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An Update on Fitna Remade, important events and a call for help, from CEMB Executive Committee Members

Hello

Here is an update for you on some important matters and upcoming events:

On Fitna Remade

Reza Moradi, a member of CEMB’s Executive Committee, has just produced Fitna Remade in response to Geert Wilders film, Fitna. You can see Reza’s remake here. To see commentaries and Fariborz Pooya’s interview with Maryam Namazie and Bahram Soroush on the original movie on Iranian Secular Society TV, click here. You can read the transcript of the programme here.

Events – Hold these dates

One year anniversary celebration: We are asking members and supporters to join CEMB executive committee members for drinks to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and to meet other like-minded people in central London on 5th July 2008 from 2pm onwards. For more details, please RSVP.

International Conference entitled Challenging Islam and Political Islam, October 10, 2008 at Conway Hall, London: The CEMB is busy organising an international conference on 10 October – the International Day against the Death Penalty – entitled Challenging Islam and political Islam – to focus on several key questions, namely the problem with Sharia law, including for women’s status; freedom of expression and the need for criticism of religion; universal rights; as well as the separation of religion and the state. Keep this date free in your diaries from now.

Urgent need for help

Support and safe houses:

We are looking for emergency and temporary safe homes for people who want to leave Islam but fear that they will be killed by their families. This will enable them to be safe until we can help them access available resources and a shelter. If you are able to help, please contact us.

Legal advice:

The Charities Commission has said the CEMB cannot apply for charity status because we defend secularism! Perhaps that explains why so many Islamic organisations and religious institutions have charity status. We are nonetheless going to file for charity status and are looking for someone with legal expertise to assist. If you can help us, please contact us as soon as possible.

Ex-Muslim case histories:

As you know, there isn’t a lot of information out there about the case histories of those who have renounced religion and in particular Islam. We are looking to record these in various ways. If you might be interested in giving us your story, email, write or call us so we can set up a time to talk or meet.

Important recent media coverage and speeches

To see a Times article on Maryam Namazie entitled: It’s time to take a stand against Islam and Sharia, Maryam Namazie, head of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain, says that rights are for individuals, not religions or beliefs , click here.

To see Maryam’s speech commemorating 17 year old Du’a who was stoned to death last year in Iraqi Kurdistan, click here. To read the speech, click here. To see Maryam’s response at the conference commemorating Du’a on whether men are to blame for women’s rights violations, exaggerating the extent of Islam’s role, is criticism of Islam being anti-Muslim, and on various interpretations of Islam, click here.

To hear a part English, part Swedish 25 minute interview with Maryam on Radio P4 Boras on Islam and political Islam, click here.

Upcoming speaking engagements

Maryam Namazie will be speaking at the alternative Islam conference in Koln, Germany on May 31 at 11am and again at 1230pm on a panel with other heads of Ex-Muslim Councils. Her 11am speech is entitled ‘Islam is significant because of political Islam’. [External Link]

Maryam Namazie will be speaking at a plenary session on Political Islam and Freedom of Conscience and Expression at the World Humanist Congress, June 6, 2008, Washington, DC, USA. [External Link]

Other information

A CEMB supporter, Richard Collins, has set up a facebook page called 1,000,000 activists for Maryam Namazie. To see or join it, click here.

Maryam Namazie’s blog has been rated one of the top hundred hottest atheist blogs here.

How you can help us do more

You can help us do more to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to push back religion’s adverse role in society at large by:

* Donating to our organisation. We need funds to cover everything from a campaign against the Sharia courts in Britain, a comprehensive resource centre about Islam, political Islam and ex-Muslims, a support system for ex-Muslims and Ex-Muslim TV programmes that can be broadcast across Europe and the Middle East. A huge thanks to everyone who has generously donated to our organisation. We need a lot more funds though if we are going to move from a volunteer run organisation to a more established one. No amount is too small or for that matter too big!

* Adding your name and statement to our list of members or supporters.

* Volunteering your time and expertise. We particularly need help in charity law, conference organising, researching, writing and broadcasting.

* Telling others about us by forwarding recent media coverage or our press releases to everyone you know…

We look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest regards,

CEMB Executive Committee

Asad Abbas (Secretary), Reyhan Hussein, Jalil Jalili, Rony Miah, Reza Moradi, Maryam Namazie (Chair), Bahram Soroush and Zia Zaffar (Treasurer).

The CEMB gives me hope, letter from Maryam Namazie

Hello

I should have written sooner but we have been inundated with emails and calls from ex-Muslims, supporters and others. Here are just a few we have received:

Ali says: ‘I’m a closet apostate of Islam… Hearing of your movement gives me hope.’

Amal says ‘…it’s about time we ex-Muslims came together and had our voices heard.’

And they are not only joining from Britain but from Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait…

Imran from Saudi Arabia says: ‘I don’t find the words to express my joyful feelings about the council… today by chance, luckily I found the council. I saw the video of Maryam on youtube. It gave me courage and it gave me like a fresh breath of life…’

You can read more about why 25 of us began the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain by publishing our names and photographs. As I have said: ‘Yes, your religion or lack thereof is your business but not when you are killed for it. Then a public challenge becomes a form of resistance.’

