“Wir wollen keine islamische Republik”, HpD, 7 October 2022

A portrait of human rights activist Maryam Namazie

“We don’t want an Islamic republic”

Maryam Namazie

According to representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, she is immoral, corrupt and a whore. Humanist organizations shower her with awards: Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Great Britain . For years she has been fighting against Islamism and for women’s rights. In the ongoing protests in Iran, Namazie sees not just a women’s liberation movement, but a women’s revolution.

Maryam Namazie writes about herself on her Twitter profile: “An Iranian-born author and activist who has been labeled as immoral, corrupt and whore by the Islamic regime of Iran and as ‘disturbing and offensive’ by the organizers of the innovation conference TEDx”. At a “TED Talk” , the human rights activist spoke about creative forms of protest against religious fundamentalism. On the humanist side, however, the ex-Muslima is highly respected: in September she received the “Sapio” prize from the International Union of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA)– for their commitment “for equal rights and against privilege or discrimination in the name of religion” and for “the right to criticize religion and against interference in private affairs in the name of religion”.

In August – even before the protests broke out in Iran – Maryam Namazie said in an interview with the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo about the attack on Salman Rushdie : “This attack shows how much the Islamists are afraid of us! They want us to go to the Silence because they know how loud our voices are and how many we are.” There is a “tsunami of atheism” in Iran, especially among the younger generations, she said. And prophesied: “Because the overwhelming majority of the Iranian population is young, one day there will be a clash with the fundamentalists.”

betrayal of the left

It now seems to have come to that: People in Iran have been protesting for a good two weeks after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by the moral and religious police. Maryam Namazie supports the rebellion and recently called on the people of London via her social media channels to demonstrate their solidarity with the women’s revolution in Iran on October 1st in Trafalgar Square. Since mid-September she has been repeatedly chanting on her Telegram channel : “We don’t want an Islamic republic”, combined with the hashtag “MahsaAmini”.

Even the German newspaper Bild , not exactly known for being progressive, asked Maryam Namazie about the protests in Iran : “It is the women’s revolution that we have been talking about for many years that is now the focus to put an end to the Islamic regime in Iran set,” the newspaper quoted the activist as saying. Global solidarity can help end theocracy once and for all in the 21st century, she added.

In an interview with Charlie Hebdo , Namazie lamented the lack of support from Western countries in the fight against the Iranian regime. She was particularly disappointed by the left-wing parties. “As for left-wing political parties – I’m a communist myself – the fight against religions remains a left-wing fight. There is a section of the left that has become pro-Islamist, that’s a betrayal.” The extreme right, according to the 56-year-old, only criticizes Islam because it hates immigrants and Muslims. “Let’s not forget that the Islamists are also on the far right!” For Namazie, the fight against fundamentalism is also part of the fight against racism, sexism and capitalism.

A tireless activist against stoning and sexual apartheid


"Sapio" award ceremony
Maryam Namazie at the IBKA “Sapio” award ceremony . (Photo: © Gerhard Lein)

Maryam Namazie was born in Tehran but fled the mullahs’ Iran in 1980. After living in India and the UK, she first settled in the USA, where she began her university studies at the age of 17. After graduating, the Iranian exile went to Sudan to work with Ethiopian refugees. During their stay in Sudan, an Islamic government took power there. She was threatened for founding a human rights organization and had to be evacuated by her employer for her own safety.

Back in the United States, she worked for various refugee and human rights organizations and was elected Executive Director of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees . As head of the refugee organization, she campaigned for thousands of Iranian asylum seekers and refugees. Maryam Namazie tirelessly engaged in many campaigns, including against stoning, executions, sexual apartheid and women’s rights abuses, particularly in Islamic societies. The activist now lives back in the UK with her family, where she is the spokesperson for One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain . With Ex-Muslims Internationalshe created the “Apostasy Day”.

With topless protests against fundamentalism

The list of Maryam Namazie’s activities against fundamentalism and for human rights is long. She doesn’t shy away from taking part in provocative actions herself: at the Pride Parade in London, for example, she led topless protests in defense of LGBTQ rights. In 2012 she initiated the ” Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar “, for which she and other women had their photographs taken naked on International Women’s Day in support of the atheist blogger Aliaa Magda from Egypt. Namazie founded the organization Iran Solidarity in 2009, to support the people of Iran who are against the Islamic regime. She also helped launch the Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa. In 2006, Maryam Namazie, along with Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin and others, signed a declaration of twelve writers against Islamic totalitarianism.

Not everyone likes the activities of the human rights activist. In her TEDx presentation, she calmly reported on the countless death threats she had received from Islamists and pointed out that there were fundamentalist movements in a number of religions that wanted to silence their critics and did not shy away from murder.

On the other hand, she is showered with prizes: Namazie received her first in the 1980s: for example from the International Rescue Committee (1988), an international aid organization for refugees and war victims, and the Julia B. Friedman Humanitarian Award (1987), a the most valuable humanitarian prizes in the world.

Her blog earned her Journalist of the Year at the Dods Women in Public Life Awards (2013). In 2014 she was awarded Atheist of the Year by the Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation and two years later by International Secularism (Laicité) with the “Prize des Comité Laïcité République”. In the same year she was also honored by the National Secular Society for her campaigning work in defense of free speech in universities. The ex-Muslim did not allow herself to be deterred from her lectures, despite attempts by Islamic student associations to intimidate her.

In addition, the human rights activist received the “Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award” from the Freedom from Religion Foundation in 2017. She was a co-winner of the 2019 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for feminist activists. In her eulogy at the 2005 Secularist of the Year election, she said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are sure you will agree that Maryam Namazie is a worthy and noble winner of this inaugural Irwin Award.” The IBKA ‘s “Sapio” is further confirmation of a woman who is tireless in her fight for freedom.