Here’s a joint letter in defence of Bangladeshi Bloggers signed by Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and affiliates. You can see updated signatories here.
To Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid,
We, concerned members of the blogging and activist community of Bangladesh and internationally, along with representatives of human rights organisations and other civil society organisations and supporters, wish to protest in the strongest possible terms the institutional attack on Bangladeshi citizens who profess humanist, atheist or secularist views.
In the last two years, five bloggers (variously identifying as humanist, rationalist, atheist, and variously writing about science, humanist values, against Islamist extremism, or in favour of human rights and justice) have been murdered, hacked to death by assailants acting for fundamentalist militant groups (according to their own claims of responsibility). These victims are: Ahmed Rajib Haider, the science author Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Das, and Niladri Chatterjee (pen name Niloy Neel). Four of these murders have occurred since February this year. In other cases, individuals like Jafar Munshi and Anjali Devi have been killed for alleged or perceived acts of ‘defamation of religion’, such as refusing to enforce hijab on students. And since 2013, supporters of the Shahbag movement and the war crimes justice process (the accused being Islamist leaders) have also been brutally murdered by similar Islamist entities. The victims include: Ashraful Alam, Arif Raihan Deep, Nurul Islam Faruki, Jagat Jyoti Talukder, Jakaria Babu.
The murderers and their ideological supporters are of course to be condemned and must be brought to justice.
Nearly 200 signatories call to dismantle parallel legal systems
15 June 2015
Women’s rights and secular organisations urge the new government to take concerted measures to stop the development of parallel legal systems and to facilitate full and proper access to justice for all citizens and to one secular law for all.
For decades, successive governments have appeased undemocratic religious power brokers in minority communities who have sought to gain power through multicultural and now multi-faith social policies. These policies have led to the homogenisation of minority communities including the ‘Muslim community’ and have recognised and legitimated ‘non-violent’ Islamists as ‘community representatives’, outsourcing legal justice to what are in effect kangaroo courts that deliver highly discriminatory and second-rate forms of ‘justice.’ Over the years, we have witnessed with increasing alarm the influence of ‘Sharia courts’ over the lives of citizens of Muslim heritage.
Any government inquiry into ‘Sharia courts’ must also examine the impact of the draconian cuts in legal aid that have adversely affected access to justice for the most vulnerable. Many abused women from minority backgrounds, for instance, are increasingly forced to either represent themselves in court in what are often complex family legal proceedings or go to ‘Sharia courts’ that operate entirely outside the rule of law. The loss of legal aid contributes to a context that is conducive to the consolidation of privatised and unaccountable forms of justice and ‘Sharia courts’ are amongst the main beneficiaries.
As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was established in 2007 to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam and religion. We have done this by challenging apostasy and blasphemy laws and facilitating a public renunciation of Islam and a rise in atheism. We have also been there for many ex-Muslims facing persecution by Islamists or family members - around 300 a year – including one-on-one support. Our web-forum has given thousands a network to rely on, including threads in Arabic and Urdu. The ex-Muslim movement has grown tremendously since our establishment with affiliated councils in a number of countries such as France, Turkey and Morocco.
The CEMB’s campaigning work (with One Law for All and other allies) is also finally paying off. Atheism has been recognised in Britain as a grounds for asylum with legal decisions no longer guided by whether the apostasy can be kept private. Also, the Law Society has withdrawn its discriminatory Guidance on Sharia wills and Universities UK has taken back its guidance endorsing gender segregation. Sharia courts are now being scrutinised after many years of silence and appeasement.
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is pleased to announce the 2015 Poster Against Hate Competition.
We believe that everyone should be free to speak up about their ideas. Freedom of expression includes the right to offend and to criticize, and even mock what is considered taboo and sacred. This can include religion and Islam. However, free expression is very different from hate speech against minorities, immigrants, Muslims and ex-Muslims. Everyone must be free to express themselves, without fear, threats, social pressure or coercion. For many, though, criticism of religion and Islam is met with threats and intimidation. Accusations of “infidel”, “kafir”, “murtad” are examples of hate speech against ex-Muslims and should be recognised as such. The Poster Competition aims to aid our campaign in support of free expression whilst also exposing hate speech, which threatens those who dare to speak up and also creates a climate of censorship and silence.
Designers are welcome to also send in designs of posters in support of one law for all, against Sharia courts and the religious-Right and for secularism.
A new report from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain “Evangelising Hate” exposes the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) as a Hate Group. You can read the report here.
Whilst iERA purports to be a missionary-like charitable organisation, it is in fact a “soft Islamist” group, which acts as the Islamist movement’s public relations arm by promoting and normalising Islamist values and norms, including inciting hatred against ex-Muslims, gays, Jews, women, non Muslims and a majority of Muslims who do not share their values. In Britain and the west, groups like iERA use multiculturalism (as a social policy that segregates “communities”) and cultural relativism as well as the rights language of diversity, tolerance and inter-faith dialogue to increase influence and access. Any opposition to their theocratic aims are met with accusations of racism and Islamophobia.
This timely report is being published just as the Charity Commission is investigating the group.
This report makes clear that iERA must be classified as a hate group and have their charitable status withdrawn. These will help bring clarity to their agenda and can be a starting point for a wider investigation into the influence of Islamism in modern Britain.