CEMB Timeline (2007-2023)

CEMB Timeline (2007-2023)


Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) was formed to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam, highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, and challenge Sharia, apostasy and blasphemy laws. CEMB stands against all forms of bigotry, xenophobia, racism and extremism and unequivocally defends reason, freedom of conscience and expression, equality, universal rights and secularism.



For the first time in France, an international conference brought together defenders of Laicite from around the world on December 8 and 9, 2023 at Paris City Hall. The conference was co-organised by the Association Laïques Sans Frontières (LSF) and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), in collaboration with the Comité Laïcité République (CLR) and the EGALE Association (Equality Secularism Europe) and in partnership with Charlie Hebdo, Marianne magazine, Freedom from Religion Foundation (USA), National Secular Society (UK) and Center for Inquiry (USA). The event brought together more than 40 Laic personalities, coming from the four corners of the world. They addressed different themes such as, the importance of Laicity for women’s rights, atheism in the Islamic context, contemporary challenges linked to Laicity and its role in preserving democracy.

The conference launched the significant Paris Appeal.

The Conference received important coverage from Charlie Hebdo:

Laïques sans frontières : pour une loi de 1905 universelle, Charlie Hebdo, 11 December 2023

“Nous affirmons que la séparation des religions et de l’État protège les droits de toutes et tous”, Marianne, 11 December 2023

Entretien. « Nous, laïques, athées et apostats, sommes la majorité ! » Charlie Hebdo Interview with Maryam Namazie and Nadia El Fani, 6 December 2023


A report by Counselling Psychologist Dr Savin Bapir Tardy delves into the dynamics and experiences of participants in three monthly support groups she leads. The support groups cater to individuals who have left Islam and are grappling with the challenges and transformations that come with such a departure. The report outlines the structure of these groups, highlights recurring themes in discussions, and explores the profound impact of the support groups on participants. The inception of online support groups coincided with the onset of the pandemic in June 2020. On average, approximately 25 individuals attend these sessions each month, contributing to an annual aggregate of around 300 participants. In total, spanning the period since the inception of the support group, there have been 115 support group sessions, and the cumulative count of attendees has reached 950 individuals up to the present date. See the in depth report here.

CEMB also held monthly meet-ups on 3rd Monday of every month in central London led by Ali Malik. Speakers included Youtuber Nuriyah Khan, Journalist Khadija Khan, Leading immigration solicitor Ana Gonzalez, and many more.


In December, CEMB spoke out against Denmark’s reintroduction of blasphemy law. We also signed a petition to oppose its re-introduction: Petition: Stop Denmark’s New Blasphemy Ban.

In November, CEMB joined campaigners calling for investigation of extremist charity sermons.

In September, Maryam Namazie received a standing ovation for her speech on Apostasy, Blasphemy and Rebellious Women at Changing minds for Changing Times with AC Grayling, Lawrence Krauss, and Richard Dawkins at the Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham. Organised by Origins Project and Atheism UK.

In September, Maryam was interviewed on WBAI Joy of Resistance on  Council of Ex-Muslims and One Law for All.

On 16 September, CEMB joined Activists in Europe mark the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody in Iran. See also on ABC NewsToronto Star,  KDHNewsNewslooksCP24EuronewsNational Post,  Newsjax,  Taiwan NewsVOA amongst others.

CEMB Resident Artist Victoria Gugenheim gave a keynote address on Art and Freedom of Expression and shown an exhibition entitled Terror, Trauma, Transformation featuring CEMB’s activist work at in Copenhagen during 3-6 August. ‘The Art of Resistance,’ a 30-minute documentary featuring Victoria and Maryam Namazie’s approach to freedom of expression and street activism was premiered there.

In August, for Apostasy Day, CEMB celebrated apostasy by doodling on religious texts to defend the right to blasphemy and apostasy.

On 1 July, CEMB marched at Pride in London to celebrate Liberation as Riot and defend the revolution in Iran that is challenging Islam and Islamism and defending Woman, Life, Freedom, LGBT rights, secularism and more.

In June, we rose up against executions in Iran. On this day, we also raged against the execution and murder of women, dissenters, LGBT, apostates and blasphemers in countries under Islamic law. Just this year alone, over 300 dissenters have been executed by the regime in Iran.

On 9 June 2023, at Durham Union, Maryam Namazie debated against “This House Believes Islam is Compatible With Human Rights.” 

In April, Maryam Namazie spoke at WZB, Berlin Social Science Centre on Women’s rights and Islam: Inherent oxymoron or possible harmony? Watch Maryam’s opening remarks at WBZ Berlin Social Science Centre – There are no women’s rights in Islam.

In May, we campaigned against the executions of Youssef Mehrad and Seyed Sadrullah Fazlizare for blasphemy in May.

In March 2023, for International Women’s Day, we supported an event in solidarity with Woman, Life, Freedom in Iran. Our Spokesperson signed on to an Open Letter: Countries Must Recognize Crime of Gender Apartheid. See also End Sex Apartheid Today.

In February, we organised a political sponsorship of Iranian atheist Soheil Arabi of 40 ex-Muslim and atheist organisations. We also held a rally in his defence in London calling for his release. He has now been released.

See also: Fears grow for Iranian atheist Soheil Arabi, NSS, 11 January 2023

FFRF, 40 groups demand release of Soheil Arabi, FFRF, 9 January 2023

On 1 February, World Hijab Day, women took part in a global body riot to defend the women’s revolution in Iran and for woman, life, freedom. They took action, topless or with bras on, to challenge compulsory hijab rules that has killed Mahsa Jina Amini on 16 September and continues to suppress countless women and girls in Iran, Afghanistan and across the globe.

In January, Spokesperson Maryam Namazie’s spoke to Inclusion, Ethics and Social Justice students at Roehampton University on the women’s revolution in Iran and its links to social justice struggles and also to students at a school for girls.



Read the full report on Celebrating Dissent 2022 here.

Photos and videos are also published on CD2022 website.

“We attended one of the largest gatherings of atheists and freethinkers in the world, Celebrating Dissent. An event with a very special tone – the aggression against Salman Rushdie on everyone’s minds. More than ever, these atheists wanted to show that they are more and more numerous and determined to win the battle against obscurantism.” – Charlie Hebdo, 24 August 2022

Celebrating Dissent 2022, held in Cologne, Germany on August 20-21 2022, to coincide with International Apostasy Day, was an extraordinary event with over 50 exceptional speakers from 30 countries worldwide.

The two-day event is the largest gathering of ex-Muslim and freethought organizations and activists celebrating dissent and freedom. It was organized by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Freethought Lebanon.

Celebrating Dissent 2022 included speeches, discussions, poetry, theatre, film, music and art and a march through Cologne City Centre in support of the courageous Salman Rushdie.

At the opening of the conference, Sami Abdallah, President of Freethought Lebanon, said“we stand for ideas and words while they stand for daggers and guns; we stand for humour and satire while they stand for state sponsored incitement to murder… We are the future, and they are the past.”

Also at the opening, Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, called the ex-Muslim movement the “new civil rights movement of our times” and said: “[Salman Rushdie] is not the first nor will he be the last. The best of our best, cut down by the likes of the Iranian regime (directly responsible for Rushdie’s attack), by fundamentalists of all stripes and by, of course, inhuman ideologies… As Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, however, ‘You can cut all the flowers but you cannot stop the Spring’.

Receiving a standing ovation, Scientist Richard Dawkins was interviewed by Maryam Namazie and awarded the Freethought Champions Award. He described the ex-Muslim movement as “one of the most important political movements of our time“.

Iranian atheist Soheil Arabi who was on death row for blasphemy and is currently in internal exile after 8 years in prison in Iran was awarded the Freethought Champions Award. In his acceptance video, he said“I have no regrets that I have been in prison for 8 years, despite the fact that I have lost my health because I think we have paved the way collectively together for liberation. I am a drop in this sea and glad to be part of the society of enlightenment. Algerian secularist Marieme Helie Lucas also won the Freethought Champions Award.

MCed by Fariborz Pooya and Veedu Vidz, discussions during the two days included topics such as: Atheists and the Human Right to Protection, Asylum and Apostasy Workshop for ex-Muslims asylum seekers, Hijab, Bodily Autonomy and Women’s RightsBlasphemy, Islamophobia and Free Expression, On Gods and Religious MoralityTerror, Trauma and SurvivalThe Ex-Muslim MovementIdentity Politics, Racism and Fundamentalism, and Creativity in Challenging Fundamentalism and Defending Secularism.

Celebrating Dissent 2022 adopted resolutions in defence of Salman Rushdie, for an end to Germany’s Code 166, an International Day of Secularism or Laïcité and a Declaration on the Celebration of Dissent.

