A conference in defence of the separation of religion from the state

Join our conference. It is not to be missed. Hear about some of the fantastic speakers…

A conference in defence of the separation of religion from the state
On religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights
11-12 October 2014

در دفاع از جدايى دين از دولت – کنفرانس تاريخى در لندن
در مورد مذهب، سکولاریسم و حقوق مدنی

What isn’t wrong with Islamic and faith Schools?

نقش مخرب مذهب در آموزش و پرورش
برنامه نان و گل سرخ مجله ای سیاسی – اجتماعی در کانال جديد٬ ۲ ژوئيه ۲۰۱۴
با فريبرز پويا٬ بهرام سروش و مريم نمازى
مصاحبه با آليا سليم٬ فعال قانون برابر براى همه
کارگردان: رضا مرادى
مشاور برنامه: پونه راوى

What isn’t wrong with Islamic and faith Schools?
Bread and Roses, 1 July 2014
With Maryam Namazie, Fariborz Pooya and Bahram Soroush
Interview with Aliyah Saleem who attended an Islamic school for 6 years in Britain and 1 year in Pakistan
One Law for All activist.
Director: Reza Moradi.
Programme Consultant: Poone Ravi.

Less than 100 days left to register for the conference on Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights

Conference Leaflet for Distribution Available Here.

Conference Website Here.

فارسى

ConferenceIcon1smallLess than 100 days left to register for the conference of a life-time
Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights
11-12 October 2014
The Tower Hotel, London, UK

Join notable free-thinkers, atheists and secularists from around the world for a weekend of discussions and debates on the religious-Right, its attacks on civil rights and freedoms, and the role of secularism for 21st century humanity. The exciting two-day conference will discuss the Arab Spring, Sharia and religious laws, the limits of religion’s role in society, free expression, honour killings, apostasy and blasphemy laws, faith schools, women’s rights, secular values and much more.

The conference will be held at the Tower Hotel with spectacular views of the River Thames and the Tower of London. On the evening of 11 October, participants will enjoy cocktails followed by a delicious three-course meal and entertainment in the company of our speakers.

Distinguished speakers and acts:

