Secularism

The MP banned for being an atheist

It could be a question in a pub quiz: which MP was consistently denied his seat in the House of Commons for six years, between 1880 and 1886, despite being elected by the voters of Northampton? The MP in question is Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891) and the reason for his exclusion is simple — he was an atheist. His experience led him in 1866 to found the National Secular Society, which is still going strong today (I confess to membership). He was also prosecuted for publishing information about birth control, and advocated the abolition of the monarchy. However, he was staunchly anti-socialist...

India: farmers' movement grows

The far-right Hindu nationalist government of India is also a radical neo-liberal government. Not long ago buffeted by a wave of protests against its anti-Muslim changes to citizenship laws, it is now being rocked by mass demonstrations against its neo-liberal policies — by India’s farmers. There have been five national general strikes against the Modi regime’s privatisations and weakening of labour laws, including two in 2020, mobilising tens and maybe hundreds of millions of workers. Although they slowed the assault on workers’ rights, these mobilisations were over quickly. The 2020 strikes...

"Love jihad": why Hindu fascists are attacking Netflix

The Hindu nationalist far right in India and beyond is waging a campaign against Netflix for showing the BBC TV series A Suitable Boy (adapted from Vikram Seth’s novel, set in India in the 1950s). Their objection is to a romantic relationship between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man (though it's clear they object to other aspects of it too). They have minimally dressed up their bigotry by saying they are offended by the lovers kissing by a Hindu temple. Members of the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party are calling for the Indian government to investigate Netflix – and in fact the Modi regime has...

Macron's sledgehammer and the nut

CFCM has proposed, and Macron has accepted, the idea of a national register of imams run by CFCM, but how will that work given that most mosques do not recognise CFCM?

Stand and be counted

This article by the Algerian socialist-feminist Marieme Helie Lucas, responding to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist assailant on 16 October, was first published on the Feminist Dissent website. We republish it, with the author's permission, to promote discussion. Assassinations by decapitation or by the sword – which are highly symbolic of all Muslim extreme-right organisations (Al Qaeda, the Taliban, GIA, al-Shabab, Daesh, Boko Haram, etc.) – are not a new phenomenon in France. Several cases have already happened in recent years. It points at the will of the...

Catholicism and women's rights

During the current Labour leadership election, Rebecca Long-Bailey (RLB) admitted to holding religious objections to abortion rights based on her Catholicism. Whilst this has not seemed to affect her voting record on this issue, it is concerning that many on the left were so quick to jump to the defence of RLB and Catholicism in general, with some even painting those that voiced concern about the influence of Catholic belief in politics as anti-Irish. Anti-Catholic sentiment in the UK remains a live issue in the North of Ireland as well as in parts of Scotland, and this is certainly rooted, in...

250 million strike in India

The Hindu-chauvinist BJP Indian government is meeting serious resistance. Trade unions have been taking action. The Modi government was forced to back off a series of economic reforms including privatisation and attacks on workers’ rights after strikes in 2015, 2016 and 2019. Those issues have not gone away. Ten India trade union federations called a one-day general strike on 8 January against the government’s economic policies (the eleventh federation is affiliated with the Hindu chauvinist movement and did not strike). The workers were joined by farmers in their action. It brought out...

Other motions not passed - AWL conference 2019

Motions on left antisemitism, the Hijab in schools, and social security and Labour's policy, were all submitted to AWL conference 2019. The conference decided that the first of these motions - on left antisemitism - should not be voted on, after a debate; the second, on the Hijab in schools, fell; the third - on social security - were not voted on, as decided before any debate.

Oppose Modi's anti-Muslim drive!

Since winning power India in 2014, Nahendra Modi and the BJP have pursued a Hindu-chauvinist agenda. On 12 December the Modi regime passed its Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), building on the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) in attempting to remove the rights of many Muslim Indians. Since the CAA passed last month there have been protests across India, not only from Muslims but also from the left and other defenders of India’s secular constitution. Following a ban on all protests in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (ruled by the BJP but with a 40% Muslim minority), continued...

The hijab: “preventing common impositions”

Maryam Namazie is an activist with the Council of Ex-Muslims and other secularist groups. See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. On the issue of child veiling, a state ban on conspicuous religious symbols for children is an important defence of children’s rights. Children are not parental property Children are not the property of their parents. They are individuals with rights and bodily integrity. And just because their parents believe in child veiling or FGM and male circumcision doesn’t mean they should be automatically entitled to impose their views on...

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