Category: Featured

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is organising a screening of the film, Islam’s Non-Believers, by award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan on 14th June, from 6:00-9:00pm, as part of London Pride Festival to raise awareness amongst those who are unfamiliar with CEMB & the ex-Muslim movement.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A on LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy. Imaan, Mend, East London Mosque, Pride and Pink News have been invited to join the discussion.

Confirmed Speakers:

Jimmy Bangash, LGBT Activist

Matthew Mahmood-Ogston, Founder & Trustee of Naz and Matt Foundation

Sadia Hameed, Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Syed Haider, Chair of Hidayah, an LGBTQI+ organisation looking to support LGBT+ Muslims

Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon, LGBT activist from Bangladesh and Editor of Boys Love World

The panel discussion will be chaired by Gita Sahgal, Chair of Centre for Secular Space.

The format of the evening is as follows:

6:00pm – Welcoming guests

6:30pm – Screening of Islam’s Non-belivers

7:15pm – Break for drinks

7:30pm – Panel Discussion

9:00pm – Finish

The venue location will be given to ticket holders closer to the date of the event. Please note that tickets cannot be bought at the door and must be purchased prior to the event.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fitzgerald and Sadia Hameed, exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

Biographies

Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director. She was born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry. Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary “Banaz: A Love Story” chronicles the “honour killing” of a young British Kurdish woman killed in 2006 in London. Deeyah’s second film the Bafta-nominated “Jihad” involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis. Her third film is on ex-Muslims, called “Islam’s Non Believers”. She has also received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression, human rights and peace, including the Ossietzky prize by Norwegian PEN and the University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award. She received the 2016 Peer Gynt Prize from the Parliament of Norway. Deeyah is also the CEO of Fuuse. One of the most recent Fuuse initiatives is “sister-hood”, a digital magazine and a series of live events spotlighting the voices of women of Muslim heritage.

Gita Sahgal is a writer, journalist, film-maker and rights activist. She is currently Founder and Director of Centre for Secular Space. She was formerly Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International; she was suspended in 2010 after she was quoted criticising Amnesty for its high-profile associations with the Islamist Moazzam Begg, the director of a group called Cageprisoners. For many years she served on the board of Southall Black Sisters and was a founder of Women Against Fundamentalism and Awaaz: South Asia Watch. With Nira Yival Davis, she edited “Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain” ( London, 1992). Among her articles are “Legislating Utopia? Violence Against Women, Identities and Interventions” in “The Situated Politics of Belonging”. During the 1980s, she worked for a Black current affairs programme called “Bandung File” on Channel 4 TV. She made two films about the Rushdie affair, “Hullaballoo Over Satanic Verses” and “Struggle or Submission”. She has also made two programmes for Dispatches Channel 4, “The Provoked Wife” on the case of Kiranjit Ahluwalia and “The War Crimes File” an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by members of the Jamaat i Islami in Bangladesh in 1971.

Jimmy Bangash is a gay British ex-Muslim Pakistani living in the UK. He grew up in a traditional Pashtun family in London where he struggled with both the homophobia and ardent misogyny within his community. He has written poems and prose about these experiences; many of which have been published on Sedaa. As an LGBT ex-Muslim activist, he is committed to unbridling the reins of patriarchy on gays and women of Muslim heritage. As a coach, he seeks to empower those individuals liberated from problematic ideologies to live a life of authenticity, self-assurance and self-expression.

Matthew Mahmood-Ogston is Founder & Trustee of Naz and Matt Foundation. In 2001, soon after coming out to himself, Matt met his soulmate Naz in a nightclub in Birmingham. Naz was 21, Matt was 23. They quickly fell in love and ran away to London to be themselves and escape the intense pressures of not being out to family. They had to keep their relationship a secret for fear of what might happen if they were found out. After 13 years together and engaged to be married, Naz (Dr Nazim Mahmood) sadly took his own life, just two days after being confronted about his sexuality by his deeply religious family during Eid. It was the first time they had heard that their son was gay, in a long term relationship with another man, in love, and planning to get married. Their solution was to tell Naz that he needed to see a psychiatrist to be ‘cured’ for being gay. For ‘shame’ not to be brought on the family. In memory of Naz, Matt set up “Naz and Matt Foundation”, a registered charity that tackles religious and cultural homophobia. The organisation helps families learn how to accept their LGBTQI+ children for who they really are – for who they were born to be.  The Foundation’s mission is to “Never let religion, any religion, come in the way of the unconditional love between parents and their children.”

