The Ex-Muslim Council of Britain
Cranmer believes this to be a wholly excellent development, as it secularises what has become a manifestly cultural term shrouded in religiosity. The group already has branches in Germany, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and is becoming a pan EU phenomenon.
It is to be led in the UK by Maryam Namazie, who is under no illusions about the danger she faces. She says: ‘Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered “apostates” - punishable by death in countries under Islamic law. By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism. We are quite certain we represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.’
In Islamic theology, apostasy, or ‘ridda’ (turning back) is considered a profound insult to Allah, and the punishment of death is deemed to be proportionate by those who adhere to the totalitarian and fascist nature of Islamism. In response to this ideology, the Council’s manifesto includes:
1) Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.
2) Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious ‘sanctities’.
3) Freedom of religion and atheism.
4) Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.
5) Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people's rights and freedoms.
6) Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict women's independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.
7) Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.
8) Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.
9) Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.
10) Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.
Cranmer has reservations about (4), not least because the Christian dimension of the Constitution should not be equated with Islamic expression and aspiration: the Church of England should not be disestablished because of demands for an 'Established Mosque'. But, taken as a whole, this manifesto should permit some light to shine on the medieval darkness that inhibits any rational discussion of matters Islamic, and Cranmer welcomes it.