dem credentials in his hate campaign against Nahla Mahmoud.

In his email, Mr Hagard writes:

You state that you expect the Party to take action against him for his alleged ‘previous bullying, harassment, sexism and hate threats against’ you, whilst he was a member of the party. Unfortunately this cannot be done retrospectively as we only received this complaint against him from you this month, long after he resigned from the Party.

Mr Hagard and the Lib Dems, however, never addressed past complaints even when al Bander was a member.

In November 2013, when Nahla Mahmoud emailed him for a copy of the ‘independent translation’ which Mr Hagard said exonerated al-Bander and even “increased his previous high esteem” for al Bander, she received the following response on 18 November 2013:

With reference to your emails, I enclose a copy of a report from Cambridge Liberal Democrats.

You will see that the matter has been thoroughly investigated, and that the investigation has included independent translation of all the passages in Arabic that have been cited in the allegations against Dr Salah Al Bander.

As a result, we have unequivocally concluded that there is nothing in Dr Al Bander’s behaviour which conflicts with his continuing membership of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Cambridge Liberal Democrats consider this matter closed.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Hagard
Chair, Cambridge Liberal Democrats

The copy of the enclosed report can be found here: SALAH AL BANDER – Response~05Nov13.

Clearly, Cambridge Lib Dems had no intention of properly investigating al Bader’s hate campaign against Nahla Mahmoud even when al Bander was a member.

Since he is no longer a member, we urge the Lib Dems to make this clear, particularly since al Bander claims otherwise in Arabic. At the very least, the party must disassociate itself from al Bander’s continued hate campaign.

On Salah al Bander’s hate campaign against Nahla Mahmoud: Police and Lib Dems must act

nahlaThe Liberal Democrats member and the former councillor, Salah al Bander, who led the Takfir/Hate campaign against Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud last year is now back with other death threats.

In last week’s ‘A View Point’ which al Bander hosts (episode No 109 also available on his Facebook page), he discusses ‘Extremism and ISIS’ within the Sudanese Diaspora in the UK and says that Nahla Mahmoud is an extremist as dangerous as ISIS:

“Our youth are faced with two extreme choices, the choice of ISIS which is a savage path, and the choice of Nahla Mahmoud which is a shameful scandalous path, and one which no morals would accept”. He adds that Nahla is “a woman who is deviating the youth, insulting Islam and promoting infidelity”. He calls on people to take action against her and adds: “We will not tolerate what she is advocating: promoting the addiction and drinking of alcohol in public, insulting people’s beliefs, offending Islam and the Sudanese traditions and culture. We believe that her goals of promoting Ridah/Apostasy and encouraging people out of Islam, besides her missionary role to insult people’s beliefs is a dangerous project which should be fought against.” He also says: “This issue needs clear awareness, caution, preparation and serious handling to tackle the extremism we are facing so that our youth are not forced to either path if that was the path of ISIS or the path of Nahla.”

In the programme, he uses – without permission – personal photos from Nahla’s social media accounts, photo-shopped phrases and edited segments from her online articles. He also uses a recording of a phone conversation with Nahla Mahmoud’s mother, edited and recorded without her knowledge or permission.

A number of other activists are attacked, including Maryam Namazie, Founder and Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, who he claims is “a mentor of Nahla” who has “insulted Islam” herself.

The show is in Arabic as was his previous Takfir/Hate campaign.  He is still using “double-speak” – saying one thing in English to dupe his English speaking audience and another in Arabic. His speech in Arabic clearly incites hatred against Nahla who has merely expressed her views, promoted freethought and secularism and lived a life of her choosing. Al-Bander shamefully compares her to ISIS, which kills people like Nahla every day, whilst he himself promotes Islamist ideas of hate, misogyny and the targeting of apostates not very different from that of ISIS.

Despite al-Bander’s hate campaign, Spencer Hagard, Chair of the Cambridge Liberal Democrats found the former’s threats “groundless” and said that his inquiry into Nahla’s complaint “increased his previously high esteem for al Bandar”.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is outraged at the callous disregard for the safety and well being of one of our activists and calls on the Lib Dems to investigate this incident of hate speech  – properly for a change.

