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Month: November 2019

The hijab: “preventing common impositions”

The hijab: “preventing common impositions” was published in Workers Liberty Solidarity in defence of banning child veiling on 27 November 2019.

Maryam Namazie is an activist with the Council of Ex-Muslims and other secularist groups.

On the issue of child veiling, a state ban on conspicuous religious symbols for children is an important defence of children’s rights.

Children are not parental property

Children are not the property of their parents.

They are individuals with rights and bodily integrity. And just because their parents believe in child veiling or FGM and male circumcision doesn’t mean they should be automatically entitled to impose their views on their children, especially when these views are harmful.

It is not a question of choice

Religious symbols on children are not a child’s choice but a parental imposition, as no child “chooses” to be “modest” and “chaste” and protect the family “honour.”

Even for adults, it is debatable how many have freely chosen to wear the veil given the huge amounts of pressures to conform, the compulsory nature of the veil in many instances and because submission and compliance are not the same as choice. Even so, there is clearly a huge difference between the veiling of adults and child veiling.

As the late Iranian Marxist Mansoor Hekmat said:

“The child has no religion, tradition and prejudices. She has not joined any religious sect. She is a new human being who, by accident and irrespective of her will has been born into a family with specific religion, tradition, and prejudices. It is indeed the task of society to neutralise the negative effects of this blind lottery.

“Society is duty-bound to provide fair and equal living conditions for children, their growth and development, and their active participation in social life. Anybody who should try to block the normal social life of a child, exactly like those who would want to physically violate a child according to their own culture, religion, or personal or collective complexes, should be confronted with the firm barrier of the law and the serious reaction of society.

“No nine year old girl chooses to be married, sexually mutilated, serve as house maid and cook for the male members of the family, and be deprived of exercise, education, and play. The child grows up in the family and in society according to established customs, traditions, and regulations, and automatically learns to accept these ideas and customs as the norms of life.

“To speak of the choice of the Islamic veil by the child herself is a ridiculous joke. Anyone who presents the mechanism of the veiling of a kindergarten-age girl as her own ‘democratic choice’ either comes from outer space, or is a hypocrite who does not deserve to participate in the discussion about children’s rights and the fight against discrimination.

“The condition for defending any form of the freedom of the child to experience life, the condition for defending the child’s right to choose, is first and foremost, to prevent these automatic and common impositions.”

The veil promotes sex apartheid and inequality

The veil is emotionally harmful. It aims to erase girls and women from the public space and creates a physical wall of segregation. If you do not stay home, and insist on going to school or work or what have you, then you must carry the purdah on your very back to prevent yourself from enticing men and creating fitnah or chaos in society.

The veil is part of the misogynist insistence that girls are “different” from boys. As has been seen in some classrooms in Islamic schools here in Britain even, what follows child veiling is girls sitting in the back of the classrooms, eating after male students, having different textbooks…

It also inhibits the free movement of children. There is an implication that veiled girls are not to run, shout or laugh too loudly or even ride a bike and be seen playing with boys. Child veiling encourages inequality between girls and boys right from the start and solidifies women’s subservient status in society.

Modesty culture is an extension of rape culture

Moreover, child veiling is on the continuum of other religious and cultural rules to control women and girls to ensure that they know “their place” – whether it be via FGM, polygamy or child marriage. At worst, it promotes rape culture and violence against girls and women.

The veil and its demands for modesty brings with it the implicit and often explicit shaming (or worse) of those deemed “immodest.” It is the immodest girl or woman who fails to dress or behave appropriately in order to avoid the male gaze and titillation. She has no one to blame but herself for any ensuing male violence. Modesty is always the remit of women and young girls.

And while it is often portrayed as harmless, modesty culture sexualises girls from a young age and puts the onus on them to protect themselves. Child veiling also removes male accountability for violence, positioning men as predators unable to control their urges. Girls and women are to be either protected or raped depending on how well they guard their modesty and the honour of their male guardian.

