Flag_of_the_Islamic_State_in_Iraq_and_the_Levant.svgThe below is my opening remarks at the World Humanist Congress today 9 August 2014.

In this day and age, there is most certainly something about Islam.

Not because it is any worse than other religions.

As I have said many times before, all religions are equal and equally bad.

No religion looks favourably upon women, gay and lesbians, freethinkers, dissenters, other religions or atheists, and blasphemers, heretic and apostates… Punishing freethinkers is a long-standing and fundamental feature of all major religions. But there is something about Islam primarily because it is the banner of Islamism, a far-Right political movement, spearheading what I call an Islamic inquisition.

Islamists want the far-Right restructuring of societies – concretely this means a Caliphate or Islamic state, the implementation of Sharia law, the imposition of the burka and compulsory veiling, gender segregation, defending Hududd punishments like death by stoning, and the execution of apostates to name a few.

You don’t have to look far to see what Islamism is. The Islamic regime of Iran. The Saudi government. Hamas. Boko Haram. Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb Ut Tahrir and the Taliban.

And of course the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) which has made tremendous advances over the past few days and months and which continues to shock and outrage humanity with its sheer terror and brutality.

ISIS is Islamism without its palatable wrappings often fed to people in Europe and the West where its manifestations like Sharia courts in Britain and the Law Society’s guidance on Sharia wills (which institutionalises Islamist values) – are portrayed as people’s “right to religion” even by some humanist groups.

Whilst there are differences in degree amongst Islamists as there are in any phenomenon, fundamentally they are all striving for the same things. Including groups like IERA in the UK which has charitable status and debates well known scientists and atheists whilst defending the Caliphate, death to apostates (they say beheading is painless) and segregating British universities.

Some keep telling us of such “moderate” or “soft” Islamists. There are none.

Fascism is fascism no matter how it is wrapped and dressed.

There is also, given the context, no moderate Islam. Even if there are a million interpretations, today, Islam is what ISIS tells you it is. It is what Khamenei in Iran says it is. It is what the Taliban says it is by sheer and brute force. In many places, you must either submit to their Islam or die.

When religion is in the state or has influence it is no longer a question of personal belief but of political power.

Of course when I talk about Islam I am not speaking of Islam as a personal belief or Muslims who are believers like my father and mother or some of yours.

People practice Islam and religion in innumerable personal ways; they pick and choose what aspects fit their lives and more often than not, people’s humanity shines through whatever their religion or belief.

Being Muslim doesn’t mean one is an Islamist anymore than being Turkish means you support Erdokan, or being Nigerian means you are with Boko Haram or being British means you are a supporter of the British National Party or Christian Right.

No group, community, society is homogeneous. As Kenan Malik says “secularism and fundamentalism are not ideas stitched into people’s DNA. They are, like all values, absorbed, accepted, rejected”.

In fact, Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims are the first victims and at the forefront of resistance against Islamism.

Karima Bennoune highlights nearly 300 such people and groups of Muslim heritage as she calls them who refuse and resist in her book called “your fatwa does not apply here”.

Also, over the past decades, many have “voted” against Islamism with their feet by fleeing Islamic states and movements in unprecedented numbers.

Right now, thousands of Yazidis considered devil worshipers by ISIS languish in the mountains of Sinjar with children dying of thirst and nowhere to go surrounded by ISIS.

Islam today isn’t a private matter, especially not during an inquisition.

Islam is not just the ‘opium’ of the masses as Marx has said but their genocidaire.

Of course, it is good to be balanced and speak of all religions as being equally problematic. Even after the enlightenment has removed much of Christianity’s power and influence, Christianity is still not a benign force; it creates misery where it can.

But you cannot look at ISIS right here and now and its beheadings and crucifixions and sexual jihad and speak of similar attitudes during Victorian England or Europe’s dark ages.

ISIS represents our dark ages today in the 21st century.

It is good to be balanced – particularly when you have a far-Right using the issue of Sharia law and Islamism to attack immigrants and Muslims and absurdly demanding a ban on the Koran as if the Bible was banned to stop the Spanish inquisition. A far-Right that feigns “crocodile tears” for those killed by Islamists yet cheers the massacre of innocent civilians in Gaza by the Israeli state.

