International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century

International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century

In April 2017 Pakistani student Mashal Khan was killed by an angry mob in the premises of his university over fake allegations of posting blasphemous content online. Sadly, Mashal’s death is not a one-off incident. Even now dissenters continue to be threatened, silenced, no-platformed, intimidated and even killed for rejecting and criticising Islam. This is why a celebration of apostasy, blasphemy and the free word are historical tasks. One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (marking its tenth anniversary) are aiming to host the largest gathering of secularists, freethinkers and ex-Muslims as…

The right to enquiry

The right to enquiry

By Arshia Malik   Altamira, in Spain, is a testimony to the fact that the “early people” had developed a sense of consciousness and the instinct to enquiry, judging by the inaccessible grottos and niches they crawled into just to express themselves, with the rudimentary tools and pigments their early minds had made efforts to invent. I am not sure if most of the constitutions of the world have the right to enquiry, but it seems to be an obvious truth that there should be an irrevocably, undisputed article in…

The Reality Behind the ECJ’s So-Called “Headscarf Ban”

The Reality Behind the ECJ’s So-Called “Headscarf Ban”

By Tehmina Kazi   The debate on Tuesday’s European Court of Justice ruling on the “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign” is riddled with misinformation. With headlines that scream, “headscarf bans,” and the fact that the law in this area is incredibly complex, is it any wonder that many observers are left scratching their heads? Let’s look at the facts. This ruling focuses on two different cases in different countries: Belgium and France. The Belgian woman had been working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions and…

Being an Apostate at Christmas

Being an Apostate at Christmas

By Zara Shaen Albright “Don’t tell them you took me to Church yesterday and for God’s sake, don’t bring up Christianity.” These were the words hissed at me a few years ago by my mother, as we prepared for the onslaught of relatives coming over for dinner. If I am spending it with my mother’s side of the family, then this is how the standard Christmas Day begins — and this conversation sets the scene for the rest of the day. For those of you that are wondering, I left…

Of women and girls

Of women and girls

By Arshia Malik   There is no end to the hypocrisy of Muslims. On the one hand, every time, a daughter is born, the only thing that looms large in the minds of the subcontinental Muslims is the daughter’s marriage. From birth onwards, they tend to see the female offspring as somebody to shove off the minute she is of the ”proper marriageable age” which can be anywhere from 15 to the ‘old maid’ 28. At every waking hour the talk around the home is centered around the ”dowry” they…

British ‘subjects’ did not deserve legal equality with their colonial masters: Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas on Sharia Courts in Britain

British ‘subjects’ did not deserve legal equality with their colonial masters: Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas on Sharia Courts in Britain

British MPs on the Commons home affairs committee have launched an inquiry into the operation of ‘Sharia courts’ in the UK to ensure their principles are compatible with British law. The announcement follows the establishment of a similar investigation by the Home Office last month. However, over 200 women’s rights campaigners and organisations recently signed a public letter to Prime Minister Theresa May criticising the government inquiry into Sharia councils. Whilst a review into Sharia bodies and their impact on gender equality and justice is long overdue, the letter outlined…

Interfaith Engagement Can Provide Much-Needed Space and Opportunity to Ask Difficult Questions

Interfaith Engagement Can Provide Much-Needed Space and Opportunity to Ask Difficult Questions

By Sarah Ager When I was young I was horribly mutated in a madrassa experiment gone wrong. I became a Half-Muslim, Half-Atheist replicant. At least that’s one theory. The Internet has come up with many odd comments like this, which as well as being entertaining, highlight one of the challenges of interfaith engagement online – namely, being seen as not fully part of the group you claim to be from. The accusation that you are a disingenuous member of your religious or non-religious community if you engage in interfaith can…

Pakistan: Whither freedoms and whither rights? 

Pakistan: Whither freedoms and whither rights? 

By Saima Baig On October 7, 2016, an article appeared in Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper, alleging that in a civil military leadership meeting, the Government (prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and other senior officials were present) had told the military representatives that if they did not make more efforts to go after terrorists, Pakistan will be isolated. Journalist Cyril Almeida, one of the newspaper’s senior writers, had reported that an argument had taken place between members of the Pakistani government and the army over lack of action against militant groups,…

We must have a frank discussion on rising sectarianism in the UK

We must have a frank discussion on rising sectarianism in the UK

By Haydar Zaki and Iram Ramzan   Usually when a Muslim person is discriminated against by a non Muslim, it becomes a huge news story. And rightly so, as we must challenge any discriminative actions. But what do we do when Muslims are discriminated against, and persecuted, by fellow Muslims? If the former is ‘Islamophobic’ then what do we call the latter? Nearly a thousand British Muslims recently signed a petition to ban the Shia procession of Ashura in Luton. This procession, to commemorate the death of the prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein,…

The “burkini” ban is the result of tolerance towards Islamism but it unfairly targets Muslim women

The “burkini” ban is the result of tolerance towards Islamism but it unfairly targets Muslim women

Mahnaz Nadeem   I remember a drawing room discussion as a young adult, in which a scenario was presented by a secularist Muslim debating a “moderate” Muslim. The secularist argued that if we carried on as we were a time would come where Muslims in the UK would became so publicly religious that it would be at odds with Western society and that we would no longer be tolerated. That stark warning was 20 plus years ago when fatwas and edicts on modesty were becoming religious mainstream. Even putting a Qawwali (Sufi music…