Passion for Freedom Art Festival, London

One Law for All's 4th Passion for Freedom Art Festival will be held dring 3-10 November 2012 showcasing the work of 40 artists from 20 countries worldwide. The artists will be addressing crucial issues related to freedom and religious laws.

The viewing and festival will be held at UNIT 24 Gallery, 20 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0FD (Closest Underground station: Southwark).

For more information click here.

Child 'Marriage' and Sharia Courts: It Must End Now

There is growing evidence that young children – some as young at 5 years old – are being “married” to older men in Sharia courts across Britain. This is increasingly being sanctioned by the Islamists who run Britain’s network of Sharia courts, and there is evidence that this practice is growing.

A recent undercover investigation by the Sunday Times found imams in Britain willing to “marry” young girls, provided this was carried out in secret. The imams had been approached by an undercover reporter posing as a father who said he wanted his 12 year old daughter married, to prevent her from being tempted in to a "western lifestyle".

Earlier this year, it was also reported that at least 30 girls, some as young as 9, were “married”  in sharia courts in one London borough alone.  Clearly, child “marriages” are an abomination; they are nothing short of religiously-sanctioned child rape and paedophilia.

One important way to tackle this matter is to galvanise support for the Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Bill introduced to the House of Lords last year by crossbench peer, Baroness Caroline Cox. The Bill is due for a second reading in October.

The Government has so far declined to support Cox’s Bill. They do not believe there is a parallel legal system in operation. They also insist that everyone has full right of access to the British courts. This is simply not the case. There are many with little or no English language skills, trapped by community pressure, who believe Sharia courts operate as real courts and who regard their decisions as legally binding. The idea that they can easily instruct a high street solicitor to help them access their full rights under UK law is far from reality.

The Government must be pressured into taking immediate action, including by supporting Cox’s Bill, and shutting down Sharia and religious courts. If child welfare takes precedence then the Government is duty-bound to take action.

Sign our new petition in support of Baroness Cox’s Bill; tell the Government that enough is enough! Please sign it now.

Read the full statement by One Law For All here.

Islam Must be Scrutinised

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to make public its support for Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary 'Islam: The Untold Story' .  We are indignant to learn that due to threats made on Holland, Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of the historical inquiry into the origins of Islam similar to the kind of inquiry that has been applied to other religions and histories in Britain for many years.
 
The threats and concerted attempt to stigmatise the documentary and its producers by attacking its credibility and even legitimacy as a field of inquiry is nothing less than an attempt to impose a blasphemy taboo by stealth and coercion against programming that scrutinises Islam.
 
Caving in to the coercive pressure of Islamists will have catastrophic effects on free inquiry and expression where it pertains to Islam. It would not only further silence academic, historical and theological scrutiny of Islam but would also have the chilling effect of exerting added pressure on Muslims and ex-Muslims who wish to dissent from and question Islam.
 
CEMB spokesperson Maryam Namazie says:
 
“Here’s my question to Channel 4: what about the threats on our lives for being apostates, ex-Muslims, atheists, freethinkers, secularists, 21st century human beings?
 
“What part of our thoughts, lives, and bodies do you recommend we cancel to appease the Islamists?
 
“If only there was such an ‘easy’ ‘solution’ for those who are languishing under Islam’s rules.
 
“You may accept censorship and cowardly silence in the face of Islamist threats and intimidation but we cannot afford to do so. And we never will.”

Read more...

Join the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s 5th Anniversary Celebration

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will be 5 years old in June 2012. 

To celebrate the work, significance and achievements of this unique organisation, we are holding a fundraising luncheon on Saturday 23 June 2012 in London from 13.00-16:00 hours. 

The event will be a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and enjoy a three-course lunch with wine, great entertainment and speakers in an intimate setting whilst supporting the organisation’s work. 

Guests will hear from renowned philosopher AC Grayling, campaigner Gita Sahgal, comedian Kate Smurthwaite, CEMB founder Maryam Namazie and magician Neil Edwards, amongst others. There will also be a dance act, poetry and music. 

In the five years since its establishment, the CEMB has been a beacon of hope for thousands of ex-Muslims who have renounced Islam and religion. It has helped to break the taboo and challenge Islamism, which punishes apostasy with the death penalty. The work of the CEMB has included assisting to return a young woman to Britain from North Africa where she had been sent as punishment for her ‘disobedience’ to securing the release from detention and the right to asylum for apostates across Europe. The organisation has also given large numbers of people a new ‘home’ via its forum and meet-up group. Moreover, it has helped to highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, apostates and blasphemers internationally, including Indonesian atheist Alex Aan currently in prison and German-Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi facing a death fatwa from Iran’s ayatollahs. The One Law for All campaign against Sharia law in Britain, which was initiated by the CEMB at its first international conference, has also made waves across the globe as has its unequivocal defence of free expression, equality and citizenship rights. 

Ticket(s) for the luncheon are £45.00 per person or £35 for students/unwaged. 

To purchase tickets, send a cheque made payable to CEMB to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX or pay via Paypal or Worldpay: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/ indexDonate.html. Please make sure to include an email address and telephone number so that further details can be provided. 

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An Open Letter to the Gambian Government on Homosexuality

In April Ebou Sohna reported that 17 GLBTI Gambians had been imprisoned for the "crime" of homosexuality.  Subsequently the Gambia Secular Assembly (an AAI Member) wrote an open letter to the Gambian government explaining that homosexuality is a natural part of human diversity and calling for the equality of all citizens.  The letter was published as a series in The Standard newspaper in Gambia and you can see a scan here.  

