Category: Resources

A CASE STUDY OF ISLAMISM ON CAMPUS: UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN, GOLDSMITHS, AND UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has today published a case study on the Islamic Societies at Trinity College Dublin, Warwick University and Goldsmiths University where attempts were made to restrict or bar our spokesperson Maryam Namazie from speaking in 2015.

The case study shows that the Islamic Societies at the three universities in question are clearly promoting Islamist values through hate preachers who condone Sharia Law, Islamic states, and the death penalty for apostasy.

The recent attempts at censorship on university campuses is nothing new. 2015 saw a rise in censorship with 55% of campuses being an outright hostile environment for free speech.

The case study is only an example of a widespread problem – which is Islamism on university campuses, legitimising, normalising and recruiting for the far-Right Islamist movement. Challenging this movement on university campuses is key as is challenging its manifestations such as gender segregation.

Whilst free speech and expression must be free for all (unless there is an incitement to violence), it’s crucial that apostates and dissenters are given equal access to universities without restrictions in order challenge Islamist norms and values with a progressive counter-narrative.

CEMB calls on universities and Student Unions to unequivocally defend free expression, including by removing policies which restrict and censor expression, such as safe space policies.

The full case study can be found here.

Covering your Internet Tracks Leaflet

 

IKQ – 4 November 2015

INTRODUCTION

These suggestions are primarily aimed at a British audience. However they can also apply to people across the globe that find themselves in need of greater security, privacy and anonymity for their electronic communications. They assume that your computer is running a version of MS Windows, but again the suggestions can apply to other operating systems that have similar software.

There is no such thing as a 100% secure communication over an electronic medium such as the global internet or telephony network. Many of the suggestions here do provide varying levels of security, privacy and anonymity (SPA). When these tools are implemented properly and used in conjunction with each other, you will greatly improve your personal SPA. By covering your tracks, you can reduce your chances of being on the receiving end of any unpleasantness. Needless to say, great care must be taken in your communications. Even with all the security in place, your SPA can still be compromised by the use of weak passphrases, the opening of attachments from unknown senders and careless revelations of identifiable details. The user (ie. you) is often the weakest link. Do stay safe by practising safe computing.

Disclaimer: This is not a complete guide and not all software is covered. Under no circumstances shall the author or CEMB be liable for direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages resulting from the use, misuse, or inability to use the software, even if the author or CEMB has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Use at your own risk.

On a related note, there is a line of clothing from THE AFFAIR designed with your privacy in mind.

MOBILE SMART DEVICES

Before we can consider security on mobile devices it is worth making some changes which can make things easier during subsequent steps. Although this step is optional, it is highly recommended. The majority of mobile devices run either the Apple iOS or Google Android operating systems. You need to start by updating your phone contacts. If they are linked / synchronised with an email address (eg. Gmail), then it is best to log in to your email account (on a PC) and update your contacts from there. All changes will then propagate to your linked devices.

To update your contacts, ensure that you change all mobile (and landline) numbers to the proper international format. For example, if you take the full British mobile number ‘07123 456789’, then you need to do the following to it:

  1. Drop all leading zeroes.
  2. Prepend the relevant country code.
  3. Remove all white spaces from the number.

So in our example, the British number ‘07123 456789’ will be updated and stored as ‘+447123456789’. This is the preferred format because there is no longer any ambiguity to it. Even if the handset sends or receives any communication from anywhere in the world, it can still function properly. Update the telephone numbers for as many of your contacts as you can. Get into the habit of storing numbers in this format. This is the only tedious step, it will take some time, but well worth it. Also make a note of your own number in this international format, you’ll need it later.

It is very important to ensure that any software or operating system updates have been applied. These include much needed security fixes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may replace the device’s operating system with a custom one (eg. CYANOGENMOD).

For secure encrypted messaging and calling for Android and iOS devices, go to OPEN WHISPER SYSTEMS and follow the link to install the SIGNAL PRIVATE MESSENGER app. This is a free, open-source application that makes use of your smartphone’s mobile data connection and wifi features. Note that this app is meant to replace your existing default messaging app. Ideally connect via wifi, then you would need to go through a simple registration process using your own mobile number (in the above international format). Be patient with the setup and registration process, then you’ll be good to go.