Sadia Hameed is a Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and has been featured in a 2016 film, “Islam’s Non Believers”, by award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan. She is also a human rights activist and Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM Consultant, based in Gloucestershire, working in the sexual violence field, with a focus on Black Minority Ethnic women. Sadia organised a hugely successful event titled ‘Let’s Talk Honour’ in October 2016, which was held at Gloucester University. She also launched Critical Sisters. She is Winner of IKWRO Special Recognition: Activist of the Year 2017.

Syed Haider is Head of Academic Subjects at the International Study Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also Chair of Hidayah, an LGBTQI+ organisation looking to support LGBT+ Muslims and work with allies in promoting a more critical understanding of Islam and Islamicate traditions. He has published a number of articles, most recently on the shootings in Orlando (The Shooting in Orlando, Terrorism or Toxic Masculinity (or Both?)) and ‘Shadows on the Wall’ in Gay Times. His research interest lies in culture and the role of cultural products in the transmission of ideas, and his forthcoming monograph is titled Muslim modernities on the Hindi screen published by Routledge.

Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon is an LGBT activist from Bangladesh and Editor of Boys Love World, which has been established in 2011 as an online Magazine for Bangladeshi LGBT Activists. The mission of the Boys Love World is to advocate and defend LGBT community and its members. Bangladeshi LGBT rights activists and bloggers from different country contributes to Boys Love World with their quality writings and engages with the readers. Boys Love World has many readers not only in Bangladesh but around the world. Our main aim is to educate mass people about LGBT community and cultivating a sentiment in favour of equality and diversity to create a safe environment where LGBT people can promote and explore their culture and work in the interests of the public benefit to remove any social exclusion. We achieve our aims and objectives by holding various events, workshops and seminars throughout the year.

On Friday 18 May Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has a fast-defying protest at embassies of countries that punish eating during Ramadan with flogging, beatings and imprisonment. Join our “eat-in” at Saudi, Iranian, Pakistani, Moroccan, Tunisian, Bangladeshi and Egyptian embassies in London or defend the persecuted during the month of Ramadan. Fasting is your Right; Fast-Defying is my Right.
#Ramadan
#Fast_Defying_My_Right
جمعه ۱۸ مه٬ شوراى اكس مسلم بريتانيا اعتراض روزه خوارى دارد جلوى سفارتخانه هاى كشورهايى كه روزه خواران را شلاق مى زنند و زندانى و اذيت و آزار مى كنند منجمله سفارتهاى ايران٬ عربستان سعودى٬ تونس٬ مراكش٬ بنگلادش٬ پاكستان٬ مصر۔۔۔
روزه حق شماست؛ روزه خوارى حق من است۔
#رمضان
#روزه_خوارى_حق_من_است

Thanks to Mark Hussain for Poster: http://markhossain.tumblr.com/

Dear friend

We hope you are well.

We wanted to bring your attention to several urgent actions and also give you an update on some of our activities and upcoming events.

URGENT ACTIONS

#FreeSherifGaber

You may have heard that Egyptian atheist blogger Sherif Gaber was arrested on 2 May at Cairo airport when attempting to leave the country. Whilst he is reportedly free, ex-Muslim groups are awaiting confirmation that he is safe. There is a pending blasphemy case against him still so please keep the pressure on and sign the petition demanding his safety. More information on his case available here.