Atheist Alliance International applauds the Gambia Secular Assembly for taking a stand on behalf of GLBTI people in Gambia.

Atheism And Human Rights Abuses In Africa

Originally published by Sahara Reporters.  

Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs, which have over the ages, identified or associated with the so called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony- continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people- theists and atheists- continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas.

The rights of non-believers. I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the rights of gay people are human rights. These proclamations changed the way human rights are perceived around the globe. Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights.

In spite of the progress the world has made in terms of upholding human rights and liberties, and getting states to honour their obligations under various instruments and mechanisms, equal rights have yet to be extended to religious non-believers in most parts of the world particularly in Africa.

The full article is available here: http://saharareporters.com/article/atheism-and-human-rights-abuses-africa-leo-igwe.

Witchcraft in Malawi - new report released

The Association for Secular Humanism in Malawi (an AAI Member) has released a report on the extent of witchcraft in Malawi - and it is depressing reading. Belief in witchcraft is widespread, the number of cases is rising and people suspected of witchcraft are often subject to violence. The report recommends ten initiatives to combat the violence against those accused of witchcraft.

Atheist Alliance International congratulates the Association for Secular Humanism for its work to document the extent of the problems in Malawi and its ongoing campaign against superstitious and dangerous practices.

Read the full report

Religion and Government, Gambian Context

As it is the concern of many atheist and free-thought organizations in other parts of the world, Gambia Secular Assembly concerns itself with the separation of religion from government.

In The Gambia, religion is so juxtaposed with government that one finds it hard to distinguish one form the other. This is manifested in the serious promotion and propagation of particularly of Islam, the dominant religion.

The Gambian State, largely supposed and believed by the population to be secular, has condoned the involvement of the State with religion. This is an unchecked involvement that extends to the State’s investment in the construction of a mosque on the grounds of a State residence – State House has an Imam (Islamic religious leader) paid from the government coffers to head prayers and conduct other religious services, such as the annual celebration of the birth of the 'prophet' of Islam, Muhammad named Maw lud al nabi in Arabic.

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How religion poisons Brazilian politics

Originally published on the Secular Humanist League of Brazil's blog here.

In Brazil we’ve witnessed a growth in the number of national representatives elected in 2010 who only work to try and limit individual rights of women, gays and other minorities hated by biblical text. They are known as the “evangelical bench“. I would rather call them “theocratic bench”, since I know not all evangelical Christians think their beliefs should be forced down everyone’s throats, let alone by the power of a purportedly secular government.

Since we’ve got constitutional separation of church and state, we should at least hope their actions were halted. But often government is very dubious. In 2011, Marco Feliciano, a representative who is also a preacher, tried to pass a bill to make religious teaching mandatory for students in public schools. Fortunately, his bill was rejected at once.

On the other hand, public schools have been forced to offer religious teaching for decades, with no orientation whatsoever of what kind of teaching this would be, rendering a not so unexpected result of public tuition hijacked by religious proselytising, as has been proved by human rights scholar Debora Diniz. The law says students can choose not to attend religious teaching, but the truth is that most of them are not even informed of this right.

Another example of religious intrusion is that last July the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro has approved a law that forces public libraries to have bibles in their collections. No such thing has been done in relation to the Quran or the Baghavad Gita, of course.

Read more...

Critical Thinking and Educational Reform

 Leo Igwe from the Nigerian Humanist Movement, an Affiliate Member of AAI, writes about the need to reform Nigeria's education system to teach students to think critically and help them combat superstition and religious fanaticism.

http://www.momentng.com/en/news/6449/critical-thinking-and-educational-reform.html

11 February 2012: A day to defend free expression

The One Law for All 11 February rally for Free Expression is being held in London from 14:00-16:00 hours at the Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain fully supports the action. Speakers are: Richard Dawkins (Scientist); A C Grayling (Philosopher); Alex Gabriel (Blogger); Anne Marie Waters (One Law for All); Caroline Cox (Peer); Derek Lennard (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association); Faisal Gazi (Spittoon.org); Gita Sahgal, (Centre for Secular Space); Hasan Afzal (Stand for Peace); Jennifer Hardy (Queen Mary Atheism Humanism and Secularism Society); Jenny Bartle (National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies); Jim Fitzpatrick (MP); Kate Smurthwaite (Comedian); Kenan Malik (Writer); Lilith (Poet, Anti-Injustice Movement) ; Marco Tranchino (Central London Humanist Group); Mark Embleton (Atheism UK); Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain); Nick Cohen (Writer); Nick Doody (Comedian); Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters); Rashid Ali (Centri); Rhys Morgan (Student activist); Roy Brown (International Humanist and Ethical Union); Rupert Sutton (Student Rights); Sohaila Sharifi (Equal Rights Now); Sue Cox (Survivors Voice Europe); Sundas Hoorain (London School of Economics Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society); Susan Zhuang (University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society); Terry Sanderson/Keith Porteous Wood (National Secular Society); and Yasmin Rehman (Campaigner). There will also be messages from Jesus and Mo creator and Richard Dawkins. Iranian Secular Society’s Fariborz Pooya will be the Master of Ceremonies.