NameSohaila Sharifi

I was born and brought up in a religious family and a traditional community in Iran. Quran was the first book that I came to know because my father used to teach me Quran and the Islamic principals since the age of five. My mother hoped I would be the first girl in our village that would complete reading Quran. As I grew older and was caught in the waves of revolution I found myself questioning the teachings of Islam. But it was after the coming to power of the Islamic Republic and the witnessing their brutal ways in forcing Islamic laws on people and particularly on women that fully convinced me of turning away from Islam and any other religion. As someone who has fled an Islamic regime and has been actively involved in a struggle against religious state and its\' oppressive rule, I was enraged whenever I was taken as a Muslim woman and treated like one by many British organisations and public sectors. Some didn\'t even bother to ask me if I was Muslim or not and just put Muslim on the form. Labelling people and leaving them at the hands of Islamic organisations has only resulted in more divisions in the society and has made it harder for many to integrate into their new countries, needles to mention that it as helped Islamic organisations grow stronger. We want to come out and announce to the world that we are not Muslims, that we have turned away from religion and we want society to stop labelling and treating people according to their supposed religions. A secular society must treat all its members equally and fairly.