Category: Featured

CEMB marches at Pride in London 2019 as topless Imams of Perpetual Indulgence

On 6 July 2019, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) marched in Pride London for the 3rd time as an organisation.

This year, we marked the 40th anniversary of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a rebellion against the church’s religious morality, by marching as the Imams of Perpetual Indulgence.

Instead of being the Council for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice that terrorise people by enforcing Islamic morality codes with brute force in the countries some of us have fled from, we were the Council for the Promotion of Vice and the Prevention of Virtue.

Our imams were not the usual imams promoting death for thinking and loving freely but instead included dissenting topless women who subverted Islamic morality language by being Imams of Vice, Lust, Kofr, Zina…

Instead of our fingers pointing upwards towards Allah, our fingers pointed downwards negating his existence…

Our imams also wore pink triangles on our bodies to signify the continuation of the persecution of LGBT, particularly in countries under Islamic rules.

And like every year before, CEMB stood in solidarity with ex-Muslim, Muslim and other LGBT murdered in Islamic states and defended LGBT from minority communities here in Britain and elsewhere whilst highlighting Islamic homophobia – whether at the East London Mosque, against equality in schools in Birmingham or in Brunei, Chechnya, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey…

For us, our presence at Pride has been hugely important because we have members who are LGBT and/or refugees who have fled countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. Many of the very same Islamic states that kill LGBT, also kill apostates and blasphemers. Our presence is, therefore, crucial because it aims not only to defend LGBT rights of ex-Muslims and Muslims but also to push open the shrinking spaces for doubt and dissent. Pride is one of the very few public spaces where we can come out, loud and proud – as LGBT and/or ex-Muslims – without fear.

Unsurprisingly, as in previous years, social media has erupted with threats and intimidation because as always apostasy and blasphemy are considered worse than the murder of LGBT, apostates and blasphemers. Some “Sheikh” has even called for a joint statement of imams against CEMB because apparently, he fears “the punishment of Allah will descend.” And as usual, we have been accused of “Islamophobia.”

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we must reiterate that apostasy and blasphemy are not bigotry against people. Criticism of religion AND the religious-Right have always been an important part of the struggle for basic human rights and equality. Pride is still the scene of criticism against not just the Christian-Right but also Christianity. So why not Islamism AND Islam? Why should God or Jesus be Queer or Gay but not Allah? Why shouldn’t we be able to poke fun at Islam without fear?

CEMB will write further about these issues but there are somethings that must be said to “progressive” Muslim LGBT groups right away:

You use the language of the oppressor and reiterate accusations of “Islamophobia” because you say we “tar the whole faith.” But Islam is your faith not ours. And until the day we can blaspheme and leave Islam without fear, we will continue to celebrate and normalise blasphemy and apostasy, which is also a basic human right like the right to expression, opinion, religion or belief.

Also, inclusion, equality, rights, love and respect are for people not beliefs. To respect people and their rights, beliefs (even those that are sacred to some) must be open to ridicule, condemnation, criticism and even disrespect.

It would do some LGBT Muslim groups well to learn from CEMB and defend people’s rights even whilst disagreeing with their beliefs or views. CEMB has always unequivocally defended the rights of Muslim LGBT or migrants without accepting Islam. That is the whole point of the fight for equality and rights and stems from our common humanity. Unfortunately, because of narrow-minded identity politics, some LGBT Muslim groups cannot seem to comprehend that our rights and lives are intrinsically linked. LGBT Muslims cannot just defend their own rights whilst throwing ex-Muslim LGBT under a bus. Also, believers cannot just defend the right to religion without also defending the right to leave or criticise religion. To defend your rights, you must also defend ours. To liberate one, you must liberate all.