  • AC Grayling is a Philosopher, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and author and commentator.
  • Amal Farah is Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All. She is Somali-born and was raised in a conservative and literalist Muslim household.
  • Amel Grami is Professor at the Tunisian University of Manouba; she was on the frontlines of Manouba’s successful struggle to defy a Salafist siege last year and is a leading expert on Religion and Women’s Studies.
  • Amina Sboui is a Tunisian activist threatened and imprisoned after posting topless photos of herself on Facebook carrying the slogan: “My Body is not the Source of Anyone’s Honour”.
  • Bahram Soroush is Public Relations Officer of the Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran and a co-host of Bread and Roses TV Programme.
  • Ben Baz Aziz is a Presenter at Arab Atheist broadcasting and a blogger focusing on LGBT and atheist rights in the Middle East who was imprisoned in Kuwait for blasphemy.
  • Caroline Fourest is a French writer, editor of the magazine ProChoix, and author of Frère Tariq, a critical look at the works of Tariq Ramadan and books on topics such as the conservative right, the pro-life movement and the fundamentalist trends in the Abrahamic religions.
  • Chetan Bhatt is the director of the Centre for the Study of Human rights at LSE. His current projects include work on the emergence of virtue in modern political ideologies, new forms of the regional state in South Asia and the sociology of religious paramilitia groups.
  • Chris Moos is a secular student activist who has led a successful campaign for the right to wear ‘Jesus and Mo’ t-shirts after being harassed and threatened with removal at his university. He was a nominee for the NSS’ Secularist of the Year 2014 award.
  • Elham Manea is a Yemeni associate professor specialized in the Middle East, a writer, and a human rights activist. Her concept of humanistic Islam was first published in a series of articles in Arabic.
  • Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar is an Iraqi born writer and a social activist living in the United States. He is the founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement and Secular Post.
  • Fariborz Pooya is the founder of the Iranian Secular Society, was one of the founding members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and is a co-host of Bread and Roses TV.
  • Fatou Sow is a Senegalese Sociologist, and a member of a number of African and international associations as well as the International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws.
  • Gita Sahgal is an Indian-born writer, journalist, film-maker and rights activist, Director of Centre for Secular Space who was suspended by Amnesty International as head of its Gender Unit in 2010 for criticising the organisation’s relations with an Islamist group.
  • Hamid Taqvaee is the Secretary of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran’s Central Committee and a leading Marxist opposition figure to the Islamic regime of Iran.
  • Houzan Mahmoud is a Kurdish women’s rights campaigner and the Spokesperson of the Organisations of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. She has written and campaigned extensively on women’s rights issues.
  • Horia Mosadiq has been Director of the Afghanistan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium and an advisor to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, as well as a journalist in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Imad Iddine Habib is a Moroccan atheist threatened for his atheism, founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco, the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.
  • Inna Shevchenko is leader of FEMEN topless activists who was kidnapped and threatened by the Belarus KGB in 2011 for her activism. She was granted political asylum in France.
  • Julie Bindel is an English writer, feminist and co-founder of the group Justice for Women. She was listed in the Independent’s “Pink List” as one of the top 101 most influential gay and lesbian people in the UK.
  • Kacem El Ghazzali is a Moroccan secularist writer, blogger, activist and atheist. He was the head of the Moroccan Center for Human Rights’ Youth Chapter and is a member of the Executive Board of the Moroccan Bloggers Association.
  • Karima Bennoune is a law professor at the University of California Davis School of Law, and author of “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism”.
  • Kate Smurthwaite is a stand-up comedian and political activist. She has appeared on more than 500 TV and radio shows including This Morning, The Big Questions, Woman’s Hour and The Moral Maze.
  • Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, a presenter of BBC Radio 4′s Analysis and a panellist on The Moral Maze. His book From Fatwa to Jihad was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize.
  • Kiran Opal is a Pakistani-born human rights activist, writer, and editor living in Canada. She is co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America and Editor of ExMuslimBlogs.
  • LCP is a multimedia and multiethnic dance company which emphasises human rights issues mainly human trafficking.
  • Lila Ghobady is an Iranian writer-journalist and documentary filmmaker. Her first independent release, Forbidden Sun Dance, was banned by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Lino Veljak is professor of philosophy at the University of Zagreb and Co-founder of the movement Protagora (protecting the values of secularism and human rights of non-religious persons).
  • Maha Kamal is an ex-Muslim who was disowned by her parents for leaving Islam, President of the Colorado Prison Law Project, and Commissioner at the Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice’s Commission on Inclusiveness.
  • Magdulien Abaida is a Libyan Activist and president of Hakki (My Right) Organization for Women Rights. She was kidnapped by Islamists in Benghazi in August 2012 and fled after her release three days later.
  • Marieme Helie Lucas is an Algerian sociologist, founder and former International Coordinator of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws. She is also the founder of Secularism Is A Women’s Issue.
  • Maryam Namazie is Spokesperson for Fitnah, One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; editor of Fitnah’s Unveiled; and producer and co-host of Bread and Roses.
  • Nadia El Fani is a Tunisian filmmaker who risks arrest and up to five years in prison if she returns to Tunisia after Islamists filed a complaint against her film “Neither Allah nor Master”.
  • Nahla Mahmoud is an environmentalist and human right activist originally from Sudan. She leads the Sudanese Humanists Group and is Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.
  • Nina Sankari is President of the European Feminist Initiative in Poland, and Vice-President of the Polish Rationalist Association.
  • Pervez Hoodbhoy is a Pakistani nuclear physicist and recipient of a number of awards. He is also a prominent environmentalist and social activist.
  • Peter Tatchell has been campaigning for rights and global justice since 1967. New Statesman readers voted him sixth on their list of “Heroes of our time”. He was Campaigner of the Year in The Observer Ethical Awards.
  • Pragna Patel is a founding member of the Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. She was listed in The Guardian’s Top 100 women: activists and campaigners.
  • Randa Kassis is President and founder of the Movement for a Pluralistic Society. She was a member of the Syrian National Council until she was excluded for her warnings against Muslim fundamentalists in 2012.
  • Rumy Hassan is Senior Lecturer at University of Sussex and author of “Dangerous Liaisons: The Clash between Islamism and Zionism” and “Multiculturalism: Some Inconvenient Truths”.
  • Sanal Edamaruku is an author and founder-president of Rationalist International and the Indian Rationalist Association. In 2012, he was charged with hurting religious sentiments for his role in examining a claimed miracle at a local Catholic Church.
  • Shelley Segal is a Melbourne based singer-songwriter involved in secular activism. ‘An Atheist Album’ is a passionate response to dogmatic belief, inequality, religious oppression and the idea that only the devout can be grateful and good.
  • Siba Shakib is an Iranian/German film-maker, writer and political activist. She was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. Her international best-seller Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes to Weep has been translated into 27 languages and won a P.E.N. prize.
  • Stasa Zajovic is co-founder and coordinator of Women in Black, Belgrade and initiated several networks like Women’s Peace Network, Network of Conscientious Objectors and Anti militarism in Serbia, and The Coalition for a Secular State.
  • Sue Cox is the co-founder of Survivors Voice Europe, an international organisation that has at its heart the support and empowerment of catholic clergy abuse survivors of which she is one.
  • Taj Hargey is South African Muslim scholar. He was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa and founder of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford and the Imam of the Summertown Islamic congregation.
  • Tarek Fatah is a Pakistani born Canadian writer, broadcaster and a secular activist. He is the author of “Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State” and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
  • Taslima Nasrin is a Bangladeshi-born award-winning writer, physician, and activist, known for her powerful writings on women oppression and unflinching criticism of religion, despite forced exile and multiple fatwas calling for her death.
  • Terry Sanderson is a writer and journalist and current President of the National Secular Society, which campaigns for the separation of church and state.
  • Waleed Husseini is a Palestinian blogger arrested in 2010 by the Palestinian Authority for blaspheming against Islam on Facebook and in his blog. He founded the Council of Ex-Muslims of France in 2013.

