February 2014 Unveiled: anti-immigration confusion, World Hijab Day and on Hassan Rouhani

fitnah-UNVEILED-Feb14Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation 
February 2014; Volume 2, Issue 2
Editor: Maryam Namazie; Design: Kiran Opal

Pdf version of publication available here.

In this issue:
Interview with Kenan Malik: Secularism, Islamism and the Anti-Immigration Confusion
January 2014 Newsflash
Campaign: End Ban on Female Fans in Iran; Stadiums for All
Editorials: Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive is just plain offensive and World Hijab Day

Secularism, Islamism and the Anti-Immigration Confusion
Interview with Kenan Malik

Maryam Namazie: Restrictions demanded by Islamists are viewed as the demand of Muslims and immigrants who are seen to be a homogeneous group with no differences of opinion. Immigrants and Muslims are often blamed for all of Britain and Europe’s woes but particularly for the rise of Sharia courts, the burqa or 7/7. Your views?

Kenan Malik: When I was working on my book From Fatwa to Jihad, I interviewed Naser Khader, a Danish MP and one of the best known Muslims in the country. He recalled a conversation he had had at the time of the Danish cartoon controversy with Toger Seidenfaden, editor of the left-wing newspaper Politiken. ‘He said to me that the cartoons insulted all Muslims’, Khader remembers. ‘I said I was not insulted. And he said, “But you’re not a real Muslim”.’

That sums up the liberal attitude towards Muslims. You are only a ‘proper’ Muslim if you want to ban Danish cartoons, or are offended by The Satanic Verses or think that Monica Ali’s Brick Lane is demeaning to your community. Similarly, you are only a proper Sikh if you are offended by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti. Someone like Naser Khader, on the other hand, or like Salman Rushdie or Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, or Monica Ali, are seen as too liberal, too ‘Westernized’, too progressive, to be truly of their community.

The consequence has been that the most reactionary figures get to be seen as the authentic voices of those communities. And in presenting Muslim communities in this fashion, liberals do the racists’ job for them. The protests against the cartoons, as Khader put it, ‘were not about Mohammed. They were about who should represent Muslims’. And what was ‘really offensive’ to him was that ‘journalists and politicians see the fundamentalists as the real Muslims’.

It’s one of the ironies of the liberal multicultural view. Liberals argue for multicultural policies on the grounds that we live in a diverse nation. But they seem also to believe that such diversity somehow magically stops at the edges of minority communities. They wash over differences and conflicts in those communities, seeing them instead as fixed, homogenous groups with a single set of views, primarily driven by faith. And they rely on so-called community leaders to be suitable judges of what is and is not acceptable or necessary for that community. As a result, progressive voices often get silenced as ‘inauthentic’ or as not really being of that community.

Maryam Namazie: Free expression is a demand of those without power vis-a-vis the powers that be. It seems more often than not, it is those with power and influence making such demands at the expense of those who need it most. I’m thinking of Islamists using rights language to deny rights and expression. Free speech and expression have often been censored under the guise of respecting the sensibilities of Islamists (couched in terms of Muslim or minority sensibilities). [Read more…]

The Rise of Fitnah: Ready to Cause Affliction

unveiled_oct2013-final_Page_01Unveiled
A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
October 2013
Volume 1, Issue 1

PDF Version of the Publication: Unveiled_Oct2013_Final1

Editor: Maryam Namazie
Design: Maha Kamal

In this issue:
Exclusive Interview: The rise of Fitnah: ready to cause affliction
Editorial: Rouhani’s fake smile; the war on women continues
News Flash: Crimes against women
Campaign: Against legal paedophilia in Iran
Arts: Voices of women against Islamism

Exclusive Interview
The Rise of Fitnah Targets Islamism; ‘Ready to Cause Affliction’
Women’s eNews Interview with Maryam Namazie

The below interview was published on Women’s eNews.

Women’s eNews: Why did you label the campaign ‘Fitnah’? In the email received yesterday, you say “women are seen to be the source of fitnah or affliction”, could you please elaborate?

Maryam Namazie: In Islam, women are seen to be the source of fithah or affliction. In one hadith, Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, said: “I have left behind no fitnah more harmful to men, than women.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim].  This is a recurring theme in all major religions.  There is a Jewish prayer that says: “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman”.  In the Bible, there is one verse that says: “Her filthiness is in her skirts”. [Lam.1:8-9] There are of course many examples of religion’s misogynist perception of women.

In practice, this translates into an obsession with the control and restriction of women in order to maintain everything from family honour to societal order. This is most visibly experienced for women living under Islamic laws because of Islam’s access to political and state power via Islamism or political Islam.

To the extent that Islamism has power, veiling is enforced by morality police and women are imprisoned for escaping forced marriages or stoned to death for adultery.

The extent of hatred towards women runs deep. Recently in Marivan, Iran, a judge ordered a young man to be dressed in women’s clothing and a hejab and paraded around the city by security forces in order to humiliate him. Being a woman is considered the greatest of humiliations.

Whilst the term fitnah is perceived to be a negative one if one looks at it from the perspective of religion and Islamism, it represents something very different when looked at from another viewpoint. It is always the woman who transgresses norms that is deemed to be “fitnah”. It is the woman who refuses to submit, the one who resists and is disobedient. In that sense, the women’s liberation movement is a source of fitnah for those who insist on women’s oppression.

Our movement is Islamism’s worst fitnah…

Women’s eNews: What sparked this campaign? – Is it a campaign against religion? men? religious men? a state? Who are you specifically targeting with this campaign?

Maryam Namazie: Finah represents a new movement for a new era. The brutal era of unbridled Islamism, US-led militarism and free market reign is over. 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 still 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.

Fitnah is a movement of women and men defending freedom, equality and secularism and calling for an end to misogynist cultural, religious and moral laws and customs, compulsory veiling, sex apartheid, sex trafficking, and violence against women.

Whilst our focus is on Iran in particular, and the Middle East and North Africa in general, it’s an international movement. We don’t see women’s rights as being western. As women’s rights campaigners opposing compulsory veiling in Iran said during a mass demonstration in 1979: “women’s rights are not eastern or western but universal”.

We also don’t see rights as culturally relative. Rights have been fought for by the working class and progressive social movements and belong to all humanity.  The right to vote is not considered western even though the first country to have the right to vote was in the west. This idea of rights being western and culturally relative is stressed in particular when it comes to women rights and freedoms.

Also, whilst all religions are anti-woman, our focus is on Islam and political Islam given its impact on our region and the world.

US suffragette and abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation”. This is true in particular with regards Islam and Islamism today.

Of course when speaking of Islam or any religion, we are not referring to religion as a personal belief. Everyone has a right to religion and atheism but Islam today is not a personal matter but an industry. [Read more…]

Rouhani smiles abroad whilst executions stepped up in Iran

Whilst Rouhani smiles abroad, executions have been stepped up in Iran according to Mina Ahadi and the International Committee against Execution. Since the election at least 213 prisoners have been executed. 27 were executed in the past two weeks. There are plans to execute 26 political prisoners imminently.

Rouhani was quoted saying he wanted to empty the prisons – it seems the regime intends to do so via executions…

Here Shahin Najafi and Majid Kazemi sing against executions as should we all.