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2019 Shortlist Announced, Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize, 3 October 2019

2019 Shortlist Announced, Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize, 3 October 2019

Afsana Lachaux has spent the past five years campaigning for women’s access to justice.  After having to flee Dubai, and whilst continuing to fight for the return of her son, Afsana has successfully campaigned for the FCO to include warnings to women about the potential impact of sharia law in travel guidance, as well as fighting an important defamation case brought against her by her ex-husband.

Arinola Araba is a survivor and campaigner who works on domestic violence and child sexual abuse. She has written two books on these topics, one of which has been made available for free to 100,000 young women in Africa. She recently held an awareness-raising event within her local council area, targeting professionals who may come into contact with women experiencing abuse.

Building Equality is a group of survivors organised through Edinburgh Women’s Aid. Together they have written a book called When Women Speak I Hear about their experiences, which is on sale from independent retailers across Edinburgh.

Fiona MacKenzie runs the ‘We Can’t Consent to This campaign’. She collects information on the use of ‘sex game gone wrong’ defences in killings of women and girls in the UK. She was the first person to systematically collect this data, which shows that this defence is being used increasingly and with some success. Her website Wecantconsentothis.uk honours the humanity of the women killed in this way and draws attention both to male violence and to the ways in which women are being let down by the criminal justice system.

Holly Archer is a survivor, campaigner, and founder of a service providing support to sexually exploited children. She worked with journalist Geraldine McKelvie for years, drawing on her own experiences to demand an inquiry into child sexual exploitation in her home town. This campaign was eventually successful but has led to threats and harassment from associates of key perpetrators. She has been through a long struggle to be awarded for funding for her new service and continues to campaign and raise awareness.

Lilly Lewis is a survivor and campaigner who has done her campaigning work over the last three years despite being incarcerated. After being sentenced to seven year’s imprisonment in 2016 she began to work with APPEAL’s Women’s Justice Initiative to use her story to campaign about the treatment of abused women by the criminal justice system. A peer mentor in custody, and a mentor for at risk young people when on day release, she intends to continue her campaigning after her release in December 2019.

Magdalen Berns was a campaigner for lesbian and other women’s rights. She produced YouTube videos in defence of women’s private spaces and sex specific rights. She had a wide reach in introducing new women to radical feminism and faced down a lot of hostility for publicising her views. Magdalen died in September 2019, aged 36.

Maryam Namazie was the first public female atheist from a Muslim background in the UK. Maryam began campaigning over a decade ago and has always focused on the issues of women from Muslim backgrounds. Her work challenges both sex inequality within Islam as well as the additional difficulties that women face after leaving Islam.

Meena Patel joined Southall Black Sisters in 1987. Since then she has spearheaded SBS’ campaigns to raise awareness of the violence experienced by Black and ethnic minority women. She also runs SBS’ survivor involvement work, and helps other women to politicise their experiences: many of these women have gone on to campaign with SBS. Meena was a key player in the campaign to free Kiranjit Ahluwalia. She also led an impromptu demonstration of SBS service users against the Home Office’s racist ‘Go Home’ vans in 2013, giving strength to service users and illustrating to other services the value of publicly opposing injustice.

Rachel Horman leads the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Forced Marriage department at Watson Ramsbottom Ltd. Besides going above and beyond for women in her legal practice she campaigns for changes in the law as chair of the Paladin national stalking advocacy service, for example in the successful campaign to have coercive control included in law as a discrete offence. Rachel writes a blog in which she focuses on holding the state to account on violence against women. She regularly undertakes pro-bono training of the police, social services, and refuge services, on how to advocate for the interests of survivors of abuse.

We hope to see many of you at our awards event with the Centre for Women’s Justice on 8th November. Tickets are available here.

On 30 September, International #BlasphemyDay, #EndBlasphemyLaws #BlasphemyNotACrime

A quarter of the world’s countries and territories (26%) have anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and more than one-in-ten (13%) countries have laws or policies penalizing apostasy.

According to Pew research, laws restricting apostasy and blasphemy are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 18 of the region’s 20 countries (90%) criminalize blasphemy and 14 (70%) criminalize apostasy. While apostasy laws exist in two other regions of the world – Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa – blasphemy laws can be found in all regions, including Europe (in 16% of countries) and the Americas (29%).

The 14 countries that have the death penalty for blasphemy are all countries with Islamic law: Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

66 countries have blasphemy laws: Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Comoros, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montenegro, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (It used to be 71 but Canada, Denmark, Greece, Malta and New Zealand have dropped blasphemy codes from their books recently.)

On 30 September, International Blasphemy Day, let’s stand with blasphemers across the globe.

Blasphemy is not a crime; it is an integral part of freedom of expression and conscience. #EndBlasphemyLaws #BlasphemyNotACrime #BlasphemyDay

#IAmSohailArabi #Iran

#IAmSinaDehghan #Iran

#IAmPeymanMirzazadeh #Iran

#IAmSaharEliasi #IAmMohammadNouri #Iran

#IAmSherifGaber #Egypt

#IAmShahabMurtadhaGhafouri #Kuwait

#IAmMohamedRusthumMujuthab #Maldives

#IAmAbdulInyass #Nigeria

#IAmTaimoorReza #Pakistan

#IAmAyazNizami #Pakistan

#IAmShafqatEmmanuel #IAmShaguftaKausar #Pakistan

#IAmAhmedAl_Shamri #SaudiArabia

#IAmRaifBadawi #SaudiArabia

#IAmMahmoudJamaAhmed_Hamdi #Somalia

#IAmJabeurMejri #Tunisia

De Balie #CelebratingDissent Festival was an Astounding Success

The epic ‘Celebrating Dissent’ Festival took place between 30 August -1 September in Amsterdam, a collaboration between the prestigious art and debate institute De Balie and Maryam Namazie.

