Ex-Muslims are some of the most persecuted minorities in Sri Lanka. Social media and Facebook are the only avenues available to us to express ourselves in a safer environment. Ex-Muslims cannot speak out publicly in Sri Lanka for fear of our lives. Facebook facilitates our efforts to make links with each other and celebrate apostasy without shame or fear.
We, therefore, condemn Facebook’s banning of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka (CEMSL) Facebook page, which was established in December 2016 since 10 May 2019 without explanation. The URL of the page was www.Facebook.com/CEMSL.ORG . The page with more than 4000 Likes was a lifeline for our members. CEMSL and other organisations call on Facebook to reinstate the page and respect the rights of non-believers to free conscience and expression.
We understand very clearly the need to stop incitement to violence, persecution and discrimination; we ourselves face such attacks on a regular basis. Particularly in the context of Sri Lanka, we understand the need to stand up to such violence and terrorism as in the case of the heinous attack on churches recently as well as the brutal subsequent mob violence against our Muslim neighbours, family and friends. However, Facebook must understand that atheism, blasphemy and apostasy are not an attack on believers but a criticism of beliefs and the religious-Right and intrinsic to freedom of conscience and expression. It is part of a long tradition of much needed dissent and doubt.
Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka
Atheist & Agnostic Alliance of Pakistan
Bread and Roses TV
Brighter Brains Institute
Center for Inquiry
Community of Maori Atheists and Freethinkers (CMAF)
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)
Ex-Muslims of North America
Ex-Muslims of Norway
Irreligious Community Of Sri Lanka (ශ්රී ලංකා නිරාගමික සංසදය)
SAMINT’s artwork was shown at the 23 March Atheist Day ex-Muslim women speak out event in London.
A growing number of atheists are currently coming out of the closet, even in theocratic, confessionalist or religiously influenced countries. In these difficult times, as we witness a massive religious backlash, organising this first international Atheist Day is an excellent initiative. Today, in London, ex-Muslim women’s standpoint is in the spotlight but one shall never forget that all religions and all sects are profoundly misogynistic and serve the patriarchy’s interests.
Islamists do NOT have any proper social project, only the obsessive will to control women’s bodies and sexuality. In France, since the end of 1980s, headscarves and hijabs have become more and more numerous. I remember the time when NO Muslim woman was veiled in France. I witnessed the development of Islamism and its predatory spirit of territorial conquest. The objective of this ideology is to bring about a civil war and to change western societies. In France, the young generation has got accustomed to the two major forms of political Islam – that is to say Shia and Sunni – which compete for global leadership. We can say that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian “Islamist Revolution” and Saudi Arabia’s powerful wealth have literally turned, over the last decades, the world into a bloodbath.
Patriarchal norms of modesty or hyper-sexualization only strive to control girls and women’ bodies. But their bodies are NOT to be hidden under veils, stripped naked or raped. The veils and prostitution can be considered as the two sides of the same coin – that of male domination – which seems to prevail, whatever the circumstances. ISIS, in Iraq and Syria, currently organizes women’s oppression by forcing them to wear veils AND by reducing them to sexual slavery.
In France, a secular country, many of those who defend women’s “freedom” to wear hijab are often also in favour of prostitution, presenting both as ‘personal choices’: this is part of what some call an intersectional approach. Now, defining liberty without considering human beings’ unequal position in society is nonsensical. Freedom should never reduce anyone to seclusion or subjection. As regards social and political issues, presenting religion as a ‘right’ is also a very common trick to demand more multiculturalism or even to challenge secularism. The promoters of such claims demand a status of exception as if liberty and equality should not apply to every citizen. Considering that some citizens should be treated differently because of their origins and religion is purely racist. Religion is obviously not a right: it is a personal creed which belongs to the private sphere and should never be imposed on anyone.
Secularism is therefore the only solution. Secular and universalist feminists are fully aware of the damage caused by religions to women’s rights and liberties. Cultural relativism only reinforces sexism and exposes women to systemic oppression and male-chauvinistic violence. It is necessary to go on defending our humanist and democratic values as well as fighting Islamism and its promoters, whoever they may be. The Quran is not the book of a religion of love and peace, but rather of a religion of hatred of women, of Jews, of non-Muslims, of non-believers, of LGBT people…
Let me make it clear: secularism is the only solution. It is even supported by more and more religious people. I am going to summarize Henri Ruiz ‘s definition of secularism which includes 3 principles:
1- Secularism is a universal value which promotes equality for all (believers, atheists and agnostics)
2- Secularism protects freedom of conscience
3- Secularism promotes universalism, thanks to the separation of church from the State.
As an artist, I humbly try to contribute to our cause by creating works which emphasize the horrors of patriarchal violence, such as Female Genital Mutilation, femicide, the veil, and back-street abortions in order to make people collectively aware of the situation. The advantage of art is its ability to be understood immediately. I have decided to fight extremism and patriarchy by using art as a weapon. My goal is to show the violence due to male domination by the collection entitled “The Basics of Patriarchy.” The paintings “My hair is mine” denounces the oppression of the Islamic veil. The 3 paintings “Modest men” suggests men to wear hijab or niqab. The painting #BringBackOurGirls” deals with the terrorist attacks of the Nigerian group Boko Haram. There are also two artworks about FGM.