Media coverage included extensive reporting by Charlie Hebdo. Some coverage:

Cologne : Les mécréants célèbrent Salman Rushdie et préparent l’avenir, Charlie Hebdo, August 24, 2022

Maryam Namazie : « Les islamistes ont peur de nous », Charlie Hebdo, August 24, 2022

Portraits d’Athées : « Pour vivre libre, j’ai dû fuir mon pays », Charlie Hebdo, August 24, 2022

Sortir de l’islam, mais à quel prix ?, Le Point, 23 August 2022

Leaving Islam, but at what cost?, Detail News, 23 August 2022

Abandonar el Islam, pero ¿a qué precio? , Trend News Spanish, 23 August 2022

“Celebrating Dissent 2022” – Ex-Muslims report: That’s why they left Islam, Detail Zero, 22 August 2022

Darum haben sie den Islam verlassen, Celebrating Dissent 2022 in Köln, Bild, August 22, 2022

“Celebrating Dissent 2022” – Ex-Muslims report: That’s why they left Islam, Detail Zero, August 22, 2022

See also:

Apostasie : avec les dégoûtés de l’islam, Charlie Hebdo, 2 November 2022


In December, CEMB signed the historic Woman, Life, Freedom Charter. PLEASE SIGN THE HISTORIC CHARTER. YOU CAN ADD YOUR DEMANDS TOO.

In November, Maryam Namazie explained why Salman Rushdie and the women’s revolution in Iran are linked.

She also debated Is the Corrupt World Cup Just PR for Qatar? | The Table, Byline TV. Her response on stoning people to death went viral. 

Cheers to Iranian Women, a Film by Pune Farsafar, which includes an interview with spokesperson Maryam Namazie was premiered.

CEMB called for Charity Commission probe into mosque that hosted hardline Iranian cleric, The JC, 17 November 2022

In October, Mahsa Amini: London protesters show support for ‘women’s revolution’ in Iran, The Independent

In October, Maryam Namazie’s speech on the situation in Iran and its importance for people everywhere at the FiLiA conference received a standing ovation.

Since 16 September, CEMB was involved in protests supporting the women’s revolution in Iran. See for example:

Mahsa Amini: London protesters show support for ‘women’s revolution’ in Iran, The Independent, 30 October 2022

In September, Protesters against the death sentences of lesbian activists Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Chobdar in Iran were met with aggressive shouts of Allahu Akbar on September 10. The two women were found guilty of promoting homosexuality but the aggressive hecklers were more concerned with CEMB’s signs than the lives of these two women. You can read more about it here.

IBKA, the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, awarded Maryam Namazie its Sapio Prize for outstanding merits in advocating freethought, separation of state and church, and rational thinking in Cologne, Germany on 10 September 2022. Find out more here.  See also Apostasy is a Human Right, Maryam Namazie erhält den IBKA-Preis Sapio, Miz, December 2022

CEMB Resident Artist Victoria Gugenheim lead a group action in solidarity with apostates worldwide for Apostasy Day at Celebrating Dissent 2022 during 20-21 August in Cologne. Participants painted their hand with a red A to stand up for apostates worldwide. Apostasy is the abandonment or renunciation of religion. It is punishable by death in many countries under Islamic rule. 

In August, Ex-Muslims International, the global umbrella body of ex-Muslim organisations, strongly condemned the two-year prison sentence of Fatima Karim for social media posts deemed “insulting to Islam.” Article 267-5 of Morocco’s Penal Code stipulates anyone undermining Islam is punishable by law. Under the article, Moroccan courts can hand sentences ranging from six months to two years in prison in addition to fines.

In July, CEMB’s theme at Pride was “Walking Dead” to draw focus to the fact that homosexuality, apostasy and blasphemy were still punished by death in a dozen countries under Sharia. We carried banners highlighting the names of the countries that do so and distributed leaflets to people on the sides to raise further awareness.

In June, Maryam Namazie spoke on Blasphemous Women at Brave Women for 2022 talk organised by Center for Civil Courage from Croatia and Women’s Solidarity from Serbia. Brave Women for 2022 presents courageous women from all over the world whose thoughts and deeds encourage us every day in our struggle for women’s liberation.

CEMB campaigned for Mohamed Rusthum Mujuthaba, a leading atheist and secularist in Maldives, facing a prison sentence if convicted of blasphemy in Maldives.

In April, CEMB campaigned against compulsory fasting during #Ramadan’s a bleak month where people are tortured, beaten, shunned, imprisoned for not submitting to fasting rules like in #Iran. #HappyFastDefying #FastDefyingKareem #DontGiveADamn4Ramadan

On #AtheistDay2022, 23 March, we celebrated atheism and Godlessness with green circles to make our presence known. Atheist Day was established in 2019 by Atheist Republic and Ex-Muslims International, a coalition of ex-Muslim groups. You can find out more here.

In March, for International Women’s Day, our campaign called for women to Throw our hijabs in ‘Freedom Bin’ and burn them. In the 1960s, feminists threw items of women’s oppression into a “freedom bin” as protest. There was also a topless protest with a rewrite of a Surah of the Quran.

In January, we called for the freedom of Aneeqa Ateeq, a 26-year old woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. According to a report in The Guardian, Aneeqa met her accuser online in a mobile gaming app, back in 2019. Conversation then transitioned to the messaging app WhatsApp where her accuser claims Aneeqa made blasphemous statements.

See also: Campaign launched after woman convicted over blasphemy charges, MMNewsTV, 24 January 2022

CEMB also called for release of Aneesh, an ex-Muslim from Tamil Nadu, arrested for posting memes about Islam. The next day police presented him to the courts and filed blasphemy charges against him.



World Hijab Day, February

CEMB’S new film WOMEN LEAVING ISLAM premiered on World Hijab Day as a challenge to Islam’s modesty culture.

In this powerful film, six ex-Muslim women activists share their moving stories of growing up in Muslim families and Muslim-majority countries and the exorcism, violence, loss and shunning they faced because of their scepticism and apostasy.

The women talk about everything from tearing their hijab on door handles as a child, singing for a dictator rather than attending madrasa, wearing a burkini on a beach in Italy, trying to save a child from Female Genital Mutilation, wanting to scream their atheism in Mecca during Hajj, losing custody of a child after a husband’s accusations of blasphemy, reporting a violent father who was also a best friend, forging a male guardian’s signature in order to leave the country… Despite the risks, the women speak of hope and finding freedom in leaving Islam.

The six brave women: Fauzia Ilyas, Fay Rahman, Halima Salat, Mimzy Vidz, Rana Ahmad and Zara Kay reside/have resided in Australia, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands and are from backgrounds as diverse as Bangladeshi, Egyptian/Moroccan, Saudi, Somali/Kenyan, Pakistani and Tanzanian.

The film’s Executive Producer is Maryam Namazie. Gita Sahgal and Reason4Freedom are Co-Producers. Reason4Freedom is also Director and Filmmaker.

In February, Maryam Namazie also joined a livestream Discussion: Hijab is sexist and misogynist with Farideh Arman, Jenny Wenhammar, Lilith Khanoum, Maryam Namazie, Mina Ahadi, Rana Ahmad and Shahad. Her talk in the discussion can be seen here – Celebrating World Hijab Day is like celebrating Breast Ironing Day or FGM Day.

Atheist Soheil Arabi released after 8 years in Iranian prison

Over 140 personalities called for 3 October to be recognised as International #SoheilDay in solidarity with Soheil Arabi, the atheist political prisoner in Iran who had originally been sentenced to death for a Facebook post. He has been imprisoned since 2013 and has become known as an outspoken advocate of atheism and prisoner rights despite the risks and pressures. On 16 November, Arabi was released and internally exiled for two years. He is in need of urgent medical care due to the torture he faced in prison. During the campaign, CEMB collected postcards for Soheil, which will be sent on to him.

In 2021, CEMB also campaigned on behalf Said Djabelkhir who has been sentenced to three years for ‘offending Islam’ in Algeria and called for the reinstatement of the Batley School teacher who was suspended for offending the Islamist ‘rent-a-mob.’ CEMB mobilised support for Mina Ahadi following death threats due to a 15 October protest against Cologne City Council’s permit to mosques to broadcast the call to prayer.

CEMB and the International Coalition of Ex-Muslims also actively campaigned to defend Faithless Hijabi Founder Zara Kay who was detained and prevented from leaving Tanzania on trumped up charges. She was finally able to return to Australia in March 2021 as a result of public pressure.

#Women4Nazanin – Women stage global fast to pressure UK to bring Nazanin Zagari-Ratcliffe home.

FILIA CEO Lisa-Marie Taylor and CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie launched #Women4Nazanin Solidarity Action by starting a 24-hour fasting relay on 20 December. Over 750 women have registered to hunger strike for a day (until 2024) and send a message to Boris Johnson to #FreeNazaninNow. Hopefully Nazanin will be home much before then. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is an Iranian-British dual citizen who has been detained in Iran and held hostage since 3 April 2016 on trumped up charges.  Hostage-taking is a human rights issue and not merely an issue of debts due Iran from the British government. Many governments have debts. Only the Iranian regime takes innocents hostage for political gain. Furthermore, what about debts of justice owed to those who have been killed, imprisoned and taken hostage for over 40 years by the regime? If there is a question of debt, it is the debt of justice due to people of Iran for the regime’s gross violations. And also for the British government’s continued relations with the regime and its silence on the issue of human rights. See Maryam Namazie’s interview in Persian with English subtitles on the campaign. More information here.