Consisting of a mixture of intense, probing conversations, comedy, art, poetry and dance performances, films, lectures and protest, the weekend was an education in the issues facing dissenters fighting religious constraints and the religious-Right. The work of ex-Muslims and women campaigners was particularly evident.

More than 50 speakers from 30 countries worldwide discussed Women’s Dissent; Touching the Holy Subject; Comedy, the Sacred and Islamophobia; Separation of Religion from the State; Women against Gods; Identity; and Fighting the Far-Right. The deep wound left by silence within families was portrayed in a gut-wrenching film ‘No Longer Without You’ by Nazmiyeh Oral. Nadia El Fani’s  brave film ‘Neither Allah nor Master’ explored the importance of laicité. Speaker upon speaker showed how some of the most vibrant responses to fundamentalism have come from the universal desire for freedom – especially where survival has become synonymous with challenging religion and the religious-Right.

To highlight the dangers facing dissenters, a public protest of 160 balloons with the names of those persecuted or murdered for blasphemy and apostasy was held. Participants at the Festival carried balloons to a nearby square and chalked the names of dissenters into the pavement as a memorial of sorts.

The historic event was an astounding celebration of apostasy, blasphemy and dissent. From the moment the city’s Mayor, Femke Halsema, opened the festival by welcoming ‘heretics, infidels and renegades,’ it was clear that this would be a historic and remarkable festival committed not only to defending free thought and expression but also the lives and freedoms of dissenters.

Video footage

30 August 2019

Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Maryam Namazie 
Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Taslima Nasrin
Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Inna Shevchenko
Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Saif Ul Malook

Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Zineb El Rhazoui. An empty chair since she was prevented from coming by Dutch government.

31 AUGUST 2019

A Conversation on Women’s Dissent with Inna Shevchenko, Maryam Namazie and Taslima Nasrin. Music by Shelley Segal. Protest Art by Victoria Guggenheim. Chair: Samira Bouchibti.

Touching the Holy Subject with Nadia El Fani, Rishvin Ismath, Saif Ul Malook and Sarah Haider. Music by Veedu Vidz. Chair: Bahram Sadeghi.

Comedy, the Sacred and Islamophobia with Shabana Rehman, Ali Rizvi and Armin Nabavi. Chair: Sherin Seyda.

Public Art Protest commemorating dissenters in a public square.

Separation of Religion from the State with Afsana Lachaux, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Elżbieta Podleśna, Homa Arjomand and Sadia Hameed. Chair: Bercan Gunel.

Women against Gods with Gita Sahgal, Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, Maaike Meijer, Mineke Schipper and Rana Ahmad. Performance by Atoosa Farahmand. Chair: Ianthe Mosselman.

1 SEPTEMBER 2019

Film Screening Neither Allah Nor Master by Nadia El Fani followed by a conversation with Hind Bariaz, Karrar Al Asfoor, Wissam Charafeddine and Zara Kay. Chair: Sophie Rutenfrans.

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

On Identity with Kenan Malik, Harris Sultan, Jimmy Bangash, Rahila Gupta and Yasmin Rehman. Poetry by Halima Salat. Chair: Jorgen Tjong a Fong.

Fighting the Far-Right; Celebrating Dissent with Halima Salat, Maryam Namazie, Mohamed Hisham, Muhammed Syed, Sadia Hameed and Sami Abdallah. Music by Shelley Segal. Chair: Samira Bouchibti.

There was also artwork by Mahshad Afshar and Jenny Wenhammar.

 Media coverage of De Balie #CelebratingDissent Festival

Photos of De Balie #CelebratingDissent Festival.

 

Demanding the unconditional immediate release @RusthumRussso

Mohamed Rusthum Mujuthaba was arrested by police in the Maldives earlier this week on charges of “insulting Islam” on social media. @RusthumRussso Tweeted police raising the alarm on multiple death threats against him; instead he was arrested and taken into custody. No further information has been given by the police and his place of detention is unknown. No lawyers have agreed to represent him so far and according to local sources, lawyers are reluctant to do so especially in light of several murders by Islamists, including of journalists and bloggers.

We, the undersigned, condemn his arrest and demand his immediate release. @RusthumRussso was merely exercising his freedom of conscience and expression and has a right to do so. We also call for an end to the blasphemy law in the Maldives so that believers and nonbelievers may freely express their conscience without fear, threats or imprisonment.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Ex Muslim Support Network of Australia

Ex-Muslims of Tamil Nadu, India

Faithless Hijabi

Irreligious Community Of Sri Lanka

M.A.L.I. Alternative Movement of Individual Liberties

Muslimish

One Law for All

Yukthivadi Sangham, Kerala, India

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