Another app to note for your mobile device is ORBOT. This lets you route your internet browsing over the TOR network. There are mobile versions of some of the encrypted instant messaging applications below.

Modify each of your wifi network connection settings to ensure that you use the two IP addresses at the bottom of the OPENDNS page as your DNS.

There are many mobile security apps that provide anti-malware functionality, secure your mobile devices, locate them and even wipe them remotely should the need arise.

It is good practice to temporarily disable the wifi and location features if you’re in a public place and they are not needed.

It is highly recommended that you encrypt your mobile device if possible. Again, this may take some time, you may want to ensure your device is charging during this crucial step and it shouldn’t be interrupted.

Before you sell or dispose of your mobile device:

  1. Backup all your personal or important information (files, images, contacts, etc) to your encrypted cloud or any other external storage.
  2. Delink your device from your Apple or Gmail account.
  3. Delete all images or other personal files from your device.
  4. Clear all messaging and call history, including any notifications and search or browsing history.
  5. Clear all contacts and password keys from your mobile device, inc. sim card.
  6. Uninstall as many apps as you can, inc. clearing SD storage.
  7. Forget all networks or wireless access points.
  8. Ensure that you then encrypt your mobile device again.
  9. Perform a hard reset of your mobile device.
  10. You may then remove the sim card and battery, then physically destroy the mobile device.

You can also monitor devices using FLEXISPY.

DESKTOP / LAPTOP COMPUTERS

If you are truly concerned that your privacy may have been compromised, do not use your own computer. Go to an internet cafe or other public service such as a library and use the computer there if you can. Otherwise you should be reasonably safe by using your own computer with the following suggestions.

Ensure that you are not using versions of MS Windows, this is a relatively unsecure set of Operating Systems. Try to use secure distributions of Linux such as QUBES OS, LPS or TAILS, the latter can be copied to a USB drive (or optical media such as CD, DVDs, etc) and run on any computer. KALI LINUX is a very useful operating system, geared more towards penetration testing and security auditing, but extremely useful for the privacy-concious among us, do check it out. Many of these Linux (and BSD) distributions can be booted off optical media so you can use them before installing anything on your computer. Take the time to learn about open-source operating systems, start by bookmarking the DISTROWATCH site.

Otherwise if you’re running a version of MS Windows, ensure that you have encrypted your hard drive (or at the very least the partition / drive that holds your personal files). You can use DISKCRYPTOR or BITLOCKER.

If you have access to the router and can update its settings, log in to it using your computer’s web browser and note the existing DNS IP addresses and write these down in case you need to undo this step. These would be the addresses for your ISPs DNS. Change the existing DNS IP addresses to ones provided by OPENDNS:

  • 208.67.222.222
  • 208.67.220.220

Be sure to save your updated router configuration. You may have to restart your router. If you do not have access to your router or can not update its DNS IP addresses, then you should use DNSCRYPT. Essentially this involves installing and running a background service process on your MS Windows computer that bypasses your ISPs DNS whenever you use your browser. The instructions are straightforward and when the service is set up and running, will not need any further input from you even after the computer is restarted.

A good free anti-malware and firewall will help keep out any intruders.

If you want to make use of the Cloud to store your personal files, then opt for zero-knowledge services like TRESORIT.

To make use of the various anonymisation networks, you can install either the TOR BROWSER BUNDLE or make use of I2P. They may need some configuration but they are recommended if you wish to conduct your online communications anonymously, away from the prying eyes of your ISP or other surveillance efforts. Take great care to configure them as a ‘Relay’, not as an ‘Exit Node’. There are also newer tor-related concepts named HORNET and ASTORIA, there is yet an implementation of them. Be sure to use HORNET or ASTORIA as soon as they becomes available.

A very useful application is BATCHPURIFIER. This tool can help remove your hidden information or metadata from multiple files (eg. photos or images). The metadata can be used to trace when, where and how the file was created (among other things). Removing all this information from files before you store or share them will greatly aid your security, privacy and anonymity (SPA).

