Category: Resources

My Ordeal with the Quran, By Abbas Abdul Noor

Brief abstract: This is the first English translation (by Hassan Radwan) of the book, “My Ordeal with the Quran Complete Full Version.” By Abbas Abdul Noor. The book has been in available Arabic on the internet for about ten years in PDF form. The first page identifies the text as a draft copy, indicating that it was not finalised for printing and it appears the book was refused publication in Egypt and other Arab countries, which is not unexpected given the difficulty of publishing critical commentary on the Qurʾān in such regions.  Beneath the words “Draft Copy,” it says: “Damanhur, Arab Republic of Egypt, 2004.” Apart from the biographical details given by the book itself, little is known about its author. The text identifies the author by the name “Abbas Abdul Noor.”  However it seems likely that this name is an alias used to conceal the author’s identity due to fear of repercussions from publishing such a forthright analysis.

Apostasy and Blasphemy are basic Human Rights

In 2016, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will continue to highlight the cases of those languishing in prisons or on death row for apostasy or blasphemy, including:

Abdulaziz Dauda, also known as Abdul  Inyass, an Islamic scholar sentenced to death in Nigeria for blasphemy for a lecture which was deemed to be blasphemous against Islam’s prophet. He was also jailed for 3 years for inciting public disturbance.

Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist who lives in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ for his poetry which the regime claims has questioned religion and spread atheism.

Hesameddin Farzizadeh, 23 year old writer and student who has been sentenced to 7 years in prison, 74 lashes and the death penalty for apostasy in Iran for his book examining the history and questioning facets of Shi’a Islam.

Islam Behery, Egyptian TV host was sentenced to prison for “contempt of religion.”

Mohamed Cheikh Ould, Mauritanian activist and blogger sentenced to death for apostasy for an article he wrote, which the court found was critical of Islam and Islam’s prophet.

Raif Badawi, Saudi secular blogger and founder of a liberal website sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for apostasy for raising questions about religion and politics.

27 Sudanese Muslims from the Qurani sect, charged with apostasy and disturbing the public peace according to article 126, section 2 of the Sudanese criminal law for considering the Quran holy but believing that the Hadith, sayings and actions of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, are not authentic.

Waleed Abu Al Khair, Saudi human rights lawyer (including for his brother-in-law Raif Badawi) was found guilty by a special counter-terrorism court of, among other charges, insulting the judiciary, disobeying the ruler, and harming the reputation of the Kingdom. He was offered a reduced sentence of 10 years if he apologized for his “offences”, but when he refused an appeal judge ordered him to serve the full term…

CEMB reiterates its call for the release of apostates and blasphemers across the globe. Apostasy and blasphemy are not crimes but basic human rights as are interpreting, mocking, criticising, and renouncing Islam openly and freely.

A CASE STUDY OF ISLAMISM ON CAMPUS: UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN, GOLDSMITHS, AND UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has today published a case study on the Islamic Societies at Trinity College Dublin, Warwick University and Goldsmiths University where attempts were made to restrict or bar our spokesperson Maryam Namazie from speaking in 2015.

The case study shows that the Islamic Societies at the three universities in question are clearly promoting Islamist values through hate preachers who condone Sharia Law, Islamic states, and the death penalty for apostasy.

The recent attempts at censorship on university campuses is nothing new. 2015 saw a rise in censorship with 55% of campuses being an outright hostile environment for free speech.

The case study is only an example of a widespread problem – which is Islamism on university campuses, legitimising, normalising and recruiting for the far-Right Islamist movement. Challenging this movement on university campuses is key as is challenging its manifestations such as gender segregation.

Whilst free speech and expression must be free for all (unless there is an incitement to violence), it’s crucial that apostates and dissenters are given equal access to universities without restrictions in order challenge Islamist norms and values with a progressive counter-narrative.

CEMB calls on universities and Student Unions to unequivocally defend free expression, including by removing policies which restrict and censor expression, such as safe space policies.

