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MEDIA REQUEST

MEDIA REQUEST

A freelance journalist is interested in speaking to some of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s members for a possible article in one of the UK national newspapers/magazines about why they renounced Islam.

Also a TV Producer in the Yorkshire/Northern region would like to speak to ex Muslims and those wanting to leave the religion about their reasons and the pressures on them from other members of the faith. Initial discussions in total confidence would be the first step. Even those who don’t want to appear would be welcome in order to help gauge the extent of the issue and to gain greater understanding.

If interested in either of the above, please email exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com.

SECULAR CONFERENCE 2014 AND ITS LEGACY; THE ‘MANIFESTO FOR SECULARISM’

SECULAR CONFERENCE 2014 AND ITS LEGACY; THE ‘MANIFESTO FOR SECULARISM’

Two days of fascinating ‘International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights’ in London during 11 and 12 of October are now over. Two amazing days of presentations and debates.

Last weekend over 50 speakers and 250 delegates from round the world got together at the London Tower hotel for this important event.

The conference gathered secularists from every continent together, from different religions and cultures, all believing separation of state and religion as a universal human value. In fact, secularism is not just about atheism and atheists, it supports believers AND atheists. As Maryam Namazie told the Guardian, “This is a fight between secularists and theocrats. This does not preclude religious allies as the religious can also be – and often are – secularist�?.

At the opening of the Conference, Karima Bennoune paid tribute to the secularist victims of extremism and Islamism. (The recorded video can be seen here.)

I had the chance to present some fascinating secularists such as AC Grayling and Nadia El Fani to the conference and enjoyed listening to talks of Amel Grami and Safak Pavey who fight for secularism and against Islamism in Tunisia and Turkey.

 

I had the opportunity to meet Richard Dawkins on the second day of the conference. The Sunday Herald also published an articleabout me and my presence at the conference. It attracted public’s reaction on the Richard Dawkins Foundation Facebook page. I also have noticed the South African paper, The Times, has published a piece yesterday on the matter. I appreciate the kind words and supports.

The conference concluded with the presentation of the ‘Manifesto for Secularism’. The aim of the manifesto is to establish an international front against the Religious-Right and for secularism; it is now open to public to sign.

 

Ramin Forghani

18/Oct/14

GUARDIAN: SECULARIST CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS RISE OF RELIGIOUS RIGHT

GUARDIAN: SECULARIST CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS RISE OF RELIGIOUS RIGHT

Campaigners will gather in London at the weekend to promote an international front of secularism to counter the rise of extremist groups such as Islamic State (Isis) in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling and the Algerian sociologist Marieme Hélie-Lucas will be among the participants at the two-day conference, titled the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights.

Hélie-Lucas, one of the organisers of the event, said: “This century is not, as many still think, marked by a religious or spiritual revival. What we are actually witnessing is the rise of extreme right political movements, working under the cover of religion.”

Another organiser, Maryam Namazie, emphasised that the battle with groups such as Isis was not religious but political. “The way to push back Isis and other forms of the religious right – from the Hindu right, Jewish right, Christian right, Buddhist right and so on – is by pushing it out of the state and unequivocally defending secularism, universalism and citizenship rights,” she said.

Namazie and her fellow secularists argue that secularism is not a western ideal, but one shared by many believers and non-believers in the Middle East, north Africa and Asia. “This is a fight between secularists and theocrats. This does not preclude religious allies as the religious can also be – and often are – secularists,” Namazie said. “In fact, in places under the rule of the religious right, you will find no greater adherents to secularism and the separation of religion from the state. They may not call themselves secularists, but that is what they are.”

Karima Bennoune, author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, argued that Islamism by definition was not moderate as it advocated a theocratic stance, using its own interpretations of religion and religious language as a cover for a far-right political project.

“It is a politics, not a religious opinion,” she said. “The current Turkish government is indeed part of the religious right and opposed by many progressive, left, secularist, moderate religious people in Turkey, as the Gezi Park demonstrations show.”