To hide your messages in other files, you can use free steganography software like OPENSTEGO or DEEPSOUND. You can then share these files by first uploading them to an anonymous service (see below).

Another great application is KEEPASS PASSWORD SAFE. This is a free, open-source password manager that lets you store your many passwords securely. There are versions for Android and iOS for use on mobile devices.

Email is a very important service for many reasons. Presently there are many email service providers that offer varying levels of security. However, most suffer from one significant flaw: their metadata is sent with the message in clear text. This does not bode well for your SPA. This is a consequence of the current set of email protocols being many years old with security more of an afterthought. As a result of the recent events surrounding the Snowden revelations, efforts are underway to completely redesign email for the modern era with intrinsic security, the fabled ‘Email 3.0’.

The DARK MAIL TECHNICAL ALLIANCE is leading the effort, however the protocols have a name: ‘Dark Internet Mail Environment’ (DIME). When email services adopt this secure protocol, it is highly recommended that you sign up.

But what if you can not wait for the new DIME email services? There is a simple trick that you can use to communicate using any email service. Here’s how it works:

  1. Person A registers with a new email account and notes the login credentials (ie. username and password).
  2. Person A logs in and drafts a message, but does not send it. The message is saved in the drafts folder.
  3. Person A logs out.
  4. Person A gives the login credentials to their trusted contact Person B, in person.
  5. Person B then logs in to the same email account.
  6. Person B can then read the saved message in the drafts folder, then deletes it.
  7. Person B replies by creating a new message and saving that into the drafts folder.
  8. Person B logs out.
  9. Person A can then log back in and read the saved message before composing a reply to Person B, and so on.

This communication can take place without a single message being emailed across any server or domain, which makes surveillance very difficult. It just needs the contacts to access the same email account and some degree of coordination between them. Also, remember to change your email settings to disallow tracking. There are many helpful tips available online, specifically how to improve your email’s SPA.

Your browsers are important too. The three most common or major browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It is recommended that you use Firefox for security. Be sure to keep them updated and configured properly for security:

  • CHROME – chrome://settings/
    • Privacy section
      • Content Settings (set all to the recommended options, except check block third party cookies, do not allow any site to track your physical location, do not allow any site to disable the mouse cursor and do not allow sites to access your camera and microphone).
      • Clear Browsing Data (obliterate from the beginning of time all options).
      • Password (do not enable password auto fill).
    • System (do not continue running background apps when browser is closed).
  • FIREFOX – Tools > Options
    • Privacy (Tick both Tracking options, Firefox will never remember history, clear all current history (everything)).
    • Security (Use a master password – saved passwords – remove all).
    • Advanced > Network (clear web content and offline web content).

There are many useful applications, settings and browser tests detailed in PRIVACY TOOLS and HOW’S MY TLS.

Be sure to set your home pages in all browsers to DUCKDUCKGO and also bookmark the following site:

This site lets you send self-destructing messages and files to your contacts, anonymously. A facility for encrypted chat is also available. This is purely browser-based, no installation of any software is necessary. In each browser you should search for and install the following extensions / add-ons / plugins:

There are also free applications that can be downloaded and installed for secure instant messaging:

You should also install free programs or extensions that function as secure VPNs such as:

These let you route your browsing activities through virtual private networks or remote proxies located in foreign countries. It is not recommended that you access your email, financial or other personal sites through them, unless they have sufficient security in place. Do not use any untrusted proxy with handling your personal business (ie. those that require login credentials). The OTR.TO site for secure and anonymous real-time communication is recommended, bookmark this now. Ensure that whichever browser you use, you are familiar with its Incognito Mode and that it is set up to clear its cache automatically when it is closed.

After emptying your computer’s ‘Recycle Bin’, you may use some useful MS Windows commands, eg. CIPHER ensures that no deleted file in a directory can be recovered.

JITSI video calls and chat is a free, open-source, secure service and is highly recommended. Skype is not recommended due to privacy concerns.

