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No Longer Without You: Film, Discussion and Poetry on Apostasy, Shunning and Survival

Join Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) and Født Fri (Born Free) Foundation for an evening of Film, Discussion and Poetry to mark 8 March, International Women’s Day

Sunday 8 March 2020, 5:30pm for 6:00pm start until 9:00pm

Central London

Tickets Available Now: £7 waged; £5 unwaged, including students and pensioners. No tickets sold at door.

 

Ticket holders will be sent London venue details closer to the event. Venue is in Clerkenwell and is walking distance from Farringdon Station.

UK FILM SCREENING: “No Longer Without You”

‘I will not do what you say. I’ll follow my own path, but I will not let myself be cast out. I will be different, but No Longer Without You.’

“No Longer Without You” is a documentary about a searing conversation about parenthood, tradition, religion, sex, and independence between a free-spirited daughter, Nazmiye Oral and her traditional Muslim mother, Havva in the intimate circle of a living room in front of their family following several public performances.

“How can I walk away when my legs are not my own? And how do I pave my path back? Because my place within the family is my right.”

The film screening will be followed by POETRY by Playwright and Poet Elewisa Mwhamadu Kuusi and A PANEL DISCUSSION ON APOSTASY, SHUNNING AND SURVIVAL with Actress Nazmiye Oral, Youtuber Fay Rahman, Journalist Khadija Khan, Student Activist Saff Khalique, Clinical Psychologist Savin Bapir-Tardy and Født Fri (Born Free) Foundation Director Shabana Rehman. Chair: CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie. The event will be MCed by Nahla Mahmoud. There will also be a drinks reception.

BIOGRAPHIES

NAZMIYE ORAL is an actress, writer, columnist and TV presenter. She began her acting career in the 1990s in the Netherlands with series like Baantjer, Combat, Oppassen! and Westenwind. She also performed in De Gesluierde Monologen, The SuburbSafari and in No Longer Without You, a play she wrote herself. The play was selected for the Holland Festival and Crossing the Line Festival in New York and has also been made into a documentary. Nazmiye has performed in television productions like A’dam E.V.A., Undercover, Moordvrouw and Oh Mijn Hemel, starred in the series Icarus: Zorgondernemer and In Vrijheid by Floor van der Meulen for which she was awarded Best Actress at the Netherlands Film Festival and at the Lucania Film Festival. In 2011 her debut novel ‘Zehra’ was released, for which she was nominated for the E. du Perron prize. She co-founded the Zina Foundation in 2003, a theatre initiative that travels through different neighbourhoods in the Netherlands using local stories.

ELEWISA MWHAMADU KUUSI is a British-born writer, playwright, actor and spoken word artist. Being of Jamaican parentage and born into Islam has given him a niche yet broad and ever-broadening perspective on life and a yearning to expose the flaws, discrepancies and lies of mainstream paradigms. While his works do not adhere to any particular genre, he does like to tell stories and messages that would normally be ignored or left unknown. Leaving Islam in 2013 and identifying as atheist since 2019 has made his truth-seeking disposition all the stronger. He is published in the anthology ‘100 Years Unheard’ (2018), has written and performed in his own stage play ‘Love Hurts’ (2016-17), has lectured on the subject ‘What is a Man? What is a Black Man?’ for the Association of Black Humanists (2018) and West London Humanists (2019), and has performed in various stage plays throughout London since 2012.

FAY RAHMAN is a British-Bangladeshi ex-Muslim atheist Youtuber. Fay grew up in the UK, in a non-practicing Muslim family. Through Islamic schooling she joined the Tableeghi Jamaat and then later adopted the even more conservative Salafi practice of Islam with the encouragement of her father and later her extended family. Fay left Islam in secret in February 2017 and openly in October 2018 – avoiding an arranged marriage, surviving an attempt on her life and causing her family to disown her. Fay collaborates with Faith2Faithless, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Faithless Hijabi for activism in free-speech, women’s rights and religious freedom. She has an active YouTube channel where she shares her experience as a young woman who has left Islam, the challenges she faces and the inconsistencies in Islam in order to reach others who are doubting or closeted and assure them that they are not alone.

