Maryam Namazie’s speech at the Protest the Pope Rally
18 September 2010


We are gathered here today to show our opposition to the pope’s visit – for being state-funded but also to show our opposition to his views and the adverse role religion plays in the private and particularly the public spheres.

The pope says we need the ‘corrective supplied by religion.’

That’s exactly what we don’t need.

Look around. Everywhere we see the murder and mayhem ‘supplied by religion.’ We are not speaking of another planet or centuries past where one can get away with saying such things.

Every second of every minute of every hour of every day, we see the ‘corrective supplied by religion’ – on stem cell research, family planning, exemptions to discriminate, the segregation of our children in faith schools and the demand for parallel legal systems – including Sharia law and the Beth Dinn…

What’s even worse is Islam.

Not because Islam is worse than Christianity or other religions – fundamentally they are all the same – but because Islam has state power in many places.

Sharia law is now the most widely implemented religious law worldwide. And under Sharia law, child rape and sexual abuse is legal – what with child marriages allowed from age 9 and even younger if permitted by the girl’s male guardian. Gays are executed. Apostates and freethinkers are hung. Protestors like Neda Agha-Soltan are shot dead in broad daylight and women are sentenced to death by stoning for sex outside of marriage – like Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Today’s Islam is the like Christianity during the inquisition.

We are living today under an Islamic inquisition – one that needs another enlightenment to push it back.

A significant part of the battle against the pope and religion’s role has to be against Islamism.

But suddenly, it is deemed racism!

Isn’t it actually racist to say that ‘different’ people have ‘different’ rights and freedoms?

Suddenly it is deemed ‘moral imperialism.’

As if stoning is people’s culture. As if Sharia courts are people’s culture. Whose culture are we speaking of. The culture of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who is fighting to live or the culture of the Islamic regime in Iran that wants to stone her? The culture of the Sharia court that gives women no choices or the women who wants to live free from violence?

This is not people’s culture; it is the pope’s culture, the Islamic regime of Iran’s culture, Islamism’s culture.

It’s not yours or mine.

It’s not moral imperialism but a moral imperative to intervene on humanity’s behalf.

The pope speaks of ‘secular intolerance.’ Nothing is more intolerant than religion. It is intolerant of gays, of women, of love, of sex, of music, of your choice of clothing…

It is a crime to be a human being under Sharia law in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and even parts of Britain where many have been handed over lock stock and barrel to the Islamic movement.

As I’ve said before, it is a question of choice.

We choose humanity whilst the pope, Ahmadinejad and Islamists choose religious dogma at the expense of humanity.

The pope complains of ‘aggressive secularists.’ Well they haven’t seen anything yet.

We’re going to push them back.

We want to – demand to – live in the 21st century.


To mark, 18 September, a day of action in defence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43 mother of two, who has been sentenced to death by stoning, I ask that you all chant with me: Free Sakineh Now and Stop Stoning Now.

Thank you.


You can see the speech here on Youtube.

To see speeches of others, including Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, Terry Sanderson, Peter Tatchell, Pragna Patel and others, click here.

Maryam is spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, Equal Rights Now, the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She is a National Secular Society Honorary Associate and the NSS’ 2005 Secularist of the Year award winner and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. She was selected one of the top 45 women of the year 2007 by Elle magazine Quebec.


  1. Great speech and explaines quite well as to what is wrong with religious laws.

    Reminds me of what is wrong with a Philippines that has a bellicose Catholic chuch.

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