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Campaign against gender segregation will persist

Dear friend

Thank you so much for all your support during 2013, particularly for our most recent campaign against gender segregation at universities in the UK, which we organised in conjunction with Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation, Southall Black Sisters, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society.

Nearly 9,500 signed our petition against guidance issued by representative body Universities UK (UUK) endorsing segregation of the sexes. Soon after our emergency 10 December rally at the UUK office and the ensuing public outcry, Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to oppose sex segregation at universities and UUK withdrew its guidance.

Whilst this fight has been won, the battle continues particularly since UUK aims to redraft its guidance rather than rescind it altogether.

The Campaign against Gender Segregation at UK Universities will persist to press on until there is no room for segregation of the sexes at universities, including by organising teams of sex apartheid busters and a huge march and rally against gender apartheid on 8 March 2014, International Women’s Day. We are also getting legal advice.

As Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas says in an interview in the latest issue of Fitnah’s monthly, Unveiled: “Whether [it’s segregation] at the back or on the side, the old argument is always that this is done to protect women – for their own good, of course, and by doing so to restrict their freedom of movement… What is discriminatory is to assign a place to somebody, whatever that place may be. It says: keep to your place; to women’s place! Universities have no business pandering to such requests, and if they do, what’s next? Fundamentalist speakers will only address audiences where females are fully covered? It seems we are already witnessing some of the next steps. According to media reports, in one instance at a UK university, women were not only segregated but had to give their questions in writing to the speaker, whilst men could raise theirs… What is sure is that fundamentalists will not stop here and will produce more and more demands, since the aim is not to get satisfaction for a specific demand, but to gain political ground.”

In my editorial in the same issue, I write: “Gender apartheid is an Islamist demand to increase power and influence by asserting medieval rules on women and the society at large. The groups lined up to defend UUK’s indefensible position are all hard-core Islamists who hide behind ‘Muslim’ and religion to push forward their regressive and misogynist far-Right politics…: FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies), for example, has just had their winter council in December with Kamal El Mekki as speaker who supports death for apostates. Hizb-Ut-Tahrir says gays should be killed and has been classified as a hate group. iERA’s [Islamic Education and Research Academy] Abdurraheem Green says disobedient women should be beaten; iERA won’t even publish on their website the photos of their women speakers (for women-only events of course)…  The British jihadi Iftikhar Jaman who recently died in Syria fighting for Al-Qaeda affiliate ISIS was part of iERA’s dawah team… The irony of such groups defending sex apartheid out of concern for ‘women’s comfort’ is lost on the likes of UUK.” You can see the latest issue of  ‘Unveiled’ here.

Some of the media coverage on this scandal can be found here and include a BBC World Service and Channel 4 News debate between myself and the Islamist Hizb-Ut-Tahrir. You can also see my interview in favour of banning the niqab here.

You can find out more about other aspects of our work in 2013 by visiting our website. Please also see a post by Anne Marie Waters who has left her position as One Law for All co-Spokesperson and also my blog entry on ‘Walking a tightrope: between a pro-Islamist Left and the far-Right’.

In the coming year, particularly important for us will be a conference we are co-organising on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London during 11-12 October 2014. You can register for the conference now. Also help us raise funds needed to invite secular activists from across the world and strengthen the global secularist front against the religious-Right.  One way to help is to donate items for an auction which will be held sometime early next year.  You can also help by joining our small but growing group of monthly donors or give us a one off donation if you can. Here’s information on how to donate. We also need office space in central London if you can help.

Finally, we would like to thank you once more for your donations and in-kind help including as volunteers, by providing free meeting space at a local language school and by helping with publicity, our campaigns, design, editing, and more. We want to particularly thank those of you who donate on a monthly basis; it has made a world of difference being able to depend on regular support.

We look forward to continuing – together – our fight for secularism, rights and equality in 2014 and beyond.

Wishing you a happy New Year and warmest wishes

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
BM Box2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

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