Tuesday 19 June 2007

The freedom not to believe

Maryam Namazie has announced the formation of a British Council of Ex-Muslims. I'm neither pro- nor anti-Islam, but any organisation with this list of principles gets my support:

1. Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.

2. Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious 'sanctities'.

3. Freedom of religion and atheism.

4. Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.

5. Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people's rights and freedoms.

6. Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict woman's independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.

7. Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.

8. Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.

9. Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.

10. Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.

Some of the comments on Maryam's blog seem to suggest there's no need for the new organisation (which is based on similar groupings in other European countries), but the events of the last couple of days appear to prove otherwise. As long as individuals are afraid of the consequences if they renounce, or even dare to criticise, the religion in which they were raised, and as long as leading politicans (yes, you Lord Ahmed) and community leaders (step forward Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari) encourage a climate of intolerance, so-called 'apostates' need and deserve support.

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