Isis can be expected to loom large at the conference. The militant group, which has been condemned as too violent and extremist even by al-Qaida, has attracted thousands of adherents in the west despite its brutal tactics, which include public beheadings.

“You cannot have a conference today on the religious right and not begin and end with Isis,” said Namazie. “The fight against Isis is not about western versus eastern values. Isis is the result of the retreat of universality, secularism and the Iraq-isation or division of the world and societies into everything from religion to ethnicity, rather than seeing them as human beings and citizens first and foremost. We have the historical task of raising those ideals and demands.”

The conference organisers have issued a secularist manifesto calling for a complete separation of religion from the state; abolition of religious laws in the family; separation of religion from public policy, including the education system, healthcare and scientific research; freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions; and equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

They said the conference was an “attempt to gather some of the secularists on the frontlines, show our strength, and provide a progressive alternative to the religious right that does not involve bigotry and fascism, US-led militarism or cultural relativism”.

 

Original Article on the Guardian

CONFERENCE OF A LIFE-TIME ON THE RELIGIOUS-RIGHT, SECULARISM AND CIVIL RIGHTS 11-12 OCTOBER 2014 THE TOWER HOTEL, LONDON

CONFERENCE OF A LIFE-TIME ON THE RELIGIOUS-RIGHT, SECULARISM AND CIVIL RIGHTS 11-12 OCTOBER 2014 THE TOWER HOTEL, LONDON

Dear Friend

“Secularism is probably the one big issue for our century. This century is not, as many still think, marked by a religious or spiritual revival. What we are actually witnessing is the rise of extreme-Right political movements, working under the cover of religion. Everywhere. No one is spared… Secularists are being attacked in many places in the world today: they are jailed, killed, tortured; their very existence is considered an offense to believers in many non-secular states. … There is a need for secularists around the world to come together and examine their situations, to exchange information, to strategize and to join hands,” writes Algerian secularist Marieme Helie Lucas (www.secularism.org.uk/blog/2014/09/secularism-today-now).

This is the impetus behind the 11-12 October 2014 International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London with speakers from countries or the Diaspora as diverse as Algeria, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Senegal, Sudan, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, UK, USA and Yemen.

Join Us!

Join this historic conference which will establish an international front of secularists against the religious-Right.

Secularism. Today. Now.

Register for the conference today:
www.secularconference.com/registration/

See the conference agenda:
www.secularconference.com/agenda/

See the biographies of our distinguished speakers:
www.secularconference.com/speakers/

See a short Bread and Roses Video on the conference:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXLDRdPkOx8

The conference is endorsed by Atheist Alliance International; Bread and Roses TV; Children First Now; Center for Inquiry; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran; Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation; International Committee against Stoning; International Committee against Execution; International Federation of Iranian Refugees; Iran Solidarity; National Secular Society; One Law for All; Secularism is a Women’s Issue; The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK; and Women Living Under Muslim Laws amongst others.

Richard Dawkins will be attending the conference.

For more information, contact:
Amal Farah, Atoosa Khatiri, Eileen McFadden, Gaby Grammeno, Marieme Helie Lucas and Maryam Namazie
Conference Organising Committee
Email: maryamnamazie@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/630996160274751/
Twitter: twitter.com/SecularConf
Website: www.secularconference.com

PUBLIC SEMINAR: APOSTASY, ATHEISM, SECULARISM AND EX-MUSLIMS: 28 JUNE 2014

PUBLIC SEMINAR: APOSTASY, ATHEISM, SECULARISM AND EX-MUSLIMS: 28 JUNE 2014

Founder of Ex-Muslims Scotland, Ramin Forghani has announced an inaugural event and first public seminar of Ex-Muslims Scotland.  It will take place on Saturday, 28 June 2014 from 2.00pm to 5.00pm at CitizenM Hotel, 60 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G2 3BW. The seminar is open to members of the public.