Blasphemous Women

CEMB held its first event post Covid lock-down on 20 November with the premiere of “Women Leaving Islam” followed by a panel discussion on Blasphemous Women and Equality with CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie, Youtuber and Counsellor Mimzy Vidz, Youtuber Nuriyeh Khan, Writer and Southall Black Sisters Activist Rahila Gupta and Counselling Psychologist Savin Bapir-Tardy.  The event was MCed by Sudanese activist Nahla Mahmoud.

On 30 September, CEMB celebrated blasphemy day by calling on the public to upload their photo into our #blasphemyday frame and sharing on social media. On this day, we reiterated that blasphemy is not a crime. It is part and parcel of freedom of conscience and expression and that ideas don’t need rights, people do.

TEDX Blasphemy Censorship

Maryam Namazie’s TedX Warwick talk on Creativity in Protesting Religious Fundamentalism was finally published a year after the talk and due to public pressure but without slides and an advisory stating it is ‘distressing and objectionable.’

Youtuber Rationality Rules dissected TedX’s blasphemy censorship of Maryam Namazie’s talk on Creativity in Challenging Religious Fundamentalism.

Maryam’s censored slides can be seen here.

I shit on Islam trending on Persian Twitter

At De Balie’s Freethinkers Festival in Amsterdam end October 2021, Maryam Namazie spoke on “Women in oppression: On the deep friendship between religion and patriarchy” in a panel with Deborah Feldman, Katarzyna Morton, Nazmiye Oral and Nikki Sterkenburg, chaired by Ianthe Mosselman and Gatool Katawazi.

During the discussion, she said “Religion has to come with health warning. It kills, it destroys, it humiliates, and particularly women it does that too.” She also explained the trending hashtag on Persian Twitter #IShitOnIslam  #ریدم_تو_اسلام.

International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, CEMB highlighted how the ‘modesty costume’ in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and the hijab are the same. 

International Atheist Day

The International Coalition of Ex-Muslims and Atheist Republic promoted #AtheistDay on social media in order to normalise atheism, defend the basic right to freedom from religion, and to stand in solidarity with the many persecuted for being non-believers. #AtheistDay #IAmAtheist #AtheismMyRight

I don’t give a #Ramadamn at #Ramadan

Fast-defying is persecuted in Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia… In protest, CEMB  called on people to dance, kiss, hug, sing, listen to music… – anything that is religiously prohibited.


CEMB organised twice-monthly support groups with Dr Savin Bapir-Tardy, a Counselling Psychologist; provided asylum documentation assistance to ex-Muslims and held socials and monthly meet ups.

This year, meet-ups hosted by Ali Malik were with Halima Salat and Mimzy Vidz on #JusticeForZaraKay, Khadija Khan on Religious Misogyny, Ex-Muslims of India’s Hina & Dovhakiin on Minority Within a Minority, Hassan Radwan on Reformation in Islamic History, Harris Sultan on the Importance of Activism, Nuriyah Khan on Women and Islam, and Mehran Torkzadeh Tabrizi on History of Islamic governance in Iran. Ana Gonzales, a Partner at Wilsons LLP, conducted workshops on asylum rights and apostasy and more for asylum seeking ex-Muslims


* CEMB signed on to a number of statements in support of women and people of Afghanistan, including “Women Against Taliban” and “Carte blanche: liberté, dignité et fraternité pour l’Afghanistan” in Le Soir.

* Ibn Warraq’s 2020 book “Leaving the Allah Delusion Behind: Atheism and Freethought in Islam” documenting atheism in Islam and the rising ex-Muslim movement states, “If it were not for Ms. Namazie’s tireless efforts, I doubt if the ex-Muslim atheist movement as a whole would have had the success it is experiencing now.”

* CEMB updated its “Covering your Internet Tracks” factsheet.


Women fast in support of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, National News, 20 December 2021

Campaigners call for release of Iranian blogger who ‘insulted Islam’, NSS News, 26 October 2021

Announcing the first publication from Humanist Canada Press: This World First by Marc Schaus, Humanist Canada, 11 August 2021

Maryam Namazie talks early life, Iran, human rights, sexuality, women and more, XMuslimUK, 6 July 2021

The ex-Muslim movement seeks to challenge apostasy in Islam, Toronto Sun, 1 July 2021

Worthy, A Poem Inspired by an Interview with Maryam Namazie, 5CallyRoad, 15 June 2021

Prey, review by Maryam Namazie, Evening Standard, 27 February 2021

In Defence of French Secularism: Maryam Namazie | Opinion, Byline TV, 16 February 2021

Embracing Blasphemy by Ali Malik, 16 February 2021

Women Leaving Islam: Stories of Courage and Change (with Maryam Namazie), The Thinking Atheist, 9 February 2021

From the hijab to freedom, Rahila Gupta, New Humanist, 19 January 2021

Tanzania faces increasing pressure to free Muslim apostate Zara Kay, The Freethinker, 5 January 2021

Maryam Namazie – The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss, 19 November 2020

“The right to criticize Islam is crucial for us atheists of Muslim culture,” SIAWI, 2 November 2020



CEMB organises monthly support groups with Dr Savin Bapir-Tardy, a Counselling Psychologist; provides asylum documentation assistance to ex-Muslims and holds socials and monthly meet ups. This year, meet-ups hosted by Ali Malik included Growing up in Islam and raising children without it with Halima Salat (to be broadcast live on 15 December), The ex-Muslim movement with Maryam Namazie, Political Blackness with Rahila Gupta, Islam, Superstitions and Impact on Childhood with Activist Cemal Knudsen Yucel, Identity politics, racism and liberation with Gita Sahgal, an open mic event for world refugee day and the Importance of comedy in speaking against Islam with Veedu Vidz.

Ana Gonzales, a Partner at Wilsons LLP, conducts regular workshops on asylum rights and apostasy for asylum seeking ex-Muslims, including on 19 May and 20 October.

After our March 8 event in London, CEMB’s activities, support groups and meet-ups went online due to the pandemic. 


10 December, International Human Rights Day

On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) presents a sneak preview of a new documentary, “Women Leaving Islam,” 7.00-8.30pm GMT.

In this powerful film, six ex-Muslim women activists share their moving stories of growing up in Muslim families and Muslim-majority countries and the exorcism, violence, loss and shunning they faced because of their scepticism and apostasy.

The women talk about everything from tearing their hijab on door handles as a child, singing for a dictator rather than attending madrasa, wearing a burkini on a beach in Italy, trying to save a child from Female Genital Mutilation, wanting to scream their atheism in Mecca during Hajj, losing custody of a child after a husband’s accusations of blasphemy, reporting a violent father who was also a best friend, forging a male guardian’s signature in order to leave the country… Despite the risks, the women speak of hope and finding freedom in leaving Islam.

The six brave women: Fauzia Ilyas, Fay Rahman, Halima Salat, Mimzy Vidz, Rana Ahmad and Zara Kay reside/have resided in Australia, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands. They are from backgrounds as diverse as Bangladeshi, Egyptian/Moroccan, Saudi, Somali/Kenyan, Pakistani and Tanzanian.

The sneak preview will only be available on 10 December, from 7.00-8.30pm GMT. After that, it will premiere on 1 February 2021 as a challenge to World Hijab Day and Islam’s modesty culture.

The film’s Executive Producer is Maryam Namazie. Gita Sahgal and Reason4Freedom are Co-Producers. Reason4Freedom is also Director and Filmmaker.

30 September, International #BlasphemyDay, #EndBlasphemyLaws #BlasphemyNotACrime

On 30 September, #BlasphemyDay, we publish The Woman’s Quran (114 Pages for 114 Surahs). It is blank because religion is an offence against women and because the Quran, Islam and Islamism are the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.  – Maryam Namazie (A reference to US Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation”.)

On 30 September, feel free to fill the pages of The Woman’s Quran with blasphemy.  You can draw hearts with blasphemous messages on its pages, on your body or hand using #BlasphemerAtHeart #TheWomansQuran #BlasphemyDay #EndBlasphemyLaws. You don’t need to show your face if you aren’t “out” yet. See examples by award-winning body-painter Victoria Gugenheim and a sample blank page of the Woman’s Quran for downloading here.

On this day, continue to support those on death row and in prison on blasphemy charges including Junaid Hafeez in Pakistan,  Mubarak Bala, Yahaya Aminu Sharif & 13 year old Umar Farooq facing death and long term imprisonment in Nigeria,  Sina Dehghan and Soheil Arabi in Iran and many others.

We also call on the public to sign a petition calling for a ban on the Islamic regime of Iran from sports after its execution of young wrestler Navid Afkari on trumped up charges, including enmity against God.