Clearly, we have hit a nerve because in just seven months, with the support of countless people like you, we have managed to challenge political Islam in Britain and elsewhere, defend secularism and universal rights, and call for humanity without labels. But there is much more that we can and must do.

You can help us do more to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to push back religion’s adverse role in society at large by:

  • Donating to our organisation. We need funds to cover everything from a campaign against the Sharia courts in Britain, a comprehensive resource centre about Islam, political Islam and ex-Muslims, a support system for ex-Muslims and Ex-Muslim TV programmes that can be broadcast across Europe and the Middle East.
  • Participating in our events. On March 10, we are organising a seminar with Equal Rights Now in commemoration of International Women’s Day entitled Sexual Apartheid, Political Islam and Women’s Rights at Conway Hall in London from 6:30-9:30pm. The event is free. Speakers are Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany and Equal Rights Now; 2007 NSS Secularist of the Year; Louise Couling, Chair of Unison’s Regional Women’s Committee and member of the National Executive Council; Houzan Mahmoud, Spokesperson, Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq; Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now, National Secular Society Honorary Associate; and Joan Smith, Novelist, columnist and human rights activist. The seminar is chaired by Hanne Stinson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association.
  • Signing on to our campaigns and urgent actions. Right now we are gathering support to turn the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day into a day against sexual apartheid.
  • Adding your name and statement to our list of members or supporters.
  • Volunteering your time and expertise. We particularly need help in charity law, conference organising, researching, writing and broadcasting.
  • Telling others about us by forwarding recent media coverage or our press releases to everyone you know…

According to the writer and philosopher AC Grayling, our manifesto constitutes ‘a bill of rights which is absolutely necessary for everyone, non-religious and otherwise, to adopt and observe now that the world is again experiencing, with such bitterness, widespread religion-generated difficulties.’

Together, we can and will change all that.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest regards, Maryam

Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
www.ex-muslim.org.uk

There is no place for sharia in Britain

The Council of ex-Muslims of Britain condemns the comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that Sharia law is ‘inevitable’ and may be welcome in civil cases.

The distinction that he makes between civil and criminal cases does not exist within Sharia law. Sharia law encompasses all aspects of the life of those deemed Muslim. Suggesting that the UK would not, of course, allow the more barbaric aspects of Sharia law, such as amputation or stoning, ignores the fact that it is the family/civil areas of law in the Sharia that are some of the most iniquitous.

In the discriminatory personal family law, particularly in the areas of marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance and so on, a Muslim woman cannot even contract her own marriage; the marriage contract is between her guardian and husband. A man can have 4 wives whilst a woman cannot. A man can divorce his wife without reasons by simply saying ‘divorce’ thrice, albeit with a gap in time, whereas a woman must give reasons, some of which are extremely difficult to prove. A woman only receives half that of a man under inheritance rules, and so on.

Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights, such as equal rights for women, and relegates those deemed to be ‘Muslim’ to culturally relative rights and at the mercy of regressive imams and kangaroo courts.

In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.

Taslima Nasreen’s freedom to speak and write must be protected

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain condemns the attacks by the political Islamic movement on Taslima Nasreen in Kolkata, and calls for the vigorous prosecution of those who led the assault and threatened to kill her. It is in the context of sustained death-threats and a campaign to cancel her visa, that Ms Nasreen has now withdrawn two pages from her book, Shodh.

We further condemn the government in Bengal for responding to the Islamist mob’s demands by pressurising her to leave her adopted home in Kolkata, and we call on the Indian government to support her return to Bengal and protect her freedom to speak and write.

Gillian Gibbons must be released today

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain calls on the British government to demand the immediate release of school teacher Gillian Gibbons. Her arrest, trial, conviction, and imprisonment in Khartoum, Sudan, for insulting Islam because she allowed her class to name a teddy bear ‘Muhammad’ reveals the inhumane nature of Shariah or Islamic Law and its incompatibility with civil rights and 21st century values.

The CEMB notes that Islamic organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain find the events in Sudan ’embarrassing’ – as indeed all supporters of the Shariah should. But they do so on the grounds that no insult to Islam was intended by Ms Gibbons. This implies that had an insult been perpetrated, it would have been deemed a crime and punishable according to the Shariah, which could have resulted in 40 lashes or worse. Recent death threats against apostates or the case of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad two years ago are some examples of how any criticism is deemed offensive or insulting. Islamists will not hesitate to use Islamic law where possible or other violent means to stifle such criticism. In line with this, they have been aggressively campaigning for a law on incitement to religious hatred in the UK, which will severely curtail freedom of expression.

The CEMB strongly defends freedom of expression, which crucially implies the freedom of criticism of all beliefs and ideologies including religion. Wherever this precious principle is abandoned, the appalling vista of the imprisonment of an innocent teacher, and the baying for her blood by Islamists, becomes a frightening reality.

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