Category: Press Releases

Dear Mr Wrack, FBU General Secretary,

It has been drawn to our attention that Ms Lucy Masoud, treasurer of the Fire Brigades Union in London, has written a blog on The FBU website stating that the presence of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) at Pride was “hate on display” and that the group is “islamophobic”.  CEMB has responded to the post and would like to know whether this is the FBU’s official position.

As we have mentioned in our response to Ms Masoud, there is a clear distinction between criticism of religion and the religious-Right versus bigotry against people. Charges of islamophobia erroneously conflate the two. In fact, CEMB’s presence at Pride aimed to combat the hate perpetrated against ex-Muslims and LGBT and to defend the right to reject and criticise religion without fear. This was political protest at its best. Had the FBU not recently backed calls to reclaim Pride as political protest?

Given that apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality are punishable by death in many countries under Islamic rule, our being at Pride was an important moment for our members, many of whom are refugees. It would be unfortunate if the FBU officially defended the vilification of a minority within a minority providing further justification for our persecution by implying that “offence” is more important than murder.

We look forward to hearing from you on your union’s position.

Thank you for your response in advance. We attach a copy of a photo with FBU members and two of ours taken at Pride.

Sincerely
Maryam Namazie, CEMB Spokesperson
Daniel Fitzgerald CEMB Pride Organiser
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/

Lucy Masoud, treasurer of the Fire Brigades Union in London, has written a blog on The FBU website saying the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)‘s presence at Pride was “hate on display” and that the group is “Islamophobic” and “carried offensive signs such as ‘F**K Islam’ and ‘East London Mosque Incites Murder of Homosexuals’”. She added that members were “offended” by CEMB, that CEMB was “sinister” and that when she confronted our group, “they admitted they had never been Muslim”. Masoud added: “Pride is meant to be about acceptance and love, not hate. Most LGBT people have experienced hate and prejudice towards them at some point, so any group that has nothing to say but hate, has no place at Pride.”
 
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, established nearly ten years ago, defends the right to conscience and expression, which are meaningless without the right to reject and criticise religion. Given that apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality are punishable by death in countries under Islamic rule (countries, by the way, from which many of the refugees in our group have fled from), these rights are a matter of life and death for many of us. Which is why it was a very proud moment for us to be out, loud and proud at Pride.
 
As anyone going to Pride knows, signs with “God is Gay” or “Jesus has two fathers” is evident every year as are signs critical of Christianity and the Christian-Right. Our signs are no different. All our signs were critical of the homophobia in Islam and the hate perpetrated by the Islamist movement against not just ex-Muslims but Muslims and others too. We also had signs against racism, including “Protest Bigotry, Defend Blasphemy”, “Homophobes, Islamists, Racists, Fuck Off”, and “CEMB, LGBT, Refugee and Proud”. (See here.)
 
That Ms Masoud takes our presence personally as an attack on her says more about her politics than ours – a politics that feeds into the Islamist narrative, that normalises blasphemy and apostasy laws, that demands silence from critics of Islam and that gives the green light for Islamists to continue to murder us using the excuse of “offence”.
 
Wittingly or unwittingly, charges of “Islamophobia” conflate criticism of Islam with bigotry and hate against people. In fact, we are merely countering the hate against ex-Muslims and LGBT by Islamic states and movements.
 
Ms Masoud: Criticising mosques that call for our death, criticising Islamic states that murder us and our loved ones, criticising Islam, like criticism of any religion or belief, is not hate but combating hate against real live human beings. If “progressives” like you were more concerned with murder than offence, what a different world this would be.
 
Until we are allowed to think, live and love as we choose without the imposition of religion via the state, the law, the “community”, or via any always offended sensitive soul like yourself, we will continue to shout our blasphemy from every rooftop.
 
One question to the FBU: Labelling a minority within a minority who face threats and intimidation on a daily basis as a hate group places us at further risk and is victim blaming at its finest. Is this the official FBU position and if so, we will be taking this matter further.

#IWant2BFree

Read this letter online.

Dear friend

EX-MUSLIMS OUT AND PROUD IN PRIDE LONDON

CEMB was at Pride London in full force on 8 July highlighting the plight of LGBT in countries under Islamic rule where it is punishable with the death penalty, with topless activists body-painted by the award-winning Victoria Gugenheim.