It is important to be balanced but one must also be fair and just.

If we cannot see that there is something about Islam and Islamism, then we cannot respond as we must.

And if we don’t, who will?

Defending freethought and expression is crucial in this fight. Defending blasphemy and apostasy cases are important. Removing blasphemy laws from the legal system is key.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain deals with hundreds of such cases every year. But it is not enough to defend free expression and thought within a limited human rights or legal context.

We must see blasphemy and apostasy laws and a defence of free expression within the larger context of religion in general and Islam in particular vis-a-vis the question of political power.

Islam in the state or with political power is the end of freethought and the end of free expression.

It is the end of democratic politics.

It is the end of women’s rights and gay rights and the rights of minorities. It is the end of everything worthy of a 21 century life.

It is a return to the dark ages.

A Humanist congress today can only begin and end united for Sinjar and united against ISIS.

It must stand unequivocally against Islamism, Sharia law and the Caliphate. This is not about “people’s right to religion”. It is about stopping Islamism’s right to kill and slaughter and oppress.

A humanist congress must stand for equality (of people – not religions and beliefs), for universal rights, and for secularism and the separation of religion from the state – not just for Europe but the world.

This is not a clash of civilisations. It’s a clash between the theocrats and fascists versus the rest of us – Muslim, Atheist and none.

As the late Marxist Mansoor Hekmat said:

“In Islam … the individual has no rights or dignity. In Islam, the woman is a slave. In Islam, the child is on par with animals. In Islam, freethinking is a sin deserving of punishment. Music is corrupt. Sex without permission and religious certification, is the greatest of sins. This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled.”

Restraining it – controlling it – in this day and age – that is our task.



  1. Why do you believe this question is for me to answer? Actually if I could I would answer the question by myself, and i can’t see the point in you, emile, deciding where to direct my question.
    What difference would make being a muslim? (the question, where it is not very necessary to address the issue by itself sounds a little bit discriminating) Anyway I used to be, but I’m from a relatively liberal muslim country, so I can’t decide which one of the different versions is the real one, and once again if Isis is representing it.
    Thank you

    1. I honestly could not be sure with whom I am communicating , that is why I asked about whether you are or not a mahometan ; it is a jungle the world and individuals can play multiple definitions . I am sorry for that . I used to be a christian and that’s a different complicated problem . anyway you cleared the point and I thank you for this . there is a grave issue of crimes against humanity . it is important to stand against crime from whatever source it comes . It is important to realize that terrorism in all of its forms and from whatever source it comes can destroy the world completely .
      In a distant but effectively related theme , any religious activity is hazardous to the gentle mind of children and to the effective performance
      Of adults . People take care of themselves by themselves .
      And here is my answer to your original question : No Doubt , ISIS is NOT
      The People of Islam .

      1. Even though ISIS is not and do not represent the people of Islam, there is still possibility for it to reflect the real Islam, provided the probability that the majority of muslim are under “ethical” (and positive though) pressure not to implement it.

        I believe this is an open question to tacke and should not be let to slogan-like phrases such as Maryam’a paragraph that I quoted above.

        The whole point of my question was to sort out if that leaned upon pondering by the author or lacked reasoning behind, which proved unfortunately to be the latter.

        I’m eager to find out good reasons why Isis represents or not, the true Islam.

        1. Where is Your reason abk ? Might you be concerned still with the maintenance of the sionist conservative traditions of abominations ?

  2. “There is also, given the context, no moderate Islam. Even if there are a million interpretations, today, Islam is what ISIS tells you it is. It is what Khamenei in Iran says it is. It is what the Taliban says it is by sheer and brute force. In many places, you must either submit to their Islam or die.”

    I agree with the idea that moderation is not the best way to live according to any religion from a religious point of view, as they all preach some kind offull attachment to their rules and if such religion is by its nature moderate, than its followers are not moderately following it but they are less visible fundamentalists.

    But my question is: can we back intellectually that ISIS’s Islam is real Islam. Do we have some convincing piece of literature in that field that sounds more than just opinions, which the quoted paragraph is all about.

    Thank you.