***

On 4 July, CEMB organised an evening on LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy as part of Pride in London Festival with a film screening of ‘Ferdous’ by Shakila Taranum Maan followed by a panel discussion with Jimmy Bangash (CEMB Spokesperson), Khakan Qureshi (Birmingham South Asians LGBT Founder), Nadia El Fani (Tunisian Filmmaker), Sadia Hameed (CEMB Spokesperson), Shakila Taranum Maan (British Director) and Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon (Bangladeshi LGBT activist and Editor of Boys Love World). Facilitated by Maryam Namazie (CEMB and One Law for All Spokesperson). (Drew Dalton, Hidayah Chair, was unable to attend due to an emergency). Video footage of the evening will be made available soon but until then, watch the premier of a heart-wrenching poem by Kenyan Somali Poet Halima Salat, which ended the evening. Her poem is called A Boy, A Village, A Death. Nadia Mahmoud MCed the evening. Video footage is by @Reason4Freedom.

See some photos from Pride 2019:

          

Maryam Namazie Picture

Must take an unequivocal stand against all forms of hate

My interview with Nilantha Ilangamuwa in Sri Lanka’s FT

She is energetic and outspoken. Her creativity on resistance against repressive regimes has attracted many communities around the globe. Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born writer and activist based in London. She is the Spokesperson for Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She hosts a weekly television program in Persian and English called Bread and Roses. No doubt because of her activities for protecting and promoting human freedom, she is a top enemy of the country where she born.

Maryam was born in Tehran, but she left Iran with her family in 1980 after the establishment of the Islamic Republic. She then lived in India, the UK and then settled in the US where she began her university studies at the age of 17. After graduating, Maryam went to Sudan to work with Ethiopian refugees. Halfway through her stay, an Islamic government took power. She was threatened by the government for establishing a clandestine human rights organisation and had to be evacuated by her employer for her own safety.

Back in the United States, Maryam worked for various refugee and human rights organisations. She established the Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees in 1991. In 1994, she went to Turkey and produced a video documentary on the situation of Iranian refugees there.

The Islamic regime of Iran’s media outlets has called Maryam ‘immoral and corrupt’ and did an ‘exposé’ on her entitled ‘Meet this anti-religion woman’. In 2019, the Islamic regime’s intelligence service did a TV program where Maryam was featured as “anti-God”.

“No religion promotes an inclusive society. Religion is an exclusive club that sees its set of beliefs as superior to other sets of beliefs,” she said. “Inequality is a pillar of Sharia courts but this is not just the case for Sharia courts,” she added.

In this interview I have communicated with her on life in Iran, consequences of Sharia and religious courts, Easter Sunday’s bombings in Sri Lanka, and her readings on terrorism and radicalisation.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

By Nilantha Ilangamuwa

Q: Thank you for joining us Maryam! Tell us what is One Law for All initiative all about? And why is it important to have such an initiative?

One Law for All was established to oppose Sharia and religious courts because they are inhuman and abuse human rights. This is the case whether the courts are in Iran and Saudi Arabia or in Britain. One’s religion or belief is a basic right and a private matter.

Religious courts, however, have nothing to do with the right to religion and are part of the Islamist project to control and manage women, minorities and dissenters. We know Sharia’s criminal code includes the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy and stoning to death for gay sex or sex outside of marriage. It is unbelievably brutal.

In Britain, Sharia courts deal mainly with the family code, which some feel is trivial but the code is highly discriminatory against women and legitimises violence against women. For example, under Sharia’s family code, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s, marital rape is not seen as a crime and child marriage and polygamy are deemed acceptable. One Law for All argues minority women from Muslim backgrounds should have the same rights in the family as other citizens.

Inequality is a pillar of Sharia courts but this is not just the case for Sharia courts. The Jewish Beth Din in the UK, for example, also puts women in limbo by refusing to grant them divorces without their husband’s permission. We know also historically about the role played by ecclesiastic courts. One Law for All argues that it is dangerous to put the rights of citizens in the hands of mullahs, priests and rabbis. Secular states, public policy and laws are the best way to ensure the rights of all citizens irrespective of background and belief.

