Tatchell Backs Liberal Muslims
Namazie says "political Islam is the fascism of today".
Appeal for donations to fund office and staff.
London - 20 March 2006
"Support for a liberal, progressive Islam is an urgent priority. It is the most effective way to counteract the fundamentalist attitudes towards women and gay people that characterise many supposedly moderate, mainstream Muslim organisations," human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told an invited audience at his fifth annual human rights fundraiser at the Sound nightclub in central London tonight (Monday 20 March).
"I applaud the courageous Muslims who are seeking an Islamic Enlightenment. I want Muslims and non-Muslims to work together to secure universal social justice and human rights."
Mr Tatchell also made an appeal for "1000 people to take out a standing order of £5 per month, to help fund an office with two full-time staff to assist my human rights work." He currently has no dedicated office or staff support.
See photos of the fundraiser event:
The Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund (PTHRF) reception had been scheduled to host a guest lecture by the liberal Muslim theologian, Sheikh Dr Muhammad Yusuf, a research fellow of the Inter-Faith Alliance UK and Chair of the Council of University Imams. But he was pressured by senior Muslim leaders to pull out.
Sheikh Yusuf's planned call for an "Islamic Reformation" provoked their wrath. They warned of dire consequences and said they could not guarantee his safety if he went ahead with his lecture.
Commenting on Sheikh Yusuf's withdrawal from the fundraiser, Mr Tatchell said:
"I regret that extreme pressure from some Muslim leaders forced Sheikh Yusuf to cancel his speech. He withdrew under duress, fearing Islamist retribution against himself and his loved ones."
In place of Sheikh Yusuf, the guest lecture was delivered by exiled Iranian feminist, communist and human rights campaigner, Maryam Namazie. She highlighted the danger posed to democracy and human rights by the rise of "political Islam," which she condemned as "the fascism of today":
Ms Namazie attacked Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, accusing him of promoting a homophobic and anti-humanitarian agenda.
A refugee from Islamist persecution in Iran, Ms Namazie condemned the clerical rulers in Tehran over their "inhuman treatment" of women, children and gay people.
She also denounced the Islamic regime's policy of public executions, citing the law which stipulates the size of the stones that must be used to kill people who have sex outside of marriage: "The stone cannot be so small that it does not cause enough pain, and not too large that it hastens their death too quickly. It must be just the right size, to cause a slow, painful death," said Ms Namazie.
Mr Tatchell highlighted some of his current campaigns, including:
Support for gay and liberal Muslims victimised by Islamic fundamentalist threats
Advice and assistance to asylum seekers in detention and being denied refugee status
Exposure of miscarriages of justice and support for prisoners abused because they are black, gay or Muslim
Solidarity with gay and human rights campaigners in Uganda, Iraq, Darfur, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Algeria, Palestine and Iran.
Adrian Gillan, spokesman for the PTHRF, said:
"Peter's human rights campaigns have gone global. His successes mean he is deluged with requests for help from activists all over the world. To meet these demands, he is working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Such a huge workload is damaging his health and is unsustainable. We need to raise enough money to get Peter a fully equipped office and full-time staff support. The fund-raising reception has helped raise some of the extra funds we need."
PTHRF chairman Reverend Richard Kirker said:
"Peter Tatchell has an unquenchable thirst for justice, and a voracious appetite for work. He challenges discrimination fearlessly and helps the persecuted who - in their thousands - seek his advice and support from all parts of the world. Moreover - by writing, campaigning, demonstrating and lobbying - he is able to alert the wider public and media to the injustices that still blight the lives of millions. Supporting the PTHRF provides him with financial assistance that he puts entirely at the disposal of his work. What could be more worthwhile?"
The PTHRF supports campaigning, research and educational initiatives which challenge prejudice, discrimination, violence, repression and injustice. To this end, the Fund selectively supports Peter Tatchell's promotion of human rights, both in the UK and globally. The PTHRF is independent and non-party political. Peter Tatchell has no organised funding for his campaigns apart from financial support from the PTHRF. All donations received go direct to funding human rights work. Peter receives no salary or income from the Fund. He remains an unpaid, volunteer human rights activist. We are committed to raising funds, accepting donations and working in partnership with other funders to help Peter's work.
To find out more about the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund: www.tatchellrightsfund.org
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