The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) will present its first all day
international conference on Political Islam, Sharia Law, and Civil Society
on Friday 10 October 2008. Since apostasy is punishable by death under
Islamic law, the conference coincides with the International Day against the
Speakers at the conference, including Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling, and
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, will
focus on Apostasy; Sharia Law; and Creationism, Faith Schools and Religious
Education. Dawkins will also present his criticism of Harun Yahya’s Atlas of
Creation, for which Dawkins’ site has been banned in Turkey. Other
distinguished speakers at the conference are Mina Ahadi, Roy Brown, Giles
Enders, Johann Hari, Ehsan Jami, Houzan Mahmoud, Caspar Melville, Taslima
Nasreen, Fariborz Pooya, Terry Sanderson, Joan Smith, Bahram Soroush, Hanne
Stinson, Hamid Taqvaee, Ibn Warraq, Keith Porteous Wood and Zia Zaffar.
The event includes a comedy act by Nick Doody, the work of a well-known
artist, Fitna Remade by Reza Moradi and Breaking the Taboo by Patty
For more information, a press pass, booking form or to interview speakers,
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
You can also download a booking form from this link.
Details on the conference:
10 October 2008
10am-6pm (Registration begins at 9am)
Conway Hall London
25 Red Lion Square WC1R 4RL
(Closest station: Holborn)
GBP 40 statutory organisations/businesses; GBP 20 voluntary sector; GBP 10
individuals, including lunch and refreshments.
Cristina Odone’s report on faith schools published by the Centre for Policy Studies misses the point. The point of is not that faith schools have discriminatory admission codes and employment practices, cream-skim pupils, or turn away children in care although they do. Rather, what makes faith schools fundamentally bad for children is that they are more concerned with the inclusion of religion – the religion of the child’s parents – than the inclusion, wellbeing and educational needs of the child.
According to Ms. Odone, Islamic schools are crucial to the emancipation of girls because they give parents the confidence to keep them in school for longer. But relegating girls to Islamic schools where they are indoctrinated in their parents’ beliefs, segregated on the basis of sex (imagine how unacceptable this would be if it was based on race), veiled, prevented from mixing and playing with boys, prevented from doing sports, dancing and so on is anything but.
In Islamic schools such as the Hawza Ilmiyya students are taught to despise unbelievers as filth, and to hold males and females as unequal. Ibrahim Lawson, headteacher of Nottingham Islamia School, clearly states their main purpose: ‘The essential purpose of the Islamia school as with all Islamic schools is to inculcate profound religious belief in the children.’
Education, however, is meant to give children access to science, reason and advances of the 21st century not the other way around. It is meant to level the playing field irrespective of and despite the family the child is born into. It is meant to allow children to think freely and critically – something that religion actually prohibits and often punishes. Contrary to Ms. Odone’s claims, this can only be guaranteed via a secular educational system.
Until children are given precedence over their parent’s religion, the Government, with its commitment to faith schools, will continue to fail them.
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was one year old on June 21. [We are asking members and supporters to join executive committee members for drinks to celebrate our anniversary in central London on 5th July 2008 from 2pm onwards. For more details, please RSVP by emailing us.]
For many, this will come as a surprise given the organisation’s importance and the scope of its activities so far. In the short time since the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was launched in June 2007, it has achieved much with volunteers alone. Some of the highlights are:
- We currently have 120 members and 90 supporters. Given that membership in our organisation comes with certain risks, these numbers represent many more that are unable or unwilling to renounce religion and Islam publicly. Moreover, there are thousands of members across the world and councils have been formed in a number of countries.
- Our website has 7-8,000 unique visitors a month and up to 298,729 hits per month; our forum has over 300 members and is a crucial place for people to debate, share information and talk about issues and problems.
- We have provided referrals and assistance to tens of ex-Muslims in need of refuge and in fear for their safely and lives.
- We have organised a successful launch in the Houses of Parliament in June 2007, which was covered in all the major newspapers. So far, over 45,000 people have seen the launch on youtube. We also organised a conference in March 2008 on the topic of “Sexual apartheid, political Islam and women’s rights” and are organising a one year anniversary celebration in central London on 5th July 2008 and an International Conference entitled Challenging Islam and Political Islam on October 10, 2008.
- Our spokesperson, Maryam Namazie, has written articles and been quoted in the media and appeared on a number of television programmes. In March 2008, Times published an article on Maryam 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. Also in February 2008, Elle Quebec selected Maryam as one of the top 45 women of 2007.
- Maryam has also spoken at numerous events and conferences including to Humanist MPs at the Houses of Parliament, the European Parliamentary Working Group on Separation of Religion from Politics, and at the World Humanist Congress in Washington, DC in early June.
- 26 MPs supported an Early Day Motion in support of the CEMB’s launch…
Clearly, though, we cannot continue like this for much longer – as a solely volunteer-run organisation without office space or any substantial resources. This untenable situation has to change – and soon – if the CEMB is going to give those who leave Islam the full support they need, challenge political Islam, defend humanist, secularist and progressive values from the perspective of those who have suffered and lived under Islam, and change society for the better.
It can with the support of like-minded people. With your donation – however small or for that matter large – we can begin to further professionalise the organisation and carry out life-saving and crucial work, such as:
- Provide support to atheist freethinking ex-Muslims by breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and religion but also to provide access to services, resources and information for those who fear for their lives.
- Document and highlight the status of ex-Muslims.
- Respond and challenge the political Islamic movement.
- Campaign against the political Islamic movement, sharia law and in defence of rights, free expression, and secularism.
- Create a regular publication and annual report to inform members, supporters, media and the public about activities, campaigns and positions.
- Work closely with kindred organisations and others on issues of mutual concern.
- Facilitate the establishment of Councils of Ex-Muslims internationally. Right now we have already had requests from the USA, Canada, Australia, and other European countries but have been unable to meet the demand for assistance and support and more…
In this day and age, political Islam is one of the greatest threats to civilised humanity. Challenging this movement and supporting those on the frontlines risking their lives to stand up to this reaction is a task for 21 st century humanity. If you can, please donate. You can:
- Send a cheque made payable to the CEMB and mail to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK.
- Donate via Worldpay on our website by going to this link: www.ex-muslim.org.uk.
- Leave a legacy to our organisation.
- Hold a fundraiser for us either at home amongst your friends or organise larger fundraisers, concerts or socials.
- Mention CEMB in articles and letters to the editor that you write…
You will help decide the success of the CEMB and its place in progressive history. Thank you.
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson
P.S. To read Maryam’s latest speech entitled freedom of expression and political Islam presented at the World Humanist Congress in Washington DC on June 6, click here. To see her speak at the alternative Islam conference in Koln Germany on 31 May, click here.