Passion for Freedom isn’t western but universal

pFFPassion for Freedom Art Festival is in its 7th year this week. The Art Competition was initially begun by One Law for All to promote  secular and universal values, one law for all, and equal rights for all citizens.

For two years now, however, One Law for All is no longer associated with the festival after it took positions that were opposed to that of the organisation’s. In November 2013, organisers introduced Tommy Robinson, former head of the far-Right English Defence League, as a special guest at a panel discussing a film Silent Conquest, which won an award at the festival. The film placed collective blame on Muslims who were deemed to be “conquering” Europe. Our then Spokesperson, Anne Marie Waters, was at the discussion but did not dispute the film nor Robinson’s introduction despite our organisation’s very clear position against the far-Right. Waters was asked to resign that same month.

In 2014, One Law for All Spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, who had spoken at every art festival since its inception did not attend the event and informed organisers that One Law for All would no longer be working with Passion for Freedom. In 2014, the festival, which professed to be non-political, was sponsored by the Israeli embassy, amongst others.

These changes in politics began to take hold after the festival was taken over by volunteers Agnieszka Kolek and Mariana Fox.  Their perspective is similar to the far-Right point of view that sees “Muslims” as a homogeneous community “conquering” western societies. In fact, “Muslims” or those labelled as such include progressive and anti-Islamist believers and non-believers. Those deemed “Muslims” are often the first victims of Islamism and at the frontlines of resistance to it. Moreover, this point of view supports – without question – the Israeli state at the expense of the Israeli and Palestinian people.

In their latest letter sent in September 2015, Passion for Freedom speaks of  “freedom for our Western societies” as if freedom is for the West alone and not a universal concept fought for and defended the world over.

Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters (as Rosa Luxemburg has said) – and those dissenters include many “Muslims” and non-Westerners.  Whilst Passion for Freedom uses films and art by non-Western artists who face great risks, they push a clash of civilisations narrative (in their defence of “our Western societies”) which effectively undermines the very artists being showcased.

One Law for All is outraged that an art competition it started and which was meant to unite humanity via art against the religious-Right is morphing into a tool of the Christian-Right.

For more information:
Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8122621.

The show will go on

passion_for_freedom_03The show will go on.

The 5th Passion for Freedom Festival will take place as planned from 02 November 2013 even though the original venue – out of sheer cowardice – pulled out last minute.

The festival will now be held at:
Embassy Tea Gallery
195-205 Union Street
London SE1 0LN (Closest underground Southwark)

The 2 November private view and movie screenings can be attended by reservation only. To reserve your place on the guest list please email: RSVP@PASSIONFORFREEDOM.CO.UK.

Shortlisted artists will exhibit works which will be judged by an international Selection Panel including Anda Rottenberg, Sarah Maple, Deeyah and Nick Cohen.

Passion for Freedom is affiliated with One Law for All.

For more information on the festival, click here.


passionThe 5th Passion for Freedom Festival will take place from 02 November 2013.

A new venue will be announced shortly. UNIT24 Gallery, the original venue, has pulled out last minute leaving organisers scrambling for a new venue.

Clearly, the main issue at hand is the Gallery’s fear of exhibiting controversial artwork.

Unit24 now joins a long list of “supporters of the arts” which want art that is uncontroversial even though the very purpose of good art is to break taboos and challenge the status quo.

Irrespective of their cowardice, the show will go on.

Per our previous announcement, shortlisted artists will exhibit works which will be judged by an international Selection Panel including Anda Rottenberg, Sarah Maple, Deeyah and Nick Cohen.

Please watch this space for updates and details of the new venue.

Passion for Freedom is affiliated with One Law for All. For more information, click here.

One law for All – Passion For Freedom – Awards 2012

One Law for All’s 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival opened on 3 November with a private viewing at Unit24 Gallery. Hundreds attended the viewing.

The festival, which is addressing the issue of freedom, is showcasing the work of over 40 artists from 20 countries worldwide (including censored works shown in London for the very first time) under the direction of Agnieszka Kolek, KM Curator and Marianna Fox, Assistant Curator.