Therefore, despite what we are often told, the veil is not just another piece of clothing. This would be similar to touting foot-binding as footwear, FGM as piercings and the chastity belt as lingerie.

In all religions and every religious-Right movement, the perfect “modest” and “moral” woman/girl is the one who cannot be seen or heard in public. Whether via acid-attacks, FGM or child veiling, the message is clear: a good woman/girl is a “modest” one.

To ban or not to ban

There are bans on domestic violence, FGM, child labour… because of social and political movements demanding an end to such violations culminating with changes in the law. Therefore, the banning of child veiling and conspicuous religious symbols should be seen within this move to prioritise children’s rights over the rights of their parents, religious dogma or religious “leaders” and to codify it in the law.

Racism or Fundamentalism

Much of the discussion around the banning of child veiling centres around legitimate concerns for bigotry against Muslims, rising xenophobia and the exploitation of any ban by the far-Right. I would challenge the view that sees girls and women as extensions of their communities and expendable for societal “cohesion.”

Yes, of course, there is a context of racism but there is also a context of the rise of the religious-Right (including white nationalism) with women and girls as their first targets. Increased child veiling is the result of this rising fundamentalism since the veil and control of “its women” is the most public manifestation of Islamist control. In Britain, today, even some toddlers can be seen wearing the veil.

A more ethical position would be to oppose both racism and fundamentalism. Excusing fundamentalism because of racism or vice versa addresses neither and leaves women and girls at the mercy of religious and patriarchal restrictions.

Identity or Solidarity

Saying the fight against child veiling is a fight for feminist and secularist movements within faith communities allows one to remain on the side lines and pay lip service to what is a serious child welfare issue. Oh well, at least you showed some solidarity by putting the onus on others!

Children – British girls – are being sexualised, segregated, taught they are different from boys. British children cannot feel the wind in their hair, run, laugh out loud, dance… They are not considered as individuals whose welfare is paramount but extensions of “community” and family and bearers of modesty culture.

The idea that the fight for the rights of these girls — because they are minorities — must be left to “faith communities” shows how ingrained regressive identity politics and cultural relativism have become. For me, the issue is clear.

If you want to improve the lot of children who are veiled, then changes in law are an important battleground for those who are serious about children’s rights.

Defend Protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

Farsi, Arabic and French translations below.

Nationwide protests in Iran against a 50% fuel price hike over the last few days has seen widespread suppression by the Islamic regime of Iran’s security forces leaving at least 200 dead, hundreds injured and over a thousand arrested. The use of overwhelming force by security forces has been coupled with an Internet black out to prevent news of the uprising and its suppression from reaching the outside world. The protesters are targeting Islamic rule and the clerical dictatorship, including by attacking religious institutions and seminaries, banks, police stations and representations of the clerical leadership.

The protests in Iran follow mass and ongoing protests in Iraq and Lebanon over the past month. In Iraq, more than 300 people have been killed and at least 15,000 wounded. In Lebanon, the protesters have gained victories despite attempts to violent suppression, the last of which was cancelling the parliamentary session for the second time in a row, after protesters blocked all roads leading to parliament.

In all three countries, protesters are demanding jobs, improved services, an end to corruption, sectarianism and the interventions of the Islamic regime of Iran in the region. In Iraq many shouted: “Neither Sunnism nor Shiiism, but Secularism”. In Iran, slogans included “We don’t want an Islamic regime” and in Lebanon, demonstrators demanded that those in power be deposed by saying “All of them means all of them, Nasrallah is one of them” referring to the Islamist leader. The protests are deeply secular, with young people and women taking the lead.

We call on the public to show unequivocal support and solidarity with the protests and defend universal rights, freedoms and demands for secularism. We also call on the public to mobilise condemnation of government forces, including Islamic militia, that are suppressing popular and legitimate uprisings for a better tomorrow.


