Author: CEMB

Maryam Namazie is the voice of the voiceless, Boras Tidning

“Hon ger en röst åt röstlösa kvinnor” Borås 2008-04-15 | Uppdaterad 2008-04-15

– Alla religioner är besatta av att kontrollera kvinnor, sex och sexualitet

– Orsaken till att jag tycker att isalm är värre än andra är att det i många länder sker övergrepp i islams namn och med statens tillåtelse.

Det säger Maryam Namazie som på tisdagskvällen föreläste på kulturhuset i Borås.

Maryam har vigt större delen av sitt liv åt att kämpa för mänskliga rättigheter och framförallt mot förtryck av kvinnor. Något som enligt henne sker i stort sett överallt i världen, men värst är det de muslimska länderna.

– I många av dessa länder sker det med statens tillåtelse, eller till och med uppmuntran. Som exempel kan nämnas att en av de högsta tjänstemännen i Iran nyligen sa att de kvinnor som inte är tillräckligt slöjade är roten till allt ont i vårt samhälle.

Hon tar också upp andra exempel, som en kvinna i Iran som släpades ut på en marknadsplats och misshandlades till döds, allt för att hon förälskat sig i fel man.

– Det värsta är att alltihop filmades och lades ut på youtube, men trots detta har ingen straffats för mordet på den 17-åriga flickan.

Förklaringen till att ingen straffats är, enligt Maryam Namazie, att i dessa länder anses det rätt med så kallat hedersrelaterat våld.

– Männen menar att det är lika bra att slå ihjäl henne nu istället för att vänta tills hon gift sig och begår otrohetsbrott. Ett brott som straffas med stening till döds.

Att stena ihjäl otrogna kvinnor förekommer bland annat i Parkistan, Iran, Sudan och Nigeria.

– Detta är alltså en del av ländernas lagsystem. Det är till och med reglerat vilken storlek stenarna får ha.

Maryam Namazie drar hela tiden upp vikten av att inte blunda för de här orättvisorna.

– I västvärlden är vi ofta rädda att bli kallade för rasister om vi kritiserar islam. Men det är inte det minsta rasistiskt att ifrågasätta och kritisera en religion eller ett sätt att styra ett land. Rasism är att kritisera ett folk, och det är något annat.

Trots att ämnet hon talar om är upprörande, håller sig Maryam Namazie hela tiden lugn och saklig. Hon har något milt i rösten och uppträder på ett sätt som kanske bäst beskrivs som värdigt. Men så har hon också ägnat större delen av sitt liv åt just de här frågorna. Eller som Omid Salehi från Globala föreningen sa när han presenterade henne inför hennes föredrag:

– Hon ger en röst åt de röstlösa kvinnorna världen över.

Patrik Englund
Telefon: 033-700 07 73

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It’s time to take a stand against Islam and Sharia, Times

Maryam Namazie, head of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain, says that rights are for individuals, not religions or beliefs

Juliet Rix

March 12 2008, 12:00am

Picture this, says Maryam Namazie: “A child is swathed in cloth from head to toe every day. Everything but her face and hands are covered for fear that a man might find her attractive. At school she learns that she is worth less than a boy. She is not allowed to dance or swim or feel the sun on her skin or the wind in her hair. This is clearly unacceptable, yet it is accepted when it is done in the name of religion.”

Namazie is the founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain (CEMB) which started life in the middle of last year. On Monday – in celebration of the centenary of International Women’s Day – she spoke at a conference on Political Islam and Women’s Rights, and launched a campaign against Sharia.

