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New Video on CEMB at Pride with Spokesperson Jimmy Bangash

New Video by Carl Russ-Mohl on Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) and Jimmy London at Pride in London 2018. In support of LGBT rights of those living in countries under Islamic rule and those from Muslim backgrounds here in the UK and west.

#LoveNotACrime
#عشق_جرم_نيست
#ভালবাসা_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়
#محبت_جرم_نہیں
#الحب_لیس_بجریمة

CEMB condemns China’s persecution of Muslims

Reports indicate that the Chinese government is subjecting Muslims in the region of Xinjian to ongoing surveillance, detention and forced ‘re-education’ in its political re-education camps.  Human rights group report that in excess of 1 million individuals have been detained.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) unequivocally condemns China’s persecution of Muslims, demands that the Chinese government immediately end the persecution of religious minorities and calls on the international community to intervene in defence of freedom of conscience.

Why “Allah is Gay”? CEMB asks Imad Iddine Habib

Why “Allah is Gay”?
Maryam Namazie’s interview with Imad Iddine Habib, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) Spokesperson

You made the first ever “Allah is Gay” placard for Pride 2017. Why?

I made “Allah is Gay” placards at Pride 2017 because I believe that LGBT people of Muslim heritage have to take the lead in tackling homophobia and hate in our respective Muslim communities and Muslim-majority countries. As an ex-Muslim bisexual man, I felt that “Allah is Gay” challenges both blasphemy/ apostasy laws as well as homophobic ones. There is also some truth to it. According to Islamic teachings, Allah has no gender and no partners. Allah is in fact, agender, non-binary and asexual!

The police tried to remove the placards at Pride 2017 but eventually backed down. What did you think of the police accusation that it was “offensive”?

The attempt to remove our “Allah is Gay” placards during Pride 2017 stems from the fact that Western societies frame our struggle from within their own perspective, like the BBC journalist who asked you if it was the right time for the #ExMuslimBecause hashtag as if only what happens in the west matters and we should only act accordingly. Anti-Muslim bigotry is a very valid issue; I myself have been a victim of anti-Muslim comments, however I think it is disgraceful for the police or anyone else to tell me, an ex-Muslim LGBT refugee, what I can and cannot say about the religion and the countries and the culture I grew up in. Also, I refuse to be lectured about racism and anti-Muslim bigotry from the London Pride team (who are not affected by these issues) or anyone else especially since I have been victim of both countless times.

Some will say that “Allah is Gay” was later used by the far-Right Lauren Southern. If so, what is difference between CEMB using it and the far-Right doing so?

Lauren Southern is a well-known racist. She flew all the way from where she lives to go to Luton town centre to distribute leaflets targeting the Muslim population specifically, claiming it was a social experiment. What I find interesting about her is that she only uses LGBT rights as a way to target people of Muslim heritage. She is far from a champion of LGBT rights and had no problem cooperating with notorious homophobes. She also took part in a failed attempt to disrupt migrant sea rescue missions. Many of those who drowned in the Mediterranean were LGBT as well. She wants the west to deport immigrants, many of whom are LGBT. She reminds me of the conservative MP Nadine Dorries who speaks of gay rights or feigns concern for the rights of Niqabi women (absurdly claiming that Muslim women wear it to cover bruises) whilst she voted 9 times against Gay equality legislation and for cuts that affected women’s centres and legal aid services.

What did you think of charges of Islamophobia by the East London Mosque and even some LGBT Muslims?

Again, I think disagreements are absolutely fine with me. But implying we are a far-right mouthpiece is denying us our agency and our opinions and leaves others to think that only Islamists and far-right racists are able to have political stances. The East London Mosque is notorious for enabling and validating homophobia and the homophobes amongst Muslims and sought to accuse us – people from Muslim backgrounds, LGBT  refugees and asylum seekers – of being anti-Muslim in order to shut down legitimate debate about their homophobic stance. Using accusations of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry to silence people from Muslim heritage who are challenging certain issues within their respective communities and Muslim-majority countries is an insult to all of us who have been victims of anti-Muslim bigotry. It plays into the hands of the far-right which complains that anti-racism has “gone too far” and that they’re unable to say anything anymore. Their claims are obviously as ridiculous as the accusations of ‘Islamophobia.’

What has Allah is Gay got to do with LGBT rights in countries under Islamic rule?

I personally have gone to Pride every year since I came to this country solely to highlight the plight of dissenters in Muslim-majority countries where freedom is being eroded with the rise of human rights violations and attacks on fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression. The pictures of our protest went viral showing that it is possible to celebrate apostasy and homosexuality and at the same time stand up to racism and bigotry. As long as the only places where homosexuality as well as apostasy and blasphemy are punishable by death are Muslim-majority territories, we will attend Pride events and highlight the  plight of millions who are being denied their fundamental human rights.

How does it make you feel to see an ex-Muslim in Germany wearing an Allah is Gay T-Shirt. He needed police protection but it is becoming normalised. There was also Allah is Gay placards in Canada this year.

