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.