SUMMARY

On mobile devices, secure communication is of the utmost importance. Install the free open-source app created by OPEN WHISPER SYSTEMS. Phone encryption and periodic clearance of search and location histories are advised. Set a strong passphrase and the remote lock, locate and wipe feature.

On computers, many tools can be installed but some websites like OTR.TO can be accessed by any browser. Check your browser’s security settings and schedule it to clear your cache / history periodically. Ensure you sign up to a DIME-compliant email service when that becomes available. Use of OPENDNS (either on your router or by using DNSCRYPT) and HORNET or ASTORIA (when available) is highly recommended. Harden your FACEBOOK (social media) privacy settings by placing your associates in distinct groups and setting their permissions accordingly, or better yet try to keep your presence on social media to a minimum. Be aware that an increasing amount of your personal information, contacts, views, habits and locations can be scraped from your online presence and sold to third parties.

Hopefully the information detailed here will help you cover your internet tracks much more effectively and avoid any unpleasantness.

EvangelisingHate_Report_Web_Page_01A new report from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain “Evangelising Hate” exposes the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) as a Hate Group. You can read the report here.

Whilst iERA purports to be a missionary-like charitable organisation, it is in fact a “soft Islamist” group, which acts as the Islamist movement’s public relations arm by promoting and normalising Islamist values and norms, including inciting hatred against ex-Muslims, gays, Jews, women, non Muslims and a majority of Muslims who do not share their values. In Britain and the west, groups like iERA use multiculturalism (as a social policy that segregates “communities”) and cultural relativism as well as the rights language of diversity, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue to increase influence and access. Any opposition to their theocratic aims are met with accusations of racism and Islamophobia.

This timely report is being published just as the Charity Commission is investigating the group.

“This long-needed report provides a complete picture of the activities of the iERA, its promotion of hatred against women, gays, non-Muslims, ex-Muslims and liberal Muslims, and its affiliation with Islamists who have called for violence or have been involved in violent jihad themselves”, says Chris Moos of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. He adds: “As a student who has experienced the violent tactics of the iERA myself, I find it unacceptable that this group continues to be the most active organiser of Islamic events on British university campuses, thereby sidelining liberal Muslim student groups. This report should serve as a wake-up call for both university and student representatives, and will hopefully lead to a classification of the iERA as what they are – a fascist hate group on a par with the likes of Hizb-ut Tahrir, BNP and EDL”.

Gita Sahgal of the Centre for Secular Space says: “This excellent report lays out in gruesome and forensic detail the hate agenda of speakers associated with the iERA. They should never be legitimised as a charity or given platforms that treat their views as acceptable”.

The iERA perpetuates a discourse that normalises hatred in religious terms, and sets the climate for “radicalisation”, bigotry and Islamism to flourish. Where groups like iERA have more influence, society is witness to a rise in everything from women and children wearing burkas, increased gender segregation at universities, legitimisation of Sharia-compliant wills and rules, acceptance of Sharia courts for the “Muslim minority” and the Islamisation of schools and mosques.

This report makes clear that iERA must be classified as a hate group and have their charitable status withdrawn. These will help bring clarity to their agenda and can be a starting point for a wider investigation into the influence of Islamism in modern Britain.

 

It is important to note that the CEMB publishes its report on a day that the far-Right group Britain First (an off-shoot of the British National Party) has targeted yet another mosque to bring its campaign of hate. Like Islamism, Britain First is a far-Right political group that asserts collective blame, incites hatred and dehumanises those deemed ‘other’. Just as Islamists do not represent a majority of Muslims or those considered Muslim, fascist groups like Britain First do not represent a majority of Britons.

Our fight is against the far-Right of all stripes and variations – be it Britain First or iERA – and in defence of the rights of all people, irrespective of their background, race, belief, gender, sexuality… to secularism, universal rights and equality.

For more information on the report, contact:
Al Razi
CEMB
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
email: [email protected]
web: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/
Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8059509.

Apostasy_Report_Web_Page_001The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Atheist Alliance International have just published a new report on the Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam with the support of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK.