Q: You were born in Iran and then moved to other places. Tell us about your childhood and the life in Iran till you left your motherland?

My parents are secular Muslims so I never had any religion imposed on me at home and never felt lesser for being a girl. In fact, I have always felt supported and loved even after I became an atheist.

I never really felt religion’s influence on my life until the Islamists took power in Iran.

Then things changed dramatically. There were Islamists sent to my school to separate the boys from the girls in the playground, executions on TV and the beginnings of compulsory veiling and the rest is as they say unfolding history. After living under an Islamic state, I realised very quickly though that religion in the state is heinous and why I campaign against it.

Prior to it, Iran was under the Shah’s dictatorship and for a time, the revolution gave everyone hope for real change but the Islamists took hold of it, slaughtered a generation and 40 years on, people have been living in a theocracy in the 21st century.

Q: What went wrong in Iran?

If you have fundamentalists in power, things will deteriorate very quickly, even for believers, as a believer is not the same as a fundamentalist. This isn’t a theoretical discussion. We can see the effects of a theocracy on the lives of freethinkers, women, LGBT, religious minorities and especially young people in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia but we can also see what happens when even secular societies are run by theocrats.

Look at Modi’s India where Muslims can be killed for eating beef. Look at the situation for abortion rights, for example, in the US with the rise of the Christian-Right. Or the situation of Muslims in Myanmar and so on. In Sri Lanka, too, you have extremist Sinhala Buddhist groups like Bodu Bala Sena which have had a detrimental effect on religious and other minorities and women.

Those killed in Sri Lanka could be any of us. We could be next. We must all take an unequivocal stand against all forms of fascism and hate. We must not allow the conflation of the religious-Right with ordinary believers, victim blaming, and the dehumanisation of the ‘other’ to legitimate a politics of terror and hate

This is the problem with identity politics everywhere. It reduces masses of people to just one religious or cultural identity though people are much more complex than that and have countless characteristics that define them. Identity politics reduces 21st-century citizens into warring tribes.

Which is why after the horrendous Easter Sunday terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, ordinary Muslims going about their lives are collectively blamed and we see Muslims being run out of their homes (including some ex-Muslims I know in Sri Lanka) or Muslim shops are burnt down. Also, refugees from Pakistan who have fled to Sri Lanka because of Islamist persecution become displaced again when they are run out of their homes. How can terrorising innocent people be a solution for terrorist attacks against other innocent people?

Q: Some of the reports indicated that you are ex-Muslim. Is that true?

I am an ex-Muslim and work with ex-Muslims in Sri Lanka and elsewhere too. Of course, our atheism is our private affair, it’s a matter of conscience and belief, but when people can be killed for apostasy and blasphemy, we feel the need to say we are ex-Muslims publicly to challenge the status quo and defend the right to expression and conscience without fear of persecution or discrimination.

Q: Why are you against Sharia Law?

As I mentioned, all religious laws are discriminatory. The problem with Sharia and other religious laws is that they are coercive.

If religion is a personal belief, then why do you need laws to enforce it? For example, some Muslims in my family fast during Ramadan and others have never fasted. This is the personal choice of adults.

However, in Iran or Saudi Arabia because of Sharia law, one will be flogged or imprisoned for eating during Ramadan. Examples abound such as in the case of compulsory veiling. If an adult doesn’t want to wear the veil, why do you need morality police to beat a woman, arrest her? Or if someone doesn’t believe in Islam, well that is their freedom of conscience.

Why must the state execute someone for atheism? Religious law is fundamentally unjust as it forces people to do not what they believe but that which the mullahs and clerics in power tell them. Coercion and violence go hand in hand with Sharia courts.

Q: Sri Lanka is the latest victim of self-proclaimed Islamic State. What is your reading on the attacks in Sri Lanka?

We at Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain along with other atheist groups (including the Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka) expressed our outrage at the terrorist attacks and also mourned the many killed.