The full case study can be found here.

IQ – 1 December 2017

INTRODUCTION

These suggestions are primarily aimed at people that find themselves in need of greater security, privacy and anonymity for their electronic communications. They assume that your computer is running a version of MS Windows, but again the suggestions can apply to other operating systems or platforms that have similar software.

There is no such thing as a 100% secure communication over an electronic medium such as the global internet or telephony network. Many of the suggestions here do provide varying levels of security, privacy and anonymity (SPA). When these tools are implemented properly and used in conjunction with each other, your personal SPA will be greatly improved. By covering your tracks, you can reduce your chances of being on the receiving end of any unpleasantness. Needless to say, great care must be taken with your communications. Even with all the security in place, your SPA can still be compromised by the use of weak passphrases, the opening of attachments from unknown senders, inserting USB drives of dubious origins into your computer systems or careless revelations of identifiable details. The user (ie. you) is often the weakest link. Do stay safe by practising safe computing.

Disclaimer

This is not a complete guide and not all software is covered. Under no circumstances shall the author or CEMB be liable for direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages resulting from the use, misuse, or inability to use the software, even if the author or CEMB has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Ensure you’ve received the permission of the owner or operator of the computer or other devices before attempting any of the suggestions in this article. Use at your own risk.

Although not covered here, you may wish to invest in a number of Faraday pouches or bags to shield your mobile devices from surveillance or theft.

MOBILE DEVICES

Before you can secure your mobile devices it behooves you to reconsider your approach to contact management which can make things easier during subsequent steps. Although this contact management step is optional, it’s highly recommended. The majority of mobile devices run versions of either the Apple iOS or Google Android operating systems. You need to start by updating your contacts. If they are linked / synchronised with an email address (eg. Gmail), then log in to your email account (on a PC) and update your contacts from there. All changes will then propagate to your linked devices.

To update your contacts, change all telephone numbers to the proper international (E.164/ENUM) format. For example, consider the British phone number 07123 456789, you need to do the following to it:

  1. Drop all leading zeroes.
  2. Remove all non-numeric characters.
  3. Prepend the relevant country code.

The British phone number 07123 456789 will become +447123456789. This is the preferred format so update the telephone numbers for as many of your contacts as you can. Get into the habit of storing numbers in this format. Make a note of your own number in this format, you’ll need it later.

Always apply all software or operating system updates as soon as they become available. These include much needed security fixes. If you’re confident and are technically proficient, you may replace the device’s operating system with a custom one like LINEAGE OS, REPLICANT or RESURRECTION REMIX.

For secure encrypted messaging and calling for Android and iOS devices, go to SIGNAL and follow the link to install the SIGNAL PRIVATE MESSENGER application. This is a free, open-source application that makes use of your smartphone’s mobile data connection or wifi calling features. Note that this application is meant to replace your existing default messaging application. You will need to complete a short activation process using your own mobile number (in the above international format), then you’ll be good to go.

Another application to note for your mobile device is ORBOT. This lets you route your internet browsing over the TOR network. A good privacy-oriented browser is TENTA. There are desktop versions of some of the encrypted instant messaging applications below.

Modify each of your wifi network connections (or better still your router, see below) to ensure that you use the IP addresses at the bottom of the TENTA DNS SETUP GUIDE as your DNS, unless you decide to use OPENDNS or SIMPLE DNSCRYPT (see below).

Disable the wifi and location features if you’re in a public place and they’re not needed, this can easily be done by temporarily enabling the airplane or flight mode feature. Ensure that you encrypt your mobile device. This may take some time, you may want to ensure your device is charging during this crucial step and shouldn’t be interrupted. Afterwards, enable PIN / Passcodes and even SIM PIN and Voicemail PIN to further secure your smartphone.