#NotACrime Campaign

Join our #NotACrime Campaign calling for the decriminalisation of laws that imprison, harass and execute atheists, apostates, and blasphemers. The campaign aims to highlight the cases of those who are in prison or on death row for the exercise of their basic right to conscience, which includes the right to criticise and renounce religion. Please join us in defending the likes of Sina Dehghan on death row in Iran for “insulting the prophet”, Ayaz Nizami facing the death penalty on accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan and Ahmad Al-Shamri and Raif Badawi charged with apostasy and blasphemy in Saudi Arabia. More details can be found here.

SOCIAL MEETUPS, SUPPORT GROUPS AND COMING OUT PARTIES

In April, CEMB organised it’s first “Coming Out Party”; which is one way of seeing people’s coming out as atheists as a cause for celebration rather than vilification. Our monthly meet-ups continue as usual; the next two meet-ups will be on “apostasy and asylum” and “honor and shame”.  We have also begun monthly support groups to give ex-Muslims a space to share issues. So far, the group has discussed shunning, identity and post-apostasy trauma. If you want to join any of the above, please email Sadia at exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

You can find out more about our upcoming events, which includes a fast-defying protest in support of those persecuted for eating during Ramadan here.

CONFERENCE ON SHARIA, SEGREGATION, AND SECULARISM

Following the historic 22-23 July 2017 international conference to mark the CEMB’s 10th anniversary, which was the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, we are now organising a 2018 conference on November 25 on Sharia, Segregation, and Secularism with One Law for All and others. For more information and to get your tickets click here. No tickets will be sold at the door.

INTERNATIONAL ATHEIST DAY

Hold 23 March 2019 in your diaries. It will be the first ever International Atheist Day to defend the right to atheism and call for an end to the persecution of atheists worldwide. Contact organisers for more information or to become an organiser in your city.

WE CAN COME TO YOUR UNIVERSITY TO SPEAK

We continue to highlight the situation of ex-Muslims and defend freedom of expression, blasphemy, apostasy, and secularism, including at the anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo and for FEMEN’s 10th anniversary. You can see our past and upcoming engagements here. We will be speaking at the European Parliament this month.

If you would like to organise a screening of Deeyah Khan’s film Islam’s Non-Believers and have us come and speak at your university or event, please get in touch.

Some of our latest interviews and speeches:

* Sadia Hameed speaking on Australian TV about being ex-Muslim

* Maryam’s speech at Charlie Hebdo’s anniversary in Paris and on mocking religion shown on French TV, at Charlie Hebdo anniversary event

* Equality, Islam and Human Rights panel discussion at MIT with Ex-Muslims of North America

You can see other media coverage here.

SUPPORT OUR WORK

Thanks to all of you who have been supporting our work, especially via monthly direct debits. If you can, please donate towards our work in the coming year. Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated!

We also need more volunteers, particularly video and film directors and graphic designers. Get in touch if you have time to help us out.

Hope to see you at some of our upcoming events and speaking engagements and looking forward to hearing from you.

Warm wishes
Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed
Spokespersons
CEMB, BM Box 1919
London, WC1N 3XX
hello@ex-muslim.org.uk
ex-muslim.org.uk

PS #JusticeForNoura
Please take the time to support Noura Hussein Hammad, a Sudanese victim of child marriage/forced marriage facing execution for defending herself from her violent husband. More information here.

Join our campaign stating loud and clear that freethought is not a crime!

Islamic states consider atheism a “threat” – seeing it as an existential danger, especially since Islam and state power are intertwined, hence why atheists are persecuted (with many others including religious minorities, women’s rights activists, labour leaders and LGBT).

• Iran as one of the most important bases of atheism in the Middle East, with more than half the population using the Internet regularly, has seen a government ban on more than 160,000 social media accounts and websites for  spreading “atheism and corruption” in one year alone.

• Two government ministries in Egypt have been ordered to produce a national plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism. The Egyptian parliament is looking to criminalise atheism.  Recently, Mohammed Hashem was told to see a psychiatrist and kicked off a television show for not believing in God. A mother has even lost custody of her children because she is an atheist.