In our statement, we said:

“We are outraged at the Islamist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Our hearts go out to the survivors and victims – hundreds killed, including at least 45 children, and more than 500 wounded. We mourn them with the people of Sri Lanka and the world.

“The terrorists claim to have killed innocent Christians and others in order to ‘avenge’ innocent Muslims killed in Christchurch; the Christchurch terrorist also feigned to kill innocent Muslim worshippers as an act of ‘vengeance’. What should by now be very clear to everyone is that these terrorist attacks have nothing to do with addressing grievances – real or imagined – and everything to do with using terror, hate, supremacy and violence as a tool to impose the ideology and dominance of the religious-Right.

“Whether Islamist or white nationalist, whether in Sri Lanka or Christchurch, these far-Right movements have no respect for human life and rights: Christian, Muslim, ex-Muslim, believer or non, white, black or brown, young or old; no amount of murder or mayhem is too heinous for their hateful cause. Always anti-those deemed ‘other’; always relying on hate, religion, violence, misogyny, homophobia, tribalism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and terrorism to sow fear and division.

If you have fundamentalists in power, things will deteriorate very quickly, even for believers, as a believer is not the same as a fundamentalist. This isn’t a theoretical discussion. We can see the effects of a theocracy on the lives of freethinkers, women, LGBT, religious minorities and especially young people in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia but we can also see what happens when even secular societies are run by theocrats

“For too long and still far too many continue to excuse one side over the other depending on where they stand. Some will defend the Islamists, others will defend the Christian-Right, both sides saying there are ‘legitimate grievances’ even if they claim to abhor terrorism. Many will even go so far as to blame the victims, especially in the case of apostates and blasphemers like Charlie Hebdo or the Bangladeshi bloggers. What these apologists fail to see is that there is no legitimisation for murder.

“Those killed in Sri Lanka could be any of us. We could be next. We must all take an unequivocal stand against all forms of fascism and hate. We must not allow the conflation of the religious-Right with ordinary believers, victim blaming, and the dehumanisation of the ‘other’ to legitimate a politics of terror and hate.“Sooner than later, we must recognise that we are all in this together against the far-Right and in defence of our common humanity. Our lives and our rights are interlinked irrespective of our backgrounds and beliefs.

“It is a matter of urgency that governments stop appeasing theocracies and the religious-Right, including via faith schools and child indoctrination, religious courts and faith-based policies. This only strengthens divisions and the religious-Right.

“Defending secularism, citizenship and universal rights is the only way forward.”

IS has killed Yazidis, Kurds, Syrians, Christians, Muslims, ex-Muslims, Atheists, young and old, women and men… From IS, Taliban, the Islamic regime in Iran to Boko Haram and Al Shabaab, no one is safe. From London to Madrid to NY to Colombo and Kabul no one feels safe. The whole point of terrorism is to target innocent civilians indiscriminately to instil hate and despair and fear. That is why courage and hope and love are so important for all of us. They want to divide us; we must insist on our common humanity.

Q: What are your suggestions and recommendations to prevent the IS’ influences?

It is important that we treat everyone equally as citizens and not members of some religious or cultural ‘group’. That will help focus on terrorists and criminals rather than placing collective blame on everyone who is Muslim, for example. Islamism is a political far-Right movement like the white supremacists in the US. You cannot weed out white supremacist terrorists in the US by collectively blaming all Christians or all white people. It is a political movement; you need to target it politically and also ideologically.

Also, an insistence on secularism is key. Separation of religion from the state – any religion – is crucial to bringing about lasting change. We shouldn’t have religious schools, religious indoctrination in schools, religion in the law or public policy or in the state’s dealings with citizens.

Also, I think we need to look at rights from a universalist perspective – we all have inalienable rights no matter what our background. And most importantly, we all share a common humanity. We are in this together – Muslim, ex-Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Christian, atheist… – against the fundamentalists and fascists of all stripes who kill with impunity and have no regard for human rights or lives.