22 August, Apostasy Day

On 22nd August, thousands participated in Apostasy Day, including by taking selfies with the hashtag #HandsUpforApostasyDay #ApostasyDay #ApostasyNotACrime. Overall, 83,000 people engaged in the day reaching 233,000 people.

More than 5,000 also signed a petition supporting Apostasy Day, which was established by an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations.

We call on the public to continue to join our call for the recognition of Apostasy Day on 22 August so as to better highlight the plight of apostates worldwide as well as defend the basic human right to apostasy. TO JOIN THE CALL, PLEASE SIGN HERE.  Onwards and upwards towards 22 August 2021!

Apostasy (ردة‎ or ارتداد) is the abandonment or renunciation of religion. It is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen and a criminal offence in many more Muslim-majority countries. In Pakistan, a disbelief in God is punishable with the death penalty under a blasphemy law. In Saudi Arabia, atheism is equated with terrorism. In some countries without the death penalty, Islamists kill those deemed apostates, including in Bangladesh and Muslim-minority India. In many countries, such as in Europe and North America, apostates can face threats, shunning and honour-based violence, including from their families. Individuals from Orthodox Jewish, Christian, Hindu and other backgrounds can also face shunning and violence for apostasy.

22 August is being chosen as Apostasy Day because it is the UN Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Moreover, late August marks the start of a second wave of mass executions of apostates in Iran in 1988 after brief “trials”. Thousands who responded negatively to questions such as ‘Are you a Muslim?’, ‘Do you believe in Allah?’, ‘Is the Holy Qur’an the Word of Allah?’, ‘Do you accept the Holy Muhammad to be the Seal of the Prophets?’, ‘Do you fast during Ramadan?’, ‘Do you pray and read the Holy Qur’an?’ were summarily executed.

On the newly established Apostasy Day, we renew calls for the:

  • commemoration of the victims of apostasy laws
  • an end to the criminalisation and the death penalty for apostasy in countries under Islamic laws
  • an end to shunning, threats and honour-related violence from families of apostates
  • affirmation of freedom of thought, conscience and belief as well as opinion and expression in compliance with the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 18 & 19).

27 June, LGBT Rights and Pride

Watch June 27 discussion on Persecution, Shunning and Survival: Being Ex-Muslim/Muslim and LGBT for Pride Month. The event was a Pride In London Coming Out event.

With Jimmy Bangash, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson; Khakan Qureshi, Gay Muslim activist and Stonewall LGBT+ school role model and Diversity Role Mode; Lilith, Trans Woman with migration background; Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, French-Algerian openly gay Imam and founder of the first European inclusive mosque in Paris; Nemat Sadat, Author of the Carpet Weaver and first public gay ex-Muslim from Afghanistan; and Saima Razzaq, Birmingham Community Activist and first Muslim woman to lead UK Pride event. Poetry by Halima Salat. Event chaired by Youtuber Fay Rahman with welcome and closing by CEMB spokesperson Maryam Namazie.

25 April, Pre-Iftaar Fast-Defying “Eat-In” in Solidarity with Persecuted during Ramadan

On 25th April 2020 at 6:00pm (BST) Fay Rahman livestreamed a Pre-Iftaar Mukbang: a fast-defying “eat-in” in conjunction with Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB). The “eat-in” was organised in solidarity with those who are punished for eating and drinking during Ramadan with floggings, beatings and imprisonment. This action is particularly important given that many are trapped in their homes and forced to fast against their will.

Watch the solidarity action:

4 April, three-hour online protest to save the life of Soheil Arabi, atheist on death row in Iran

A three-hour online protest took place on 4 April reaching out to thousands on social media to highlight the urgent plight of Soheil Arabi in prison in Iran since 2013. Arabi was initially sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet.” He was eventually acquitted of this charge and his sentence reduced on appeal to seven and a half years in prison, a two-year travel ban and two years of religious study to evaluate his repentance upon his release. He was then sentenced to lashes, an additional 3 years prison and a fine for “insulting Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic” and “propaganda against the regime.” Arabi has been seriously tortured and in need of urgent medical attention. This urgent action took place while he is currently on hunger strike to protest the injustice of his case, the denial of medical attention and leave due to Coronavirus, the torture and mistreatment of political prisoners and prison conditions, amongst others. You can read more about his case here.

The protest was hosted by Veedu VidzShahin Mohamadi and Maryam Namazie and was the first online protest of its kind  in both Persian and English.

You can watch the online protest here:

23 March, International Atheist Day

On the second International Atheist Day, 23 March 2020, which was established in 2019 by a number of ex-Muslim and atheist organisations,  we call on families, communities and societies to end the heinous practice of shunning atheists, ex-Muslims and freethinkers.

Shunning is akin to long-term psychological torture and a form of social death penalty. See counselling psychologist Savin Bapir-Tardy’s piece on its adverse effects on those who are shunned.





8 March, Apostasy, Shunning and Survival Event extraordinary and inspiring

For #InternationalWomenDay2020, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Born Free held a sold-out event on Apostasy, Shunning & Survival. It was an extraordinary and inspiring evening.

The event was opened by MC Nahla Mahmoud and began with a screening of the stunning film: “No Longer Without You”, a documentary about a searing conversation about parenthood, tradition, religion, sex, and independence between a free-spirited daughter, Nazmiye Oral and her traditional Muslim mother, Havva in the intimate circle of a living room in front of their family following several public performances.

This was followed by a panel discussion with Actress Nazmiye Oral, Youtuber Fay Rahman, Journalist Khadija Khan, Student Activist Saff Khalique, Clinical Psychologist Savin Bapir-Tardy and Født Fri (Born Free) Foundation Director Shabana Rehman. Chair: CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie.

The evening ended with a poem by Playwright and Poet One Tawny Stranger.

The speakers highlighted the adverse effects of shunning and called for an end to shunning and for all to #ShunShunning.

1 February, World Hijab Day

In February 2013, when the day was first initiated, Maryam Namazie compared World Hijab Day with World Female Genital Mutilation Day or World Child Marriage Day. She was quoted in a BBC report in 2013 as saying:
“Millions of women and girls have been harassed, fined, intimidated and arrested for ‘improper’ veiling over the past several decades,” she wrote in a blog post about the Iranian women’s football team’s hijabs.
“Anyone who has ever taken an Iran Air flight will verify how quickly veils are removed the minute the airplane leaves Iranian airspace.
“And anyone who knows anything about Iran knows the long and hard struggle that has taken place against compulsory veiling and sex apartheid.”
In 2014, Maryam Namazie called for solidarity with “women who refuse and resist veiling.”
Since the inception of World Hijab Day, actions against the day has been increasing with protests, including #FreeFromHIjab, #WalkingUnveiled #NoHijabDay #NoToCompulsoryHijab becoming viral this year.



CEMB organises support groups and and asylum documentation assistance to ex-Muslims. We hold monthly meet ups. This year, topics under discussion included female genital mutilation and male circumcision, leaving faith behind, shunning, mental health and apostasy and religion, misogyny and atheism.

Ana Gonzales, a Partner at Wilsons LLP conducts regular workshops on asylum rights and apostasy for asylum seeking ex-Muslims.

On the left is a photo of our arts meetup with artist Salma Zulfiqar who focused on empowering refugees through art.



10 December, International Human Rights Day

For International Human Rights Day, we initiated a social media campaign to show that ex-Muslim rights are human rights.

22 November, Statement in Support of protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon

In November, the International Ex-Muslim Coalition mobilised in solidarity with the protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, including by issuing a statement calling of the support of protests, which have been anti-clerical and deeply secular as well as women-led.

The statement and initial signatories can is available on our website.

27 October, Campaign to establish the first ex-Muslim refuge in the world

CEMB began a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the first emergency shelter for ex-Muslims in order to provide accommodation and support in the UK to those at serious risk to their lives because of their apostasy from Islam. Until now, CEMB has been forced to provide limited emergency accommodation at hotels, which is neither practical nor cost-effective.

With this crowdfunding campaign, CEMB hopes to provide a long-term and safe solution for those at greatest risk by establishing the first ex-Muslim refuge in the world. Purchase of a refuge space, as well as maintenance and utilities will cost 

£300,000. Whilst we realise this is an insurmountable amount, any money raised here will be used to provide emergency accommodation and support to those at greatest risk with the aim of working towards the first permanent refuge for ex-Muslims.

More information on the JustGiving campaign can be found here. CEMB raised £3,459 (of which we received £3,333.90 in two instalments – £1,320.51 on 29 June 2020 and £2,013.39 on 2 December 2020), which is not enough to establish a refuge. The money, therefore, will be used to support ex-Muslims at risk.

30 September, International #BlasphemyDay, #EndBlasphemyLaws #BlasphemyNotACrime

On International Blasphemy Day, we worked with the International Ex-Muslim Coalition to highlight cases from countries where blasphemy is punishable by death.