• A series of laws in Saudi Arabia define terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion.”

• A Malaysian government minister has said that atheists should be “hunted down” and “re-educated.”

• In Pakistan, a High Court Judge has reiterated that “blasphemers are terrorists” in a case that seeks to ban “derogatory” social media posts against Islam and Muhammad, Islam’s prophet. The Islamabad High Court has directed the government to block web pages containing blasphemous content and put the names of “blasphemers” on the exit control list.

Thirteen countries punish atheism with the death penalty, all Islamic states, namely Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.

And even in countries without the death penalty, like Bangladesh, Islamists kill atheists whilst the government does little or like Tunisia, where Hatem Al Imam, the President of Tunisian Freethinkers has been brutally attacked. Turkish government-backed Islamists in Afrin address “Kurdish atheists,”telling them to repent or face decapitation …

Clearly, to be an atheist, to question or criticise God, prophets, Islam and any religion or dogma is not a crime though too many are being killed or imprisoned for it. It is high time to stop blaming atheists for their persecution under cover of offence, Islamophobia, hurt sentiments… and instead target the states and movements that are hunting down, imprisoning and murdering people for the mere exercise of their freedom of expression and conscience.

Urgent cases that need our immediate attention include:

Bangladesh: Asad Noor, a 25-year-old atheist blogger is facing up to 14 years in prison because he “hurt religious feelings” with his social media posts “mocking the prophet”.

Iran: 20-year-old Sina Dehghan was sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet”. Deghan’s co-defendants, Sahar Eliasi and Mohammad Nouri, have also been convicted of posting anti-Islamic content on social media. Nouri was sentenced to death; Eliasi has been sentenced to three years in prison upon appeal. Soheil Arabi was initially sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet” is on hunger strike and in critical condition. Ruhollah Tavana and Saeed Malekpour have also been sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet” and “insulting and desecrating Islam” respectively.

Iraq: In Dhi Qar- Al-Nasiriya, a city in the southern part of  Iraq, atheists have been hunted down; in most recent news, one of four has been arrested for “spreading the culture of the absence of God.”

Pakistan: Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman face the death penalty for “blasphemy.” After the arrest, #HangAyazNizami trended on Twitter. Taimoor Raza, 30, has also been sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet Muhammad.”

Saudi Arabia: Ahmad Al-Shamri, in his 20s, has been sentenced to death for atheism and blasphemy; Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a thousand lashes for “apostasy” and “insulting Islam”. Poet Ashraf Fayadhhas been sentenced to eight years imprisonment and lashes for poems containing “atheist ideas” reduced from an initial death sentence.

#AtheismNotACrime
#BlasphemyNotACrime
#ApostasyNotACrime
#بى_خدايى_جرم_نيست
#توهين_به_مقدسات_جرم_نيست
#ارتداد_جرم_نيست
#الإلحاد_لیس_بجریمة
#إزدراء_الأدیان_لیس_بجریمة
#الردة_لیست_بجریمة
#الحاد_جرم_نہیں
#توہین_رسالت_جرم_نہیں
#کفر_جرم_نہیں
#নাস্তিকতা_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়
#ধর্মেরসমালোচনা_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়
#ধর্মত্যাগ_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়

The scientist and author Richard Dawkins is giving away translations of The God Delusion in countries under Islamic rule like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.

The reason behind the decision is the thirst for atheism in such countries. Whilst 3.3 million copies of the bestseller have been sold since 2006, the unofficial Arabic pdf alone has been downloaded 13 million times.

The rise of atheism in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is something we have been speaking about for some time now. The Iranian Baztab Now website warned of a tsunami of atheism amongst Iranian youth. The #ExMuslimBecause hashtag initiated by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain became viral overnight with over 120,000 Tweets from 65 countries.

The hashtag “#Aik crore Pakistani mulhid” (10 million Pakistani atheists) trended around Darwin Day for two years running. Free Mind, launched by Arab atheists promoting atheism, has recorded more than 1 million visits so far.