Q: Would you say Islam does not promote an inclusive society?

No religion promotes an inclusive society. Religion is an exclusive club that sees its set of beliefs as superior to other sets of beliefs. In any religion, the apostates, heretics, witches and blasphemers within the religion are imprisoned and killed. Those who are not part of the religion are seen to be lesser.

To include citizens in a society, you must exclude religion to some extent from the public space. People, of course, have a right to religion and belief but it cannot be part of the state or law or public policy or the educational system if we want to ensure that religion has its rightful place in our societies and world – as a personal matter.

Q: What is your message to those who undermined and side-lined your basic rights when you were under repressive governments, as we as to those who joined and planning to join the terrorist outfit like Islamic State?

My message to those who join IS or other terrorist groups and repressive governments are the same: we will never bow down. There are many more of us than there are of you. Also, hate can never kill love and hope and that is our strongest weapon against the fundamentalists of all stripes.

No Entry sign

Refusal Letters Wanted

Dear friend

As you know, in Many Muslim-majority countries around the world it is illegal for people to leave Islam; blasphemy carries a capital punishment, not to mention “mob justice” and lynching. Ex-Muslims from such countries seek asylum to gain protection and freedom to live without Islam with no danger to their lives. According to Asylum rules and regulations, anyone who has a well-founded fear of persecution should be granted protection. Given the persecution and threats of violence or worse that ex-Muslims face in Muslim-majority countries, it is Home Office’s moral and legal responsibility to provide protection to ex-Muslims by granting them asylum.

But in reality, many ex-Muslims are denied asylum leaving them no choice but to go for judicial review against the Home Office decision in the hopes of overturning an unjust refusal by a first tribunal judge. Why are so many ex-Muslim asylum cases being refused by the Home Office? It is a question worth asking.

We, at CEMB, are campaigning to raise awareness and change the way ex-Muslim cases are processed by the Home Office. We aim to gather and highlight the “reasons” Home Office uses to deny ex-Muslims asylum in the UK.

If you are an ex-Muslim and have been refused by the Home Office, please send us a copy of your rejection letter so we can gather evidence to show systematic disregard for ex-Muslim cases. We aim to compile a list of reasons the Home Office uses to deny ex-Muslims protection and publish a rebuttal to the rejections in order to get the Home Office to review its inadequacies when it comes to apostasy and blasphemy cases. Your rejection letters and names will remain confidential. Anonymity requests will be respected.

Please send your letters to Ali Malik at ali.malik@ex-muslim.org.uk. If you have any questions, please contact Ali or Sadia Hameed at hello@ex-muslim.org.uk. Please note that all of CEMB’s support is free of charge.

Warm wishes,

Ali Malik and Sadia Hameed

Award statue with Celebrating Dissent festival on freedom of thought text

Celebrating Dissent Festival in Amsterdam will be huge and historic!

Celebrating Dissent Festival during August 31 – September 1 in Amsterdam at De Balie will be a huge and historic event with nearly 50 contributors from 30 countries worldwide coming together to celebrate freedom through theatre, talks, poetry, film and stand-up comedy.

The festival Celebrating Dissent honours freedom: freedom to think differently, freedom not to believe and freedom to be yourself.

Don’t miss it!

31 AUGUST 2019

11:00: A Conversation on Women’s Dissent with Inna Shevchenko, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin and Zineb El Razoui. Music by Shelley Segal. Protest Art by Victoria Guggenheim.

14:00: Touching the Holy Subject with Nadia El Fani, Saif Ul Malook and Sarah Haider. Music by Veedu Vidz.

16:00: Comedy, the Sacred and Islamophobia with Shabana Rehman, Ali Rizvi and Armin Nabavi.

19:00: Separation of Religion from the State with Afsana Lachaux, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Homa Arjomand and Marieme Helie Lucas.