KHADIJA KHAN is a Pakistani journalist and a commentator currently based in UK. She writes about human rights, mainly women’s rights, as well as minorities, extremism and Islamism. She is an advocate for women’s rights, strongly believes that religion infringes women’s rights and Islam is no exception. She denounces the idea of Islamic feminism, since finding refuge for women’s rights under organised religion is not more than a myth. Being a humanist, she believes in tolerance and equality for all human beings. She criticizes the usage of blasphemy laws as a tool to crackdown on dissent and supports freedom of and from religion. She stresses the need of having freedom of speech to counter extremist ideologies in her write ups. She believes that freedom to challenge bad idea is the most effective way to counter extremist narratives.

MARYAM NAMAZIE is an Iranian-born writer and activist. She is the Spokesperson of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and hosts a weekly TV programme broadcast in called Bread and Roses. She is on the International Advisory Board of the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom and Euromind. Maryam and CEMB were featured in a 2016 film “Islam’s Non-Believers” by Deeyah Khan. She was also a character in DV8 Physical Theatre’s “Can We Talk About This?”. She was joint winner of the 2019 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize; awarded the 2017 Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism award; 2016 International Secularism (Laicite) Prize from the Comité Laïcité République; Atheist of the Year by Kazimierz Lyszczynski (2014); Journalist of the Year at the Dods Women in Public Life Awards (2013); awarded the National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year Award (2005), amongst others. The Islamic regime of Iran’s media outlets has called Namazie “immoral and corrupt.”

NAHLA MAHMOUD is an environment and human rights activist originally from Sudan. She works with a number of campaigns in the UK, including One Law for All and Secular Middle East and North Africa. She leads the Sudanese Humanists Group and is former Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

SAFF KHALIQUE is a British Pakistani ex-Muslim student and activist, currently studying a masters in International Journalism. Saff left Islam in May 2018 but it was not until September 2019 that she went public with her disbelief. She launched The Sinning Skeptics podcast with the aim to provide a safe space for young Ex-Muslims and Muslims to discuss, question and critique the religion they grew up in. Through her blog, The Amber Journals, she covers issues surrounding freedom of religion, politics and women’s rights, such as collecting women’s experiences with the hijab for No Hijab day. She recently joined the Index on Censorship’s Youth Advisory Board, in which she aims to shed light on repressive apostasy and blasphemy laws across the globe and how this can impact the state’s control of its media and peoples.

SAVIN BAPIR-TARDY is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of West London. Bapir-Tardy conducted her doctoral research at City University into how traumatic events are experienced. She has worked with adolescents, adults and older adults in a variety of mental health settings. She worked for 8 years as a Counselling Psychologist at the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) providing psychological therapy to women who have experienced “honour” based violence, forced marriage, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. Bapir-Tardy also provided training to professionals in mainstream mental health services on “honour” based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

SHABANA REHMAN is Director of Født Fri (Born Free) Foundation and a performance artist and human and animal rights advocate. She is Norwegian with Pakistani descent. Shabana entered the stage in Oslo, Norway in 2000. In the following years, she quickly built a reputation for groundbreaking and iconoclastic comedy. Her controversial and popular comedy style along with public political stunts like Mullah-Lifting, and bodypainted with Norwegian flag as a performance artist, have given her a unique position in her native Norway. Among substantial international press cover, she has been featured both by The New York Times and by Times Magazine. In addition to her prolific comedy career, Shabana is a highly respected columnist, satirist, and public speaker in Scandinavia and the Scandinavian community in USA. She regularly writes for major newspaper and magazines in the region. A frequent participant and contributor in talk shows and public debates, she is among the most respected celebrities in Norway. Shabana has received several awards for her writing and fearless comedy. She had played her shows in several countries, among them Canada, USA, Denmark, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Germany. She recently founded the Secular Feminist Front.

For more information, contact m.namazie@ex-muslim.org.uk or visit www.ex-muslim.org.uk.