Iranian Muslim by birth, Namazie, 41, is friendly and softly spoken. But she does not mince her words. It takes nerve to start an organisation for people who have rejected Islam. In Islamic law, apostasy is punishable by death. Namazie receives periodic threats, usually on her mobile phone: “One said, ‘You are going to be decapitated’…I went to the police. They were very attentive at first because they thought it might be linked to the attempted bombings in Glasgow . But when they realised it wasn’t, they never bothered contacting me again.” Doesn’t she worry about her safety? “Yes, I do, frequently. I worry about whether I will live, especially now I am a mother. If I see someone looking at me strangely, I wonder.” Why doesn’t she use a pseudonym? “They can find out who you are anyway. And the point of the Council of Ex-Muslims is to stand up and be counted.” She doesn’t really like the label ex-Muslim and would prefer not to frame her identity in religious terms but, she says, it is like gays “coming out” 30 years ago: something has to become public if you are to break taboos. The CEMB has more than 100 members with inquiries from people who do not dare to join. “Some have horrendous stories but do not put them on the website because they are afraid.”

Namazie’s grandfather was a mullah and her father was brought up a strict Muslim. Both of her parents (now living in America) remain Muslim. When Namazie told her father about the launch of the CEMB, she remembers that he said: “Oh no, Grandpa is going to be turning in his grave.” “So I told him that what I am doing benefits Muslims, too, because if you live in a secular society, you can be a Muslim, a Sikh, a Christian or an atheist and be treated equally.” Namazie’s opposition to state religion is informed by her own experience. She was 12 when the Iranian revolution “was hijacked by the Ayatollahs” and her country became the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“I had never worn the veil and was at a mixed school. Suddenly a strange man appeared in the playground. He was bearded and had been sent to separate the sexes – but we ran circles round him.” She can still picture, too, the face of “the Hezbollah” who stopped her in the street because her head was uncovered. “I was 12 or 13. It was really scary.” Worse happened to others: “There were beatings and acid was thrown in women’s faces, and there were executions on television every day,” she says. Then her school was closed “for Islamicisation”.

Namazie and her mother left for India. They lived in a B&B in Delhi and Namazie attended the British School while her father and three-year-old sister remained in Tehran. This was meant to be a temporary measure, but soon her father – a journalist – decided that they all had to leave. The family spent a year in Bournemouth before travelling to the US where, when Namazie was 17, they were granted residency.

At university, she joined the United Nations Development Programme and went to work with Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. “Six months after I arrived Sudan became an Islamic state. I was, like, this is following me around!” Along with others, Namazie started an unofficial human rights organisation, gathering information on the government. The Sudanese security service called her in for questioning. “I wasn’t very respectful and the UN guy who came with me said, ‘No wonder your parents took you out of Iran’. The Sudanese guy threatened me, saying, ‘you don’t know what will happen to you. You might have a motorbike accident or something’.” The UN quietly put her on a plane home.

This was a turning point, shifting her from non-practising Muslim to atheist. Two decades on, she is devoting her life to opposing religious power. She is in the midst of organising the first international conference of Ex-Muslims, to be held in London on October 10. And she is about to launch a “no Sharia” campaign.

She must have been shocked, I suggest, when the Archbishop of Canterbury said the introduction of some Sharia in Britain was unavoidable. No, she says; she wasn’t even surprised. “It was quite apt, although he didn’t expect the reaction he got. It was an attack on secularism really. It is, in a sense, to his benefit if there are Muslim schools and Sharia. It makes it less likely that anyone will oppose Christian schools and the privileged place of religion in society.”

She is adamant, though, that no form of Sharia should be allowed here. “It is fundamentally discriminatory and misogynist,” she says and is dismissive of the idea that people would be able to choose between Sharia and civil jurisdiction. Women could be railroaded into a Sharia court, she says. “This would hit people who need the protection of British law more than anyone else.”

She believes that we are confused about the meaning of human rights. “Rights are for individuals, not for religions or beliefs. ‘Every human is equal’ does not mean that every belief is equal.” Islamists portray themselves as victims, she says, and policymakers have bought into this. Namazie says that the Muslim Council of Britain should not be seen as representative of British Muslims – but would nonetheless welcome any opportunities to debate with it. “Ex-Muslims are in a good position to challenge political Islam,” she says. “We must not let little girls or anyone else lose their human rights. We can’t tolerate the intolerable for any reason – including religion.”

Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain; 07719-166731;

The CEMB gives me hope, letter from Maryam Namazie


I should have written sooner but we have been inundated with emails and calls from ex-Muslims, supporters and others. Here are just a few we have received:

Ali says: ‘I’m a closet apostate of Islam… Hearing of your movement gives me hope.’

Amal says ‘…it’s about time we ex-Muslims came together and had our voices heard.’

And they are not only joining from Britain but from Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait…

Imran from Saudi Arabia says: ‘I don’t find the words to express my joyful feelings about the council… today by chance, luckily I found the council. I saw the video of Maryam on youtube. It gave me courage and it gave me like a fresh breath of life…’

You can read more about why 25 of us began the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain by publishing our names and photographs. As I have said: ‘Yes, your religion or lack thereof is your business but not when you are killed for it. Then a public challenge becomes a form of resistance.’

Clearly, we have hit a nerve because in just seven months, with the support of countless people like you, we have managed to challenge political Islam in Britain and elsewhere, defend secularism and universal rights, and call for humanity without labels. But there is much more that we can and must do.

You can help us do more to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to push back religion’s adverse role in society at large by:

  • Donating to our organisation. We need funds to cover everything from a campaign against the Sharia courts in Britain, a comprehensive resource centre about Islam, political Islam and ex-Muslims, a support system for ex-Muslims and Ex-Muslim TV programmes that can be broadcast across Europe and the Middle East.
  • Participating in our events. On March 10, we are organising a seminar with Equal Rights Now in commemoration of International Women’s Day entitled Sexual Apartheid, Political Islam and Women’s Rights at Conway Hall in London from 6:30-9:30pm. The event is free. Speakers are Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany and Equal Rights Now; 2007 NSS Secularist of the Year; Louise Couling, Chair of Unison’s Regional Women’s Committee and member of the National Executive Council; Houzan Mahmoud, Spokesperson, Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq; Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now, National Secular Society Honorary Associate; and Joan Smith, Novelist, columnist and human rights activist. The seminar is chaired by Hanne Stinson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association.
  • Signing on to our campaigns and urgent actions. Right now we are gathering support to turn the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day into a day against sexual apartheid.
  • Adding your name and statement to our list of members or supporters.
  • Volunteering your time and expertise. We particularly need help in charity law, conference organising, researching, writing and broadcasting.
  • Telling others about us by forwarding recent media coverage or our press releases to everyone you know…

According to the writer and philosopher AC Grayling, our manifesto constitutes ‘a bill of rights which is absolutely necessary for everyone, non-religious and otherwise, to adopt and observe now that the world is again experiencing, with such bitterness, widespread religion-generated difficulties.’

Together, we can and will change all that.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest regards, Maryam

Maryam Namazie
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

There is no place for sharia in Britain

The Council of ex-Muslims of Britain condemns the comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that Sharia law is ‘inevitable’ and may be welcome in civil cases.

The distinction that he makes between civil and criminal cases does not exist within Sharia law. Sharia law encompasses all aspects of the life of those deemed Muslim. Suggesting that the UK would not, of course, allow the more barbaric aspects of Sharia law, such as amputation or stoning, ignores the fact that it is the family/civil areas of law in the Sharia that are some of the most iniquitous.

In the discriminatory personal family law, particularly in the areas of marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance and so on, a Muslim woman cannot even contract her own marriage; the marriage contract is between her guardian and husband. A man can have 4 wives whilst a woman cannot. A man can divorce his wife without reasons by simply saying ‘divorce’ thrice, albeit with a gap in time, whereas a woman must give reasons, some of which are extremely difficult to prove. A woman only receives half that of a man under inheritance rules, and so on.

Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights, such as equal rights for women, and relegates those deemed to be ‘Muslim’ to culturally relative rights and at the mercy of regressive imams and kangaroo courts.

In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.

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