Sunday, 31 January 2021

Women Leaving Islam and From Hijab To Freedom on World Hijab Day


Maryam Namazie writes:

Women Leaving Islam, a new CEMB film, will premiere on 1 February at 6pm UK time as a challenge to #WorldHijabDay and religious modesty rules. You can watch the film here.

In this powerful film, six ex-Muslim women activists share their moving stories of growing up in Muslim families and Muslim-majority countries and the violence, loss and shunning they faced because of their apostasy.

The women talk about everything from tearing their hijab on door handles as a child, wearing a burkini on a beach in Italy, wanting to scream their atheism in Mecca during Hajj, losing custody of a child after a husband’s accusations of blasphemy, reporting a violent fundamentalist father, forging a male guardian’s signature in order to flee their country and being shunned for defending gay rights…

Despite the risks, the women - Fauzia Ilyas, Fay Rahman, Halima Salat, Mimzy Vidz, Rana Ahmad and Zara Kay - speak of hope, happiness and freedom from Islam and the hijab.

Join us on #WorldHijabDay to watch #WomenLeavingIslam.

Also, on 1 February, draw a dove with a hijab in its beak as a symbol of women's freedom from hijab. You can draw it anywhere - on a wall with chalk, on a piece of paper, your body or hand...

CEMB's resident artist, Victoria Gugenheim, explains how to draw a simple dove with a hijab in its beak.

Use the hashtags #WomenLeavingIslam #FromHijabToFreedom #NoForcedHijab #NoHijabDay #FreeFromHijab to challenge religious misogyny.

Women Leaving Islam's Producer: Gita Sahgal, Executive Producer: Maryam Namazie, and Producer, Director and Filmmaker: Reason4Freedom

For more information, see Rahila Gupta’s review on the film.


Further info:

Friday, 29 January 2021

Aldious: Evoke II 2010 - 2020 New Release.

The latest album from Japanese band Aldious was released today by JPU Records in the UK. This album is a reworking of previous material by the band to feature their new singer R!N who has replaced the sadly ill Re:No.

This is the second of such albums from the pioneering Tokyo based all-girl metal band. There are no videos available but here's a performance from one of their no-audience pandemic gigs!


Available in the UK via:

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Release women prisoners of conscience in Algeria


A LabourStart Campaign

The women of the independent national trade union of public administration employees in Algeria, Femmes SNAPAP, are calling for the immediate release of Dalila Touat and Namia Abdelkader, both teachers and both prisoners of conscience.

Since the mass protests denouncing pervasive corruption in Algeria – also called the Hirak Movement – and the protests following the December presidential election, repression has intensified, sparing no one, including trade unionists.

Dalila Touat, a 45-year-old physics teacher at Mostaganem High School, whose trade union is a member of SNAPAP, was sentenced on 3 January to 18 months in prison for her opposition to the enforced presidential election. She is accused of "publications undermining the public order".

Another woman, Namia Abdelkader, has been incarcerated since 2 December 2020. She has been detained for speaking up, confronting injustice and fighting the corrupt generals in power.

Dalila has been on hunger strike since her sentencing and her life is now in danger.

Nassira Ghozlane, SNAPAP General Secretary, writes:

"Let us act quickly, let us act together to save women prisoners of conscience. Let us act against the pursuit of women activists. The judicial and police persecution must stop today and not tomorrow. This is not impossible if we act now in solidarity and unity."

Public Services International has launched a major new campaign on LabourStart in solidarity with SNAPAP and the two jailed women. The campaign demands the unconditional release of all those arrested for attempting to exercise their trade union and civic rights and provide guarantees of their safety.

Please take a moment to show your support here.

Eric Lee

Friday, 22 January 2021

Bring Me The Horizon: Post Human Survival Horror (New CD)

This British band which was formed in 2004 hail from Sheffield but are new to me and only came to my attention as a result of receiving an e-mail from Kerrang! featuring one of their tracks. I thought they were knew but obviously not.