We are also fed up of the police’s inaction when it comes to threats against apostates and call on them to investigate and reopen Nahla’s case against al Bander. This is the third incident reported to the police against al Bander without any action taken.

Calling someone Murtad/ Kafir/Zindeeq, claiming they have “insulted Islam” and targeting them within a context where Islamists and Islamic states kill and threaten freethinkers is a direct threat and a form of hate speech.

CEMB calls on the authorities to ensure the safety of those who are deemed apostates. People, including Muslims, must have the right to express dissent and leave Islam without threats, and fear of their lives.

For more information, please contact:

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

Bread and Roses: On Apostasy

See this week’s Bread and Roses TV programme in English on the issue of apostasy and the execution sentence of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim in Sudan. In this week’s programme, I speak with Nahla Mahmoud, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

The Persian programme will be broadcast via New Channel TV tomorrow and will be available then.

Next week’s programme is on Stealthy Freedoms and women unveiling in Iran. What does this movement represent to you? Send us any questions and comments or even 30 second videos to broadcast on our programme to the below:

Bread and Roses
نان و گل سرخ
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Twitter: @NanoGoleSorkh
Telephone: +44 20 3287 6128

By the way, we have managed to raise £2000 of the £15,000 we need for a video mixer, computer, microphones and lighting for the programme. There’s only 20 days left so please help if you can. See our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. Right now, we have to manually edit footage from 4 separate cameras on a computer that keeps shutting down. It takes too long to produce each programme, which makes it impractical over the long-term. A video mixer and computer will make things easier!

Thanks for any support for our free-thinking, taboo-breaking work.. We’ll owe you one.

Lib Dems: Wrong Answer, Again!

Nahla Mahmoud MCUNahla Mahmoud, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, was threatened after speaking out against Sharia law including by Salah al Bandar (or Salah al Bander) who has until recently been a Liberal Democrat Councillor and is currently an esteemed member. Details of his threats can be found here as can information on his dubious background here.

Spencer Hagard, Chair of the Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats, initiated an investigation when the threats were first made public in English and found them “groundless”. Instead, he said the inquiry “increased [his] previously high esteem for” al Bandar.

When he was further pressed, he commissioned an “independent translation” and reached the very same conclusion, which says:

1.  Nahla Mahmoud’s allegations against Dr Al Bander are very serious, in their nature, and in the scale and persistence of their dissemination.
2.  The allegations are based on Dr Al Bander’s posts on ‘SudaneseOnline’.  We have had these independently translated into English.
3. None of the independent translations supports the allegations made in Nahla Mahmoud’s articles of 2 August 2013, 2 September 2013, 4 September 2013, and 28 September 2013. By a combination of of mistranslation, omission of key phrases, and highly selective and partial quotation, she has created serious distortions of the meaning of Dr Al Bander’s posts.

4. Our conclusion is that Dr Al Bander has no case to answer in respect of the allegations by Nahla Mahmoud.

5. We are therefore satisfied that there is nothing in Dr Salah Al Bander’s behaviour which conflicts with his continuing membership of the Liberal Democrat Party.

When asked for a copy of the “independent translation”  by Janet Wright who lives in Cambridgeshire, Hagard refused. Janet wrote to him saying:

You say “You will see that the matter has been thoroughly investigated”. But that is exactly what I cannot see, because you have not shown me the evidence. As an academic, you know that repeating an assertion is not the same as providing evidence.

Would you please be kind enough to send me the independent translation you commissioned, with some information about who did the translation? Then I hope I will be able to see that Mr Al Bander is completely innocent of the charges made against him. Many thanks.

I very much wish to be reassured about the principles upheld by Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats. But the more you tell me you have evidence exonerating Mr Al Bander but you will not show it to me, the more worried I become.

