As I said in my last email, I am now responding to Sharia-related comments and questions every day of the week until the One Law for All rally on November 21. You can see my responses for this past week below or by visiting the One Law for All website. The responses are entitled ‘the affinity between the far right and the Islamists;’ ‘Islam matters because of political Islam;’ ‘Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society;’ ‘Please don't export your Islamists, deal with them;’ ‘The battle against Sharia is against both the Islamists and the far-right;’ ‘This is for all of us;’ and ‘Moroccan rights activists deserve our support.’ If you have any questions or comments, please email them to me or post them on the website and I’ll be sure to respond.
Also, don’t forget to tell everyone you know about November 21. It is an important day to raise our voices against Sharia and religious laws and defend humanity, secularism and universal rights, including the right to asylum for those fleeing political Islam. If you can’t get to London and want to organise something in your city, contact us so we can help you do so.
And please donate if you can. If everyone who supported us gave just £1, we would have more than enough to do all we need to do including conducting a survey on Sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals, organising a seminar and report on the legal and legislative means available to restricting religious laws in Britain, and a conference on Apostasy in the upcoming year. You can donate here: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate/
We look forward to seeing you out on the streets on November 21 – wherever you are.
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
The affinity between the far right and the Islamists
October 12, 2009
Stephen Gash said in a comment posted October 12, 2009: How is it that Muslims voted for Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and the Malaysian Government, both of whom are Islamising their countries and bringing in sharia law? The people must want it if they voted these governments to power. Similarly in Egypt where the Islamic government is perpetrating genocide against the Copts. How can Muslim voters be labelled “victims”, if they are the ones electing governments to power that strengthen sharia law? Before the 7/7 bombings 60% of Muslims polled in Britain wanted sharia law. That figure dropped to 40% after 7/7, but even this is a significant amount. Many of us believe the first figure to be nearer the mark. Let’s hope your rally is not cancelled like SIOE’s looks like it is to be. Have you thought about inviting Geert Wilders to speak?
Maryam Namazie responds: Thank you for your comments and questions. I have received a large number of emails too and will try and respond briefly to one every day until our rally on November 21.
Let me begin by responding to the one from the Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE).
Of course there is much to say about them and their racist politics – and don’t worry – I will.
For now, however, suffice it to say that I find it comic how they – and the likes of the English Defence League or the British National Party – don’t see their affinity with the Islamists and the political Islamic movement.
Stephen Gash’ statement is a great case in point.
The Islamists blame Westerners for Western government policies – no matter how many of them come out and say ‘not in our name.’ For the Islamists, all Israelis are fair game; so is every single man, woman and child in America and so on and so forth. That’s why they target buses and discothèques. They too say that the people in the West elected those governments and therefore must be held accountable. In the world according to them, the people in America elected Bush so they deserved September 11; the people in Britain elected Blair so 7/7 was fair game.
And in the world according to the likes of Stephen Gash, the millions languishing under and resisting Sharia law deserve what they get no matter how many are killed, tortured, burnt, stoned and hung from city squares...
As an aside, that is also why Geert Wilders will never be invited to speak at our rallies; he represents that very way of thinking that scapegoats and blames millions for a regressive right wing political Islamic movement that was actually brought to centre stage by Western government policy during the Cold War. For an analysis on his film, Fitna, see here: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2008/05/on-fitna-movie.html. You can also see Fitna Remade by Reza Moradi here: http://www.fitna-remade.com/Pages/fitna-remade.html
BTW if you want to read on, here is a good interview I did with Bahram Soroush and Fariborz Pooya on racist parties and racism: http://maryamnamazie.com/tv/on_racist_parties_and_racism.html
Until tomorrow then
Islam matters because of political Islam
October 13, 2009
Margaret writes: I wanted to sign your online petition against Sharia Law in Britain, but the wording has put me off. It says "all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular." In the case of my own religion this is not so. It may very well be true of some, or indeed many, religions but I cannot agree that it is true for all and do not feel that I can sign my name to something which says that, even though I would dearly love to sign a petition against Sharia Law in this country. I would be betraying my own beliefs if I signed something with such a sweeping blanket statement which I know to be untrue. Is there any way in which you could amend this statement?
Maryam Namazie responds: From our perspective, Islam is no different from other religions. You can find just as much misogyny, cruelty and inhumanity in the Bible, Torah or other religious books as you can in the Koran. And in my opinion Islam, Christianity and Judaism are fundamentally no different from Scientology or Moon’s Unification Church, which are considered cults endangering social and personal development.
Of course, today - as we speak - there is a distinction to be made between religion in general and Islam in particular but for no other reason than that it is the ideology behind a movement that is, in many places, part and parcel of the state, the law, criminal so-called ‘justice’ system, judiciary, and educational system.