I also was under the impression this was an EP but it has 9 tracks running for 32 minutes which puts it in the half-way house. Regardless of whatever it is supposed to be the CD is certainly a good buy. BMTH (the accepted abbreviation for the band) released their first album in 2006 which got panned by critics and "divided listeners". Might track that down on You Tube. I'm open minded.

Their subsequent releases were more commercial. A couple of times listening to this CD I did get a vague feeling of Linkin Park but I was very much entertained by their collaboration with Japanese duo Baby Metal who I've been following for the last few years. And that's the track I decided to post.

Other samples can be found on You Tube.

Official website:

Monday, 18 January 2021

Keir Starmer: From agnostic to supporter

Photo: By Rwendland - Own work, CC

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader I ceased backing or even voting  for the party as the trajectory was going to be to the extreme left and his supporters included all sorts of unsavoury extremists that I had spent the last couple of decades fighting in the trade unions. Then there was the antisemitism thinly disguised under the label of anti-Zionism something else I had come across in the unions.

As a trade union rep active in unaffiliated trade unions (CPSA/SCPS/PCS) I had supported the Labour Party (though not been in favour of affiliation due to the need for politically independent civil service unions) and encouraged members to vote for them except when tactical voting (for the Lib Dems until the coalition) as a matter of course.

In the PCS where i spent my last 15 years  or so as an active Branch Secretary I opposed the leaderships desire to support a party that was to the left of Labour either through Respect or the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (TUSC)  proposed by General Secretary Mark Serwotka and his then allies in the Socialist Workers Party or his other backers in the Socialist Party or Militant as they are better known.

Many of these people including Serwotka flocked to back Labour with the intent of purging every MP that didn't follow their narrow definitions of so-called "socialism". The rest as we know was period of bullying, intolerance and the rise of antisemitism unchecked by the leadership of Corbyn and his cronies.

Like most of the Jewish community I looked elsewhere to vote, mainly to just keep Corbyn out. His eventual fall which took far too long for many and has left much distrust within not just within my community but amongst others, particularly those who had been bullied and shouted down by the comrades were still weary of what would come next.

Despite Corbyn's fall his supporters were still legion and the election of Keir Starmer whilst welcome left me cold for a long time. How he would far given the large numbers of corbynites still floating around left me concerned. However his actions gradually impressed me.

For the first time the Labour leader took a stand against the new antisemitism and has acted against it's perpetrators firmly though it took time to get the ball rolling I was quietly won over. Starmer has made it quite clear that antisemitism will not be tolerated and the racists are finding themselves out in the cold as the hard-left leaves in droves.

The frantic attacks on Starmer by the hard/far left (whatever you want to call them) expose these charlatans for what they always were. Ideologues who actually don't give a jot about actual people, just ideas in old dusty books written by long dead Germans and Russians.

The battle with the recidivist left may not be over but there is now hope that people will now come before ideology. Labour voters are far more realistic and pragmatic that the blinkered left are prepared to admit even to themselves.

Keir Starmer actually shows leadership and even when decisions taken may not always be popular even in more moderate quarters he has shown the mettle needed to steer the party back on a course whereby Labour will be electable once more. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Editorial: Returning to the fray

It's been a while since I last blogged with the exception of a cross post supporting a campaign by the Council of Ex-Muslims in Britain. With the continuing lock-down and the need for me to rest (my health remains fragile) I have been concentrating on simply enjoying life reading, cooking and for the first time in ages binge watching TV box sets. If you haven't seen Preacher (based on the comic of the same name) try it. Preacher is one of the best shows I have ever seen. 

Meanwhile of course politics has seemingly gone mad. The most obvious event over the recent period was the storming of the Capitol by supporters of the now thoroughly discredited President Trump. I may be no fan of Biden either but the man won the election and the sight of the world's strongest democracy under attack was shocking.

In this country Corbyn's mad brother Piers in alliance with every deranged conspiracy theorist he can find has been mobilising against Covid restrictions because it's all fake in his opinion. The sight of such people outside St Thomas's hospital chanting when nurses and doctors are working hard to save people's lives is an affront to humanity.