The now highly visible and vocal ex-Muslim movement (a new Council has just been established in Jordan), the access to atheism and freethought via social media, the deep-seated opposition to theocratic rule that comes from lived experience, the irrationality of religious doctrine, the authoritarianism of religious rule, scepticism about prophets and contradictory tenets, the unrelenting violence, amongst others, make atheism increasingly enticing for a mostly young population.

Remove Islamism’s threats and apostasy and blasphemy laws from people’s lives and even we ex-Muslims will be stunned at the extent of atheism in countries under Islamic rule.

The powers that be have understood the “threat” atheism poses – seeing it as an existential danger, especially since Islam and state power are intertwined, hence why atheists are persecuted (with many others including religious minorities, women’s rights activists, labour leaders and LGBT).

• Iran as one of the most important bases of atheism in the Middle East, with more than half the population using the Internet regularly, has seen a government ban on more than 160,000 social media accounts and websites for  spreading “atheism and corruption” in one year alone.

• Two government ministries in Egypt have been ordered to produce a national plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism. The Egyptian parliament is looking to criminalise atheism.  Recently, Mohammed Hashem was told to see a psychiatrist and kicked off a television show for not believing in God. A mother has even lost custody of her children because she is an atheist.

• A series of laws in Saudi Arabia define terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion.”

• A Malaysian government minister has said that atheists should be “hunted down” and “re-educated.”

• In Pakistan, a High Court Judge has reiterated that “blasphemers are terrorists” in a case that seeks to ban “derogatory” social media posts against Islam and Muhammad, Islam’s prophet. The Islamabad High Court has directed the government to block web pages containing blasphemous content and put the names of “blasphemers” on the exit control list.

Thirteen countries punish atheism with the death penalty, all Islamic states, namely Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.

And even in countries without the death penalty, like Bangladesh, Islamists kill atheists whilst the government does little or like Tunisia, where Hatem Al Imam, the President of Tunisian Freethinkers has been brutally attacked. Turkish government-backed Islamists in Afrin address “Kurdish atheists,”telling them to repent or face decapitation …

Clearly, to be an atheist, to question or criticise God, prophets, Islam and any religion or dogma is not a crime though too many are being killed or imprisoned for it. It is high time to stop blaming atheists for their persecution under cover of offence, Islamophobia, hurt sentiments… and instead target the states and movements that are hunting down, imprisoning and murdering people for the mere exercise of their freedom of expression and conscience.

Urgent cases that need our immediate attention include:

Bangladesh: Asad Noor, a 25-year-old atheist blogger is facing up to 14 years in prison because he “hurt religious feelings” with his social media posts “mocking the prophet”.

Iran: 20-year-old Sina Dehghan was sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet”. Deghan’s co-defendants, Sahar Eliasi and Mohammad Nouri, have also been convicted of posting anti-Islamic content on social media. Nouri was sentenced to death; Eliasi has been sentenced to three years in prison upon appeal. Soheil Arabi was initially sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet” is on hunger strike and in critical condition. Ruhollah Tavana and Saeed Malekpour have also been sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet” and “insulting and desecrating Islam” respectively.

Iraq: In Dhi Qar- Al-Nasiriya, a city in the southern part of  Iraq, atheists have been hunted down; in most recent news, one of four has been arrested for “spreading the culture of the absence of God.”

Pakistan: Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman face the death penalty for “blasphemy.” After the arrest, #HangAyazNizami trended on Twitter. Taimoor Raza, 30, has also been sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet Muhammad.”

Saudi Arabia: Ahmad Al-Shamri, in his 20s, has been sentenced to death for atheism and blasphemy; Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a thousand lashes for “apostasy” and “insulting Islam”. Poet Ashraf Fayadhhas been sentenced to eight years imprisonment and lashes for poems containing “atheist ideas” reduced from an initial death sentence.

#AtheismNotACrime #EndBlasphemyLaws #EndApostasyLaws

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