The report examines sources for laws that prohibit apostasy from Islam, reviews legislation and government policies in various countries that persecute apostates and blasphemers, and highlights the cases of some of the many persecuted individuals, with a focus on atheists, secularists and freethinkers.You can read it here.

New website on Islam and Quran

A Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain member, The Rationaliser, has a new website to help with research on Islam or the Quran.

Features include:
1: Search
2: Ability to view each verse word-by-word and to see where else in the Quran the same Arabic word is used (helps with context)
3: Verses have links to tafsirs explaining them
4: Verses link to any relevant hadiths
5: Verses also link to the “circumstances of revelation” (Asbab Al Nuzul)

Tafsirs included are:
• Al-Jalalayn
• Al-Tustari
• Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an
• Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

Hadith collections included are:
• Al-Adab Al-Mufrad
• Bulugh al-Maram
• Jami` at-Tirmidhi
• Muwatta Malik
• Riyad as-Salihin
• Sahih Bukhari
• Sahih Muslim
• Shama’il Muhammadiyah
• Sunan Abu Dawud
• Sunan an-Nasa’i
• Sunan Ibn Majah

The Rationaliser is especially interested in people contacting him with websites, documents, etc. containing other tafsirs or hadith collections which he might be able to incorporate.

Contact details here.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain unequivocally opposes the far-Right, including groups like the British National Party, English Defence League, and Stop Islamisation of Europe. We fully support the findings of a One Law for All report called Enemies not AlliesThe Far Right  which gives evidence on why opponents of Sharia, apostasy laws and Islamism must also oppose the far-Right. With Islamism being a far-Right movement, they are two sides of the same coin.

The far-Right and Islamists have similar ideologies, characteristics, and aims. Both rely on religion. Both use a language of hate and are extremely xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. Both rely on indiscriminate violence and terrorism to intimidate the population at large. They are dogmatic and punish free thinkers and dissenters. They use threats and scaremongering to push forward their agenda. Both are vehemently anti-working class and the Left. They believe in the superiority of their views and culture and deal harshly with anyone who transgresses… The world they have in mind is equally bleak, segregated, hateful and inhuman.

And whilst there are obvious differences within far-Right and Islamist groups as there are in any phenomenon, the differences are not fundamental. The ‘hate cleric’ Anjem Choudhary supports stoning to death as do more ‘liberal’ Islamists like Tariq Ramadan. The ‘liberals’ have merely adapted their language to better dupe public opinion. The same is true with the European far-Right. There is fundamentally little difference between Anders Behring Breivik’s Knights Templar and the EDL or Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE). What they want is the same; the language they use is different. The EDL and SIOE are merely better at duping the public.You can read more about their similarities here.

***

Other resources to read include:

* A former high-up member of the BNP, Alistair Barbour, now supports the CEMB and One Law for All and blogs against the far-Right. You can see his excellent posts here.

* CEMB member and founder of the Northern Ex-Muslim Meetup Group, Sandbad, recently posted a guest post on Alistair’s blog entitled “Righteousness in Islam and BNP“.

Apostasy and Freedom of Conscience

apostasyJANDMOMaryam Namazie was at Birmingham University on 26 February speaking on apostasy and freedom of conscience for the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society’s Reason Week. Of course, there were  complaints about her speaking there (yes it is very controversial to defend the rights of apostates not to die!). The Society was even asked to record her speech in case of further complaints. Here it is:

Punishing apostates is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions. Repudiating religion is deemed to be the worst of crimes.

And in Islam it’s no different except that Islamism is this era’s inquisition and totalitarianism.

To the degree it has power, that is the degree it controls every single aspect of people lives and society via its Sharia laws – from what people wear, who they have sex with, what music they listen to – even what they are allowed to think.

One of the characteristics of an inquisition is the policing of thought. Freethinking and freedom of conscience are banned. Even for Muslims, a ‘personal’ religion is impossible under an inquisition. You can’t pick and choose as you’d like. You don’t want to wear the veil; acid in your face should teach you a lesson. You want to go to school; maybe we can gun you down on your way there. You want to be an atheist. Off with your head…

Islamists will kill, threaten or intimidate anyone who interprets things differently, dissents, thinks freely or transgresses their norms by living 21st century lives. Of course people resist day in and day out but that is a testament to the human spirit despite Islamism and Sharia.

