UK: Iraqi feminists for free speech

A statement, apparently not yet posted elsewhere on the Web, from the UK branch of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) and allied groups:

Civilised humanity must take a stand in defence of freedom of expression, against Islamists and racists
The recent controversy over some caricatures of Mohammed gave the Islamists an opportunity to wage a hysterical protest internationally. In many cases, this took a violent form and was clearly aimed at silencing those who dared to even portray Mohammed. In these demonstrations – across the world and in London, the very heart of Europe – many of the banners on show were emblazoned with shameful slogans. These included – “Those who insult Islam must be beheaded” and “Freedom go to hell” plus various other fatwas and threats against cartoonists and others who have the temerity to “insult” Islam.

This is not the first time these forces have attacked people’s rights in the Middle East and Europe. Many writers, singers, even barbers and doctors have been targeted in the last 30 years let alone the enslavement of women in the Middle East under the pretext of the defence of the “honour” of Islam. The furore over these caricatures is simply an excuse to stage another worldwide campaign to attack the right of freedom of expression.

They want to turn Europe into yet another battlefield for their foul ideas. It is vital for all decent people to be aware of the agenda behind these attacks on the rights to expression, and belief – the aim is to impose Islamic law all over the world. Political Islam is coordinating on an international level to gain momentum in a campaign against the achievements of progressive social movements who, after centuries of struggle, have won many advances for secularism. They now want to gain a privileged status under the umbrella of “multiculturalism” to excuse their crimes against Muslims, people of other faiths as well as non-believers.

This reactionary campaign complements and serves to provoke further racist responses from people like Nick Griffin, the leader of British National Party, a fascist organisation that targets non-indigenous people and non-whites in the UK.

Western governments have nurtured political Islam, helped the Iranian regime come to power and then maintained Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Their hypocritical “tolerance” and embrace of regressions of “cultures” under the auspices of “multiculturalism” has promoted religious divisions and raised a generation of brain-washed fanatics with identity crises that adhere to political Islam. These compromised governments cannot stop such groups and cannot silence them any further via compromise.

The only forces that can successfully stand against these attacks on human achievements are those of civilised humanity of the world. Our task is to organise a front of progressives, secularists and leftists to defend these precious achievements of humanity – including freedom of speech, expression and freedom of choice, personal rights and liberties. This must be unconditional and universal and that must also mean that Islam, like any other religion or belief system, must be prepared to be criticised, questioned and critically evaluated.

We call upon all freedom loving people, organisations and individuals to join us in this struggle to defend civil liberties and strengthen the progressive camp against the two poles of racism and Islamic fascism in Europe and worldwide.

Join our campaign.

There will be a series of activities in London and elsewhere to publicise our fight for the protection of freedom of expression.

The details of these activities will be announced soon.

-Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-UK (OWFI)
-Middle East Centre for Women’s Rights (MECWR)
-International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR)
-International Organisation for Iranian Refugees (IOIR)
-Iranian Civil Rights Committee (Iran CRC)
-Organisation for Emancipation of Women Iran (OEWI)

In the same e-mail message:

In defence of freedom of expression join our protest

To defend the rights of all individuals to be able to think freely, criticize, be able to use their imaginations, to have right to freedom of speech, and of expression then join us in our protest in front of BBC TV station in London.

Date and time: Saturday 11/02/2006 at 2.00-5.00PM
Venue: BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, London W12 7RJ
Underground – White City (Central line) is opposite
Bus – Routes 72, 95, 220 and 272 stop outside

We call upon all organisations and freedom loving people in UK to join our protest.

Houzan Mahmoud


Tel: 079 56 88 3001
Tel: 079 51 433386

See our last posts on the cartoon controversy and related free speech issues in the UK.