21:00: Women against Gods with Gita Sahgal, Houzan Mahmoud, Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, Mineke Schipper and Rana Ahmad. Performance by Atoosa Farahmand.

1 SEPTEMBER 2019

10:00: Film Screening Neither Allah Nor Master by Nadia El Fani followed by a conversation with Hind Bariaz, Ismail Mohamed, Karrar Al Asfoor, Wissam Charafeddine and Zara Kay.

12:00: Film Screening No Longer without You by Nazmiyeh Oral followed by a conversation with Cemal Knudsen Yucel, Fauzia Ilyas, Mimzy Vidz, Omar Makram, Zehra Pala and Sohail Ahmad.

16:00: On Identity with Kenan Malik, Harris Sultan, Jimmy Bangash, Rahila Gupta and Yasmin Rehman. Poetry by Halima Salat.

20:00: Neither Silenced nor Abused with Halima Salat, Maryam Namazie, Mohamed Hisham, Muhammed Syed, Rishvin Ismath, Sadia Hameed and Sami Abdallah. Music by Shelley Segal.

There will also be artwork by Mahshad Afshar and Jenny Wenhammar.

Defending LGBT Rights, Celebrating Dissent and More

Defending LGBT Rights, Celebrating Dissent and More

 

Hello dear friend

We wanted to remind you of some of our upcoming events and actions and also give you an update of our work.

LGBT RIGHTS

4 July 2019, Evening on LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy

The London event is part of Pride Festival. There are only a few more spaces left so please buy your tickets now. Tickets are only £3 unwaged; £5 waged and include a drink, poetry by Somali Kenyan poet Halima Salat, a screening of the short film Firdaus by cult British Director Shakila Taranum Maan and a conversation with Muslim and ex-Muslim activists. Get your tickets before they sell out here. No tickets will be sold at the door.

6 July 2019, CEMB marches at Pride in London

CEMB will be marching at Pride in London on 6 July for the third time as an organisation. If you want to march with us, please contact hello@ex-muslim.org.uk to reserve your wristband as we have a limited number available for CEMB members and supporters.

* Read CEMB’s solidarity statement on Birmingham schools and LGBT rights.

* See also CEMB’s recent protest action at the Brunei embassy to condemn stoning to death for homosexuality and adultery.

* If you can, please support our LGBT rights work via a crowdfunding campaign. Any amount, however small, will be greatly appreciated. Special thanks to National Secular Society, Pink Triangle Trust and a number of individuals who have donated towards our events and actions this month.

* Please note that Southall Black Sisters and Feminist Dissent have an event in Birmingham on 27 June and are gathering signatures in support of equality in Birmingham Schools. For more information or to sign on to the statement visit their website here.

The ISLAMOPHOBIA DEFINITION

CEMB completed submissions for the Home Affairs select committee against the proposed Islamophobia definition and on Hate Crimes, had a meeting with secular groups to create a coalition against the APPG for British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia and issued a joint statement calling on the Government to reject the Islamophobia definition. We also met with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Freedom of Religious Belief representative.

For more information on this issue, please read Maryam Namazie’s latest piece in sister-hood magazine about why the Islamophobia definition is a triumph for the fundamentalists.

DON’T MISS CELEBRATING DISSENT FESTIVAL IN AMSTERDAM, 31 AUG-1 SEPT

De Balie, the free expression centre in Amsterdam, is organising a Celebrating Dissent Festival in Amsterdam during 31 August – 1 September with nearly 40 speakers and acts from 30 countries. The event will bring together women and men to celebrate freedom through theatre, talks, poetry, film and stand-up comedy.

Women, non-believers and LGBT+ are often the victims of the strictest cultural and religious dogmas. The festival Celebrating Dissent honours their freedom. Freedom to think differently, freedom not to believe, and freedom to be yourself.