If you look at the purpose of the Sharia ‘justice’ system, it is there to teach the masses the damnable nature of dissent and free thought. Where it has power, like in Iran, there are 130 offences punishable by death – from heresy, blasphemy, enmity against god, adultery, and homosexuality. But apostasy is the highest and most heinous crime.

Around 19 countries consider apostasy from Islam illegal and a prosecutable offence. Depending on the influence of Islamism and Sharia law, in places like Malaysia, Morocco, Jordan and Oman punishments vary from fines, imprisonment, flogging and exclusion from civil or family rights. In ten countries apostasy is punishable by the death penalty.

And whilst there are religious justifications for the execution of apostates, apostasy laws today under the Islamic inquisition are the ultimate means of political rather than religious control.

Of course, from a religious standpoint, apostasy is the unravelling of the entire system from within by those considered to be “members” of the imagined Muslim community (often out of very little choice of their own). Question one law, one hadith, one sura in the Koran, and you begin to unravel it all. To question and dissent denies the Islamic inquisitor the opportunity to feign representation. And it prevents the submission that they demand. If you are allowed to leave, you undermine it all.

Historically apostasy laws have always been used as a form of control. It’s no different today. Islamists use it as a means of political control. After all they represent god’s rule on earth and any opposition to their rule, is a direct affront to God himself.

Apostasy laws are the most convenient way for an inquisition to eradicate its political rivals, dissenters, and opponents. You don’t even have to renounce Islam in order to be branded an apostate. In fact if you look at those charged with apostasy, it could include anything from tweeting about Mohammad as Hamza Kashgari did in Saudi Arabia, challenging the Saudi state like Raif Badawi, or opposing the Islamic regime of Iran like Zanyar and Loghman Moradi.

The charge of apostasy is often coupled with other charges such as blasphemy, or enmity against god. With such charges, there is no need to prove anything in lengthy court proceedings or to meticulously gather evidence as any transgression can be deemed to be an act of apostasy –both a crime against god and political treason against his representatives on earth. Under Islamic law an apostate must be put to death.

There is no dispute on this ruling among classical or modern Islamic scholars, however, there is some controversy as to whether the Koran prescribes any punishment for apostasy in this world.

Again this goes to the heart of the problem with various interpretations of religious texts and why religion must be kept out of the state and legal system to safeguard people’s rights and lives.

Needless to say, it is those in power who decide the interpretation of the day and in an inquisition it is clear which interpretations take precedence. Plus many leading authorities interpret certain suras of the Koran to mean that the death penalty is proscribed for apostates.

Now even if there is disagreement on whether apostasy is punishable by death in this world according to the Koran, it is clear that such a punishment is called for in the Hadith, which are the sayings and actions of Mohammad, Islam’s prophet.

Whilst Islamists will often try to dupe the public by saying such and such is not ‘true’ Islam (at least in English) because it is not included in the Koran, they are being dishonest to say the least as they know full well that Sharia law includes not only what is in the Koran but also what is in the hadith and Islamic jurisprudence.

In the Hadith, there are many examples of the death penalty for apostasy. According to Ibn Abbås, for example, the Prophet said, “Kill him who changes his religion” or “behead him.”

The only argument in the Hadith is over the nature of the death penalty. Don’t burn them as that is Allah’s job in the afterlife; in general, execution must be by the sword, though there are examples of apostates tortured to death, or strangled, burned, drowned, impaled, or flayed.

Also don’t forget the implications of being accused of apostasy. It means you are denied a proper burial, your family are often not even told where you are buried or you are buried in a place like Khavaran – which the Iranian regime calls the “place of the damned”. But of course Khavaran for many of us is a meeting place for remembering a slaughtered generation in Iran.