Ramin Forghani is the founder of Ex-Muslims Scotland and vice-chair of Scottish Secular Society. He has direct experience of the issues facing Ex-Muslim and the event is intended to provide a forum for an important discussion of matters relating to apostasy, atheism and secularism.

Speaking at the event will be: –

Ramin Forghani

Maryam Namazie – spokesperson for Fitnah, One Law for All and The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, who is a high-profile campaigner on the issues to be discussed.

Ian Scott – chair of the Humanist Society Scotland

Gary McLelland – Education Policy Officer of Humanist Society Scotland

Garry Otton – Founder of the Scottish Secular Society and author of “Religious Fascism: The Repeal of Section 28″

Professor Paul Braterman – Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University of Glasgow, board member of the Scottish Secular Society and author of “From Stars to Stalagmites: How Everything Connects”

Aliyah Saleem

Speaking about the event, Ramin Forghani commented, “I am delighted to be able to deliver this inaugural event of Ex-Muslims Scotland.  It will provide an important opportunity to bring the topic of apostasy, and the issues facing ex-Muslims, to the public’s attention at a time when the actions of Islamists are dominating the worldwide news agenda”.

ENDS

JOINT PRESS RELEASE: ‘WILLS WITHOUT BIGOTRY – PROTEST AGAINST THE LAW SOCIETY’

JOINT PRESS RELEASE: ‘WILLS WITHOUT BIGOTRY – PROTEST AGAINST THE LAW SOCIETY’

About 70 protesters rallied outside the office of the Law Society to condemn their endorsement of discriminatory sharia law on April 28 2014. The protest was organised by anti-racist, feminist and human rights groups, namely One Law for All, Southall Black Sisters, Centre for Secular Space, and London School of Economics SU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. Chris Moos was the master of ceremonies of the rally.

 

At the protest, Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters called upon the Law Society to withdraw its guidance:

“Our message to you is this: Wake up: You are the Law Society and not a body advising on the compatibility of the law with religious principles! You have no business in normalising discriminatory religious principles in the legal culture and practice of this country. Your business is to ensure that the law is human rights complaint and not anti-rights compliant. Your business is to tear up the guidance. Your business is to stand with us on this side of the fence and on this side of history.”

 

Maryam Namazie, founder of One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation argued:

 “There is no place for Sharia in Britain’s legal system just as there is no place for it anywhere. Sharia – like all religious laws – is based on a dogmatic and regressive philosophy and a warped understanding of the concepts of equality and justice. It is primitive and patriarchal and based on inequality, retribution and religious [im]morality. It is not a rule for equals and has no place in a modern state or system of law. Law Society listen up: you must immediately withdraw your shameful guidance. Now! In the words of Algerian women singing for change: “We aren’t asking for favours. History speaks for us.”

 

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:

“The Law Society is violating its own equality policies by providing guidance on Sharia-compliant wills and offering training courses in Sharia law for high street lawyers. It is colluding with Sharia law principles that discriminate against women, non-Muslims and children who are adopted or born to unmarried parents. This is a direct attack on the equal rights of many Muslims, especially women. The Law Society is supposed to uphold the equality values of British law. Instead, it is undermining them. The Law Society would never provide guidance to facilitate racist or homophobic-compliant wills. Why the double standards?”

 

Yasmin Rehman of the Centre for Secular Space asserted:

“I am here today in my capacity as a member of the Centre for Secular Space and as a Muslim woman who wants to give voice to many others like me who do not want this guidance or any further accommodations of conservative, religious interpretations of the Quran. […] We have been told [the practice note] is in response to demand. Demand from whom? Certainly not Muslim women. Why won’t the Law Society tell us who it was who asked for this? And given that a request was made, why did the Law Society not undertake consultation with women and community groups to ensure that the request did indeed reflect demand from the community. I will tell you why not, because there is no demand or necessity for this. I put it to the Law Society that the request for guidance has come from a small section of the community including some Muslim lawyers who wish to exploit the community for their own financial and political gains.” 