I think it is great that the message is spreading. We need these slogans to become associated with those of us who really care about LGBT rights and human rights. We are not doing it as stunts to score political points or gain publicity. CEMB works all year-round on these issues and we have a real stake in these issues, as we are, have been and will be affected by it.

We Call on the British Government to Stop Pushing Minority Women Towards Religious Courts

In the light of recent court decisions on marriage and divorce, today we have written to the Ministry of Justice, calling for an urgent review into Sharia and civil marriage and divorce laws and to guarantee access to justice for all.

We welcome the recent High Court decision in Akhter v Khan [2018] EWFC 54 in the UK, to declare that a Muslim marriage contract (nikkah) was ‘void’, rather than a ‘non-marriage’. Shabaz Khan had refused to divorce Nasreen Akhter on the grounds that they did not have a valid marriage registered under English law. This had the effect of keeping Nasreen Akhter in marital captivity and denying her legal rights under English family law.

The outcome means that Nasreen Akthar is entitled to seek a decree of nullity, and hopefully, to obtain financial relief against Shabaz Khan. Even though the decision turned on the specific facts of the case, it is nevertheless significant for women trapped in unregistered marriages and should be examined for its relevance to marital captivity, forced and child marriage.

The judgment does not recognise ‘Sharia’ laws as some in the media have misleadingly stated. It deals with the knotty problem of women who believe that they are married but find that they have an unrecognised religious marriage only. This case shows that they can turn to the formal legal system. In fact, the judgement deals a blow to those who justify the sharia ‘courts’ as the only recourse for women who have not registered their marriages.

Our research shows that the power and control of religious fundamentalist networks over Muslims has grown enormously over the last thirty years. This has led to a widespread belief that a civil marriage is not necessary, that women must have a divorce certificate issued by a Sharia ‘court’ in an apparent judicial procedure; and that they must get this ‘certificate’ even if they already have a civil divorce.

While the judgement is a step in the right direction, the government urgently needs to examine its own complicity in keeping religious fundamentalists in business. Sharia ‘courts’, have been actively tolerated in Britain by being given charitable status and treated as partners by the police and local councils. While the government rejected the recommendation of the sharia review headed by Mona Siddiqui for regulation of the sharia councils; it has quietly ensured the continuing power of religious courts.

The application form for a divorce (Form D8) actively encourages women to turn to religious bodies. It states ‘If you entered into a religious marriage as well as a civil marriage, these divorce proceedings may not dissolve the religious part of your marriage. It is important that you contact the relevant religious authority and seek further guidance if you are unsure.’

If the government is serious about gender equality and ending violence against women, why is it undermining the validity of a civil divorce under English law? Why is it pushing women towards religious courts? For decades, the civil divorce has been the valid certificate demanded by courts abroad, regardless of whether there is also a religious marriage such as a Sikh, Hindu or Muslim ceremony. This guidance undermines women’s rights and the recognition of divorces awarded by British courts.

We call on the government to immediately withdraw this guidance from the divorce application form; to address the lack of access to justice brought about by cuts to legal aid; to overhaul outdated marriage and divorce laws and to take active measures to end religious courts and their control over women’s lives.

Gita Sahgal, Director, Centre for Secular Space

Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters

Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Campaigner

Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All

Afsana Lachaux, Women’s Rights Campaigner

Ahlam Akram, Founder, Basira

Amina Lone, Women’s Rights Campaigner

Diana Nammi, Executive Director, Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation

Gina Khan, Spokesperson, One Law for All

Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

Rahila Gupta, Writer

Rumana Hashem, Spokesperson, Community Women Against Abuse

Sadia Hameed, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Critical Sisters Director

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive Officer, National Secular Society

CEMB march at Pride 2018 in London: A Victory against Islamism

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain marched in Pride in London on 7 July for LGBT rights in countries under Islamic rule; in 15 states or territories, homosexuality is punishable by death.

The march was a victory against Islamist forces in Britain like Mend and East London Mosque that tried and failed to stop CEMB from marching with accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ aimed at imposing de facto blasphemy and apostasy laws.

Despite their efforts, CEMB marched for the right to apostasy and blasphemy, for asylum and refugee rights, against racism and the far-Right and for the right to love, live and think as one chooses.

CEMB marched in solidarity with all those who could not and will keep on marching until the day when Muslim and ex-Muslim LGBT can love who they want without fear. That day will also be the day women are not second-class citizens and apostates and blasphemers can think freely without punishment. Our lives and rights are interlinked as is our common humanity.

To see some photos and video footage of the march, see below.

The Bangladeshi group Boys Love World marched with CEMB at this Pride. If you would like to donate for our work at Pride, please make your donations to this fantastic group.

NOTES:

A poem by Jimmy Bangash: 15 states, they kill their gays produced by International Ex-Muslim Coalition

Pride is a Safe Place for LGBT people of Muslim Heritage – A response to Al-Kadhi In The Guardian by Jimmy Bangash (The Guardian did not bother responding to our request for a right to reply)

Provocative? Well yes! and Taking Pride Back by Sadia Hameed

Ex-Muslims: A Community in Protest by Maryam Namazie

For more information, please contact CEMB at hello@ex-muslim.org.uk.

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