Before you sell or dispose of your mobile device:

  1. Backup / export all your personal or important information (files, images, contacts, etc) to your encrypted cloud or any other external storage.
  2. Delink your device from your Apple or Gmail account.
  3. Delete all images or other personal files from your device.
  4. Clear all messaging and call history, including any notifications and search or browsing history.
  5. Clear all contacts and password keys from your mobile device, inc. SIM.
  6. Uninstall as many apps as you can, inc. clearing SD storage.
  7. Forget all networks or wireless access points.
  8. Ensure that you then encrypt your mobile device again.
  9. Perform a hard reset of your mobile device.
  10. You may then remove the SIM card and battery (if possible), then physically destroy the mobile device if you wish to dispose of it.

For additional security, consider enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) for various online services using a suitably secure authenticator application (avoid 2FA via SMS). An online guide to securing your iPhone is also available here: SECURE YOUR IPHONE.

DESKTOP / LAPTOP COMPUTERS

If you’re truly concerned that your privacy may have been compromised, don’t use your own computer. Go to an internet cafe or other public service such as a library and use the computer there if you can. Otherwise you should be reasonably safe by using your own computer with the following suggestions.

Avoid using versions of MS Windows; these are a relatively non-secure set of Operating Systems. Try to use secure distributions of Linux such as QUBES OS (preferred), SUBGRAPH OS, KODACHI LINUX, PUREOS or TAILS, the latter can be copied to a USB drive (or optical media such as CD, DVDs, etc) and run on any suitable computer. KALI LINUX is a very useful operating system, geared more towards penetration testing and security auditing. Many of these Linux (and BSD) distributions can be run directly from optical media or USB so you can use them before installing anything on your computer. Take the time to learn about open-source operating systems, start by bookmarking the DISTROWATCH site.

If you’re running a version of MS Windows, encrypt your hard drive (or at the very least the partition / drive that holds your personal files). You can use VERACRYPT.

If you’ve access to the router and can update its settings, log in to it using your computer’s web browser then note the existing DNS IP addresses and write these down in case you need to undo this step. These would be the addresses for your Internet Service Provider’s DNS. Consider changing the existing DNS IP addresses to ones provided by OPENNIC PROJECT, OPENDNS or TENTADNS:

  • 99.192.182.100
  • 66.244.159.100
  • 99.192.182.200
  • 66.244.159.200

Save your updated configuration then restart your router.

If you don’t have access to your router or are unable to update your DNS configuration, then you should use SIMPLE DNSCRYPT on your computer. Remember to modify your adapter settings (via your Control Panel > Network Connections or type ncpa.cpl from the command line, then update IPv4) to ensure that the preferred DNS is set to 127.0.0.1. Once this is configured then go to the following site, you should see a welcome page with an orange tick: AM I USNG OPENDNS?

You may also test whether your computer is leaking your DNS queries, with instructions how to resolve them here: DNS LEAK TEST.

A good free anti-malware and firewall will help keep out any intruders. On MS Windows, a good firewall is GLASSWIRE. On Linux, a good firewall is PFSENSE.

If you want to make use of the Cloud to store your personal files, then opt for secure zero-knowledge services like TRESORIT or even ORC.

To make use of the various anonymisation networks, you can install either:

They may need some configuration but they are recommended if you wish to conduct your online communications anonymously. Take great care to configure them as a Relay, not as an Exit Node. Many well-known social media and other hidden services, including illicit services, are accessible via these anonymisation networks which provide improved end-to-end security.

A very useful application is BATCHPURIFIER. This tool can help remove your hidden information or metadata from multiple files (eg. photos or images). The metadata can be used to trace when, where and how the file was created (among other things). Removing all this information from files before you store or share them will greatly aid your security, privacy and anonymity (SPA).

To hide your messages in other files, you can use free steganography software like:

Share these modified files by first uploading them to an anonymous service (see below).