The march went ahead as planned, though police initially tried to remove placards with the slogan “Allah is Gay” because of complaints of “offence”.

Whilst a few were not pleased to see apostates there, we were met with overwhelming and heart-warming support and solidarity. For all of those who participated, it was an unforgettable moment in the struggle for apostasy, blasphemy and LGBT rights in countries under Islamic rule.

See CEMB’s press release and video footage with photos here.

[As an aside, in Pride Toronto, “anti-fascists” tried but failed to stop Iranians from joining Pride labelling a Muslim standing up for LGBT rights in countries under Islamic rule “Islamophobic”. Maryam’s article on the fiasco can be read here.]

22-24 JULY CONFERENCE AND DAY OF ACTION – FEW TICKETS LEFT

The International Conference on Free Expression and Conscience in London is almost sold out. No tickets will be sold at the door so if you plan to come, please get them right away. The conference is being labelled “the Glastonbury of Freethinkers” and will be the largest gathering of ex-Muslims ever. Other distinguished speakers include Scientist Richard Dawkins, Filmmaker Deeyah Khan, FEMEN leader Inna Shevchenko, American Atheists President Dave Silverman, Philosopher AC Grayling, Singer/Songwriter Shelley Segal… Over 70 speakers from more than 30 countries. Don’t miss what will be an historic event.

In the run up to and during the conference, we will broadcast messages of solidarity from freethinkers, including from Pakistani Nuclear Physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy, Philosopher Daniel Dennett, Vlogger Aron Ra, Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard, Writer Caroline Fourest, President of the International League of Women’s Rights Annie Sugier and many more. Send your messages of solidarity to us at [email protected] Also please join us in reminding the world that freedom of expression and conscience include the right to leave and criticise religion.

Read more about the spectacular event here. Join us for important discussions, food, music, comedy and more.

NO APOLOGIES

Spokesperson Maryam Namazie has penned an open letter on sister-hood to “you who I should consider a friend, an ally, but who refuses to make a stand with me. You: the progressive, the anti-racist, the supposed defender of human rights.” She asks: “How come your defence of freedom of conscience and expression never includes my right to reject and criticise Islam?” Read her letter here.

We hope to see you at our conference, and look forward to your messages of support. Please donate if you can.

Remember to use #IWant2BFree when discussing the conference and the need to celebrate blasphemy and apostasy.

Thank you so much for your encouraging words and solidarity over the years. It has meant a great deal and will help us in our joint fight for the right to think and live as we choose in the years to come.

warm wishes
Maryam Namazie
Sadia Hameed
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/

Ex-Muslims Out & Proud at Pride

On 8 July, CEMB was at Pride in London in full force highlighting the plight of LGBT in countries under Islamic rule with bodypainting by the award-winning Victoria Gugenheim.

The march went ahead as planned, though police initially tried to remove placards with the slogan “Allah is Gay” because of complaints of “offence”.

Whilst a few were not pleased to see apostates in Pride, we were met with overwhelming and heart-warming support and solidarity. For all of those who participated, it was an unforgettable moment in the struggle for freedom of conscience, expression and the fight for LGBT rights in countries under Islamic rule.

Other video available here.

Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson for CEMB, said: “In a world where apostasy, blasphemy and ‘immorality’ are punishable by death in 15 Islamic states and territories, and religiously non-prescribed sex and women’s bodies are so despised, it becomes all the more important to celebrate them and show very clearly that people have a right to think, live and love as they choose without state or group intervention and persecution. Of course some were and will be offended by our message as we are offended by Islam and religion but offence can never be a reason to silence and threaten nor is blasphemy and offence more important than murder.”

Daniel Fitzgerald, CEMB Pride organiser, said: “CEMB is challenging a narrative. Never before in the history of Pride London since its start in 1972 has a group consisting of those from a Muslim background, including refugees, come together to protest crimes committed to LGBT people in the the name of Islam and topless too! These are VERY brave people who speak from direct experience. All states that have the death penalty for gays are Islamic, yet this alarming fact is ignored time and time again. No more excuses.”

Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space, said: “I marched with… extraordinary activists who keep alive the idea of international solidarity. In many countries Islamic law decrees the death penalty for homosexuality and sex outside marriage. On a very corporate march we kept alive the idea that refugees are welcome, apostasy is a right and that we weep for those under constant vigilante and state death threats. My wonderful young friend marched with a banner for Xulhaz hacked to death in Bangladesh for the right to love. In some places we cannot celebrate. We honour those struggles.”

  

In Toronto LGBT Iranians were branded as ‘Islamophobes’, The Freethinker, 5 July 2017

At Toronto Pride on June 25 some ‘anti-fascists’ surrounded Iranian refugees and LGBTQ activists and absurdly chanted ‘No Hate at Pride’ – as if defending LGBTQ people in Iran or countries under Islamic rule is ‘hateful’.

Police intervention ensured that they weren’t able to stop the Iranians from joining Pride as the video below shows.

The irony of “anti-fascist” activists accusing an Iranian holding a sign saying “I am Muslim and condemn the persecution of LGBTQ+ in Islamic countries” of “Islamophobia” was clearly lost on them. It’s just another example of how criticism of Islamism or even Islam is conflated with bigotry against Muslims at the expense of dissenters and to the advantage of Islamists.

If you cannot condemn the persecution meted out by Islamic states and Islamists, well, that’s a pretty good deal for those in power and a pretty raw one for those who want to defend human rights.

That Iranian LGBTQ participants needed police intervention in a place where they must feel safest says much about the world we live in today.

Which makes it all the more important to emphasise that the only states which punish homosexuality with the death penalty are Islamic ones, including Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen. And that Islam is used as a justification for murdering LGBTQ people (as are all religions – though we don’t have, for now at least – a Republic of Gilead).

Of course that does not mean that all Muslims are homophobic –gay Muslims at Toronto Pride is a good case in point. After all, people are more than the religions they were born into out of very little choice of their own.

It also doesn’t mean that bigotry doesn’t exist – of course it does. But what on earth does defending LGBTQ people (including gays Muslims ) in countries under Islamic rule have to do with bigotry?

The Iranians at Toronto Pride were told their defence of LGBTQ rights “emboldens” “anti-Muslim racists”,  but those making this convoluted linkage assume that Muslims are automatically anti-LGBTQ and that they are one and the same as the Islamists – which seems to me to be promoting the very bigotry they feign to resist. (Unless of course they believe former President Ahmadinejad when he said “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country”.)

On July 8, members from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and I will be marching with others, including Muslims, at Pride in London to highlight the persecution faced by LGBTQ people  in countries under Islamic rule. We will be focused in particular on the harrowing roundup, detention and torture of homosexuals in Chechnya where its president, Ramzan Kadyrov, has expressed the desire to “eliminate” gay people by the start of Ramadan.

Those who will gasp in horror to see us criticise Islam and Islamism at Pride in London whilst they regularly protest the Pope and poke fun at Christianity and the religious-right would do well to remember that rights are universal and applicable to everyone irrespective of where we live.

The argument that Islam and Islamism cannot be criticised because Muslims are a minority in Canada or the UK is akin to telling an Iranian woman that she cannot criticise Trump’s or May’s misogynist policies because Christians are a minority in Iran! It’s absurd when you use this line of argument for any other situation but it has become the new normal, particularly when it comes to Islam and Islamism.

This perspective denies desperately needed internationalism and real anti-fascism (which must include being anti-Islamist to be worthy of its name).

It defends silence rather than condemnation and solidarity.

What was the saying during the height of the AIDS crisis? Silence = Death.

Well, yes exactly.

See CEMB’s Pride in London page. For more information, please contact Daniel Fitzgerald  at [email protected], telephone 07952 593 227 or visit our website.

The upcoming International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression being held in London during 22-24 July 2017 will also discuss the links between LGBTQ communities and ex-Muslim movements among other timely issues. For more information of the conference, visit its website.

Editor’s notes/Updates:

Antifa denies targeting the Pride participants:

Also please note that some have said the reason the group were targeted by ‘anti-fascists’ was because of the far-Right JDL which were invited to join by the group organisers. This has been denied by ICHR:

CEMB Logo© 2017 - All rights reserved.
Help us with donations:
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is a limited by guarantee Company registered in England & Wales.
Registration number 8059509.
Designed with in London by Sina Ahadi Pour
X