Hagard wrote back: [Read more…]

Statement on the takfir campaign against activist Nahla Mahmoud

Nahla Mahmoud MCU

Below is a statement by several Sudanese rights activists against Salah Al Bandar’s takfir campaign against Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud. Takfir is an originally Arabic word that literally means pronouncement of unbelief against someone; it is similar to the ecclesiastical concept of ‘excommunication’. Takfir in Islam is a justification for capital punishment.

Drawing on our belief  of and responsibility towards defending all rights and freedoms, and based on our principled position towards supporting the freedoms of expression and belief, as two basic rights for every human being and  as well as our stance on supporting the fundamental right to life and personal security, we, the undersigned, would like to  declare our solidarity with Nahla Mahmoud in the face of the takfir/death threats and intimidation campaign being orchestrated by Mr. Salah Al Bandar against her. We also call on the British authorities to protect Nahla and put an end to the violation by Mr. Al Bandar of her right to life and personal security as well as her rights of belief and freedom of expression, and to obligate him to stop intimidating her and her family in Sudan.

[Read more…]

Update on the threats against Nahla Mahmoud

nahlaAs you know, following an interview on Channel 4 on Sharia law, Islamists threatened Sudanese secular campaigner and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud with death, calling her a “Kafira” and “Murtada” who has offended Islam and brought “fitnah”. One of those making the threats was Salah al Bandar (or Salah al Bander) who has until recently been a Liberal Democrat Councillor.

Spencer Hagard, Chair of the Cambridge Liberal Democrats, initiated an investigation into the allegations against al Bandar and found them “groundless”. Instead, he said the inquiry “increased [his] previously high esteem for” al Bandar. This despite the fact that an independent translation was not carried out by the Lib Dems to verify the threats made nor was any of the documented threats made against Nahla Mahmoud addressed other than to say that the quotes were a “gross distortion”, and “utterly misrepresented”. See article on this here.

Kafir(a) and Murtad(a) are well known derogatory terms meaning infidel and apostate; moreover, fitnah is another derogatory term against disobedient women who are seen to be the source of chaos or affliction in society. Given that apostasy is punishable by death in ten countries including Sudan, and a prosecutable offence in many more, the terms can hardly be considered positive and open to distortion.

Rather than addressing the specific threats made against Nahla Mahmoud, al Bandar mentions his “dedicat[ion] to individual human rights”, including with organisations like Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT).

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain finds this wholly unacceptable and calls on the Lib Dems to provide a detailed response with regards the complaint against al Bandar. His questionable “human rights” record is irrelevant and can hardly be used in his defence.

SOAT, the group al Bandar cites as proof of his commitment to human rights, has in fact had problems with him. Founding members of the organisation wrote a letter in September 2008 saying that the board of trustees headed by al Bandar was acting “opposite to its vision and values.” They went on to say: “we have serious concerns and doubts about the constituency and legitimacy of the current board of trustees of the organisation. We believe that the election procedure of the board was inappropriate, lacked transparency and equal opportunities to participate. In fact it has been manipulated. As a result, we have explained and informed the UK Charity Commission of the current situation.” The letter can be seen here. [Read more…]

No place for Sharia

Sudanese atheist and ex-Muslim, Nahla Mahmoud, speaks her mind against Sharia law on channel 4Thought TV and says that Sharia has no place in Britain or the world and that there must be one secular law for all.

The only other sane voice amongst the seven interviewed on “what Sharia can offer Britain” is that of gay Muslim Omar Kuddus. [The third opponent is a Christian evangelist but we’ll ignore his as I am only speaking of sane voices here.]

The other 4 are pro-Sharia and completely insane.

Abu Usamah says Islam will dominate the world and that we need to appreciate Sharia and go beyond stoning of adulterers and cutting off of hands…

Ali-Ridha Jaffer adds that whilst people might say Sharia is barbaric, it works (!)

Amra Bone, the only female member of the Sharia Council (who can’t even make a decision on her own without male Sharia judges), says it protects women.

And there is the fourth proponent who likes the fact that under Sharia the family can decide on retribution in murder cases or get blood money…

Err, long live 21st century values?

You can see all the interviews here.