    1. (” I agree with the idea that moderation is not the best way to live according to any religion from a religious point of view, as they all preach some kind of full attachment to their rules and if such religion is by its nature moderate , than its followers are not moderately following it but they are less visible fundamentalists”)
      – Thank you for confirming the truth spoken about by Maryam Namazie , which also answers your following question and brief remark , but don’t worry,
      Reset is too part of progress .

        1. To ABK
          Sadly enough , ABK , it is not just a part which is wrong about any of the three books , Torah , New Testament , Koran , but the three of them are fully loaded with anti-constitutional aberrations.

          1. I’m afraid you misunderstood my question, which is not about whether biblical or quranic claims are constitutional or about the alleged truthfulness of the book, its about the alleged adherence of ISIS to and its consistency with what we call the “real Islam”. Thank you.

          2. Kindly for you , ABK , but I am afraid this question is for you to answer , I do not know if you are actually a mahometan person . Would you be kind to explain what you mean by real Islam , because victims , hostages ,subjugated people cannot
            Speak and the loom of covert or implied menace disable many . thank you .

  3. To Lorna Salzmann;

    Sorry, didn’t mean to be categorical to the point of not inviting to discussion. I merely wanted to say that aggressive atheists tend to identify eastern philosophies as religions in the same sense as the abrahamic faiths. This is quite unjust as their foundations are quite dissimilar. The Indo-European traditions are speculative by nature and encourage argumentation and questioning of truths. Although both Judaic and Christian traditions have evolved to include some amount of intellectual reasoning; basically these three abrahamic religions are founded on The Law. The Word. The Book. The Prophets. Very little scope for evolution as Human history rolls on. This was my point. Good Day.

    1. I perceive the complete difference between the two Worlds : the Abrahamic faiths
      And the Hinduism Buddhism Zoroastranism ; however , those last three are
      Themselves definitely hazardous to the normalcy of the People .
      Frankly speaking , People’s safety is what matters AND RELIGION IS IN THE RED Δ

      1. You won’t find me defending any religion, Abrahamic or others. Hindus haven’t distinguished themselves as tolerant when you look at their persecution of Muslims. Buddhists in Myanmar are also persecuting Muslims. And Muslim Uighurs are committing crimes against nonMuslims. All the religion scorecards are full of atrocities and repression.
        What needs to be done is an analysis of why religious extremism is coming to the forefront today, along with secular irrationality. From the observer’s viewpoint (or the victim’s), the alignment of the so-called left with murderous
        misogynist anti semitic violent movements and groups is the most deplorable of all. This is illustrated by Maryam herself, a professed leftist/communist. But in Iran historically, it was the left and the communists who were the most
        progressive, pro-women, pluralistic and pro=civil liberties. Why she has deserted these roots to support a terrorist
        group like Hamas (does she support Hezbollah too?) is not just puzzling but reprehensible. One need not love or even
        support Israel to support impartial reporting and a single moral standard. The formerly hazy tinge of anti semitism is now coming out into the open. This is not an accusation of her but rather an inquiry as to why Israel is being judged
        by a different set of moral standards, and why only its “transgressions” get attention even as its enemy violates
        international humanitarian and legal statutes and the rules that are supposed to govern conflict and war. Maryam could be a beacon of hope and objectivity, which is badly needed. She deplores fanaticism in Islam but seems to ignore the fact that Hamas is fulfilling the violent mandates of hate and murder perfectly….and she does not seem to care.

      2. Yazdegerd is right on a very important point: the Indo-European religions do not impose religion through the state. And Lorna, before you made the comment “Hindus haven’t distinguished themselves as tolerant when you look at their persecution of Muslims”, did you fact-check and think it through? There are more muslims in India today with almost 20% of the population (including minority sects like Ahmadiyas) than any other country but Indonesia; whereas Hindus constitute less than 1% of the population in Afghanistan and Pakistan and less than 10% in Bangladesh. There is systematic repression and genocide of Hindus and other minorities in muslim countries, and there used to be such systematic persecution of minorities in christian countries in the past. If Hindus and Buddhists react against such atrocities, it immediately becomes a fashion to bash these dharmic faiths. The Abrahamic religions work on a very basic and unchanging principle: follow my book or die/convert. In fact, all the progress in Europe since the middle ages was not because of christianity, but in spite of it (witness the life stories of Copernicus and Galileo).

