Month: March 2019

Samint: Art as weapon against extremism and patriarchy

 SAMINT’s artwork was shown at the 23 March Atheist Day ex-Muslim women speak out event in London.

A growing number of atheists are currently coming out of the closet, even in theocratic, confessionalist or religiously influenced countries. In these difficult times, as we witness a massive religious backlash, organising this first international Atheist Day is an excellent initiative. Today, in London, ex-Muslim women’s standpoint is in the spotlight but one shall never forget that all religions and all sects are profoundly misogynistic and serve the patriarchy’s interests.

Islamists do NOT have any proper social project, only the obsessive will to control women’s bodies and sexuality. In France, since the end of 1980s, headscarves and hijabs have become more and more numerous. I remember the time when NO Muslim woman was veiled in France. I witnessed the development of Islamism and its predatory spirit of territorial conquest. The objective of this ideology is to bring about a civil war and to change western societies. In France, the young generation has got accustomed to the two major forms of political Islam – that is to say Shia and Sunni – which compete for global leadership. We can say that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,  the Iranian “Islamist Revolution” and Saudi Arabia’s powerful wealth have literally turned, over the last decades, the world into a bloodbath.

Patriarchal norms of modesty or hyper-sexualization only strive to control girls and women’ bodies. But their bodies are NOT to be hidden under veils, stripped naked or raped. The veils and prostitution can be considered as the two sides of the same coin – that of male domination – which seems to prevail, whatever the circumstances. ISIS, in Iraq and Syria, currently organizes women’s oppression by forcing them to wear veils AND by reducing them to sexual slavery.

In France, a secular country, many of those who defend women’s “freedom” to wear hijab are often also in favour of prostitution, presenting both as ‘personal choices’: this is part of what some call an intersectional approach. Now, defining liberty without considering human beings’ unequal position in society is nonsensical. Freedom should never reduce anyone to seclusion or subjection. As regards social and political issues, presenting religion as a ‘right’ is also a very common trick to demand more multiculturalism or even to challenge secularism. The promoters of such claims demand a status of exception as if liberty and equality should not apply to every citizen. Considering that some citizens should be treated differently because of their origins and religion is purely racist. Religion is obviously not a right: it is a personal creed which belongs to the private sphere and should never be imposed on anyone.

Secularism is therefore the only solution. Secular and universalist feminists are fully aware of the damage caused by religions to women’s rights and liberties. Cultural relativism only reinforces sexism and exposes women to systemic oppression and male-chauvinistic violence. It is necessary to go on defending our humanist and democratic values as well as fighting Islamism and its promoters, whoever they may be. The Quran is not the book of a religion of love and peace, but rather of a religion of hatred of women, of Jews, of non-Muslims, of non-believers, of LGBT people…

Let me make it clear: secularism is the only solution. It is even supported by more and more religious people. I am going to summarize Henri Ruiz ‘s definition of secularism which includes 3 principles:

1-    Secularism is a universal value which promotes equality for all (believers, atheists and agnostics)

2-   Secularism protects freedom of conscience

3-    Secularism promotes universalism, thanks to the separation of church from the State.

As an artist, I humbly try to contribute to our cause by creating works which emphasize the horrors of patriarchal violence, such as Female Genital Mutilation, femicide, the veil, and back-street abortions in order to make people collectively aware of the situation. The advantage of art is its ability to be understood immediately. I have decided to fight extremism and patriarchy by using art as a weapon. My goal is to show the violence due to male domination by the collection entitled “The Basics of Patriarchy.” The paintings “My hair is mine” denounces the oppression of the Islamic veil. The 3 paintings “Modest men” suggests men to wear hijab or niqab. The painting #BringBackOurGirls” deals with the terrorist attacks of the Nigerian group Boko Haram. There are also two artworks about FGM.

Fighting religious extremism is, sadly, still a current emergency and as a conclusion, I would like all of us to think of our Kurdish sisters for their incredible courage and for showing, also, that creating a feminist and egalitarian society in the Middle East is certainly possible.

 

(Translation by Helene Palma.)

 

Successful 1st International Atheist Day

VIDEOS AND PHOTOS OF THE EVENT ARE BELOW.

March 23rd, International Atheist Day, was observed for the first time across the world, providing a space for non believers to come out in public, defend freethought and show solidarity with those who risk their lives and freedom because they are atheists.

The day was initiated by an international ex-Muslim coalition, namely Arab Atheists, Ateizm Derneği, Atheist Agnostic Alliance of Pakistan, Atheist Republic, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), Council of Ex-Muslims of France, Council of Ex-Muslims of Jordan, Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco, Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka, Ex-Muslims of North America, Ex-Muslims of Norway, Freethought Lebanon, Muslimish and The Black Ducks and was celebrated by atheists across the world, even trending on Twitter.