If the apostate is not executed due to Islamism’s limited influence or progressive social movement, many lose all civil rights – their property is taken, their right to inheritance is denied, they are forcibly divorced, lose child custody and so on.

Of course, Islamists will often say (in English at least) that “there is no compulsion in religion”. Again this is another one of their dishonest attempts at duping the public because this verse is applicable only to Christians and Jews who have not converted to Islam.

What they never tell you is that this verse is not applicable to Muslims. Muslims are not free to choose any religion other than Islam. A Muslim has to live and die with Islam whether s/he likes it or not.

It’s like the other verse they keep telling us about: “Whoever killed a human being shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind”. The supposedly noble sentiments are in fact a warning to Jews.

What become clear in all this at least for people of sound mind is that irrespective of one’s beliefs, apostasy and Sharia laws are incompatible with basic rights and freedoms.

They have to be challenged.

And this challenge is not as much a religious challenge as it is a political one.

A good example for this is Christianity which used to execute its apostates. It’s not that the tenets, dogma, and principles of Christianity have changed since the days of the inquisition but rather its social and political influence and its relation with the state, the law and educational system. A religion that has been reined in by an enlightenment is very different from one that has political power or is vying for power.

Challenging it means having the courage to think for oneself, as AC Grayling describes the Council of Ex-Muslims. It means asserting one’s freedom of conscience. It means reminding others that the right to religion has a corresponding right to be free from religion.

But most importantly it means pushing back and challenging a far-Right regressive movement – Islamism and its Sharia laws – that hang apostates as we speak.

Coming out as ex-Muslims, renouncing Islam publicly is breaking the taboo and challenging Islamism where it hurts most.

Some will say this is an unnecessary provocation. It’s a provocation, yes, but unnecessary, no.

Islamists tell us this all the time. Don’t say you are an apostate, don’t invite others to apostasy and there need be no killings.

If anyone believes that – and trust me there are still people who do – then they still don’t know Islamism …

They’ll say: don’t provoke. Don’t offend. Don’t criticise … and no one need get hurt.

But Islamists need no excuses.

Of course, in a favourable climate of multiculturalism and cultural relativism – where are all values and beliefs are equal and equally valid – and for western public consumption, Islamists like to blame victims and dissenters for their barbarity.

We are the ‘aggressive atheist ex-Muslims’ (compared at times with the Taliban no less) yet we are the ones who are being killed, imprisoned, threatened or forced to flee.

Throughout history barbarity has always been pushed back – not by tiptoeing around it, accommodating it, appeasing it, tolerating it but by facing it head on.

Pragmatism never changed the world but we intend to.

We can’t leave Islam? We can’t live 21 century lives? Watch us.

***

I ended my speech with Shahin Najafi’s song on apostasy. He’s the Iranian singer living in Germany who has had a fatwa for his death issued by an Iranian cleric. English lyrics are below.

A severed head in between your hands
my eyes on the broken clock
And sad and rebellious poems
and the wolf, unafraid of the gun
On my doubts of the origin of existence,
on choking loneliness when drunk
And longing and inhaling you,
and the depth of the tragedy not seeing you
The artery’s destiny is obstruction,
and your crime, a scream against the wind
The end of the story is always a bitter one,
and the poet whose conviction is apostasy
The good God sleeping in my book,
the dried semen on my bed
The good God of wrath, death, and fatwa,
and my cries over Yaghma’s poetry
Let me be like a cactus
Stay with me, as reading poetry,
next to you, with covenant with desert,
that our code is to die standing up
that our code is to die standing up
Tell them, our Hadith was a Hadith of blood,
contempt, born out of insanity
Tell them, how I did not give in
Tell them, how I died standing up
The good God sleeping in my book,
the dried semen on my bed
The good God of wrath, death, and fatwa,
and my cries over Yaghma’s poetry
Let me be like a cactus
Stay with me, as reading poetry,
next to you, with covenant with desert,
that our code is to die standing up
that our code is to die standing up
Tell them, my story was a tale of blood,
contempt, born out of insanity
Tell them, how I did not give in
Tell them, how I died standing up
that our code is to die standing up

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