We’ve had a lot about Islam on the blog lately, so I thought it would be worth talking about Maryam Namazie, who’s a staunch opponent of political Islam.
Namazie was born in Tehran, but she left Iran with her family in 1980 after the establishment of the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. She went to study in the United States and after graduating there moved to the Sudan to work with Ethiopian refugees.
Halfway through her stay, an Islamic government took power. She was threatened by this government for establishing a clandestine human-rights organisation and had to be evacuated by her employer for her own safety.
Back in the United States, Ms Namazie worked for various refugee and human-rights organisations. From 1996 to 2004, she was executive director of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees, an international organisation with 60 branches in nearly 20 countries, which campaigns on behalf of thousands of Iranian asylum-seekers and refugees.
Some of her personal successes include preventing the deportation of over 1,000 Iranian refugees from the Netherlands after having spoken at a parliamentary meeting on the issue, and spearheading a campaign to prevail on the Turkish government to extend the period in which asylum seekers can apply for asylum.
She has worked on numerous other campaigns: opposing stonings and other barbaric executions in Islamic theocracies; defending the banning of religious symbols from schools and public institutions; opposing the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill in the UK; and defending the secularisation of society in Britain and elsewhere.
She supported the successful campaign against the introduction of a sharia court in Canada, being a speaker at its first public meeting in Toronto. She is an inveterate commentator and broadcaster on human rights, cultural relativism, secularism, religion, political Islam and many other related topics.
On 8 October 2005, Namazie received the first Secularist of the Year award from the National Secular Society. On 20 March 2006, she was guest lecturer at Peter Tatchell’s fifth human-rights fundraiser. On 25 March 2006, she was one of the speakers at the Rally for Free Expression held in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Maryam Namazie is very pro-gay-rights. Like me, she is a vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) and was one of the principle speakers at the UK International Day Against Homophobia conference in 2007 (see photo, where she’s seen with me). She is a contributor to the Pink Triangle Trust’s Internet magazine, Gay & Lesbian Humanist.
She is the spokesperson for the recently formed One Law for All campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, which aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to oppose apostasy laws and political Islam.
In short, she is one of the most staunch opponents of political Islam.