Elsewhere in the world troubles and oppression continue. A Conservative Party pressure group on human rights has workerd with Free Tibet to produce a report on the situation under Chinese rule, As those of you who are regular readers of my social media account know this is an issue I have promoted for years and remain frustrated that the so-called left ignores.

Free Tibet demonstrations are avoided even by the hardiest of paper sellers and the issue rarely mentioned though the Stalinist Morning Star continues to support China's occupation. Most of the left ignores. Unless a foreign issue involves Jews Zionists, Palestinians or some kind of so-called imperialist intervention they just don't care.

Even when the so-called left does get involved there can be problems. The Anti-Apartheid Movement was plagued by the activities of the "City of London Anti-Apartheid Group" infamous for the arrest of one Jeremy Corbyn on their non-stop 24 hour picket. This organisation was a front for the Revolutionary Communist Group. The RCG have resurfaced from time to time to make nuisance of themselves.

When councils particularly in big cities were debating the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliances' definition of antisemitism the RCG were denouncing it from the galleries. Their anti-imperialism descended into racism long ago. Now they have hijacked the UK page of the Free West Papua movement while nobody was looking. 

I have spent much time opposing the extremists that plague our trade unions, our political parties and other movements. The need to continue that fightback despite the lock-down is essential and though I remain outside the Labour Party itself (being only a member of the affiliated Jewish Labour Movement) it is my intention to contribute whatever  I can (however limited) to the building of a modern social democratic party out of the mess that Labour became under Corbyn.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Tanzania - Drop All Charges against Zara Kay

Zara Kay, an Australian citizen and founder of Faithless Hijabi, was initially summoned to the Dar es-Salaam Oysterbay Police Station on 28 December 2020 and was held in police custody for 32 hours without an initial clear indication of charges.

Zara is a well-known ex-Muslim and women’s rights activist. Faithless Hijabi, which she founded in 2018, supports women who have been ostracised or abused for leaving Islam. Whilst in police custody on 28 December, Zara was asked about the work of her organisation and why she left Islam.

Zara Kay, an Australian citizen and founder of Faithless Hijabi, returned to Dar es-Salaam Oysterbay Police station on 5 January. Her lawyer confirmed that she was then transferred to the Immigration Department.

According to local sources, she returned once more to the police station on 6 January and is awaiting a court hearing.

From the original three charges against her: social media posts critical of the government (posted in May when Zara was in London, satirically addressing the handling of Covid-19 in Tanzania), use of a SIM card belonging to a family member (a charge which has been used to persecute other high profile cases), and not returning her Tanzanian passport after gaining Australian citizenship, the authorities appear to be focusing on the latter. Tanzanian police chief Simon Sirro informed the press that Zara is now being questioned over her citizenship status only.

As previously reported, Zara has not used her Tanzanian passport since she obtained Australian citizenship in 2018. She never returned her Tanzanian passport because it was misplaced. In any case, Tanzanian passports like hers have been invalid for over a year. She entered Tanzania with her Australian passport in September 2020 on a valid visa, which was extended to January 20, 2021.

We have reason to believe charges against Zara are politically-motivated and initiated by those from the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat who have threatened Zara with death for leaving Islam and for her activism in support of ex-Muslims and women.

The International Coalition of Ex-Muslims urges the public to continue to defend Zara Kay until all the charges are dropped, her Australian passport is returned to her and she is allowed to leave Tanzania. Please also contact Australian embassies in countries of residence urging them to immediately intervene on behalf of Zara and get her home safe.

We call on the Tanzanian government to unconditionally and immediately drop all the charges against Zara Kay and allow her to leave the country. Restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and conscience are in violation of the country’s international human rights obligations.

We also call on the public to take action by contacting Tanzanian embassies in countries of residence and by contacting the Tanzanian government urgently calling for all charges to be dropped.

President John P. Magufuli
P.O. Box 11400
Dar es Salaam
Twitter: @MagufuliJP

Further Information and updates: