Month: March 2019

Why Were Women’s Bodies Policed By Hijab After The New Zealand Terror Attack?

Why Were Women’s Bodies Policed By Hijab After The New Zealand Terror Attack?

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s Response To Hijab Being Used As A Symbol Of Solidarity In The Aftermath Of The New Zealand Terrorist Attack. 

More than a week on from the horrific far right and white supremacist attack on New Zealand, we at the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain are still grieving for those who were lost, or had their lives destroyed. As we have already said, the majority of our members and volunteers are from Muslim families and communities, so the people killed or critically injured at the 2 mosques that were attacked could have been our loved ones.

We have largely been very impressed by the response to the attacks led by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden. Where other politicians have used similar events to create division, she has shown great leadership in bringing people together and showing love to those affected and the wider Muslim community. We strongly welcome the New Zealand government’s decision to ban assault weapons, set up a financial fund to help support victims and bereaved families and pay for the funerals of those who were lost. We also welcome Ms Arden’s decision not to name the terrorist and give him the notoriety he was seeking. Largely, she has proven herself a strong leader who has set an example for other politicians around the world.

However, we are very disappointed to see that during the official remembrance service for the fallen dead, the New Zealand women attending were expected to cover their heads with a hijab as a mark of “honour”, “respect” and “solidarity” towards the victims and Muslim community. We believe this is the worst kind of emotional blackmail. In performing this ceremony this way, a woman who refuses to partake in the religious practices of veiling is immediately defined as someone who has no respect, solidarity or honour. This sort of pressure surely violates the right to freedom of and freedom from religion. The women of New Zealand are stricken by grief, why should their bodies be policed?

As well as creating unfair religious pressure on the wider community of New Zealand, the decision to ask women to veil to honour the victims has massively alienated unveiled women from within the Muslim community. Not all Muslim women wear hijabs, including ones who are devout believers, infact many actively resist the practise. Similarly as ex-Muslim women who choose not to be covered, we also fight for the right to be free of hijab. Unfortunately, women from Muslim majority societies and communities who do not veil are often harassed, pressured or shamed for not veiling. Accusations of “disrespect” are commonly aimed at unveiled women. Our worry if that if it was our loved ones killed in the terrorist attacks, we would be accused of disrespect as we mourned. What’s more, this also feels like part of a wider move by Islamists to errase unveiled women from Muslim majority countries and communities, in the eyes of the wider world. Its working. To many, we simply don’t exist.

What makes this all the more disappointing is that Ms Arden is an apostate of Mormonism, a very high control religion which is very difficult to leave. She has spoken publicly about her experiences and has helped to shine a light on the issue of apostasy and religious descent as a civil right. We believe if we could speak to her, she would understand our point of view, but sadly the cultural damage has already been done.

Whatever happens next the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will continue to resist all forms of extremism including the white supremacist far right movement and Islamism. We will also continue to mourn the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attacks on our own terms, whilst fighting for our own autonomy.

Atheist Day: An Atheist Coming Out Day

We atheists and atheist allies hereby declare that from now on, March 23rd is Atheist Day. We recognize the struggle of atheists to live authentic lives in many parts of the world. The struggle to openly affirm one’s atheism. The fear of intolerant governments, mobs, and religious zealots.

On March 23rd we shall take a stand for our right to be treated equal and for those of us in countries where atheists are persecuted and live under a threat of death. From every city in every country in the world we shall be one voice, a voice of reason.


Arab Atheists
Ateizm Dernegi
Atheist Agnostic Alliance of Pakistan
Atheist Republic
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Council of Ex-Muslims of France
Council of Ex-Muslims of Jordan
Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco
Ex-Muslims of North America
Ex-Muslims of Norway
Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka
Freethought Lebanon
The Black Ducks

Our symbol of a green circle is two-fold in meaning:

The shape of a circle is one of the oldest atheist symbols. It represents symmetry, peace, and harmony. The circle is akin to a zero, symbolizing the null, the lack of, or absence of a belief in a god, i.e., godlessness. At the same time, it represents wholeness in its simplicity, indicating that we as nonbelievers are not devoid of morality or goodness. On the contrary, we are whole without a god. As such, the circle encapsulates humanism, freethought, and secularism.

The color green symbolizes the life and vitality of this movement, and the values it embodies. These include a celebration of life as we recognize its finite nature, the growth and vivacity of the atheist movement globally, and the goodness valued in humanity. Its allusion to the greenness of nature demonstrates that we treasure our existence on Earth and wish to protect all life, especially the lives of those at risk of death and persecution for beliefs held and expressed across the world.

Displaying the symbol on Atheist Day

In order to celebrate Atheist Day and increase our visibility, we encourage an open display of the symbol by those who feel safe in doing so. For those who are at risk of physical danger or social ostracization if identified as atheists, we encourage you to keep your personal safety paramount.

Ways to wear the symbol:

– For those who are not at risk or in physical danger revealing their identity, and for those who want to express solidarity with atheists, you may join us in one of the following:

– Drawing a green circle on our faces, OR
– Wearing a green string or bracelet around our wrists

​We hope that by displaying the symbol openly on our faces, we can humanize atheists and atheist allies; we will show our diversity and our strength.

– For those who are at risk, we recommend wearing a green necklace, a green bracelet or even a green hijab if you are a woman and head coverings are mandatory in your country.

This symbol is not trademarked.

You may use it creatively in any way you like. Paint it on any surface. Combine it with a quote. Use it as a frame. We welcome you to individualize the symbol in a way that is meaningful to you.

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