Another great application is KEEPASS PASSWORD SAFE. This is a free, open-source password manager that lets you store your many passwords securely. There are versions for Android and iOS for use on mobile devices.

Email is a very important service for many reasons. Presently there are many email service providers that offer varying levels of security. However, most suffer from one significant flaw: their metadata is sent with the message in clear text. This does not bode well for your SPA. As a result of recent events, efforts are underway to completely redesign email for the modern era with intrinsic security known as Email 3.0.

The DARK MAIL TECHNICAL ALLIANCE is leading the effort, however the protocols have a name: DIME. To date, there is one provider offering DIME emails: LAVABIT

But what if you’re unable to use the new DIME email services? There is a simple process that you can use to communicate using any email service. Here’s how it works:

  1. Person A registers with a new email account and notes the login credentials (ie. username and password).
  2. Person A logs in and drafts a message, but does not send it. The message is saved in the drafts folder.
  3. Person A logs out.
  4. Person A gives the login credentials to their trusted contact Person B, in person.
  5. Person B then logs in to the same email account.
  6. Person B can then read the saved message from Person A in the drafts folder, then deletes it.
  7. Person B replies by creating a new message and saving that into the drafts folder.
  8. Person B logs out.
  9. Person A can then log back in and read the saved message from Person B before composing a reply as above.

This communication can take place without a single message being emailed through any server or domain, which makes surveillance very difficult. This requires the participants to access the same email account and some degree of coordination between them. Also, remember to change your email settings to disallow tracking and other so-called features. There are many helpful tips available online, specifically how to improve your email’s SPA.

Your browsers are important too. The two major browsers are GOOGLE CHROME and MOZILLA FIREFOX. If your Operating System is a 64-bit OS, use 64-bit versions of these browsers. Firefox is recommended for security. There are many other browsers you may wish to consider, eg. TENTA. Be sure to keep them updated and configured properly at all times.

There are many useful applications, settings and browser tests detailed in PRIVACY TOOLS, RESTORE PRIVACY and HOW’S MY TLS. You may also test whether your browser is protected against online tracking techniques, instructions how to resolve them here: PANOPTICLICK.

Set your home pages in all browsers to either DUCKDUCKGO, STARTPAGE or QWANT and also bookmark and use the following sites:

The OTR site lets you send self-destructing messages and files to your contacts, anonymously. A facility for encrypted chat is also available. This is purely browser-based, no installation of any software is necessary. In each browser you should search for and install the following extensions / add-ons / plugins:

There are also free applications that can be downloaded and installed for secure instant messaging:

You should also consider using services or extensions that function as secure VPNs such as:

These let you route your browsing activities through virtual private networks or remote proxies located in different jurisdictions. Do not access your email, financial or other personal sites through them, unless they have sufficient security in place, nor should you use any untrusted proxy with handling your personal business (ie. those that require login credentials or financial information). The OTR site for secure and anonymous real-time communication is recommended. Ensure that whichever browser you use, you’re familiar with its Incognito or Private Browsing Mode and that it’s configured to clear its cache automatically when it’s closed.

Further information is contained in this excellent article: THE ULTIMATE PRIVACY GUIDE.

After emptying your computer’s Recycle Bin, you may use some useful MS Windows commands, eg. CIPHER ensures that no deleted file in a directory can be recovered.

Other useful software:

  • RING – Alternative to Skype.
  • MASTODON – Alternative to Twitter.
  • DISCORD – Alternative to Skype and TeamSpeak.
  • LIBREOFFICE – Alternative to Microsoft Office.
  • ETCHER – Burn images to SD Cards and USB drives.
  • ZULU – Alternative to Oracle Java SDK.

There is a great deal of information available regarding counter surveillance that couldn’t be included because it’s outside the scope of this article.

SUMMARY

On mobile devices, secure communication is of the utmost importance. Install the free open-source application SIGNAL on your smartphone. There is also a version of Signal available for desktop computers. Phone encryption and periodic clearance of search and location histories are advised. Set a strong passphrase and the remote lock, locate and erase feature.