An International Secular Manifesto and the establishment of a united front of secularists to meet future challenges will be the final outcome of the Conference. Conference contributions will also be published in a book.

For full details of the conference, including on registration and obtaining tickets, visit the event’s dedicated website or email [email protected].

Please also join the event’s Facebook page and follow the conference on Twitter or Tweet #SecularConf.

The conference is endorsed by Atheist Alliance International; Children First Now; Center for Inquiry; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation; International Committee against Stoning; International Committee against Execution; International Federation of Iranian Refugees; Iran Solidarity; One Law for All; Secularism is a Women’s Issue; The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK; and Women Living Under Muslim Laws amongst others.

Bread and Roses: Secularism as a basic right

Watch Bread and Roses English programme with Maryam Namazie, Fariborz Pooya and Bahram Soroush being broadcast today via New Channel TV on “Secularism as a basic right”. There’s a great interview with philosopher AC Grayling on the issue.

Director: Reza Moradi; Assistant Director: Poone Ravi

Enjoy!

We should not abandon secularism

fitnah-UNVEILED3-dec13-c_Page_01WE SHOULD NOT ABANDON SECULARISM
Unveiled: A Publication of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
December 2013, Volume 1, Issue 3
Editor: Maryam Namazie. Design: Kiran Opal

The publication is available here.

PDF version available for download.

URGENT ACTION: REJECT SEX SEGREGATION
IT’S 2013. LET’S NOT TIME TRAVEL
Universities UK (UUK) guidance to universities on external speakers endorses gender apartheid by saying that segregation of the sexes at universities is not discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way!” Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory. Separate is never equal and segregation is never applied to those who are considered equal. Join us on International Human Rights Day to unequivocally reject gender apartheid. It’s 2013. Let’s not time travel. DATE: Tuesday 10 December 2013; TIME: 5:00-6:30pm; AT: Universities UK, Woburn House, 20 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ.

WE SHOULD NOT ABANDON SECULARISM
Maryam Namazie’s Interview with Pragna Patel and Gita Sahgal
Pragna Patel responds: “…If we don’t defend secular values and instead embrace religious ones then we will be guilty of developing counter resistance strategies against racism and imperialism that hides other forms of oppression. Religion cannot be embraced as a framework for articulating disaffection and alienation or to address questions of equality and rights since its very foundation is based on recognising some rights but not others. We see this most clearly played out in the clash between the right to manifest religion and the right to be free from religion. Women who want to be free from religious impositions that deny them their autonomy and sexual freedom are constantly excluded. But we need to alert to the ways in which this exclusion is actually articulated. Often demands for the right to manifest religion may seem on the surface to be progressive but in fact hide a highly reactionary agenda. A good example of this is the recent capitulation by Universities UK (UUK), a representative body of universities in the UK, to demands for gender segregation in universities… It would appear that UUK is ignorant of the history and struggles against racial discrimination based on the flawed logic of ‘separate but equal.’ Such logic legitimised racial apartheid in South Africa and now legitimises gender apartheid. There is a disturbing failure to recognise that this stance will allow the right to manifest religion (a qualified right) to trump the right to be free from gender discrimination and subjugation (an absolute right).”

