Riazat Butt The Guardian, Friday June 22 2007
About this articleClose This article appeared in the Guardian on Friday June 22 2007 on p13 of the UK news and analysis section. It was last updated at 00:02 on June 22 2007.
A new group of secular-minded former Muslims in the UK has urged the government to cut all state funding to religious groups and to stop pandering to political Islam.
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, launched yesterday in London, opposes the interference of religion in public life. Its spokeswoman, Maryam Namazie, said the group provided an alternative voice to the “regressive, parasitical and self-appointed leaders” from organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the “oxymoronic” Islamic Human Rights Commission.
“We want to challenge the Islamic movement,” she said. “It does not surprise me people are afraid to criticise Islam. There has been too much appeasement from the government. There are specific policies and initiatives aimed at Muslims and this approach divides society.”
The council’s manifesto calls for the freedom to criticise all religions and the separation of religion from the state and legal system. Another aim is to break the taboos that come with renouncing Islam.
Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We’re not taking them seriously. I don’t think Muslims will have time for this.”
The launch of a Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Berlin has inspired similar groups in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. The British branch has 25 members who are prepared to have their names and photographs published.