In London, CEMB organised a direct action where atheist women came together to paint slogans around “There is no God” in chalk in Russell Square in various languages. Photographs of women sitting on the floor with legs akimbo were in solidarity with women across the world who are being sexually assaulted for fighting for their rights and told to ‘sit properly’, ‘be decent’ and threatened with rape for claiming the right to their bodies. It was in particular a show of solidarity with women involved in the aurat march in Pakistan.

This action was followed by an emotional evening MCed by Nahla Mahmoud. Maryam Namazie gave a brief opening address on the need for an Atheist Day; this was followed by a panel discussion of ex-Muslim women speaking out including with Ibtisamme Betty Lachgar, Mimzy Vidz and Zara Kay along with Sadia Hameed and Maryam Namazie. Whether coming from secular or fundamentalist families, the women agreed that losing the fear of challenging God was central. In an intimate discussion which ranged from attempts at exorcism by families determined to ‘fix’ their errant children, to the joy of embracing freedom, they agreed they could never look back. Audience members assured them that they had gained a family in the global ‘community’ of ex-Muslims. Panelists condemned bigotry against Muslims while affirming their right to criticise Islam and Islamism.

One speaker, the poet Halima Salat, who is resident in Amsterdam was denied a visa by the British Home Office. She came out for the first time at Maryam Namazie’s Freedom Lecture at De Balie a few months back and there was great disappointment that she couldn’t join the event, showing how the hostile environment is never far away for apostate refugees. Halima performed her poetry on FGM and against Patriarchy via video link and was able to hear the cheers for her passionate work.

In continuation of a tradition established by CEMB, Apostasy or Coming Out Certificates were awarded to a number of people, namely Ezatullah Qoriashi, Kishore Talukder, Md Badrul Alam, Mehrdad Taheri, Sarah Qureshi, Shagota Sarwar and Shahab Khan by Sadia Hameed, Aftab Ahmed and Fasahat Rizvi.

Moreover, CEMB 2019 Awards were presented by Maryam Namazie, Sadia Hameed and Sina Ahadi Pour to those who showed dedicated support to the ex-Muslim movement, namely AC Grayling who has supported the movement since the beginning and Ana Gonzalez of Wilson Solicitors for her immense support for apostate refugee cases and the CEMB; she said that CEMB was the most caring group she had ever worked with. Also awards were given to Asad Abbas for being one of the first and most persistent of CEMB members, Ibtisamme Betty Lachgar for her courageous work in Morocco, Inna Shevchenko of Femen for inspiring CEMB’s topless protests, Mina Ahadi for founding the first Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany and Shelley Segal for being a voice for atheism and ex-Muslims. Awards were also given to two absent friends, the filmmaker Nadia El Fani and Atheist Republic Founder Armin Navabi.

Shelley Segal sang Our Resistance and her new anthem for CEMB and ex-Muslims called ‘Find our Way to Freedom,’ which premiered at the event, after which atheists and ex-Muslims joined her on stage for a sing along.

There was also Sadia Hameed, lightening the mood, with her first ever stand-up comedy act. Her subject was farting and her target God.

An exhibition by SAMINT used art as a weapon against patriarchy and extremism. The evening ended with dancing to tunes by DJ Zee Jay.

The first Atheist Day in London and across the world was a resounding success. Onwards towards #AtheistDay2020!

****

VIDEO FOOTAGE FILMED BY MUPHOVI

#ATHEISTDAY ACTION IN RUSSELL SQUARE PARK
With Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, Inna Shevchenko, Maryam Namazie, Sadia Hameed, SAMINT, Shelley Segal and Zara Kay with new ex-Muslim anthem by Shelley Segal: Find Our Way to Freedom as background music.

OPENING SPEECH BY MARYAM NAMAZIE

PANEL OF EX-MUSLIM WOMEN SPEAKING OUT

With Moroccan Activist Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, CEMB Spokespersons Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed, Ex-Muslim YouTuber Mimzy Vidz and Faithless Hijabi Founder Zara Kay.

COMEDY BY SADIA HAMEED

POETRY WITH HALIMA SALAT

COMING OUT CERTIFICATES

CEMB 2019 AWARDS

SHELLEY SEGAL SINGS OUR RESISTANCE AND NEW EX-MUSLIM ANTHEM

ATHEISTS AND EX-MUSLIMS JOIN SHELLEY SEGAL ON STAGE TO SING FIND OUR WAY TO FREEDOM

PHOTOS FROM EVENING EVENT BY POONE RAVI

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