NEWS FLASH: NOVEMBER 2013
“Afghanistan: Twelve years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s government is considering bringing back stoning as a punishment for sex outside marriage. The sentence for married adulterers, along with flogging for unmarried offenders, appears in a draft revision of the country’s penal code being drawn up by the ministry of justice. It is the latest in a string of encroachments on hard-won rights for women, after parliament quietly cut the number of seats set aside for women on provincial councils, and drew up a criminal code whose provisions will make it almost impossible to convict anyone for domestic violence.
“Iran: A document adopted by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council with president Rouhani’s signature has been forwarded to the education and health ministries to “reduce the unnecessary mixing of males and females.” The section on gender segregation included the expansion of the culture of chastity and the veil…”

ARTS CORNER: BURKA AVENGER
“The Burka Avenger is a mild mannered unveiled teacher who becomes the burka avenger when her school is threatened with being shut down by Islamists, armed with pens and books…”

EDITORIAL: SECULARISM AS A UNIVERSAL RIGHT
Maryam Namazie
“…There are strong secular movements in so-called Muslim-majority countries like Iran, Pakistan, Algeria and Mali, despite the great risks involved. Karima Bennoune has brought to light many such groups and individuals in her recently published book, the title of which is based on a Pakistani play where the devotional singer who is beaten and intimidated for singing deemed ‘un-Islamic’ retorts: ‘Your fatwas do not apply here.’ The uprisings and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the mass protests against Islamists for the assassination of Socialist leader Chokri Belaid in Tunisia; the vast secular protests in Turkey against Islamisation; the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarter in Egypt and the largest demonstration in contemporary history against the Muslim Brotherhood – 33 million people – are all evidence of that. Post-secularism (leaving people at the mercy of ‘their own culture’) and the systematic and theorised failure to defend secularism and people’s, particularly women’s, civil rights in many countries and communities, only aids and abets the religious-Right to the detriment of us all – believers and non. As British philosopher AC Grayling has said: secularism is a fundamental right. Today, given the influence of the religious-Right, it is also a precondition for women’s rights and equality and for rights and freedoms in the society at large. It must be actively defended, promoted, and articulated”…

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: UNDECIDED ABOUT LEGISLATING DRESS
Marieme Helie Lucas Responds for Fitnah
“…Women wearing the burqa in Europe today are instrumentalised by the Muslim extreme-right, whether or not they realise it. They display their ‘difference’ and ‘identity,’ which is exactly what the traditional far-right needs in order to fulfil its xenophobic agenda. Both the traditional xenophobic extreme-right and the Muslim extreme-right want a violent confrontation and need it in order to recruit fresh troops. This is not a reason for shying away from addressing the proliferation of burqas everywhere, but it should be an incentive to not isolate the ‘flag’ from the broader issue of the growing far-rights in Europe, including the Muslim far-right…”

Also see Maryam Namazie’s Channel 4Thought.tv interview on banning the niqab.

Previous issues:

Fitnah Unveiled number 2 on the burqa and veil

Fitnah Unveiled number 1 on the rise of fitnah

Contact Unveiled Editor:
Maryam Namazie
+44 (0) 7719166731
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Email: [email protected]
Blog: http://fitnahmovement.blogspot.co.uk
Site: www.fitnah.org

We too yearn for freedom

2013-634944836961439419-143The 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 where she wrote “My body is not the source of your honour” and “fuck your morals”; the protests in Turkey against Islamisation; the Harlem Shake in front of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Egypt and the largest protest in Egypt in contemporary history against the Muslim Brotherhood – 33 million people (which was not to begin with a coup; the army only stepped in to take control and stop the revolution, not defend it)…

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 or the army 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 continue to remain firmly on the side of the Islamists.

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

Rights within Islamic context? Thanks but no thanks

Here is my speech on Secularism as a right and historical task at Atheist Ireland’s Empowering Women through Secularism in Dublin:

“The rest of us must live under sharia law – even in Europe – and be grateful for the veil as a ‘right’ and ‘choice’. We are only allowed freedom and rights within the confines of Islam. Thanks but no thanks.” See the speech here:

At the same conference, I speak about the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation and nude and topless activism as important forms of campaigning against Islamism:

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...]

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...]

One Law for All’s ‘Sounds of Freedom’ Song Competition –calling for entries.

One Law for All is inviting musicians and songwriters to create and submit their original material for a song competition.

‘Change comes about by breaking taboos and pushing aside that which is deemed sacred and art is such an important way of doing this’ –Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of One Law for All

Song entries should be focused on issues that relate to the work ‘One Law for All’ is engaged with, discussing themes like religion, freedom, secularism, Sharia law, equal rights & religious arbitration. [Read more...]

I am soon off to Manchester

I am soon off to Manchester for the QED Science and Skepticism Conference that will take place during 10-11 March 2012 at the Piccadilly Hotel. I’ll be speaking on Secularism, Multiculturalism and Citizenship on the Sunday. For more information on the conference, visit here. If any of you are coming, I’ll see you there!