From 2013-2020, the campaign against World Hijab Day gaining strength

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) took direct action against the veil and compulsory veiling in London on 1 February to challenge World Hijab Day with Sadia Hameed, Fay Rahman and Zara Kay.
 
Even on streets of London, a man told the women they were “embarrassing themselves”. (Video by Reason4Freedom)
 
CEMB is pleased to see the extensive push back in 2020 against this day that celebrates religious tools to restrict women and their sexuality.
 
In February 2013, when the day was first initiated, Maryam Namazie compared World Hijab Day with World Female Genital Mutilation Day or World Child Marriage Day. She was quoted in a BBC report in 2013 as saying:
 
“Millions of women and girls have been harassed, fined, intimidated and arrested for ‘improper’ veiling over the past several decades,” she wrote in a blog post about the Iranian women’s football team’s hijabs.
 
“Anyone who has ever taken an Iran Air flight will verify how quickly veils are removed the minute the airplane leaves Iranian airspace.
 
“And anyone who knows anything about Iran knows the long and hard struggle that has taken place against compulsory veiling and sex apartheid.”
 
In 2014, Maryam Namazie called for solidarity with “women who refuse and resist veiling.”
 
Since the inception of World Hijab Day, actions against the day has been increasing with protests, including #FreeFromHIjab, #WalkingUnveiled #NoHijabDay #NoToCompulsoryHijab becoming viral this year.
 
Maryam Namazie (an ex-Muslim) and Yasmin Rehman (a Muslim) also did an action in defense of women in Iran opposed to compulsory veiling at the #WomensLiberation Conference 2020 in London.

“On The Side Of Those Who Fight For Freedom”

The below was first published on Centre for Women’s Justice website written by Maryam Namazie, joint prize winner of the Emma Humphrey’s Memorial Prize 2019.

I started Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All more than a decade ago to publicly mobilise dissent against religious laws. An expression of “not in my name” and a challenge to the Quran, Islam and Islamism as the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of the emancipation of women, freethinkers and others (if I may “paraphrase” US Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton)*.

Having fled the Islamic regime in Iran – where there is a deep-seated anti-Islamic backlash and women’s liberation movement – I found it astonishing how Sharia courts, apostasy laws and women’s subservient status were legitimised as a defence of “minority rights” in Britain and the west.

How Machiavellian to promote a defence of fundamentalists as a defence of a presumed homogenous minority “community”! How patronising to assume that those of us from minority backgrounds are so “different” from everyone else that we can only be expected to live within the confines of predefined patriarchal structures.

In any religious or tribal court, the odds are stacked against women who are viewed as the property and honour of the men in charge and not as individual citizens with rights.

The fact of the matter is that Sharia law violates women’s rights, including here in Britain. As do Ecclesiastic courts, the Beth Din or Loya Jirgas. In any religious or tribal court, the odds are stacked against women who are viewed as the property and honour of the men in charge and not as individual citizens with rights.

Sharia courts legitimise and encourage violence against women whether by considering a women’s testimony as worth half that of a man’s, normalising polygamy and child “marriage” or considering marital rape as the prerogative of the husband, amongst others. Sharia court jurisprudence and practice violate every article of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), including by promoting the concept of “zina” which criminalises sex outside of marriage.

Sharia law also violates the rights of religious minorities, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, atheists, apostates, blasphemers and LGBT… In more than a dozen countries under Sharia, apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality is punishable with the death penalty. In Britain, too, Sharia judges have made statements justifying the killing of apostates; the apostate label alone carries with it the grave risk of shunning and honour-related violence and death.

The establishment of CEMB and One Law for All were efforts to be heard and to be seen and to insist on our equal citizenship and individual rights and freedoms in the face of a cultural relativism that erases any dissent and only recognises “group” and “community” rights. Given that it is those in power that determine the “rights” of an in-group, a defence of an essentialised “Muslim community” ends up becoming an exercise in defending the fundamentalists and blaming the victims. Make no mistake. Defending Sharia courts or for that matter the veiling of children and sex segregation at schools or opposition to the “No Outsiders” programme is a defence of the Islamist project to control women, dissent and doubt and has nothing to do with promoting religious freedom or combatting bigotry.