  4. All religions are evolution’s way of dealing with those lame-duck genetic failures who are too cowardly and degenerate to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their own actions – so they they wipe each other out in the name of old Nobodaddy in the sky – result!

  5. Powering up women’s unconditional constitutional supremacy is the priority sacred issue. Nothing else is sacred. This way the roadmap to peace begins.

  6. Everything you indict Islam for, every single one of its abuses, transgressions and violence, is true of Hamas. Yet you refuse to include it on your list. It stands next to ISIS, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and all the others. Its objective is not
    a peaceful state but the elimination of Jews and Israel. And it does not conceal this; it boasts of it continually. But your eyes and ears are apparently closed.

    1. Don’t be absurd. Hamas is Islamist so it is on my list whether I mention it or not. I couldn’t mention all the groups. I oppose Hamas and Islamists more than anything else. You are just upset that I also condemn Israeli state terrorism. For me people are people whether Jewish or Muslim and I won’t support the death of any civilian. Get it?

      1. I just added Hamas now and will add any other Islamist group anyone wants. That is not the point though. The point is that you don’t want any criticism of Israeli state terrorism. Sorry no can do.

      2. You gave yourself away when you said you opposed “Israeli state terrorism”. What would you be talking about? Israel’s self defense measures? Its efforts to destroy the Hamas rockets stored in and launched from civilian
        streets, mosques and schools? There is only one terrorist side in this battle and it is Hamas. Looking at recent Israel history I fail to find any acts of terrorism committed or sponsored by the state much less any sub-state entities. Do you have reliable sources and information to support your charge of Israeli terrorism? If not, kindly retract your insinuation, which is merely subtle propaganda that completely undercuts your claim to oppose terrorism on both sides…even when there is terrorism on only one side.

        1. To Lorna salzman
          There is no such thing as innocent religion. Judaism included. The abduction , killing and burning of a Palestinian subject is enough conviction. And this was not the first time and only victim. Ms. Namazie is a great communicator giving us the little life saving boat to break clear out of it. All of it.
          If you are not comfortable with this, you certainly have the right to voice your opinion and not expect us in any way , 100℅ meaning, to grant a line of exemption for Judaism. Your comments denote a possible sectarian issue : the words you used, I.E. : : ” give yourself away”_”insinuation”. Free Jews are everywhere,and WIDE AWAKE !

          1. It is the innocents who are irrelevant to their religion. It’s a case as if road signs
            being displaced to point in the wrong direction.

          2. If the right to self-defence includes the right to slaughter children, then I suppose you must agree with the Islamists who say it is self-defence of “their lands” to slaughter innocents elsewhere. Or at least I can’t see any difference in your position and theirs.

            Self defence doesn’t give you right to slaughter and murder civilians. Full stop.

          3. You are too intelligent a person to really believe that the right of self defense requires avoidance of killing children.
            (How would you do that anyway if your enemy were exposing them as human shields intentionally?) In a war, the
            attacked country is within its rights to kill anyone. Your argument is even weaker than that of pacifists who refuse to
            kill or serve in armed forces. If you think it is OK to kill adults, then take your message to Hamas, not to Israel. Your arguments are not accepted by international law. Self defense rights are not abrogated because self defense measures might kill children (and what age defines a child? How about the nine year old Gazan boys trained in the military to kill Jews? Are they exempt?). Your opinion would be more credible were you objective and opposed Hamas
            invasions and rockets (unprovoked) and use of human shields as much as you attack Israel. Your biases are clear and they do no honor to you. You need to reflect on this.

          4. Your comparison was a non sequitur. Islamists who bomb western cities randomly have not been attacked, while
            Israel was attacked by Hamas. Those who carry out random killings of innocent people…as in 9/11….are not
            defending territory. They are religious fanatics targeting those they consider infidels. They are defending the purity of their religion and defending the umma: the community of Muslims. But the victims of their atrocities never attacked
            Muslims randomly. You need to think more carefully when you shop around for excuses to condemn Israel and
            justify Hamas’ rocket attacks and use of human shields.