 

Kate Smurthwaite, comedian and activist, appealed to the Law Society:

“Religious bigots are highly skilled at trampling on the rights of women, children and non-believers. They don’t need The Law Society to help them. The value of daughters is THE SAME as the value of sons. All marriages, religious, non-religious, gay or straight are marriages. And every child is legitimate. Faced with bigotry it is the job of all of us – including the Law Society – to challenge it. The protestors today did exactly that. When will The Law Society follow suit and rip up this ‘guide to discrimination’?”

 

Abhishek Phadnis, president of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, added:

“I come from a country which has seen this divisive trend being taken to its logical conclusion – where a woman’s rights to, among other things, alimony and inheritance, depend entirely on her religion, there being different laws for each community. The resulting discrimination has visited appalling suffering upon Muslim women in particular. I have no wish to see it replicated here. A man may choose to be as spiteful and chauvinistic as he wishes, but it is not something our public institutions should encourage or condone. I hope the Law Society will withdraw this Note before it causes any further damage”.

 

James Bloodworth, the Editor of Left Foot Forward, said:

“In issuing its guidance on Sharia-Compliant Wills, the law society is lending respectability to something that should have none: the view that women are in some way second class citizens.”

 

Diana Nammi, Chief Executive of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, commented:

“I am here today to represent thousands of women and girls from the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan who live here in the UK. Many of these women, like me, have fled countries where Sharia law is practiced. […] There is a lot of money to be made by lawyers from drafting Sharia compliant wills. We cannot allow for women’s rights to be sacrificed so that lawyers can cash in. The Law Society must never step beyond its remit of secular law.  It has no just reason to legitimise any religious law.”

 

Ramin Forghani, Vice-Chair of the Scotland Secular Society, who had travelled from Glasgow to join the protest, asserted:

“I’m Iranian and I well know what happens when the barrier between religion and legal system gets destroyed. Shame on the Law Society!”

 

Rumana Hashem from Nari Diganta – Women in Movement for Social Justice, Secularism and Equal Rights added:

As a Bengali-Muslim resident in the UK, I faced enough discrimination in this country in relation to ethnicity, gender and migration for the last seven years. I cannot tolerate further discrimination in relation to my religion and sex. […] When Muslim countries like Bangladesh are moving away from religious law and moving towards secularism and gender equity by overcoming religious rules, how can the Law Society in the UK provide guidance for legitimising Sharia Law in a state which is meant to provide secularism and human rights for all?

 

The rally finished with protesters tearing pages from a copy of the Equality Act and pinning them to the fence of the Law Society, symbolising the contravention of the Act by the Law Society.

 

As the master of ceremonies of the rally, Chris Moos concluded:

“Our protest has sent a clear and loud signal to the Law Society that secularists and equality campaigners will not stand by and watch while the Law Society is undermining the basic principle of secular equality enshrined in the law. We hope that the Law Society will accept our legitimate concerns and address them by immediately withdrawing the practice note. The Law Society needs to act now, or face even more scrutiny from secular and human rights campaigners.”

 

 

The open letter kick-starting the campaign against the Law Society on March 23rd was signed by scientist Richard Dawkins; Egyptian activist Aliaa Magda Elmahdy; writer Taslima Nasrin; Founder and Director of Basira for Universal Women Rights Ahlam Akram; founder of Secularism is a Woman’s Issue Marieme Helie Lucas; and Raheel Raza, President of Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow amongst others.

 

Pictures of the protest can be found here.

 

For more information, contact:

 

Maryam Namazie

One Law for All

maryamnamazie@gmail.com

077 1916 6731

@MaryamNamazie

 

Pragna Patel

Southall Black Sisters

pragna@southallblacksisters.co.uk

020 8571 9595

@SBSisters

 

Gita Sahgal

Centre for Secular Space

gita@centreforsecularspace.org

079 7271 5090

@GitaSahgal

 

Chris Moos

LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society

c.m.moos@lse.ac.uk

074 2872 0599

@ChrisMoos_