A brief look at the founding organisations of the oldest Sharia court in Britain, the Islamic Sharia Council, for example, clearly shows the transnational Islamist links. The organisations include:

  • London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center (whose Trustees include officials from the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brunei, Qatar, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan – many of which punish apostasy with the death penalty and have discriminatory family laws).

  • Muslim World League (which propagates Saudi Wahabbism, the Muslim Brotherhood played a role in its founding).

  • Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith (involved in promoting sectarianism and jihad in the Indian sub-continent).

  • UK Islamic Mission (inspired by Jamaat e Islami and Syed Abul Ala Maududi and shares the same ideology as Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood).

  • Dawatul Islam, UK (UK branch of the Bangladeshi Jamaat e Islami. In 1971, some of the Jamaat e Islami were implicated in running death squads and organising lynchings against people demanding independence).

  • Jamia Mosque & Islamic Center, Birmingham (where protestors marched from the mosque after Friday prayers to the Bangladesh High Commission in Birmingham after the execution of a Bangladeshi Islamist convicted of atrocities committed during the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan following the country’s war crimes tribunal).

  • Muslim Welfare House, London (was founded by Kamal Helbawy of the Muslim Brotherhood who has praised Osama Bin Laden. They have fatwas defending polygamy and prohibiting Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men as well as campaigned to stop the selling of alcohol).

It’s where we each stand when rights are violated and fundamentalists appeased that counts.

Contrary to the far-Right arguments that aim to promote anti-Muslim bigotry and xenophobia, this is not about a clash of civilisations but a clash between theocrats and secularists everywhere, with believers and non-believers, including minorities and migrants, on either side. Identities are irrelevant and beside the point though; it’s their politics that matters. It’s where we each stand when rights are violated and fundamentalists appeased that counts. As the refrain from the old labour movement song says: “Which side are you on?” Are we all, as the song continues – “on the side of those who fight for freedom”?

Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born writer and activist and joint winner of the Emma Humphrey’s Memorial Prize 2019. She is the Spokesperson of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She hosts a weekly television programme broadcast in Iran on Saturday evenings in Persian and English called  Bread and Roses.

For more details on Sharia courts in Britain, see a One Law for All submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

For more details on the work of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, click here.

Get your tickets here for CEMB’s upcoming March 8 event for International Women’s Day on Apostasy, Shunning and Survival.

* US Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton [1850-1902] said: “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.”

Commemorating Muriel Seltman

Muriel Seltman (27 March 1927 – 2 December 2019) was a mathematician, a writer, an activist and comrade in arms.

She joined campaigns in support of One Law for All against Sharia and religious laws and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain against blasphemy and apostasy laws and for secularism, reason and universal rights over a decade ago. She edited “Sharia Law in Britain: A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights,” attended events, leafleted in solidarity with the protesting people of Iran and against Sharia law, did interviews, including with Bread and Roses TV on anti-Semitism and spoke up at public events and rallies. As one of the main speakers at a rally in Hyde Park in 2009, she gave a scathing criticism of cultural relativism and unequivocally defended human rights for all. She ended her speech there with a refrain from a song from the labour movement: “Which side are you on? We are all on the side of those who fight for freedom.”

Muriel was a fighter through and through and right until the end. Her last book “Marx and Humanism” was written this year; her other books included: “Bread and Roses: Nontheism and the human spirit,” “The Changing Faces of Antisemitism,” “What’s Left? What’s Right?: A Political Journey via North Korea and the Chinese Cultural Revolution,” and “Thomas Harriot’s Artis Analyticae Praxis: An English Translation with Commentary”. She was a comrade, a generous friend and an excellent human being.
We will miss her fierce and courageous mind and activism, her enthusiasm, her love and her kindness more than we can say.
We were lucky to know her and to have her in our lives. All we can do now is to celebrate her memory by carrying on “on the side of those who fight for freedom.”
Muriel’s funeral service will be held on Friday 3 January at 1:15pm at the North Chapel, Eltham Crematorium, London SE9 2AZ.
Dress Code: No black please.
Also, no flowers.

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