Winners of the 2012 Freedom Awards are as follows: [Read more…]

Despite the Fear

Last night’s private viewing of One Law for All’s 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival was absolutely brilliant. I spent most of the night on the couch in the back feeling ill but managed to give my speech. The art was fantastic – some shocking, others heart-wrenching or inspiring, and all of them thought-provoking. The festival is on until 10 November so drop by if you can. More details on the night’s winners are to follow but here is a piece by Nick Cohen in the Spectator about it. You can also see some photos of the night hereThe people’s vote went to a painting in homage to Pussy Riot (see featured photo).  Here’s my speech:

Under totalitarianism and dictatorship, one eats “fear for breakfast, fear for lunch and for dinner, fear” says Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

Fear is palpable when one lives under an Islamic inquisition, even if it’s not experienced directly.

Even here in Europe – Islamism’s Sharia laws and fatwas of censorship and death for everything from blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy become secular ones – where the artist or dissenter is not routinely imprisoned or killed (even if the threat is always there) but proclaimed ‘guilty’ of offence, disrespect, intolerance, and Islamophobia, thereby making censorship and self-censorship ‘justifiable’.

Where it rules, Islamism forbids you to dissent; here, it convinces you that dissent is impossible.

Yet fear is only part of the story; it is what we do despite the fear that counts.

In the late 1980s, whilst working in Sudan, I and a Burmese colleague whose name I cannot recall initiated an underground human rights organisation opposed to the Islamic regime there. When things got tricky, he said the fear was secondary. Taking action – even when one is afraid – that is the sign of true courage. [Read more…]

Censored works shown for the first time in London

One Law for All’s 4th Passion for Freedom London Festival 2012 presents artists who dare to take action

The fourth annual festival will take place at the Unit24 Gallery in London’s South Bank. Artists from 30 countries around the world have entered their work into the competition this year. During the festival the works of 36 artists will be shown from countries spanning the globe including Afghanistan, Cuba, China, Italy, Iran, Pakistan, Poland, UK, and USA.

“Artists using mediums such as video, installation, painting and sculpture openly debate issues that are usually ‘swept under the carpet.’ It is important to remember that our society takes freedom for granted. Being interested in ‘the next big thing’ we forget that what we have was fought for and has to be protected,” says Agnieszka Kolek, KM Curator.

The exhibition’s message comes across strongly with Sarah Maple’s work “Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction”. Invited to be a Special Guest Artist, Sarah decided to confront the viewer with their own reflection. ‘It is like everyone can be an activist in their everyday lives through small acts,’ says Sarah.

“Real change comes about by challenging and dissenting not by appeasement and silence. It comes about by breaking taboos and pushing aside that which is deemed sacred and art is such an important way of doing this. As Ai Wei Wei says, if we don’t push, nothing changes.” says Maryam Namazie, One Law for All’s Spokesperson. [Read more…]

4th Passion for Freedom Festival

One Law for All’s 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival will be held during 3-10 November 2012 at UNIT 24 Gallery, 20 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0FD (Closest underground station: Southwark) showcasing the work of 40 artists from 20 countries worldwide. The artists will be addressing crucial issues related to freedom and religious laws.

One Law for All supporters are invited to attend a private viewing on Saturday 3 November from 6:30pm-9:30pm. To RSVP email

Shortlisted artists being showcased are Amiri, Hangama (Canada, Afghanistan), Avila, Osailys Milian (Cuba), Bachaus, Maureen (The Netherlands), Beck, Eskild (Denmark), Behroozi, Azadeh (UK), Bennett, Elisabeth (UK), Betts, Gary (UK), Bonafede, John (USA), Breuker, Sarianne Elisabeth (The Netherlands), Burgher, Victoria (UK), Deceuninck, An (Belgium), Dent, Fiona (UK), Dong, van der Johan (The Netherlands), Eikelpoth, Alice (Germany/UK), Farahmandi, Ferri (UK/Iran), Franzolin, Luciana (UK/Italy), Gascoigne, Elisabeth (UK), Gorrill, Helen (UK), Georges, Hala (Syria/UK), Harrison, Paul (UK), Jamali, Haleh (UK/Iran), De Ioanni, Monica (UK/Greece), Johnson, Joy (UK), Lloyd, Matthew (UK), Leigh, Peter (UK), Massaro, Michael (UK), Nelson, Wendy (UK), Niemis, Renato (UK), Cuevas Pacorrosa, Rosa (UK/Spain), Qureshi, Abdullah (UK/Pakistan), Romain, Ricky (England), Saulat, Sausan (USA/Pakistan), Schgor, Francesca (England/France), Strzelecka, Maria (Poland), Taugner, Stephanie (USA), Teleki, Al (Austria), and Tracewska, Matylda (Poland) with special artist guest, Maple, Sarah. [Read more…]