Fighting religious extremism is, sadly, still a current emergency and as a conclusion, I would like all of us to think of our Kurdish sisters for their incredible courage and for showing, also, that creating a feminist and egalitarian society in the Middle East is certainly possible.
Orthodox Judaism forbids women and men from even touching or passing things to each other during a woman’s period.
In certain branches of Japanese Buddhism, menstruating women are banned from attending temples.
In Hinduism, a woman is forbidden from entering not only Hindu temples but also her own kitchen. She must not sleep in the daytime, bathe, have sex, touch others, or speak loudly.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, women are forbidden from receiving communion whilst the Russian Orthodox Church forces women to live in menstrual huts while on their period.
In Islam, women are barred from praying, fasting, touching a Quran, entering a mosque or circumambulation of the Kaaba (not that we mind) and even divorce and sex.
The idea that women are too emotional to be judges, must be secluded or that women are inferior to men stems from “dirty” menstruation and women being seen as inherently sinful. Which is why in many religions, women must ritually purify themselves before they can be deemed “clean.”
This is absurd. We are living in the 21st century.
اعتراض روز جهانی زن
در میان گروه ارتدوکسهای یهودی، در دوران عادت ماهانه زن، مرد و زن حق دست زدن یا رد و بدل کردن هیچ گونه اشیا را به هم ندارند
در بخشی از بوداییهای ژاپنی زنان که عادت ماهانه دارند اجازه ورود به معبد را ندارند
در هندویسم زنان در دوارن ماهانه خود حق وارد شدن به معبد و حتی آشپزخانه خانه خود را ندارند. زنان حق ندارند در طول روز بخوابند یا حمام بگیرند، رابطه جنسی داشته باشند، به دیگران دست بزنند و یا با صدای بلند صحبت کنند
در کلیسای ارتدوکس شرق، زنان اجازه شرکت در مراسم عمومی عشای ربانی را ندارند
در اسلام، در دوران عادت ماهانه، زنان حق نیایش، روزه، دست زدن به قرآن، وارد شدن به مسجد یا چرخیدن دور کعبه را ندارند (البته بدمان هم نمى آيد). آنها حتی اجازه طلاق و داشتن رابطه جنسی را ندارند
این ایده که زنان به خاطر احساسی بودن نمی توانند قاضی شوند، باید جداسازى جنسى شوند یا زنان از مردان در جایگاه پایینی و پست تری هستند، ریشه در همین عادت ماهانه “نجس” دارد که زنان را ذاتا گناهکار می پندارد. به همین خاطر است که در بسیاری از مذاهب زنان باید از گونه ای تشریفات بگذرند تا بعد از پرويودشان “پاک” شوند۔.
این پوج و مضحکه است. ما در قرن ۲۱ زندگی میکنیم پریود_طبیعی_است# پریود# زنان_علیه_خدا# نه_خدا_نه_پیامبر# شرم_نه#
Created as a finale to the groundbreaking International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, this is the world’s first group bodypaint captured by both ground and drone. Conceived by award-winning bodypainter Victoria Gugenheim in support of and solidarity with ex-Muslims and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB).
A group of individuals, who chose to leave the religion they were born to – Islam, owing to different reasons, joined as a group to form ‘Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka’ (EMSL), two days prior to bidding farewell to the year 2016. Coming out to the public for the first time in Sri Lanka’s history as the very first organization for those who left and wish to leave the religion of Islam was formed on 30th of December, 2016 at an undisclosed location closer to the country’s commercial capital, Colombo.
Meeting for the first time as a group, almost all its members from a handful of unidentified individuals, made use of the gathering to hold the inaugural General Meeting of the EMSL. The members belonged to almost all age categories from both genders, made it a point to share their individual experiences and why they chose not to follow the religion they were born to and becoming faithless in the religion. The members were screened and selected after their responses through the social media campaign which took months.
“It’s very disheartening to see how human values are gradually being brought to a dishonourable state by those who follow Islam with great devotion. Most of our members were serious followers while some even preached the religion, but with what’s taking place around lately, in the name of a superior power, we had to make this choice. For many of us, the decision was hard, to leave the religion we were born to, while some have always followed a middle path, which we believe is the best way of life,” one of the pioneer members, who wished to remain anonymous due to safety reasons, stated.
Formed for reasons that are genuinely human, the EMSL members point out that their individual struggles as followers or servants of an unseen divine power and strong, tradition beliefs and practices, are over. The EMSL structuring as a group is based on few vital reasons, to help and counsel those who chose to come out from the belief, make them aware that they do not have to face lashes or pay the price by being beheaded and help create a better environment for those who still follow the faith sans extremism.
“Extremism is a cancer for any religion. Islam has reached an intolerable level, globally and locally. We, as a group do not intend to fight against any of those elements or go against those who counter us, in the same form. We wish to move on, live peacefully and let others of all ethnicity enjoy the same privileges of a free and fair life”.
The EMSL is planning to come out with resolutions, which it feels are important in the name of humanity and broad-mindedness. The group comes out in Sri Lanka at a juncture where racial issues have been gradually escalating between Muslims and other religious groups after the end of the three-decade old ethnic war in 2009. Most countries in the world have come out with groups of former Muslims and in Sri Lanka it is considered the very first time that such a group has come out in public. The EMSL has adopted eleven (11) resolutions and it hopes to forward them to the Government of Sri Lanka and the general public for the further understanding, knowledge, consideration and action. (The resolutions would be shared to the media in due course).