Category Archives: Secularism

Hiba Kisht on the double bind faced by Ex Muslims

Ex-Muslims and progressive Muslim secularists face the double-bind of being attacked by right-wing Islamists and other Islamic supremacists, who will refer them to as traitors to their religious identity and dangle the crime and punishment of apostasy over their heads. While at the same time they are attacked by dead-ender bigots for being “cultural Muslims” and face the risk of having their positions appropriated by the right wing and anti-Muslim bigots.

A superb interview (in VICE magazine) of Hiba Kisht aka Marwa Berro addresses this question.

VICE: As with many endeavours that progressive Muslims or ex-Muslims might engage in, there is always the possibility that it might be used to advance a right-wing agenda or even promote outright anti-Muslim bigotry in the US and abroad. What are your thoughts on this?

Also posted in Anti Muslim bigotry, Far Right Extremism, Feminism | 1 Response

NSS applauds Channel 4 ‘Call to Prayer’ broadcasts

Channel 4′s decision to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer during the month of Ramadan as a “deliberate act of “provocation” aimed at viewers who associate Islam with terrorism and extremism” has met with a spectrum of reactions.

The decision to broadcast anything based on the need to “provoke” is risible and the motivations of Channel4 verge on sociopathic. But Terry Sanderson at the National Secular Society has a very bright piece which applauds Channel4 which is well worth reading. The NSS position clarifies the misconception that secularism is anti-religion and in fact religious freedoms will always flourish in a secular state and never in a theocratic state.

The hostility that is swirling round this decision to include Islam is understandable, given the events of the past few years. But there are millions of Muslims living quietly and productively in this country, who simply want to observe their religion in peace. They deserve to see their lives reflected on TV, just like everyone else’s.

Also posted in Anti Muslim bigotry | Leave a comment

Gita Sahgal vs Islamist Hecklers

On the BBC Radio 4 show ‘Hecklers’, Gita Sahgal takes on the combined force of the Islamists Tahmina Saleem (Islamic Society Britain), Tariq Ramadan (freelance Islamist), Nazir Ahmed (House of Lords), Moazzam Begg (Cage Prisoners) and Daud Abdullah (Muslim Council of Britain)

Also posted in Democracy, Hindu Fundamentalism, Islamism, Jamaat-e-Islam, Nutters, Religious Right Wing, UK Politics, War Crimes | 1 Response

Faith Matters challenges the Islamist narrative

This is a cross-post from Faith Matters website

Faith Matters is launching its paper that offers a brief insight into the Secular reforms of the Ottoman Empire, in order to analyse and debunk claims by extreme groups like Al Qaeda of it being an Islamic Caliphate, strictly governed by Shariah Law. The Ottoman Empire is often presented, by such groups as a model political system upon which to re-build a global Caliphate. Osama bin Laden marked the decline of the Ottoman Empire as the fall of Islam – that the Islamic world “has been tasting this humiliation and this degradation for more than 80 years” and that “the righteous Khilafah will return with the permission of Allah”. Through the implementation of an Islamic legal and political system, extreme groups who mis-use the Islamic faith call for the rejection of liberal values and the current systems in place, which do not fundamentally clash with Islam.

Also posted in History, Islamism | 3 Responses

Islam in a Secular Europe

Interesting Meet-up to discuss and debate the issues of Islam and secularism in Europe at Conway Hall on 16 September.

Does the religious freedom of Muslims in Europe depend on secularism?

Are veil and burkha bans secularist or counter-secularist?

What should the relationship be between sharia rules and secular law?

Should the state fund Islamic schools if it funds Christian ones?

Can secularism admit any limitations on freedom of expression in religious matters?

Is there a clash of cultures between European values and Islamic ones?

British Humanist Association and Central London Humanists in association with Conway Hall present this panel discussion which aims to bring together key speakers to explore the effect of secular democracy in Europe.

Posted in Secularism | 2 Responses

Dutch Scapegoating of Muslims and Jews

Secularism is not secularisation. An excellent distillation of this point has been made on CiF by Humeira Iqtidar and it is a must-read for people who (often wilfully) confuse a secular state with a secularised society.

Secularisation is not just the increase or decrease in visible markers of religiosity or in church attendance, but also a fundamental shift in religious belief towards rationalisation and objectification. The Protestant reformers were not arguing for less religion, they were asking for more – for a continuously religious life against the Catholic cycles of sin and repentance. Yet, as Max Weber’s influential work suggests, they ended up rationalising and secularising. To say all this is not to suggest that Pakistani Islamists will have exactly the same impact as the German Protestants. There can be little doubt that they will produce a very different subject and citizen because of the disparity in context.

Also posted in Freedom of Religion | 8 Responses

An-Na’im on Islam and Secularism

Professor Abdullahi An-Na’im of Emory University on Islam and the secular state and how the two must co-exist to preserve values such as equality for men and women, freedom of speech and religion. This is increasingly valid in the light of the Arab spring and the role of Islamists in the political future of Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and others.

Posted in Secularism | Leave a comment

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im on Islam and the Secular State

Watch and learn from Prof Na’im.

Posted in Secularism | Leave a comment

North African People Power: Saturday in Algiers

This is a cross-post by Karima Bennoune and the second part of her series of articles on developments in North Africa.

Today the Algerian government tried to hold back the winds of change blowing westward from neighboring Tunisia by besieging its own capital city.

A peaceful protest called by the Algerian opposition party, the Rassemblement pour la culture et la démocratie (RCD), on the Place du 1er Mai was forcefully disrupted by large numbers of heavily armed riot police. One report claimed that 10,000 police had been deployed. Meanwhile, as many as 42 people were injured, several seriously, and others arrested, including a photojournalist. (photo credit)
Security forces encircled the RCD headquarters on the Didouche Mourad, the main thoroughfare of Algiers, and set up checkpoints to prevent protestors from arriving in the capital from other parts of the county, or from reaching the Place du 1er Mai from other parts of the city. As depicted in this YouTube video, the trapped protestors – and those on balconies above – waved Algerian and Tunisian flags and chanted “Djazaïr, horra, dimocratia.” (“A free and democratic Algeria!”)
Today’s protest had been organized around very specific demands, set forth in the poster below right:
  • the lifting of the state of emergency in place since 1992,
Also posted in Activism, Democracy, Freedom of Religion | 3 Responses

Bangladesh bars enforced Islamic dress code

The BBC reports:

A Bangladesh court has ruled that people cannot be forced to wear skull caps, veils or other religious clothing in workplaces, schools and colleges.

This ruling comes after reports emerged that a college in the north of Bangladesh forced women to wear veils.

The high court also ruled that women cannot be prevented from taking part in sports or cultural activities.

The court said that wearing any form of religious clothing, for students and employees, should be a personal choice.

It has also asked the authorities to explain why it should not be made illegal to prevent girls from taking part in sports and cultural activities.

In April this year, the court ordered schools and colleges not to force women to wear the burqa, a garment that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands.

Posted in Secularism | 13 Responses
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