On computers, many tools can be installed but some websites like OTR can be accessed by any modern browser. Check your browser’s privacy and security settings and schedule it to clear your entire cache and history (especially when your browser is closed) periodically. Limit your cached web content to 0MB and enable tracking protection. Ensure you sign up to a DIME-compliant email service. Updating your DNS / Router settings is highly recommended. Harden your social media privacy settings (SECURE FACEBOOK or FACEBOOK PRIVACY) by placing your associates in distinct groups and setting their permissions accordingly, or better yet try to keep your presence on social media to a minimum. Remember to log out of every site you have logged into when you are done. Be aware that an increasing quantity of your personal information, contacts, views, habits and locations can be scraped from your online presence and sold to third parties. If this point is of particular concern, consider using MASTODON.

Hopefully the information detailed here will help you cover your internet tracks more effectively and assure your personal safety.

EvangelisingHate_Report_Web_Page_01A new report from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain “Evangelising Hate” exposes the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) as a Hate Group. You can read the report here.

Whilst iERA purports to be a missionary-like charitable organisation, it is in fact a “soft Islamist” group, which acts as the Islamist movement’s public relations arm by promoting and normalising Islamist values and norms, including inciting hatred against ex-Muslims, gays, Jews, women, non Muslims and a majority of Muslims who do not share their values. In Britain and the west, groups like iERA use multiculturalism (as a social policy that segregates “communities”) and cultural relativism as well as the rights language of diversity, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue to increase influence and access. Any opposition to their theocratic aims are met with accusations of racism and Islamophobia.

This timely report is being published just as the Charity Commission is investigating the group.

“This long-needed report provides a complete picture of the activities of the iERA, its promotion of hatred against women, gays, non-Muslims, ex-Muslims and liberal Muslims, and its affiliation with Islamists who have called for violence or have been involved in violent jihad themselves”, says Chris Moos of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. He adds: “As a student who has experienced the violent tactics of the iERA myself, I find it unacceptable that this group continues to be the most active organiser of Islamic events on British university campuses, thereby sidelining liberal Muslim student groups. This report should serve as a wake-up call for both university and student representatives, and will hopefully lead to a classification of the iERA as what they are – a fascist hate group on a par with the likes of Hizb-ut Tahrir, BNP and EDL”.

Gita Sahgal of the Centre for Secular Space says: “This excellent report lays out in gruesome and forensic detail the hate agenda of speakers associated with the iERA. They should never be legitimised as a charity or given platforms that treat their views as acceptable”.

The iERA perpetuates a discourse that normalises hatred in religious terms, and sets the climate for “radicalisation”, bigotry and Islamism to flourish. Where groups like iERA have more influence, society is witness to a rise in everything from women and children wearing burkas, increased gender segregation at universities, legitimisation of Sharia-compliant wills and rules, acceptance of Sharia courts for the “Muslim minority” and the Islamisation of schools and mosques.

This report makes clear that iERA must be classified as a hate group and have their charitable status withdrawn. These will help bring clarity to their agenda and can be a starting point for a wider investigation into the influence of Islamism in modern Britain.

 

It is important to note that the CEMB publishes its report on a day that the far-Right group Britain First (an off-shoot of the British National Party) has targeted yet another mosque to bring its campaign of hate. Like Islamism, Britain First is a far-Right political group that asserts collective blame, incites hatred and dehumanises those deemed ‘other’. Just as Islamists do not represent a majority of Muslims or those considered Muslim, fascist groups like Britain First do not represent a majority of Britons.

Our fight is against the far-Right of all stripes and variations – be it Britain First or iERA – and in defence of the rights of all people, irrespective of their background, race, belief, gender, sexuality… to secularism, universal rights and equality.

For more information on the report, contact:
Al Razi
CEMB
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/
Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8059509.

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