My Blog has Moved to since 1 November 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Scotland and the veil

See my interview on the veil in the Scotland Herald here.

Whilst attacks on veiled women intolerable, the veil remains a tool for repression. Socially speaking it is never a choice for a vast majority of women. Islamists don't understand choice; they give none when in power.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Do Not Deliver Mohammad Mehdi Maleki to the Fascist Government of Iran

Open Letter to the Swedish Migration Office

Mohammad Mehdi Maleki, Iranian asylum-seeker, born on 28 January 1985, case no. 10-983677

Maleki has been a student political activist against the Islamic Republic.

Mohammad Mehdi Maleki is among the activists who, using the internet and in various other ways has struggled against the regime in Iran until the moment of his detention. Mohammad Mehdi Maleki, as a result of his political activities in Iran, had been identified and persecuted by the security and judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic, and therefore, on 27 March 2008, sought political asylum from the Swedish government. Unfortunately, his application was rejected on the 3rd of December 2008 by the migration office. Maleki had been imprisoned for some time in Iran, but with the help of family and friends, was released on bail. Using that opportunity, he fled the country, entered Sweden, and asked for asylum.

Mohammad Mehdi Maleki, after entering Sweden and asking for asylum in this country, continued his struggle against the medieval rule of the Islamic Republic in Iran. Mohammad Mehdi is among the activists who, in connection to the campaign to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from a stoning execution, participated on numerous occasions in demonstrations. During those demonstrations, he protested the savagery of the Islamic regime, and called for overthrowing that regime. Despite this, his asylum application was rejected, and he, like all other refugees, lived in very dire circumstances. The Migration Office gave him permission to work as a trainee in a carwashing facility in Lindesburg.

About 2 months ago, the police visited that facility, but Maleki was not there. The owner of the facility called Mehdi and told him about the visit. As soon as he was informed, Mehdi called the police and left his contact information with the police over the phone. The following day, he reported to the police station, but they told him that although they appreciated his responsible diligence in reporting back to them, the police had no business with him. They told him that he may continue working and living as usual. Mehdi has been a law-abiding person during the time that he has lived in Sweden. Mohammad Mehdi Maleki reported to the Lindesburg Police on Tuesday, 29 of March for the last time and signed the usual papers without any incident. But on the 31st of March, only two days later, he was arrested at his apartment and detained. The police told Mehdi Maleki that the reason for the arrest was because he had sought to hide himself from the authorities. Mehdi, in response, told them that if he had been such a fugitive, he would not have reported to the police, left his contact information with the police, and would not have stayed in his apartment [knowing the police had inquired regarding his whereabouts].He categorically rejected the accusations made by the police.

The Federation knows Mohammad Mehdi Maleki very well and knows that he has been involved in political activities against the Islamic Republic in Örebro. The last protest that Mohammad Mehdi participated in took place on March 16 in the city of Örebro, in protest against the massacre of prisoners in Ghezal Hesar prison [in Iran]. Mehdi too, like many others, has left Islam as his religion and has accepted Christianity - he is considered an apostate. During the time that he has been in detention, he has been interviewed by a large number of Farsi-language media inside and outside of Sweden, and has emphasized his political activism and his apostasy. Only these are enough to put him in harm's way if he is returned by force to Iran. Specifically, the television station called " Andishe," in the United States, which broadcasts its programs into Iran, interviewed Mohammad Mehdi Maleki on the 7th of April and aired his story and his photograph. On the 14th of April, the Farsi-speaking radio called Radio HamsafarIran Emrooz in Gotenburg also interviewed him. On April 13th, Radio Voice of Refugees in Gotenburg interviewed Mehdi about his reasons for seeking asylum. In these interviews, Maleki, on numerous occasions, has repeated that he escaped from the Islamic Republic of Iran, but unfortunately, the Migration Office of Sweden rejected his reasons for seeking asylum

in Stockholm interviewed him on the same subject. On April 4th, another radio program called
Mohammad Mehdi Maleki has played a very active role against the Islamic Republic on Facebook, and has appeared there with his name and picture. Only one of the occasions in which Mohammad Mehdi Maleki participated in a protest against the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in the city of Örebro is enough to be indicted by the Islamic Republic for acting against national security and the Islamic Republic system.

For instance, the government of Norway deported an Iranian asylum-seeker by the name Rahim Rostami on February 9, 2011, who is now imprisoned in Evin and in harm's way. Last month, Mohseni Ejaei, the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Iran, announced during a press conference that the system will treat those outside of Iran who act against the Islamic regime the same way that it treats those citizens inside Iran who act against the regime. Despite all of the above, despite the dangers awaiting Mehdi if he is returned, the migration office has decided to deport Mohammad Mehdi Maleki to the inferno of the Islamic Republic.