Maryam Namazie, Political Activist, Iran/UK
Sami Abdallah, Co-founder of Freethought Lebanon
Ahlam Akram, Basira for Universal Women’s Rights
Ali Rizvi, Author
Armin Navabi, Atheist Republic
Ashkan, Ex-musulmani d’Italia and Republica degli atei
Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan
Barry Duke, Editor of The Freethinker and Pink Humanist
Bread and Roses TV
Cemal Knudsen Yucel, Founder of Ex-Muslims of Norway
Cinzia Sciuto, Editor of MicroMega and Journalist
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-Presidents, Freedom From Religion Foundation
Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom
Ex-Muslims of India
Ex-Muslims of Norway
Ex-Muslims of Tamil Nadu
Fauzia Ilyas, Founder of Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan
Freethought Lebanon
Gita Sahgal, Spokesperson, One Law for All
Halaleh Taheri, Founder, Middle Eastern Women and Society organisation
Halima Salat, Ex-Muslim Somali Voices
Harris Sultan, Author and Activist
Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, Co-founder of Mouvement Alternatif pour les Libertés Individuelles – Morocco
Iman Soleymani Amiri, Researcher and Writer
Irreligious Community of Sri Lanka
Jenny Wenhammar, FEMEN Sweden
Karrar Al Asfoor, Iraqi Liberal Activist
Keith Porteous Wood, President, National Secular Society
Lars Alm, Board member, Ateistene Norway
Lisa-Marie Taylor, CEO, FiLiA
Maria MacLachlan, Women’s Rights Campaigner
Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian Sociologist and Founder of Secularism is a Woman’s Issue
Marwa Radwan Wain, Youtuber
Mersedeh Ghaedi, Spokesperson, Iran Tribunal London
Mina Ahadi, Worker-communist Party of Iran
Nadia El Fani, Filmmaker
Nahla Mahmoud, Human Rights Campaigner
Nastaran Goodarzi, Ex-Muslims of Scandinavia
Nina Sankari, Vice President of Kazimierz Łyszczynski Foundation
One Law for All
Patty Debonitas, Activist
Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner
Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters
Rahila Gupta, Writer and Journalist
Rishvin Ismath, Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka
Rumana Hashem, Director, Community Women Against Abuse & Phulbari Solidarity Group
Sadia Hameed, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Samir Noory, Left Worker communist party of Iraq
Sanal Edamaruku, President, Rationalist International
Secularism is a Woman’s Issue
Shakila Taranum Maan, Filmmaker
Soad Baba Aissa, Activist and Feminist
Southall Black Sisters
Stephen Evans, Executive Director, National Secular Society
Steven Pinker, Cognitive Psychologist, Linguist, and Science Author
Taher Djafarizad, President, Associazione Neda Day
Taslima Nasrin, Writer
Usama al-Binni, Administrator, Arab Atheist Network and Editor, Arab Atheists Magazine
Waleed Wain, Youtuber
Wissam Charafeddine, Co-Founder, Muslimish
Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Campaigner
Yukthivadi Sangham India
Zara Kay, Faithless Hijabi
Zehra Pala, Activist of the Atheism Association of Turkey

از اعتراضات در ایران، عراق و لبنان دفاع کنید

اعتراضات سراسری در ایران در برابر افزایش ۵۰ درصدی قیمت سوخت در طی‌ چند روز گذشته، با سرکوب گسترده نیرو‌های امنیتی رژیم جمهوری اسلامی و با کشته شدن حداقل ۲۰۰ نفر، صد‌ها مجروح و بیش از هزار بازداشتی روبرو شده است، استفاده گسترده از نیرو‌های امنیتی، با قطعی‌ اینترنت همراه شده است تا از پخش اخبار قیام مردم و سرکوب آنان به دنیای خارج جلوگیری نماید.

تظاهرات کنندگان، قوانین اسلامی و دیکتاتوری آخوندی را هدف قرار داده ا‌ند، از جمله حمله به موسسات مذهبی‌ و حوزه‌های علمیه، بانک ها، کلانتری‌ها و تصاویر رهبری. اعتراضات در ایران گسترده است و به دنبال تظاهرات در عراق و لبنان در طی‌ ماه گذشته است، در عراق بیش از ۳۰۰ نفر کشته و حداقل ۱۵۰۰۰ نفر زخمی شدند. در لبنان ، معترضین علیرغم تلاش برای سرکوب خشونت آمیز ، پیروزی هایی به دست آوردند که آخرین مورد آن لغو جلسه پارلمان برای دومین بار پیاپی بود ، پس از آنکه تمامی مسیرهای منتهی به پارلمان را مسدود کردند.

