Month: July 2012

Letter to Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission

Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain met with Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), on 28 June to raise our concerns about sharia courts in Britain and the Charities Commission’s refusal of charity status for secular organisations. Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto was also present at the meeting.

Below is our follow up letter:

Dear Trevor,

Thank you once again for meeting with us. We appreciate your taking the time out to hear about the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All.

Just to highlight a couple of the issues we raised:

On One Law for All and Sharia Law

1) There are currently two major bodies carrying out sharia based arbitration and mediation in the UK – these are the Islamic Sharia Council (a registered charity) and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (operating as an independent tribunal under the powers of the Arbitration Act 1996).

2) Both bodies acknowledge that the bulk of their work is in family matters such as child custody, divorce, domestic violence (both a family law and a criminal law matter). The Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve in 2008 said arbitration in the UK was not intended for family matters.

3) Under sharia family law, a husband’s testimony is worth double that of his wife, children are sent to live with fathers regardless of the circumstances, and women have no right to divorce – even when violence against her is proven (see Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights.

4) Sharia family law has been described as “wholly incompatible” with human rights and democratic principles by the House of Lords.

Last year, Baroness Caroline Cox introduced a Private Members Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Bill to the House of Lords which is due a second reading this October 27th.

A new document compiled by Baroness Cox’s team as evidence to be presented to the Lords can be found here.

On the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s charitable status

As was mentioned, the Council of Ex-Muslims was denied charitable status whilst the Islamic Sharia Council remains a charity. Here are the reasons for refusal and our response, which remains unanswered.

Once again, thank you for agreeing to follow up on our meeting by contacting Baroness Cox, discussing the progress of her Bill, as well as having your legal team look over it. You also agreed to look in more detail at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal and its use of the Arbitration Act 1996, as well as the validity of its agreements in UK Courts and the Islamic Sharia Council’s charitable status along with the Charity Commission’s refusal of charity status for the Council of Ex-Muslims.

Thank you for your support in this vital campaign for human rights and equality. We look forward to working closely with you and your future replacement on these important matters.

Sincerely
Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919 London WC1N 3XX
Telephone: +44(0)7719166731
E-mail: ex-muslimcouncil@googlemail.com
Website: www.ex-muslim.org.uk

One Law for All
BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
onelawforall@gmail.com
www.onelawforall.org.uk

Musa Budeiri and Free Expression must be defended

Musa Budeiri, a professor at Birzeit University, the oldest Palestinian University, has been asked by the university to issue an apology to Islamist students who were offended by cartoons posted on his door. The Islamists distributed leaflets on campus saying that the cartoons were ‘an insult to Islam’ and that the professor should apologize and be punished.

Whilst Budeiri refused to apologise or go abroad for a semester, he agreed to give an explanation for the educational objectives in posting cartoons. He said:

“They have opened up a discussion and have exhibited an ability of students to exercise their empowerment, potentially to ask, question, object, discuss, defend, in order to express their ideas and beliefs. This is something I have always fought for, and tried to convey since the first days of my teaching career, Much more than the ‘knowledge’ confined in the pages of official textbooks.

“It is a shame that instead of pursuing this path, and advancing their ideas by argument and reasoning, and winning as many adherents to their point of view as are convinced, (and these will never constituted the whole community, because people are individuals and not robotic replicas, and each mind is an individual creation possessing its own unique characteristics), they chose to resort to abuse, and threats of physical violence, attempting to appropriate to themselves the sole authority of what Muslims can and cannot think, can and cannot do. There are and will remain as many different Muslims as there are unfettered minds.”

Whilst Budeiri says the university never informed him that he wouldn’t be teaching again as some Islamist students have claimed, he has received no response about his contract for the next academic year, which starts next month.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain condemns the University’s lack of courage and calls for the unequivocal defence of Budeiri and free expression.

Report on successful CEMB 5th anniversary celebration

Over one hundred people joined the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s hugely successful 5th anniversary celebration luncheon in London on 23 June 2012.

Guests heard from philosopher AC Grayling, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, writer Gita Sahgal, singer/songwriter Shelley Segal, dancer Maryam Freeflower, DV8 Physical Theatre Director Lloyd Newson, and poet Lilith. Magician Neil Edwards also performed whilst CEMB founder Maryam Namazie gave the closing address. Fariborz Pooya was Master of Ceremonies.

In his keynote address, AC Grayling said: ‘…The history of the world and not just the western world but of the world in the last 3-4 centuries has turned on the very crucial fact – the fact that there were people who had the courage to think for themselves…’

Lawrence Krauss said: ‘…We are all ex-Muslims… it’s true in the sense that all of us are fighting ignorance and superstition and a world where policies are made and people are oppressed on the basis of these things…’

Writer Gita Sahgal said: ‘…Council of Ex-Muslims is particularly important because it is dangerous to declare yourself having lost faith even in Britain and in fact in some places it is getting more dangerous. One of the reasons it is getting more dangerous is because …there is virtually no support from any public source for people who have actually left their religion.’

You can see a video of the event below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Photos of the event can be found here.

The CEMB also received many wonderful messages of support and solidarity to mark its fifth anniversary, including from Richard Dawkins, Taslima Nasrin and Mina Ahadi.

In her closing address, Maryam Namazie said: Whilst CEMB is many things to many people… it is first and foremost a challenge to political Islam. It is meant to shock and provoke. Throughout history that is how barbarity has been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.’ She went on to say: ‘Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.’ You can read her full speech here.

The CEMB is grateful to all those who have volunteered their time, and supported or donated to the organisation over these five years.

We look forward to your continued support and another successful five years!

For more information, please contact:
Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com
www.ex-muslim.org.uk

NOTES:

1. The CEMB is desperately seeking free office and/or meeting space in central London. If you can offer such space, please contact us as soon as possible.

2. We depend on donations and legacies to continue our important work so please donate if you can.

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