          5. I am a Zoroastrian and frankly speaking, I refuse to have my faith/philosophy tarred with the same brush as the “abrahamic trio”. Nor would it be fair to say that Hinduism or Buddhism deserve the same condemnation as the less complex and highly intolerant abrahamites. End of discussion.

          6. “End of discussion” indeed. That’s not what I would expect from a so called progressive and believer in free expression and inquiry. However, this debate is going nowhere. It’s just a collection of random opinions extracted from
            pre existing ideologies and biases. Very disappointing but not unprecedented. I will not waste my own breath on trying to reason with those who think that holding an opinion is the height of intellectualism and human ability. Anyone can have an opinion. Few have substantive facts or experience to support them. That is the case with this list too.

  7. Exi5tentialist; The US is totally responsible for the situation in Iraq! I remember reading about how in the 7th century they interfered in Iraq and caused the schism between the Shia and the Sunni.
    Presently. IS has chased 45.000 Yezidi into the mountains to perish, meanwhile beheading and burying the stragglers alive. As it is immoral to bomb IS, I trust you will be heading over there to tell them to stop and give them a good tongue lashing!

    1. You remember the 7th century? Wow, that’s cool.

      Come on, the world we live in is the responsibility of the living. The US can’t abdicate its responsibility for the mess in Iraq by blowing the dust off some old book. That doesn’t wash.

      The pro-war lobby always look for a new angle to perpetuate the war. Today, it’s saving the weak and vulnerable – the cost is always years of war: more bombs, drones, lives lost, bodies maimed. And still the US wants to prop up its appointed government in Baghdad. The US has written its limb-tearing, radioactive record already. We’ve got that to go by. No more.

      1. For the sake of argument, lets say the Americans are totally at fault for the present condition of Iraq and they can’t abdicate its’ responsibility. Shouldn’t they use necessary force to stop those thousands of Yezidi from getting exterminated?
        As one of the living is it your responsibility to oppose military force being used to help these people?

    1. “The US is wholly responsible for the destruction of Iraq’s economy, stability and chances of a peaceful future.”


      1. Iraq had such a peaceful future under Saddam?
      2. The US has sat on the sidelines in Syria and yet ISIS is there chopping off heads left and right.

      Anger about the botched US invasion is no reason to punish innocent Iraqis facing genocide today. Should the world let ISIS overrun the Kurdish regions of Iraq (which have been peaceful and stable for decades) in the name of not letting the US drop any more bombs?

      The Stop the War Coalition has a sad history of siding with fascists under the misleading guise of non-violence (“we are Hezbollah” chanted by your members in the streets of London ring a bell?).

      1. 1. Prior to 2003, Iraq had an infrastructure and the chance of change that goes with it. The US not only destroyed cities, infrastructure, homes and an economy, it destroyed that possibility of change by deploying its missile, drone, bullet and bomb arsenal against Iraq. If you’re against beheadings, I’m sure you’ll be against bodies being blown apart limb from limb. Admit it. In the league table of evil, US history in Iraq ranks some notches above anything that ISIS could possibly achieve.
        2. Yes and what a good thing the US has ‘sat on the sidelines’ in Syria. Whatever the bloodbath there now, it would be many times worse after a US intervention. Iraq proves that.

        The US invasion was “botched” because it happened at all. The act of invasion was the source of the botch. To stop the war, we have to stop separating out inseparables like a botched invasion and botched occupation. These things always went together, and always will.

        If the US were only deploying in Kurdistan then you might have the possibility of the makings of a point about the US’s totally humanitarian purpose in defending Kurds, But the US continues to support the colonial government it left behind in 2012. US motives are never humanitarian.

        As for your little slur against the Stop the War Coalition. Don’t worry, I know you don’t want to stop the war. You just want it to continue. But let me assure you, ONE Hezbollah banner at a Stop the War Demo doesn’t actually constitute the settled policy of the Stop the War Coalition. It is only your own intelligence you are insulting by pretending it does.

  8. Well said. I’ll book mark this for future use, when a clueless liberal talks about Islamophibia when faced with criticism of Islam.

  9. It is true as Marx put it ,opium; telling it my way, it is substance abuse of the intellectual fluid going awry. I wish I could comment more, but you have done it already, the best, faithfully yours
    emil p.-saturday9august 2014-

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