در هر ۳ کشور، معترضین خواستار ایجاد کار و بهبود رفاه و خدمات و پایانی بر فساد، فرقه گرایی و مداخلات رژیم اسلامی ایران در منطقه هستند، در عراق بسیاری فریاد زدند “نه سنی، نه شیعه، تنها سکولاریسم”. در ایران شعار‌ها شامل “ما رژیم اسلامی نمی خواهیم” بود، و در لبنان، معترضین خواستار عزل تمامی‌ آنانی‌ که در قدرت هستند شدند با گفتن “ همه آنها یعنی‌ همه آنها، نصرالله یکی‌ از آنان است”، که اشاره به رهبر اسلامگرای حزب الله است، معترضین کاملا سکولار هستند، با افرادی جوان و زنانی که رهبری این تظاهرات را به عهده دارند.

ما، امضاکنندگان، از مردم می‌‌خواهیم که حمایت و همبستگی‌ صریح خودشان را نسبت به تظاهرات کنندگان نشان دهند، از حقوق جهان شمول، آزادی و درخواست برای سکولاریسم دفاع کنند، ما همچنین از مردم می‌‌خواهیم تا همگی‌ نیرو‌های حکومتی، شامل شبه نظامیان اسلامگرا، که در

حال سرکوب قیام‌های مردمی و مشروع برای فردایی بهتر هستند را محکوم نمایند.

احم مظاهرات إيران، العراق ولبنان

واجهت مظاهرات إيران التي انطلقت إحتجاجاً على ارتفاع أسعار النفط بنسبة ٥٠٪ في غضون أيام قمعاً شاملاً من قبل الحرس الثوري الإيراني، ما أودى بحياة أكثر من ١٠٠ شخص، بالإضافة إلى مئات الجرحى وآلاف الموقوفين. تزامن استعمال العنف من قبل القوى الأمنية مع تعطيل لشبكة الإنترنت لمنع انتشار الأخبار ومشاهد قمع المتظاهرين إلى العالم الخارجي. يستهدف المتظاهرون الحكم الإسلامي  وديكتاتورية رجال الدين، عبر مهاجمة المراكز والمحاضرات الدينية، البنوك، مراكز الشرطة وممثلي الزعامات الدينية. تلت مظاهرات إيران المظاهرات الضخمة في العراق ولبنان. ففي العراق قتل أكثر من ٣٠٠ شخص وجرح على الأقل ١٥,٠٠٠. و في لبنان، حقق المتظاهرون انتصارات عدة على الرغم من محاولات قمعهم عنفياً،  فكان آخرها إلغاء جلسة مجلس النواب للمرة الثانية على التوالي منذ يومين بعد إغلاق المتظاهرين جميع الطرق المؤدية إلى البرلمان.

في البلدان الثلاث، تمحورت مطالب المتظاهرين حول تأمين فرص العمل، تحسين مراكز الرعاية والخدمات، وضع حد للفساد، للطائفية ولتدخلات النظام الإيراني في شؤون المنطقة. في العراق، ارتفعت صيحات “لا سنية ولا شيعية، بدنا دولة علمانية”. في إيران تضمنت الشعارات “لا نريد نظاماً إسلامياً” وفي لبنان طلب المتظاهرون اسقاط جميع الحكام عبر شعارات “كلن يعني كلن، نصرالله واحد منن” – بالإشارة إلى الداعية الإسلامي. المظاهرات علمانية بامتياز، قادتها نساء وشباب.

