Iranian feminist decries “political Islam” in Europe

Maryam Namazie of the Organization of Women’s Liberation in Iran (OWLI) gave the following speech, “Political Islam in the Heart of Secular Europe,” at the International Humanist and Ethical Union Congress in Paris the day before the London terror attacks:

* Sweet 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi was publicly hanged in the city centre in Neka in Iran on 15 August 2004 for “acts incompatible with chastity”.
* In April this year, Amina was publicly stoned to death in Argu district, Afghanistan, after being accused of adultery by her husband.
* This month, physicians have been beaten for treating female patients and women have been brutally attacked for not being veiled in Basra, Iraq.

The list is endless.

These examples are only some of the most visible and heinous aspects of the situation of women and girls living in Islam-stricken societies and under Islamic laws – burqa-clad and veiled, bound and gagged, and without rights.

It is truly the outrage of the 21st century.

But it is no longer only in places like Neka, Argu, or Basra where political Islam and religious rule are wreaking havoc but also in the very heart of the secular west and Europe albeit in different and more subtle ways but outrageous nonetheless.

Here in Europe the Islamists are ‘more civilised’. They demand the ‘right’ to [the] veil for women and children in France when in the Middle East they impose compulsory veiling by throwing acid in the faces of those who refuse and resist. In Britain, they cry racism and Islamophobia against anyone who speaks out against Islam and its political movement, whilst in Iran and its likes they hang ‘apostates’ and ‘Kafirs’ from trees and cranes. Here, they demand the prosecution of those who ‘incite religious hatred’ when everywhere it is they themselves who incite hatred and violence than can be articulated or imagined.

Here in the EU, they call for tolerance and respect of their beliefs, when it is they who have issued fatwas and death threats against anyone who they deem disrespectful and intolerable. Here, they call for ‘equal’ rights demanding a Sharia court for ‘Muslim minorities’ in Canada and Britain whilst it is their very Sharia courts that have legalised Islamic injustice and barbarity in the Middle East.

Steadily, political Islam, using ‘rights’ language, and cries of racism and Islamophobia – and now incitement to religious hatred in order to silence any opposition and criticism – is gaining ground and hacking away at secularism in Europe even though criticism or even ‘phobias’ of ideologies, religions, cultures or political movements are not racism.

Even in the heart of secular Europe and the West, women who have resisted political Islam, no longer feel fully safe. We can soon be prosecuted and face up to seven years imprisonment in Britain for being offensive against or going beyond the ‘legitimate’ criticism of Islam.

We are already called racists and Islamophobes whenever we speak for women and against Islam and its movement. It is we who are deemed extremists by the Mayor of London when we oppose the visit of Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the so-called Islamic scholar whose support for women’s ‘modesty’ and violence against women and his condemnation of sexual acts as ‘perversions’ are no different from the Islamic laws in Iran.

And even here, women’s rights, our rights, are culturally relative and never universal. Even here each and every one of us are forever the ‘Muslim minority’ who must have Sharia courts, faith schools, the ‘right’ to veil— Never, ever citizens equal before and under the law, but fragmented minority communities deserving of the same rules and regulations that we resisted and fled in the first place.

Islam and political religion are constantly repackaged in a thousand ways to make this cultural relativism and appeasement more palatable for the western audience. There is now moderate Islam, Islamic reformism, Islamic human rights, Islamic feminism and Islamic democracy (oxymorons in my opinion).


See our last post on the dilemmas of contemporary Islam, and on women in Iran.