This will be one of the largest gathering of free-thinkers in the world. It is an historic not to be missed event. You can find out more about it here.

UPDATE ON OUR ACTIVITIES IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2019

Since we are now mid-2019, we thought it would be useful to give you an update on our work so far.

Supporting ex-Muslims

CEMB is now supporting around 600 ex-Muslims a month, including from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey and UAE! This includes face-to-face, email and social media contacts, as well as monthly support groups in London and Birmingham, a monthly Social for isolated members, direct support services such as attending hearings, writing letters of support, contacting housing and social services for young people at risk, working with Forced Marriages Unit to prevent young women and girls being taken abroad for forced marriage and so on. We also continue to hold monthly meet ups, including on female genital mutilation and male circumcision and the harms of child genital cutting, on asylum and apostasy, shunning and more. This week, for World Refugee Day, we organised an open mic for apostate asylum seekers and refugees to speak about their experiences. All our services are completely free of charge.

Ramadan Fast-Defying Protests: Child Fasting is Child Abuse

During the month of Ramadan, we organised a protest at the Department for Education calling on Government to stop child fasting, which is a form of child neglect and abuse. We also issued advice on the matter to educators. Whilst at the Department for Education, young Muslim youth on their way to Friday prayers stopped at our protest and we were able to raise these issues with them. BBC Woman’s Hour, which was meant to have Sadia Hameed on, cancelled her appearance at the last minute. We also organised Ramadan Stories, and a Fast-Defying picnic for members. You can read details here.

March 23, First ever Global Atheist Day

23 March was the first ever international Atheist Day. CEMB organised a successful day which focused on ex-Muslim women given that women are less visible and have more barriers to coming out and speaking out. Photographs of women sitting on the ground in a public park 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. See video of the action here. This action was followed by an emotional evening of ex-Muslim women speaking out, a comedy skit, ex-Muslims receiving coming out certificates and a 2019 CEMB award ceremony.

Find our Way to Freedom, New Ex-Muslim Anthem by Shelley Segal

Shelley Segal sang her new anthem for CEMB and ex-Muslims called ‘Find our Way to Freedom,’ which premiered on Atheist Day.

March 8, International Women’s Day

Our international ex-Muslim coalition organised Women Against Allah for International Women’s Day. CEMB focused on #PeriodsAreNatural in order to break the taboo that comes with women’s periods. This caused a huge uproar and started a much-needed discussion. For 8 March, Shelley Segal also produced a video for her song “Our Resistance” which she sang for One Law for All, CEMB’s sister organisation. You can see the video here.

February 6, No to FGM Day

For zero tolerance to Female genital mutilation (FGM) day, we handed out roses that had been stapled shut, along with flyers explaining FGM, the harms of it and how to support someone that is at risk, or has experienced FGM.

February 1, No Hijab Day

For Hijab Day, we organised in a 3-hour live podcast, with over half a dozen women worldwide, discussing the harms of modesty culture and the veil.

January 21, Refugee Too

CEMB organised a #RefugeeToo protest outside the Home Office in order to highlight the fact that ex-Muslims are also refugees. This campaign linked into the plight of the Saudi woman and ex-Muslim Rahaf who was able to get asylum in Canada after locking herself in her hotel room in Thailand when authorities tried to deport her back to Saudi Arabia. The campaign highlighted a number of activist cases.

KEEP SUPPORTING US!

Thank you for all your support. It helps more than you can imagine! If you can continue supporting us in any way possible, please do. You can donate via our website or volunteer your skills. Also, if you want to do a fundraiser for us, please get in touch. It could be anything from a cake sale, a charity waxing, or something more daring like a skydive or bungy jump!

We hope to see some of you at our Pride events and in Amsterdam at De Balie during August 31 – September 1.

Warm wishes

Maryam Namazie and Sadia Hameed

Spokespersons

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

hello@ex-muslim.org.uk

www.ex-muslim.org.uk

 

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