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January 07, 2015

After the Charlie Hebdo’s massacre Support those who fight the religious-right

After the massacre in Charlie Hebdo in Paris today, January 7, 2015, expressing indignation, as so many are doing, is not enough.

A quick look at the English-speaking media shows that whilst many condemn the violence itself, they also assert that Charlie Hebdo courted (and maybe deserved?) a strong response from “Muslims”. Charlie’s regular cartoonists did not spare Islam, any other religion, nor fanatics and bigots.

This trend in the media requires our attention. Apparently secularists, agnostics and atheists must keep silent and do not deserve the kind of respect that believers are entitled to; nor can they enjoy free speech to the same degree.

In the name of “respect” of religions and of the religious sentiments of believers, it is indeed the fanatical religious-Right that is being supported and given centre stage. Meanwhile, those who are on the forefront of countering armed fundamentalists are left to their own devices. It is high time to give these secularists prominence, to recognise their courage, their political clarity and to stop labelling them “Islamophobic”.

In October 2014, secularists – including atheists, agnostics and believers from many countries, in particular many Muslim-majority countries, met in London to denounce the religious-Right and to demand being seen as its alternative. It is high time to learn from their analysis and lived experience.

Today’s tragic massacre in Paris will undoubtedly give fuel to the traditional xenophobic far-Right and the immediate danger is an increase in racism, marginalization and exclusion of people of Muslim descent in Europe and further. We do not want to witness “anti-Muslim witch hunts” nor do we welcome the promotion of “moderate Islamists” by governments as official political partners. What is needed is a straightforward analysis of the political nature of armed Islamists: they are an extreme-Right political force, working under the guise of religion and they aim at political power. They should be combated by political means and mass mobilisation, not by giving extra privileges to any religion.

Their persistent demand for the extension of blasphemy laws around the world is a real danger for all. France has a long - and now growingly endangered - tradition of secularism; which allows dissent from religions and the right to express this dissent. It has had a rich tradition to mock and caricature powers that be - religious or otherwise. Let us keep this hard won right which cost so many lives in history, and, alas, still does - as Charlie Hebdo’s twelve dead and numerous wounded demonstrate today.


Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian Sociologist and Secularism is a Women’s Issue Founder Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, One Law for All and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation

Karima Bennoune, Professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Hall Research Scholar, University of California, Davis School of Law

Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web (

Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

Houzan Mahmoud: Kurdish women’s rights activist- London/UK

Ali al-Razi, Ex-Muslim Forum

Anissa Daoudi, Birmingham University, Head of Arabic Section

Chris Moos, Secularist Activist and Researcher

Deeyah Khan, Norwegian Filmmaker and Founder/CEO of Fuuse

Fahima Hashim, Director of Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre in Sudan

Fariborz Pooya, Founder of the Iranian Secular Society and Co-host of Bread and Roses TV

Fatou Sow, International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws

Fiammetta Venner, Writer and Filmmaker

Gita Sahgal, Founder of Centre for Secular Space

Imad Iddine Habib, Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco

Inna Shevchenko, Leader of FEMEN

Julie Bindel, Writer

Kate Smurthwaite, Comedian and Activist

Magdulien Abaida, Libyan Activist and President of Hakki (My Right) Organization for Women Rights

Meredith Tax, Centre for Secular Space

Mina Ahadi, International Committees against Stoning and Execution

Nadia El Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker

Nina Sankari, Vice President of Atheist Coalition of Poland

Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

Ramin Forghani, Founder of the Ex-Muslims of Scotland and Vice-Chair of the Scottish Secular Society

Safak Pavey, MP for Istanbul, Turkish Parliament

Soad Baba Aïssa, Founder of Association pour la mixité, l’égalité et la laïcité

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society

Waleed Al-Husseini, Palestinian blogger and Founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France

Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Advocate

Nira Yuval Davis, Professor and Director of the research centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging of the University of East London

Siamak Bahari, Political Activist and Editor of Children First Publication

Sultana Kamal, Bangladeshi Human Rights Activist

Taslima Nasrin, Bangladeshi-born Writer

Tehmina Kazi, Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Laura Guidetti, Marea Italian Feminist Review

Lila Ghobady, Iranian Writer and Filmmaker

Hala Aldosari, Women’s Health Researcher and Women’s Rights Women’s Activist

Codou Bop, Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal

Daayiee Abdullah, Imam of Light of Reform Mosque

Zeinabou Hadari, Centre Reines Daura des Ressources pour la promotion, le Développement et le Rayonnement de la Femme Niger.

Ayesha Imam, researcher, Nigeria



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