CEMB also organised an atheist Azaan (call to prayers) as an act of blasphemy on the day.

You can see the video here.       

August/September, Celebrating Dissent Festival at De Balie Amsterdam

The epic ‘Celebrating Dissent’ Festival took place between 30 August -1 September in Amsterdam, a collaboration between the prestigious art and debate institute De Balie and Maryam Namazie. More than 50 speakers from 30 countries worldwide joined a mixture of intense, conversations, comedy, art, poetry and dance performances, films, lectures and protest.

To highlight the dangers facing dissenters, a public protest of 160 balloons (left) with the names of those persecuted or murdered for blasphemy and apostasy was held. Participants at the Festival carried balloons to a nearby square and chalked the names of dissenters into the pavement as a memorial of sorts.

The historic event was an astounding celebration of apostasy, blasphemy and dissent. From the moment the city’s Mayor, Femke Halsema, opened the festival by welcoming ‘heretics, infidels and renegades,’ it was clear that this would be a historic and remarkable festival committed not only to defending free thought and expression but also the lives and freedoms of dissenters.

30 August 2019

Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Maryam Namazie 
Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Taslima Nasrin
Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Inna Shevchenko
Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Saif Ul Malook

Celebrating Dissent: Interview Marathon with Zineb El Rhazoui. An empty chair since she was prevented from coming by Dutch government.

31 August 2019

A Conversation on Women’s Dissent with Inna Shevchenko, Maryam Namazie and Taslima Nasrin. Music by Shelley Segal. Protest Art by Victoria Guggenheim. Chair: Samira Bouchibti.

Touching the Holy Subject with Nadia El Fani, Rishvin Ismath, Saif Ul Malook and Sarah Haider. Music by Veedu Vidz. Chair: Bahram Sadeghi.

Comedy, the Sacred and Islamophobia with Shabana Rehman, Ali Rizvi and Armin Nabavi. Chair: Sherin Seyda.

Public Art Protest commemorating dissenters in a public square.

Separation of Religion from the State with Afsana Lachaux, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Elżbieta Podleśna, Homa Arjomand and Sadia Hamed. Chair: Bercan Gunel.

Women against Gods with Gita Sahgal, Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, Maaike Meijer, Mineke Schipper and Rana Ahmad. Performance by Atoosa Farahmand. Chair: Ianthe Mosselman.

1 September 2019

Film Screening Neither Allah Nor Master by Nadia El Fani followed by a conversation with Hind Bariaz, Karrar Al Asfoor, Wissam Charafeddine and Zara Kay. Chair: Sophie Rutenfrans.

Film Screening No Longer without You by Nazmiyeh Oral followed by a conversation with Cemal Knudsen Yucel, Fauzia Ilyas, Mimzy Vidz, Omar Makram, Rishvin Ismath, Sohail Ahmad and Zehra Pala. Chair: Parwin Mirahimy.

On Identity with Kenan Malik, Harris Sultan, Jimmy Bangash, Rahila Gupta and Yasmin Rehman. Poetry by Halima Salat. Chair: Jorgen Tjong a Fong.

Fighting the Far-Right; Celebrating Dissent with Halima Salat, Maryam Namazie, Mohamed Hisham, Muhammed Syed, Sadia Hamed and Sami Abdallah. Music by Shelley Segal. Chair: Samira Bouchibti.

There was also artwork by Mahshad Afshar and Jenny Wenhammar’s FEMEN Goddesses.

 Media coverage of De Balie #CelebratingDissent Festival

Photos of De Balie #CelebratingDissent Festival.

June/July, LGBT Rights and Pride

In the run-up to Gay Pride, CEMB organised a protest outside the Brunei Embassy on 17 June to condemn Brunei’s new stoning sentences for gay sex and adultery.

The action included placing stones on the embassy steps. In April, CEMB also joined protests at the Dorchester Hotel, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

CEMB issued a solidarity statement on Birmingham schools and LGBT rights. Islamists have been leading protests against the No Outsiders programme in a primary school that teaches tolerance of LGBT.

We also had a letter to the editor published in a Dutch paper challenging an opinion piece that labelled our activities in Pride as bigoty. “Offence does not justify denial of rights” is the Dutch title of the letter to the editor.

On 4 July, CEMB organised an evening on LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy as part of Pride in London Festival with a film screening of ‘Ferdous’ by Shakila Taranum Maan followed by a panel discussion with Jimmy Bangash (CEMB Spokesperson), Khakan Qureshi (Birmingham South Asians LGBT Founder), Nadia El Fani (Tunisian Filmmaker), Shakila Taranum Maan (British Director) and Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon (Bangladeshi LGBT activist and Editor of Boys Love World). Facilitated by Maryam Namazie (CEMB and One Law for All Spokesperson). Kenyan Somali Poet Halima Salat ended the evening with her poem called A Boy, A Village, A Death.

On 6 July 2019 CEMB marched in Pride London for the 3rd time as an organisation. This year, we marked the 40th anniversary of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a rebellion against the church’s religious morality, by marching as the Imams of Perpetual Indulgence. Instead of being the Council for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice that terrorise people by enforcing Islamic morality codes with brute force in the countries some of us have fled from, we were the Council for the Promotion of Vice and the Prevention of Virtue. Our imams were not the usual imams promoting death for thinking and loving freely but instead included dissenting topless women who subverted Islamic morality language by being Imams of Vice, Lust, Kofr, Zina…

You can see a video of our Pride protest here.

Unsurprisingly, as in previous years, social media erupted with threats and intimidation because as always apostasy and blasphemy are considered worse than the murder of LGBT, apostates and blasphemers. Some “Sheikh” has even called for a joint statement of imams against CEMB because apparently, he fears “the punishment of Allah will descend.” And as usual, we have been accused of “Islamophobia.”

You can read about it in detail here.

May/June, Ramadan Fast-Defying Protests: Child Fasting is Child Abuse

During the month of Ramadan, we organised a protest at the Department for Education calling on Government to stop child fasting, which is a form of child neglect and abuse. We also issued advice on the matter to educators. Whilst at the Department for Education, young Muslim youth on their way to Friday prayers stopped at our protest and we had a strong exchange on the issue. Our position raised a lot of discussions amongst Muslims or those from Muslim backgrounds.

Of course, this has meant that there has also been push back. For example, BBC Woman’s Hour, which was meant to have our Spokesperson discuss our stance with those in favour of child fasting, cancelled her appearance at the last minute. We also organised Ramadan Stories, and a Fast-Defying picnic for members. You can read details here.


March 23, First ever Global Atheist Day

23 March was the first ever International Atheist Day. This day was first discussed at our 2017 conference, which was the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history. The international coalition of ex-Muslims that was formed immediately after the conference met regularly on Skype to make the day a reality two years later.

At CEMB, we organised a successful Atheist Day which focused on ex-Muslim women given that women are less visible than men ex-Muslims and women have more barriers to coming out and speaking out.

Photographs of women sitting on the ground in a public park with legs akimbo were in solidarity with women across the world who are being sexually assaulted for fighting for their rights and told to ‘sit properly’, ‘be decent’ and threatened with rape for claiming the right to their bodies. It was in particular a show of solidarity with women involved in the aurat march in Pakistan. See video of the action here.

This action was followed by an emotional evening of ex-Muslim women speaking out, including with Ibtisamme Betty Lachgar, Mimzy Vidz and Zara Kay, ex-Muslims receiving coming out certificates and a 2019 CEMB award ceremony.

Find our Way to Freedom, New Ex-Muslim Anthem by Shelley Segal

For the day, Shelley Segal sang her new anthem for CEMB and ex-Muslims called ‘Find our Way to Freedom,’ which premiered on Atheist Day.

March 8, International Women’s Day

For 8 March, Shelley Segal produced a video for her song “Our Resistance” which she sang for One Law for All, CEMB’s sister organisation.

You can see the video here.

 Our international ex-Muslim coalition organised Women Against Allah for International Women’s Day.

Hashtags  included: #WomenAgainstAllah   #WomenAgainstGod #WomenAgainstReligions #WomenAgainstQuran #NoShame

CEMB focused on #PeriodsAreNatural in order to break the taboo that comes with women’s periods. This caused a huge uproar and started a much-needed discussion.

February 6, No to FGM Day

For zero tolerance to Female genital mutilation (FGM) day, we handed out roses that had been stapled shut, along with flyers explaining FGM, the harms of it and how to support someone that is at risk, or has experienced FGM. We received much public support and had some good discussions on the issue with the public.

February 1, No Hijab Day

For Hijab Day, we organised in a 3-hour live podcast, with over half a dozen women worldwide, discussing the harms of modesty culture and the veil.

 January 21, Refugee Too

graphic of colourful hands with hearts and text seeking asulum is my rightCEMB organised a #RefugeeToo protest outside the Home Office in order to highlight the fact that ex-Muslims are also refugees. This campaign linked into the plight of the Saudi woman and ex-Muslim Rahaf who was able to get asylum in Canada after locking herself in her hotel room in Thailand when authorities tried to deport her back to Saudi Arabia. The campaign highlighted a number of activist cases to show the absurd reasons given for rejecting apostates and how at risk they are.