نحن، الموقعون أدناه، نطلب كل الدعم والتضامن مع هذه التظاهرات، و الدفاع عن الحقوق العالمية والحريات ومطالب العلمانية. كما ونطالب من الجميع إدانة القوات الحكومية، لا سيما الميليشيات الإسلامية التي تقمع النهضات الشعبية المحقة، التي تسعى نحو غد أفضل.


Défendre les manifestations en Iran, en Irak et au Liban

Nov.22, 2019

Des protestations à l’échelle nationale ont lieu en Iran ces derniers jours déclenchées par l’augmentation de 50% du prix du carburant ; elles ont été largement réprimées par les forces de sécurité du régime islamique iranien, faisant au moins 200 morts, des centaines de blessés et plus d’un millier d’arrestations. A l’utilisation écrasante de la force par les organismes de sécurité s’est ajouté un black out d’internet pour empêcher les nouvelles du soulèvement et de sa répression de parvenir au monde extérieur. Les manifestants ciblent le pouvoir islamique et la dictature cléricale, s’attaquant aux institutions religieuses et aux séminaires, aux banques, aux commissariats de police et aux représentations du leadership clérical.

Les protestations en Iran font suite aux manifestations de masse qui ont eu lieu en Irak et au Liban au cours du mois dernier. En Irak, plus de 300 personnes ont été tuées et au moins 15 000 blessées. Au Liban, les manifestants ont remporté des victoires en dépit de tentatives de répression violente, dont la dernière fut l’annulation de la session parlementaire pour la deuxième fois d’affilée, après que les manifestants aient bloqué toutes les routes menant au parlement.

Dans les trois pays, les manifestants exigent du travail, de meilleurs services publics, la fin de la corruption, du sectarisme et des interventions du régime islamique d’Iran dans la région. En Irak, beaucoup criaient : ’ ni sunnisme ni chiisme, mais la laïcité’. En Iran, des slogans proclamaient ’ nous ne voulons pas d’un régime islamique’, et au Liban des manifestants exigeaient la déposition des hommes au pouvoir en criant « ’tous’, cela veut dire ’tous’, Nasrallah en fait partie », en référence au leader islamique. Les manifestations sont profondément laïques, et les jeunes et les femmes y tiennent un rôle dirigeant.

Nous en appelons à toutes et à tous pour faire preuve d’une solidarité et d’un soutien sans faille vis à vis des manifestations et pour défendre les droits et les libertés universels et l’exigence de laïcité. Nous en appelons aussi au public pour se mobiliser autour de la condamnation des forces gouvernementales – y compris les milices islamiques- qui veulent étouffer les légitimes soulèvements populaires qui tentent de faire advenir un avenir meilleur.

Egypt Let Ahmed Harkan Travel Now

Ahmad Harken is an Egyptian 36-year-old Ex-Muslim/atheist, youtuber and free thinker who practices his right of expression.

Since 2016 the Egyptian National Security has imposed a travel ban on Harken for no reason.

Harkan has not violated any law of the state nor caused harm to any individual. There is no court order against him nor any order from the Attorney general. Although he is free to roam the country, he is imprisoned within the compounds of his country for no apparent reason.

Harkan attempted to travel outside Egypt and was banned three times since 2016. The last time Ahmed wanted to travel was on October 21st when he got a Tunisian visa in order to marry his Tunisian fiancée.

On 21st October 2019, Harkan tried to leave Egypt to meet up with his fiancé in her country, Tunisia, where their wedding ceremony was supposed to take place, yet the National Security banned him from traveling, even though the reason for his travel were clear. At the airport, he was told to go back home with no explanation.

Harkan has now been on Hunger Strike for over 20 days, resulting in his hospitalisation. At the hospital, he was threatened that if he keeps going on the hunger strike, they will put him in prison. Harkan says, “I either get my right to travel like anyone else, or die”.

Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile,”

Harkan has committed no crime, he has the right to travel wherever he pleases.

We at the Council of Ex Muslims of Britain urge the Egyptian authorities to permit Ahmed Harkan to travel with immediate effect!


Harkan’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/904859109535632/posts/2898155153539341/

Harkan’s Webpage: https://ahmedharqan.com/

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