Considering the consequences and the dangers of refoulement, the International Federation of Iranian Refugees calls on all organizations and institutions defending refugee rights to intervene and demand Mehdi's release from detention by the Migration Office, cancellation of the deportation, and defense of his asylum rights.

Abdollah Asadi,
Secretary of the Solidarity International Federation of Iranian Refugees
17 April 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Away until 3 May

I will be away until 3 May so will most likely not be making many entries on my blog. See you when I get back.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Report on Women's Rights, Sharia Law and Secularism Conference

To mark and celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day, a one day conference was held on 12 March 2011 to discuss the impact of religion on the lives of women. The conference was organised by One Law for All and the International Committee against Stoning, Iran Solidarity, and Equal Rights Now.

The day started with an opening address by renowned philosopher A C Grayling which was followed by a hugely successful conference with speakers from across the world creating a vibrant and very important debate.

Issues explored included the impact of religion on women’s rights - and whether religion is compatible with women’s rights - and whether it should be curtailed in the interests of the rights and equality of women. A discussion on religion and secularism looked at the relationship between religion and secularism and whether these are interdependent, complimentary or contradictory. It followed with a discussion on religion and the law –looking at religion’s influence on law and law makers, and on the importance of secularism and a closing address by Maryam Namazie.

Speakers included: Ahlam Akram, Executive Committee member of the Arab Jewish Forum and Joint Action for Israeli Palestinian Peace (UK), Helle Merete Brix, Writer and Commentator on free speech and the rise of political Islam (Denmark), Philipp Bekaert, Member of Réseau d'Actions pour la Promotion d'un Etat Laïque (Belgium), Julie Bindel, Journalist and Campaigner to end violence against women and children (UK), Patty Debonitas, Spokesperson of Iran Solidarity (UK), Nadia Geerts, Co-founder of Réseau d’Action pour la Promotion d’un Etat laïque (Belgium), Maria Hagberg, Chairperson of the Network Against Honour-Related Violence (Sweden), Anne-marie Lizin, Honorary Speaker of the Belgian Senate and Coordinator of the Association against Honour Crimes and Forced Marriages (Belgium), Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of One Law for All, Equal Rights Now and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (UK), Elizabeth O’Casey, Vice-President of the National Secular Society (UK), David Pollock, President of the European Humanist Federation (UK), Fariborz Pooya, Director of Iranian Secular Society (UK), Yasmin Rehman Campaigner against violence against women and for community cohesion (UK), Gita Sahgal, Writer, Journalist and Women's Rights Activist (UK), Nina Sankari, President of the European Feminist Initiative (Poland), Sohaila Sharifi, Women’s Rights Activist (UK), Annie Sugier, Cofounder of the League of Women’s International Rights (France), Michèle Vianès, President of Regards de Femmes (France), and Anne Marie Waters, Spokesperson of One Law for All (UK).

There was also a reading of Ghazi Rabihavi’s play ‘Stoning’ – ‘A very strong and powerful piece of work, beautifully constructed’ as described by Harold Pinter.

Video footage of the conference follows:

Opening Address by Philosopher AC Grayling

Panel discussion on Religion’s Impact on Women’s Rights chaired by Helle Merete Brix with panellists Patty Debonitas, Maria Hagberg, Anne-Marie Lizin, Yasmin Rehman, and Michèle Vianès:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Religion and Women's Rights Questions and Answers, Part 1
Religion and Women's Rights Q&A, Part 2

Panel discussion on Religion and Secularism chaired by Fariborz Pooya with panellists Ahlam Akram, Julie Bindel, Nadia Geerts/ Philipp Bekaert, Maryam Namazie, and Annie Sugier:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Religion and Secularism Q&A, Part 1
Religion and Secularism Q&A, Part 2
Religion and Secularism Q&A, Part 3

David Pollock on Alliance for Secular Europe

Panel discussion on Religion and the Law chaired by Elizabeth O'Casey with panellists Gita Sahgal, Nina Sankari, Sohaila Sharifi, and Anne Marie Waters:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Religion and the Law Q&A, Part 1
Religion and the Law Q&A, Part 2

Closing Address by Maryam Namazie


Video footage of individual statements below:
Patty Debonitas
Anne-Marie Lizin
Michele Vianes
Maria Hagberg
Yasmin Rehman
Julie Bindel
Annie Sugier/Ahlam Akram
Maryam Namazie
Nadia Geerts/Phillip Bekaert
Sohaila Sharifi
Gita Sahgal
Nina Sankari
Anne Marie Waters

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Maryam will be speaking at Bradford University tomorrow

I'll be speaking at an event organised by the Atheist and Humanist Society at the University of Bradford about the perverse influence of religion and in defence of secularism on Monday 4 April 2011 at 5pm.