International Coalition of Ex-Muslims

After the De Balie Celebrating Dissent Festival in Amsterdam, we organised a strategy meeting of the International Coalition of Ex-Muslims on 2 September 2019. Our coalition continues to work together on campaigns such as against blasphemy laws and on International Women’s Day, against Facebook and Twitter bans, e.g. ban of Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka’s Facebook page and on urgent actions like in the cases of calling on the Egyptian government to allow atheist Ahmed Harkan to leave the country, demanding the unconditional immediate release of Mohamed Rusthum Mujuthaba in the Maldives and helping get Hisham Mohamed, the Egyptian who said he was an atheist on live TV and was abused and kicked off the show and faced death threats to reach safety in Germany.



On 4 November, CEMB trained Malaysian officials (left) around the issues of blasphemy and apostasy. The Malaysian officials said that this was the first time they had ever interacted with atheists and that even homosexuality is considered more normal/common than atheism in Malaysia.

In October, CEMB was mentioned in a report entitled Challenging Hateful Extremism issued by the Commission for Countering Extremism.

In August, CEMB completed submissions for the Home Affairs select committee against the proposed Islamophobia definition and on Hate Crimes, had a meeting with secular groups, to create an official coalition against the APPG for British Muslims definition of Islamophobia and issued a joint statement calling on the Government to reject the Islamophobia definition. We also met with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Freedom of Religious Belief representative. Our piece was included in the Civitas Report: Islamophobia: Anthology on Concerns.

In March, a European Parliament Motion on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression included Maryam Namazie’s no platforming and exclusions from UK campuses.


All CEMB related media coverage and interviews can be found on our website. We organised and spoke at numerous events in 2019, including:

In November, Maryam and Afsana Lachaux were joint winners of the 2019 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize (left) for their campaigning work in support of women under Sharia laws. The award recognised the links with Sharia and religious laws and violence against women.

That month, Maryam also spoke at an event on Blasphemy and free expression in Oslo with Shabana Rehman and Sarah Haider. 

CEMB Spokesperson gave the keynote at the first Women of Colour Beyond Belief conference in the US and debated the Decline of Organised Religion at Durham University in October. She also organised the first ever discussion on apostasy and blasphemy at the FiLia feminist Conference held in Bradford. She was part of the organising committee of the conference and interviewed a number of rights activists for the FiLia podcast.

In September, Maryam was interviewed by sister-hood after the De Balie Festival. Read Stand with the witches, heretics and blasphemers.

In August, Maryam Namazie spoke at the Atheists Assemble event in London on the rising ex-Muslim movement and minority rights.

In April, Maryam spoke on a panel on Subversion and Dissent to mark 30th anniversary of Southall Black Sisters.

In March, CEMB debated a reverend and imam on religion’s role in society at Brunel University.

In February, we joined a panel discussion on why we defended Rushdie organised by Feminist Dissent and spoke on a panel entitled Bloody Shame and how to lift the menstrual taboo.

In January, Maryam gave the Freedom Lecture at De Balie in Amsterdam and Brussels. At the beginning of the year, the Islamic regime of Iran’s intelligence service did a film which included an “expose” on Maryam as “anti-God”.


On World Hijab Day, CEMB defends #IAMVIDA and women who are persecuted for refusing compulsory veiling laws in Iran, namely Vida Movahed who has become the iconic image of the movement by standing on a plinth in Tehran and putting her veil on a stick.

CEMB and others write on the Independent Review on Sharia that Sharia Laws are part of the extremist threat and not a solution.

CEMB calls on the UK Government to prosecute incitement to violence after CEMB members and others received “Punish a Muslim” contest flyers.

CEMB launches campaign stating loud and clear that freethought is not a crime. #AtheismNotACrime, #BlasphemyNotACrime, #ApostasyNotACrime.

CEMB demands that the Egyptian government release Sherif Gaber, after they once again detained him, mid live vlog.

CEMB holds fast defying protests outside embassies of countries that prosecute people for eating during Ramadan, an action that led to being filmed and threatened outside the Pakistani embassy and armed police approaching our protestors outside the Saudi embassy.

CEMB organises a screening of the film, Islam’s Non-Believers, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A on LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy as part of London Pride Festival to raise awareness amongst those who are unfamiliar with CEMB and the ex-Muslim movement.

CEMB marches at Pride 2018 in London despite attempts to bar and silence us. It is a victory against Islamism. CEMB Spokesperson Imad Iddine Habib explains why “Allah is Gay”. Also see a video on our presence at Pride with an interview with CEMB Spokesperson Jimmy Bangash.

Maryam Namazie speaks at a Muslimish Conference in NYC about how ex-Muslims are a community in protest.

In April and October, we held “Coming Out” parties where people received their apostasy certificates. The parties are one way of seeing people’s coming out as a cause for celebration rather than vilification and a source of shame.

In October, CEMB conducted a training for 11 Malaysian government officials who are involved in the Islamic religious affairs department, including those implementing Sharia in the law, education and government.

We show the film, Islam’s Non Believers, and have an extended discussion on apostasy and the right to atheism.

CEMB and One Law for All Coalition call on the British Government to Stop Pushing Minority Women Towards Religious Courts.

CEMB condemns China’s persecution of Muslims.

CEMB asks why Inclusive Mosque is so afraid of Secularism?

CEMB sponsors a landmark International Conference on Sharia, Segregation & Secularism in London to mark 10th anniversary of One Law for All. Resolution in support of Asia Bibi is adopted, including her right to asylum and protection in the UK. Manifesto on Women and Secularism is also adopted.


CEMB condemns continued restrictions at British universities.

CEMB calls on the British authorities to grant long standing CEMB activist Aftab Ahmed asylum and protection.

Maryam Namazie writes of Sayeeda Warsi’s blinkered view on Islamism in the Evening Standard.

CEMB defends Pakistani freethinkers Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman.

Ex Muslims of Sri Lanka Launches.

CEMB exposes Islamist Yasir Qadhi who incites discrimination and violence.

CEMB and other organisations write Letter to Facebook on religious extremists censoring atheists and secularists.

CEMB, along with a coalition of activists, successfully urges the Danish Parliament to repeal its blasphemy law.

CEMB calls on all to stand with Mohamed Salih, a young Sudanese who filed an official request for all mention of Islam to be removed from his documents, including his national ID. As a result, he was charged with apostasy, arrested and released after being declared mentally unfit. Salih was forced to flee the country.

Ensaf Haidar joins London vigil sponsored by CEMB, English Pen and others for her imprisoned husband, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

Maryam Namazie speaks in Iraqi Kurdistan not far from ISIS-held territories and near the Iranian border at the first Feminist Enlightenment Congress in Sulaymaniyah. Her speech on “Islam and Islamism – the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation” is well received.

CEMB marches at London Pride for the first time leading to a media furore in which CEMB is labelled “Islamophobic” for its placards, including “Allah is Gay” and “Fuck Islamic Homophobia.” Islamists like the East London Mosque and Mend file complaints against us to Pride and it takes Pride 8 months to formally decide whether we will be allowed to march in 2018.


CEMB hosts the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history in London in July 2017 at the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression with over 70 notable speakers from 30 countries or the Diaspora gathered in what is dubbed “The Glastonbury of Freethinkers” and “a Conference of Heroes” to honour dissenters and defend apostasy, blasphemy, and secularism. The sold-out conference highlights the voices of those on the frontlines of resistance – many of them persecuted and exiled. The conference made a space for crucial discussions and debates on Islamophobia and its use by Islamists to impose de facto blasphemy laws, the relation between Islam and Islamism as well as communalism’s threat to universal rights, art as resistance and Laicite as a human right. The conference hashtag, #IWant2BFree, trends on Twitter. The conference includes a public art protest of 99 balloons to represent those killed or imprisoned for blasphemy and apostasy around the world. Resolutions against the no platforming of Richard Dawkins and in support of Egyptian atheist Ismail Mohamed and CEMB at Pride are adopted.  A Declaration of Freethinkers is adopted at the conference.

Following the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, the International Coalition of Ex-Muslims is launched. The Coalition begins working on joint projects and actions and meets regularly to plan campaigns.

The world’s first group bodypaint of CEMB’s logo captured by both ground and drone conceived by award-winning body painter Victoria Gugenheim is held support of and solidarity with ex-Muslims.

CEMB updates its report on the “Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam,”  which reviews the legislative and government policies around the world that target apostates and highlights individual cases.

The International Ex-Muslim Coalition produces “The Future Belongs to Blasphemers” – a video message.

CEMB and others call on Greek Authorities to Release and Protect Iraqi ex-Muslim Karrar Al Asfoor. He is released soon after.

CEMB speaks at 10th anniversary celebration of Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany.