It is the difference between Christianity during the inquisition to one we see for example in Europe today. A ‘moderate,’ ‘reformed’ or ‘cuddlier’ religion is one that has been pushed back and reigned in by an enlightenment. And not before.
To read more about what I think about this, click on a speech I made on the subject here: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2008/06/islam-matters-because-of-political.html
The petition, which has already been signed by over 18000 people can’t be amended – the whole point of it is to focus on Sharia law but aim to get rid of all religious law in this country – just as the successful campaign against Sharia did in Ontario Province in Canada.
I am now off for a meeting and will be in Trafalgar Square at 1730 for an act of solidarity with the people of Iran with other volunteers (http://iransolidarity.blogspot.com/). We are going to focus on child executions today.
Until tomorrow then,
Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society
October 14, 2009
Danny writes in an email: I have been an avid supporter of your cause - not allowing Sharia law to affect our own. But in your previous e-mail, I felt you were encouraging your members to support secularism, I could not do this, given that I am a Christian... I am a definite supporter of your cause, but now I'm not sure what to think, or what you truly oppose! Hope you can clear a few things up for me, Thank you for your time and kindest regards.
Maryam Namazie replies: Thanks for your email. I don’t see why you cannot be a Christian and a secularist at the same time. There are many, including Christians and Muslims, who are both. Secularism is the separation of religion from the state. It has nothing to do with your private beliefs. In fact, often times, a secular state is the best guarantee that your freedom of religion or atheism won’t be violated. For example, if you live in an Islamic state, what happens if you are a Muslim who wants to drink and have sex outside of marriage, and or is gay? What about all the other religious groups or atheists living there? Even if you are of the same religion as the state, there is no guarantee that your version of your religion will be the one the state adheres to. So even in a place like Britain, which is still far from a secular society, the state allows religious groups exemptions to discriminate against those they don’t accept. A good case in point is a homeless gay man being refused entry into a church-run shelter. Of course Britain today is a very different place from the times of the inquisition but in my opinion the extent to which religion is part of the state, educational system, or judicial system – whatever religion – that is the extent to which people in general suffer.
The promotion of secularism is an important vehicle to protect society from religion's intervention in people's lives, especially in the face of religion’s rising access to power.
I know nowadays, secularism is often portrayed negatively and that comes out in your letter. But this is just not true. Religion excludes whilst secularism is inclusive and ensures that a sect or group does not impose its beliefs on all. That a person's religion is a private affair.
This has also been clearly stated in our manifesto, which says: ‘Rights, justice, inclusion, equality and respect are for people, not beliefs. In a civil society, people must have full citizenship rights and equality under the law. Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights. In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.’
You can read more about my position on secularism in this article called Faith and State, getting the balance right: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2007/02/faith-and-state-getting-balance-right.html.
Hope this helps clarify things.
Until tomorrow then.
Please don't export your Islamists, deal with them!
October 15, 2009
Lorraine writes: I saw something in the Daily Express (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/134080/Now-Muslims-demand-Give-us-full-Sharia-law) today about a planned demonstration by an organization called Islam4UK for 31st October, in London. It is in support of the demand that full sharia law be introduced throughout Britain, whether for non-Muslims as well as Muslims isn't clear. I wondered if you had any views/further info', and whether a counter-demonstration by One Law for All might be planned?’
Maryam Namazie responds: Thanks for your email. No we won’t be holding a counter demonstration. I don’t think that is very useful when it comes to dealing with fascists such as Anjem Choudary and the Islamists organising this rally. They have to receive a political response, which is what the One Law for All campaign and others are trying to do. The Daily Express article says they hope to bring 5,000 ‘Muslims’ to Trafalgar Square. As I have said before, it is not ‘Muslims’ who will be coming out but the Islamists. Despite Britain being a stronghold for that movement I doubt they could get so many even if they manage to mobilise the embassy staff of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on.
Our response is not to counter demonstrate on the 31 – but to carry on doing what we are doing – building a movement, mobilising people (we already have over 18000 signatories to our petition), raising awareness on why Sharia law is a tool of political Islam and not the desire of ‘Muslims,’ organising rallies such as the November 21 one, and planning an upcoming seminar in March 2010 with lawyers, campaigners and politicians to draw up our recommendations for how we can get rid of Sharia law, as well as efforts at the European level by the National Secular Society and so on and so forth.
I do hope you will be coming to the rally and telling everyone you know about it – we need to show that the Islamists are a minority – we know they are – but we have to show it.
Just as an aside about a statement in the Daily Express article by Tory MP Philip Davies who said: “The simple solution is for these people to move to a country which already has sharia law.” I am sorry, but in countries that have Sharia – people there are busy trying to get rid of the Islamists in power – like in Iran. Please don’t export yours there too – deal with them here. Stop appeasing the political Islamic movement; stop political relations with Islamic states, stop funding Islamic organisations and stop fragmenting society into a million pieces and start treating everyone living here as equal citizens…
The battle against Sharia is against both the Islamists and the far-right
October 16, 2009
Anwar Rizvi writes: I am a muslim and and i remain fundamentally opposed to shari’a law anywhere in the world. My big worry is that your campaign is being hijacked by the extreme right in this country who are planning not only to attend your demonstration but use it as an “add on” to their violent anti-muslim campaign that is already under way in many parts of britain. I have already seem several messages on facebook where extreme right wingers are urging people to attend your event. I myself wont be there because of work commitments but i just urge you to be on the guard against these racists.
Maryam Namazie responds: Thanks for your comment Anwar. First off, if racists and fascists come they will be kicked out. Full stop. The few who tried to join our last March 7 rally were made to leave by organisers and they will be told to do so again. You can see video footage of our March 7 2009 rally and seminar here to see how well it all went off: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/one-law-for-all-campaign-against-sharia-law-in-britains-international-womens-day/
You are right in saying that the extreme right has hijacked this issue but NOT our campaign and there is a big difference between the two. The BNP, English Defence League, Stop Islamisation of Europe and all the other big and small racist and fascist groups are using Sharia in order to promote their racist, anti-immigrant and inhumane agenda. But that is doubly why we must take centre stage. We have to come to the fore because Sharia is unjust and because we need to make sure that in the ensuing battle human rights, dignity, and humanity are upheld. All demands for change involve social movements pushing for them. That is why the world today is better in many ways than that of the Middle Ages the Islamists are trying to drag us back into. But if we stay silent because of the far-right, we shirk our responsibilities and duties. And we leave the stage open for them and the Islamists. I am sorry but I just won’t allow that.
Let me put it this way, just because the pope is opposed to the death penalty, doesn’t mean I will stop opposing it because he is regressive. Just because Iran is against the US, doesn’t mean I will start supporting the brutal US militarism. We have to start by doing what is right and we have to make sure that we show the world that we are the majority. A society in which the far-right has the upper hand is not that different than the one in which the Islamists do. So I would hope you would take off from work on November 21, that you’d encourage people to come and that in any forum where you see the far-right encouraging people to come, you would send us the links so we can go there and tell them not to bother.
This rally is just as much against them as it is against the Islamists. It is just as much about a better society for us here in Britain as in the rest of the world.
This is for all of us
October 19, 2009
Sana from Pakistan writes: ‘How lucky u guyz are at least you can protest and voice your opposition against the injustice [of Sharia law]. Pity on us.’
Thanks so much for your email Sana. Our protest is just as much against Sharia in Pakistan as it is in Britain, Afghanistan, Somalia or elsewhere. The political Islamic movement is a global one; and opposition to it is global too. When we take to the streets in Britain, Iran, Afghanistan or elsewhere we do it for all of us – and not out of despair – but out of the hope and possibility for a better and different world.
In Pakistan, there are many who are protesting too. I will email you some good contacts to have just off the top of my head – they will direct you to others who are organising. You can always begin by contacting them via email and the internet.
Hope the above is useful. Please keep in touch and keep strong.
Moroccan rights activists deserve our support
October 20, 2009
‘I'm Betty- Ibtissame LACHGAR, rights activist in Morocco. You have maybe heard about our Movement for Defence of Individual Liberties (MALI) and the buzz in Ramadan? I really want to meet u.’
Maryam Namazie responds: Hi Betty, it would be wonderful to meet you. I’ll be sure to highlight the brilliant work you are doing there. It would be great if you could send a message to the November 21 rally protestors that we could read out on the day. I look forward to working closely with you and supporting you in any way possible. Best wishes, Maryam
In case you haven’t yet heard, Betty-Ibtissame and Zineb El Rhazoui are the co-founders of MALI. They have just been barred from leaving Morocco to attend a conference in Paris and were told by border police that they are on a ‘wanted’ list. Their crime? Organising a public daytime fast break at the city of Mohammedia during Ramadan (Sunday, September 13). Breaking the rules of fasting is forbidden for Muslims in Morocco and can be punishable by a sentence of one to six months in prison and fines of almost 100 euros, according to Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code. To protest against ‘this interference in private life,’ MALI organised a fast-breaking protest. According to Zineb: ‘Our aim was to show that we are Moroccans, but that we do not fast, and that we have a right to exist.’ They were besieged by the police. The Official Moroccan Council of Ulema (theologians) denounced the protesters and described them as ‘agitators.’ Some of the group members were arrested and subjected to death threats via e-mails.