Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)
Council of Ex-Muslims of
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Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)

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Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)

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Politics and Administration

Description

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain or CEMB is the British branch of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims. It was launched in Westminster on 22 June 2007.

History

The Council plans to protest against Islamic states that still punish Muslim apostates with death under the Sharia law, as prescribed by the scriptures of that religion. The Council is led by Maryam Namazie, who was awarded Secularist of the Year in 2005 and has faced death threats.

The British Humanist Association and National Secular Society sponsored the launch and support the new organisation.

The activists of the organisation, many of whom are Iranian exiles, support the freedom to criticise religion and the end to what they call "religious intimidation and threats", Namazie says they have 4,000 users on their forum[6] and assist around 350 people a year, "the majority of whom have faced threats for having left Islam – either by their families or by Islamists".

Activities

The CEMB seeks to provide a safe haven for ex-Muslims in trouble, raise awareness about the problems surrounding apostasy, blasphemy, homophobia, sexism and other forms of repression, intolerance and discrimination in Islam, organises and attends public protests and online campaigns for the human rights of ex-Muslims and other victims of Islamism, hosts a weekly television programme called Bread and Roses TV, and holds an annual Secular Conference.

In November 2015, the CEMB launched the social media campaign #ExMuslimBecause, encouraging ex-Muslims to come out as apostates, and explain why they left Islam. Within two weeks, the hashtag had been used over 1,000 times. While proponents[who?] argued that it should be possible to freely question and criticise Islam, opponents[who?] claimed the campaign was amongst other things 'hateful'.

CEMB at Pride

On 8 July 2017, the CEMB took part in the Pride in London march for the first time in order to highlight the fact that 13 states under Islamic rule (14 if Daesh-held territories were included) impose the death penalty for homosexuality, and many of these also execute apostates and blasphemers if they criticise or leave the religion. Afterwards, the CEMB was the subject of a complaint from the orthodox East London Mosque (ELM) and others about CEMB's placards used during the march, with claims they were "Islamophobic" and "incited hate", in breach of Pride's guidelines. They specifically objected to one banner that suggested their Masjid incited murder - the placard read "East London Mosque incites murder of LGBT." Namazie responded that the term 'Islamophobia' is abused to conflate 'criticism of Islam or the political Islamic movement or Islamic State with bigotry and racism.' She stated that 'we’re obviously opposed to bigotry ourselves. We need to stand up to racism and bigotry and at the same time we should be able to criticise religion and the religious right.' 'Pride is full of ‘God is gay’ and ‘Jesus had two fathers’ placards as well as those mocking the church and priests and pope, yet hold a sign saying ‘Allah is gay’ – as we did – and the police converge to attempt to remove them for causing offence.'

After a brief inquiry into the 'Allah is gay' placards, London police allowed the CEMB protesters to proceed. Pride in London organisers launched an investigation into the matter, with a spokesperson saying: "If anyone taking part in our parade makes someone feel ostracised, discriminated against or humiliated, then they are undermining and breaking the very principles on which we exist. Our code of conduct is very clear on this matter... We will not tolerate Islamophobia."

The row escalated when Pride organisers published a statement in August along the same lines, and CEMB responded with a fierce statement criticising the policy of Pride organisers, whom they accused of 'a cultural relativism and tone policing that is only applicable to critics of Islam and never to critics of Christianity,' and 'buying into the Islamist narrative that betrays the persecuted and defends the persecutors. This is a politics that rewards bullies and blames victims.' CEMB went on to highlight instances of homophobia committed by the East London Mosque, for which the mosque apologised and promised not to let it happen again. Peter Tatchell, co-organiser of the first Pride in London in 1972 and Patron of Pride in London, came out in support of CEMB, while confirming the EML's track record of homophobic incidents.

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