The International Ex-Muslim Coalition produces “Say No to Quran 4:34, #Quran434NoMore” to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

CEMB updates Covering Your Internet Tracks leaflet to help protect ex-Muslims on the Internet.


CEMB continues to highlight the cases of those languishing in prisons or on death row for apostasy or blasphemy.

CEMB publishes “A Case Study of Islamism on Campus: Trinity College Dublin, Goldsmiths University, University of Warwick” detailing how speakers like Maryam Namazie being barred or censored due to appeasement of Islamists.

CEMB demands that ex-Muslim Omar Makram be granted asylum by the Swedish Authorities.

CEMB demands Facebook stop censoring Arab ex-Muslims and freethinkers.

CEMB defends Salman Rushdie after media outlets run by the Islamic regime in Iran add bounty for fatwa.

CEMB organises with others protest at NUS urging reform of no-platform and safe space policies, which restrict freedom of expression. This comes as 16 students from various universities have highlighted 20 different case studies of censorship.

CEMB issues a statement on attacks on atheists, secularists, and religious minorities in Bangladesh with others calling for freedoms of religion, belief, and expression for threatened atheists, secularists, minorities.

CEMB spokesperson Maryam Namazie speaks at the Reason Rally 2016: Out, Loud and Proud for Secularism in Washington DC.

CEMB calls for a day to defy fasting rules in solidarity with those who face persecution for eating during fasting hours in Ramadan. The first ever fast defying protests were held at various embassies, to protest against the many people across the globe who are arrested, beaten and fined for eating during the month of Ramadan; and the many others are pressured into fasting, including in Europe.

CEMB calls on Algerian Government to release Rachid Fodil and H. S., accused of propagating blasphemous materials and insulting Islam and the Quran on social media.

CEMB responds to #ExMuslimBecause #MeanTweets.

CEMB organises an ex-Muslim Flash Dance in Kings Cross in support of freethinkers and apostates across the globe. On their faces and chests, they had written of “Ex-Muslim”, “Kafir”, “Atheist”, “Migrant”, “Refugee”, and “Apostate.” They also danced in memory of Adel Al-Jaf, a young Iraqi dancer, who was killed the day before in a mass suicide bombing in Iraq with over 200 others. He had to dance in secret; they danced for him and all those who cannot dance, think, live and love in public.

Award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan takes an in-depth look into the work of CEMB and the plight of ex-Muslims in her documentary film, “Islam’s Non-Believers” premiered on ITV’s Exposure in October.  Following the documentary, Dr Savin Bapir-Tardy, a counselling psychologist, identifies shunning as a form of torture.

CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie wins the International Secularism (Laicite) Prize from the Comité Laïcité République in Paris.

CEMB calls on the Charity Commission to revoke iERA’s charity status.

CEMB explains how discrimination and violence at the heart of sharia courts.

One Law for All provides devastating evidence to Home Affairs parliamentary committee on Sharia courts, including on the issue of apostasy.


CEMB shares its outrage and solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

CEMB demands an end to execution of “apostates” and “blasphemers.”

CEMB and One Law for All organise a Conference on Sharia Law, Apostasy and Secularism to discuss freedom of expression, apostasy and blasphemy laws, Islamism and the religious-Right, as well as Sharia in the law, educational system and public policy. They will also highlight the successful campaigns against the Law Society and Universities UK and pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo and the many Muslims, ex-Muslims and others who have been killed or persecuted for their dissent.

Organisers cancel Maryam Namazie’s speech on “Apostasy and the Rise of Islamism” at Trinity College Dublin. Spokesperson Maryam Namazie refuses to have conditions imposed on her, regarding her talk at the university, resulting in her talk being cancelled.  She later goes to speak to students.

“The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam” by Simon Cottee is published which is the first in-depth research study into the social dynamics of Islamic apostasy in the West. Many of those interviewed are CEMB members. The research highlights the social stigma faced by apostates.

CEMB rallies support for 24 year old Esha in Pakistani prison charged with blasphemy in Pakistan.

CEMB demands charges of blasphemy be dropped against Yousef Muhammad Ali in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Fauzia Ilyas who founded Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAAP) affiliated to CEMB is forced to flee to the Netherlands after a Lahore court initiated criminal proceedings under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law and issued an arrest warrant.

CEMB is featured in film “Among Nonbelievers.”

Maryam Namazie is no platformed from Warwick University. The Guardian’s David Shariatmadari defends her no platforming. She goes to speak after public outrage at her no platforming forces the student union to apologise and allow her to speak.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Singapore affiliates with CEMB.

Successful Twitter campaign #ExMuslimBecause is launched and goes viral engaging 120,000 Tweets of ex-Muslims from over 65 countries, with hilarious, heart-breaking and inspiring stories of leaving Islam. The campaign allows both those public and closeted ex Muslims the opportunity to share their experiences and reasons for being ex-Muslims. 

CEMB and more than 60 international organisations sign a letter in support of poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for apostasy.

Goldsmiths Islamic Society tries to cancel and then disrupt Maryam Namazie’s talk but fails. The video of the talk and the disruptions went viral and has become an example of attempts at silencing dissent at universities. Namazie returns a year later to discuss Islam’s Non-Believers. Namazie explains “Why I had to face down the bullies trying to silence my supposedly ‘offensive’ stance on Islam.”


CEMB rallies with others at Law Society to condemn their endorsement of discriminatory Sharia law.

First legal atheist organisation formed in Turkey! The first legally recognised Atheist Organisation of the Balkans, Middle East and among all Muslim-majority countries, has been founded in Istanbul, Turkey. The organisation, titled Ateizm Dernegi, was founded in Istanbul on April 16, 2014.

CEMB issues statement demanding that Mariam Yahya Ibrahim be freed immediately. She has been death sentence in Sudan for apostasy. The heavily pregnant Mariam had also been charged with adultery and imprisoned with her toddler.  She and her husband are Christian but the judge insists she is Muslim.

CEMB issues a report, “Evangelising Hate: Islamic Education & Research Academy (iERA)” to  explain “soft Islamists” and detailing specific examples of incitement to hate and violence practised by iERA preachers, advisors and “street Dawah” activists. iERA is a far-Right group inciting violence and shouldn’t be a charity.

Maryam Namazie sends a video message to over 60 atheists meeting clandestinely in Jordan to congratulate them on their bold move and to pledge CEMB’s support.

CEMB urges Ofsted to revise its guidance and put needs of children before religion and the fundamentalists.

CEMB and One Law for All sponsor a two-day international conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights. Notable free-thinkers, atheists and secularists from around the world came together for a weekend of discussions and debates on the religious-Right, its attacks on civil rights and freedoms, and the role of secularism for 21st century humanity. The exciting two-day conference discusses the Arab Spring, Sharia and religious laws, the limits of religion’s role in society, free expression, honour killings, apostasy and blasphemy laws, faith schools, women’s rights, secular values and much more. The 250 delegates made an unequivocal stand with the brave women and men of Kobane saying: “Their struggle is ours. Their fight is a fight for us all. We are all, today, Kobane.”


CEMB demands the release of Egyptian blogger and atheist Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al-Baz (also known as Ben Baz) in Kuwait for exercising his right to free expression, conscience and belief.

Muslimish Launched in May 2012 in New York City where ex-Muslims and Muslims who have questions about religion or want take a more objective look at its teachings can come and participate in a free and open discussion without fear of punishment or judgement.

CEMB is horrified to learn of sex segregation at an Islamist-organised event in University College London. After complaints, the organisation is banned from holding events there.

CEMB holds successful International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers. More than three hundred individuals and organisations call for an international day of action on 14 March to defend those accused of apostasy and blasphemy. Thousands more defended apostates and blasphemers via acts of solidarity and social media, Tweeted, sent letters of protest, or issued statements and messages of support.

CEMB fully supports One Law for All report called “Enemies not Allies: The Far Right” which gives evidence on why opponents of Sharia, apostasy laws and Islamism must also oppose the far-Right. With Islamism being a far-Right movement, they are two sides of the same coin.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco Launched. This is the first public atheist organisation in country with state religion of Islam, launched by Imad Iddine Habib.

CEMB stands with Bangladeshi bloggers and activists. In January, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed. In February, 35 year old atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib, was brutally killed. Islamists continue to threaten prominent bloggers and have called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”. We call for 25 April to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists.

CEMB Issues statement reminding Moroccan government that apostasy is not a crime after Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas issues a fatwa decreeing the death penalty for Moroccans who leave Islam. The attack on apostates is clearly a response to the establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco – the first public atheist organisation in a country with Islam as the state religion.

CEMB launches “International Imad Day” in order to stand with and defend Imad, who created the Council of Ex Muslims of Morocco, resulting in him receiving numerous threats, as well Morocco’s High Council of Ulemas (the highest government religious institution headed by the King) issuing a fatwa decreeing the death penalty for Moroccans who leave Islam. Imad Iddine Habib now has asylum in the UK and is a Spokesperson of CEMB.

