When religion means death

'Ex-Muslim' Maryam Namazie on the dangers of allowing religion to rule over us

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Unfortunately, the discussion on what religion in power means for people’s lives, rights and freedoms is neither theoretical or restricted to ex-Muslims who have renounced Islam and religion.

Since religion is divinely ordained, it follows that any real or imputed questioning, criticising or transgressing will lead to blasphemy, apostasy or some form of ‘corruption’. Of course it doesn’t matter so much if you live in a place where religion is to a large extent a private matter. But if you don’t, then a lot of things become ‘crimes’ punishable by death.

One of many examples is the outrageous death sentence imposed by an Islamic court in Afghanistan on Parwiz Kambakhsh, the 23 year old journalist and student, for downloading and distributing an article criticising women’s status under Islam.

Many have rightly come to his defence and must keep the pressure on. But to defend Parwiz by saying he did not ‘intend’ to blaspheme misses the entire point.

This is exactly what the likes of the Muslim Council of Britain say in order to conceal the responsibility of their political Islamic movement. For example, the MCB ‘greeted’ the release of Gillian Gibbons (the British schoolteacher who was imprisoned in Sudan for allowing her 7 year old students to name their class teddy bear Mohammad) by saying she had not ‘intended to deliberately insult the Islamic faith.’

What they are basically saying is that victims and their ‘intentions’ are to blame for the injustices and barbarity of Islamic law.

Moreover, they are implying that if someone knew they were blaspheming, or if their actions or statements were so clearly blasphemous that they should have known better, then the death penalty or calls for their death are permissible - or at the very least understandable.

The smokescreen of ‘intent’ aims to conceal the real issue at hand, which is Islam in power, so their movement can go about its business as usual - often aided and abetted by US-led militarism. So it can continue to hold millions of resisting people hostage to medievalism enshrined in constitutions and legal codes and enforced by religious and morality police, the militia, Sharia courts and the state.

Any life saved is despite Islamic law and because of a vast left, secular and humanist opposition movement in the Middle East and elsewhere, which refuses to kneel.

Clearly, when religion equals power, millions have no freedoms or rights worthy of 21 century humanity.

And until it is pushed back, our loved ones - like Parwiz, or the two sisters, Zohreh and Azar, who have hours ago been convicted of death by stoning by the Islamic supreme court in Iran for ‘adultery’ - will face a torturous death.

But not if we can help it.

Join a demonstration to demand the freedom of Parwiz Kambakhsh on Friday, February 8, 2008, 12.00 to 2.00 pm at the Afghanistan Embassy, 31 Princes Gate, London, SW7 organised by the Iranian Secular Society and endorsed by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. You can also send letters of protest to Afghan officials by going to: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2008/01/call-for-immediate...

To defend Zohreh and Azar and oppose stoning and the death penalty, go to: http://maryamnamazie.blogspot.com/2008/02/zohreh-and-azar-mu...