Some excellent comments made on the award of Secularist of the Year. Richard Dawkins says, and on this occasion I agree with him, that it is “the awakening of women” that will solve the problem of “the worldwide menace of Islamic terrorism and oppression”.
His remarks came while praising Mina Ahadi, winner of this year’s NSS Irwin Prize. Mina Ahadi is an Iranian woman who was forced to flee her native country after leading a campaign against the compulsory veiling of women. Because of her resistance to the clerical regime, her husband and four of her colleagues were executed, and she only narrowly escaped the same fate. She now lives in Germany and has founded the Committee of Ex-Muslims, a movement that is rapidly spreading across Europe. She has also founded the Committee Against Stoning, which now has 200 branches worldwide.
Richard Dawkins said:
“I have long felt that the key to solving the worldwide menace of Islamic terrorism and oppression would eventually be the awakening of women, and Mina Ahadi is a charismatic leader working to that end. The brutal suppression of the rights of women in many countries throughout the Islamic world is an obvious outrage. Slightly less obvious, but just as outrageous, is the supine willingness of western liberals to go along with it. It is worse than supine, it is patronising and condescending: "Wife-beating is part of ‘their’ culture. Who are we to condemn their traditions?" A religion so insecure as to mandate the death penalty for apostasy is not to be trifled with, and ex-Muslims who stand up and fight deserve our huge admiration and gratitude for their courage. Right out in front of this honourable band is Mina Ahadi. I salute her and congratulate her on this well-deserved award as Secularist of the Year.”
Maryam Namazie, NSS honorary associate and winner of the award in 2005, and now head of the Ex-Muslim Council of Britain, sent this message of congratulations to Mina:
“Your winning the 2007 Secularist of the Year award is a cause for celebration for people across the world. This well-deserved honour reiterates your leading role in the battle for secularism, rights and a world worthy of 21st century humanity. You and your movement have always been about saving lives and putting people first. Thanks in large part to your efforts, it is this life-affirming politics that is finally gaining the recognition it deserves. Putting people first is revolutionary in a world where people are dehumanised and deemed to be represented by political Islam or US militarism and labelled by a million characteristics beginning with religion, nationality or ethnicity and never ending in human. In such a world, millions of often resisting and dissenting people are deemed to be represented by the likes of the misogynist and inhuman Islamic regime of Iran, the Muslim Council of Britain or the Islamic Human Rights Commission. In such a world, opposing the political Islamic movement and defending its victims is deemed to be in aid of US militarism whilst opposing US militarism is deemed to be in support of political Islam. In such a world, people, real live human beings, are absent from the equation. To bring people back into the equation, to give their dissent and resistance a voice, to defend humanity without labels, is what you and your movement have done. This recognition is a victory for all of us. I salute you.”