Secularists world over unite to create a new front

secularismSecularists and civil society workers from the across the world have united under a banner to form a new front by the name International Front against Religious-Rights and for Secularism.  Some of the most prominent names the world over have joined in the mission with an aim to unite people and make them stand up to establish an international front against the religious rights and for secularism.

The core objectives of the front include:

1. Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.

2. Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.

3. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.

4. Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.

5. Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

The front was given a final shape during the International Conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London recently.  A signature campaign has been initiated which has already drawn close to 1000 signatories so far.

A press release by the Front says: ‘Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.” The Front cites various rightist organizations the world over and is asking people to fight against them. This includes the RSS in India.  Says the release: “The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.”

“For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives. We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism.”

Few initial signatories to the campaign include AC Grayling (Philosopher), Aliyah Saleem (Secular Education Campaigner), Amel Grami (Professor at the Tunisian University of Manouba), Bahram Soroush (Social and Political Analyst), Ben Baz Aziz (Presenter at Arab Atheist broadcasting), Caroline Fourest (French Writer and Editor), Chris Moos (LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society), Chulani Kodikara (International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka), Daphna Baram (Israeli-born human rights lawyer, journalist and comedian), Elham Manea (Yemeni Writer and Human Rights Activist), Faizun Zackariya (Citizens for Justice, Sri Lanka), Fariborz Pooya (Host of Bread and Roses TV), Fatou Sow (International Director of Women Living Under Muslim Laws), Gita Sahgal (Director of Centre for Secular Space), Hamid Taqvaee (Secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran), Horia Mosadiq (Human Rights and Women’s Rights Activist from Afghanistan), Imad Iddine Habib (Founder of Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco), Inna Shevchenko (Leader of FEMEN), Julie Bindel (Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize and Justice for Women), Kacem El Ghazzali (Moroccan secularist writer and blogger), Kate Smurthwaite (Comedian and Activist), Kiran Opal (Writer, LGBTQ/Human Rights Campaigner, Co-founder Ex-Muslims of North America), Lila Ghobady (Iranian writer-journalist and documentary filmmaker), Magdulien Abaida (Libyan Activist and President of Hakki (My Right) Organization for Women Rights), Marieme Helie Lucas (Algerian Founder of Secularism is a Woman’s Issue), Maryam Namazie (Iranian Spokesperson for One Law for All, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Fitnah), Nadia El Fani (Tunisian Filmmaker), Nahla Mahmoud (Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain), Nina Sankari (Vice-President of the Atheist Coalition, Poland), Nira Yuval-Davis ( a founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and the International Research Network on Women in Militarized Conflict Zone), Pervez Hoodbhoy (Pakistani Nuclear Physicist and Social Activist), Peter Tatchell (Director of Peter Tatchell Foundation), Pragna Patel (Director of Southall Black Sisters), Ramin Forghani (Founder of Ex-Muslims of Scotland), Rumy Hassan (Senior Lecturer at University of Sussex and author), Sameena Zehra (comedian and blues singer), Sanal Edamaruku (President of Rationalist International), Soad Baba Aissa (Founder of the Association for Mixing, Equality and Secularism), Sue Cox (Founder of Survivors Voice Europe), Sultana Kamal (a lawyer, human rights activist and Executive Director of Ain o Salish Kendra in Bangladesh), Terry Sanderson (President of the National Secular Society) and Yasmin Rehman (Women’s Rights Activist).

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