CEMB calls for asylum in the US for Reem Razak.

Council of Ex-Muslims of New Zealand Launched.

CEMB held 6th anniversary luncheon.

Council of Ex-Muslims of France Launched by Waleed Al-Husseini, the Palestinian blogger arrested in 2010 by the Palestinian Authority on charges of blasphemy, was released and now in France.

CEMB member, The Rationaliser, starts new website to help with research on Islam or the Quran called QuranX.

CEMB campaigns in support of CEMB spokesperson Nahla Mahmoud who is threated following an interview on Channel 4 on Sharia law, including by Salah al Bandar who has until recently been a Lib Dem Councillor. The police urged Nahla not to “anger” him further.

CEMB’s young member and activist Irtaza Hussain tragically commits suicide.

Ex Muslims of North America formed.

CEMB demands release of Egyptian Athiest Sherif Gaber.

Andy Thomson, author of the groundbreaking book, Why We Believe in Gods, makes the Urdu translation of book available free of charge.

CEMB publishes a new report on the “Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam.”

Ex-Muslims of Scotland launched and adopts CEMB manifesto.

CEMB holds protest with One Law for All and others against Universities UK endorsement of sex segregation at UK Universities.


CEMB defends Alexander Aan and condemns his being sentenced to two and a half years in prison and fined for having written “God does not exist” on Facebook and calls for his immediate release. He was found guilty of “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity” and “caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam” in Indonesia.

CEMB & One Law For all hold a successful rally in defence of free expression at the Houses of Parliament. Hundreds brave the cold weather to join the rally at Old Palace Yard.

CEMB demands Freedom for Saudi writer Hamza Kashgari. Hamza fled Saudi Arabia after making comments on Twitter claimed by some to be “insulting” to Muhammad, Islam’s prophet.

CEMB and others write open letter to Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch expressing concern of his defence of Islamists and calling for HRW to recognise separation of religion from state as a basic guarantee of rights.

CEMB organises an International Day of Action to Defend Blasphemers and Apostates and calls on groups and individuals to take action on this day by organising a protest or vigil, setting up a table in a city centre, writing a letter, signing a petition, drawing a picture, taking a photo, making a video to highlight blasphemy and apostasy laws and rules, defend free expression and the women and men whose lives are at stake.

CEMB defends Maldivian Blogger Ismail Hilath Rasheed who is brutally attacked near his home on 4 June 2012. He survived only because a vital artery was missed by millimetres. Rasheed had previously been attacked and received a number of death threats.

CEMB celebrates 5th anniversary.

CEMB calls for Musa Budeiri and Free Expression to be defended. Budeiri is a professor at Birzeit University, the oldest Palestinian University, who has been asked by the university to issue an apology to Islamist students who were offended by cartoons posted on his door.

CEMB and One Law for All meet with Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), on 28 June to raise our concerns about sharia courts in Britain and the Charities Commission’s refusal of charity status for secular organisations. Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto is also present at the meeting.

CEMB calls for Channel 4 not to cancel Islam: The Untold Story.

CEMB organises a Day of Agreement to highlight the difficulties faced by non-believers in Islamic theocracies, where they are forced to live in silence and furthermore, are unable to have even the smallest disagreements, as it could very much result in incarceration or execution.

CEMB supports the London School of Economics Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society’s decision to add ‘ex-Muslim’ to its name.

CEMB expresses concern at the exclusion of Muslim women from demands of gender equality. CEMB is appalled to learn of the Bristol University Christian Union’s ban on women speaking at its main meetings and events. The sexist policy, which demonstrated a blatant disregard for gender equality, has now been reversed after an ensuing uproar.

Northern Ex-Muslim Meet up Group Launched. CEMB affiliated Manchester Ex-Muslim Meet-Up group which was established in November 2012 by Sandbad has been renamed Northern Ex-Muslim Meet-up Group. Ex-Muslims from Leeds, Bradford and surrounding areas are now part of the group. They welcome ex-Muslims in the North to join them, including from Liverpool.


CEMB issues statement on Channel 4’s Dispatches: Lessons in Hate and Violence.

CEMB speaks at rally for a Secular Europe.

CEMB initiates Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa with over 70 secularists and human rights campaigners.

CEMB speaks out in support of the Charlie Hebdo after office firebombed.

CEMB stands in solidarity with Egyptian atheist blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy who posted nude pictures of herself to show her “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. Showing her body particularly at a time when Islamists in Egypt were trying to secure power was the ultimate act of rebellion.

CEMB is refused charity status.

CEMB supports ex-Muslim and atheist Khalid Saeed’s application for asylum in Sweden.


Following the Danish Cartoons fiasco, CEMB writes to Index on Censorship, sharing their disappointment at their self-censoring their own magazine from publishing one of the Danish cartoons to illustrate an article relating to the subject. Arguing that it is a betrayal of those who are putting their lives on the line to defend freedom of expression.

CEMB and One Law for All hold seminar on Sharia Law in Britain to mark International Women’s Day. The seminar brought together Muslims, ex-Muslims, women’s rights campaigners, lawyers and politicians to outline the problems with Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and Sharia Councils and to propose recommendations for prohibiting religious tribunals and bringing about equal rights for all.

CEMB with German and Scandinavian ex-Muslim Councils joins cartoonist Lars Vilks in a press conference in Stockholm to condemn the threats and violent attacks against the Swedish artist who drew a caricature Muhammad, Islam’s prophet.

Then CEMB Management Committee member Hassan Radwan publishes translation of “My Ordeal with the Quran, and with Allah in the Quran.”

Spokesperson Maryam Namazie speaks at the Protest the pope rally.

Maryam Namazie gives the keynote at the World Atheist Convention in Dublin on the Islamic Inquisition.

CEMB demands the release of Palestinian blogger Waleed Al-Husseini, who was detained for exercising his right to free speech.

CEMB demands the release of Asia Bibi, who was charged with Blasphemy in Pakistan.

CEMB organises a successful conference on Apostasy, Sharia Law and Human Rights. The conference adopts a resolution against blasphemy and apostasy laws and the prosecution of Asia Bibi in Pakistan, Waleed Al-Husseni in Palestine, Syed Mosa in Afghanistan and in Iran sentences of death for charges of moharebeh (enmity against God) against at least 10 people.

CEMB issues report on “Apostasy and Asylum in the United Kingdom” detailing the consequences of apostasy in Islam entails and specifies the responsibility of the United Kingdom in terms of the apostates wishing to seek asylum and protection.

CEMB issues report “Guidelines for Ex-Muslims and Frontline Practitioners” to provide information for ex-Muslims on their rights and the resources available to them and to frontline practitioners on the specific circumstances of ex-Muslims.


CEMB joins One Law for All in a march against Sharia from Trafalgar Square to Conway Hall, followed by a public meeting entitled Sharia Law, Sexual Apartheid and Women’s Rights.

CEMB and over 200 other organisations from 46 countries endorse the Joint Statement on Defamation of Religions.

CEMB organises an international Coalition for Women’s Rights calling for an end to the imposition of Sharia Law internationally and equality between women and men.

London Ex-Muslims Meetup is one year old.

Several hundred join rally against Sharia law in Hyde Park.

CEMB joins in formation of an International Bureau for Laicite in Paris with a wide number of non-governmental organisations and individuals from across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas affirming the nefarious role of fundamentalist politics and the need to counter it internationally.

CEMB adopts resolution to oppose Swiss ban on minarets.


Maryam Namazie interviewed in The Times: It’s time to take a stand against Islam and Sharia.

CEMB issues statement saying there is no place for Sharia courts in the UK following Archbishop of Canterbury’s assertions that Sharia is inevitable.

CEMB holds a seminar on “Sexual apartheid, political Islam and women’s rights” to mark International Women’s Day.

CEMB takes a firm stance that faith schools are bad for children.

CEMB held its first International Conference on Challenging Islam and Political Islam which focused on several key questions, namely the problem with Sharia law, including for women’s status; freedom of expression and the need for criticism of religion; universal rights; as well as the separation of religion and the state.

CEMB joins launch of One Law for All Coalition Campaign on International Human Rights to call on the UK government to recognise the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of parallel legal systems, which particularly disadvantage women and children, and end religious courts.


Council of Ex Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is launched in Westminster with a membership of 25 ex-Muslims who are prepared to be named and pictured publicly. CEMB’s founding Manifesto challenges Sharia and apostasy laws and takes a stand for reason, universal human rights, and secularism.

Philosopher A C Grayling writes a piece in The Guardian saying “The launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is a torch of hope in a dark quadrant of the world’s affairs. Its manifesto should be read by all.”

CEMB urges the TUC and other unions to maintain their secular and progressive heritage and not collude with Islamists.

6 MPs called on UK Members of Parliament to support the following Early Day Motion in favour of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

CEMB was at launch of Dutch Ex-Muslim Committee, which later disbanded due to threats. 

CEMB defends Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin.

CEMB Forum established in November 2007.

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