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Overview

hijab_painting (1)Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was founded in 2007 to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam, challenge Islamism and apostasy laws, highlight the plight of ex-Muslims, and provide support and a network.

Apostasy is punishable by death in 13 countries and pressures and intimidation make it hard to leave Islam even in more secular societies.  There are many ex-Muslims right here in the west who lead double lives as "closet atheists".

Whilst a lot has changed for the better since CEMB was formed, women are generally invisible in much of the public space even though many outspoken ex-Muslims are women. This is because the persecution is considered “private”. Violence and discrimination against women are considered “people’s culture”, thereby making it more “respectable” and tolerated. 

As a leading ex-Muslim organisation, CEMB aims to raise awareness, provide a network, support and assistance, and further open the space for women to play a more actively public role in opposing Islamism and defending equality, freedom from religion, and secularism.


The Challenge

While the experience of women varies around the world and within countries, hundreds of millions of women are subject to honour-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and domestic violence. They may be denied educational and career opportunities, shamed, and taught that they are worth less than a man,  being forced to wear a veil and having their movements controlled. For those who wish to leave Islam, the challenges can seem insurmountable, especially since women are seen to be the gate-keepers of “honour”.

Those who wish to leave, will often have to lead double lives. If found out, they can be ostracised or worse. It can be very lonely without support from those who have already experienced leaving Islam and living a life without religion.

Millions of women wishing to leave Islam need support just at the time when their entire support network shuns them. We must address this pain.


The Opportunity

hejabThe best people to help ex-Muslim women are other ex-Muslim women who have managed to break free and found stable ground. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is eager to support women who want to live their lives fully without religion.

CEMB has more experience than any group in the world assisting ex-Muslims. Since 2007, we have helped thousands of ex-Muslims through:

  • one-on-one counseling
  • a website forum
  • social events including conferences, kafir comedy nights, and picnics
  • leaflets that educate ex-Muslims and the public
  • reports such as "Covering you Internet Tracks" and "Apostasy and Asylum"

For those whose rejection of religion leaves them without a family or community, CEMB can become a new community for advice, support, and a sense of belonging. We do this important work despite death threats and intimidation. We have built the track record and good will to be trusted by ex-Muslims for whom public defiance can be a matter of life and death.

We propose The Ex-Muslim Women's Project, which will:

  1. Before Leaving Islam. Reach out to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to raise awareness on the possibility of safely living without religion.
  2. While Leaving Islam. Help women who have chosen to leave Islam to take control of their lives, end feelings of isolation, and find a new confidence and community.
  3. Support Outspoken Women. Those women with the courage to speak publicly about their experiences deserve to be heard! We promote women in the public space defending equality and secularism and opposing apostasy laws and Islamism.
  4. Raise Awareness. Much of the oppression of women through Islam happens quietly, in families and communities that outsiders misguidedly "respect" as a "private matters". We highlight the plight of ex-Muslim women to influence society and government policy.

Case Study:

17 year old Moazan got in touch with the CEMB’s webforum to say that her father had removed her from school in Britain, taken her to Sudan and left her there after he found out she was an atheist. She wrote that she was afraid she was to be forcibly married off and was held prisoner in her aunt’s house with her passport and documents taken away. She was alone and afraid. We at CEMB contacted the Forced Marriages Unit and put them in touch with Moazan. Secretly, they found out where she was and got her out and back in Britain. If it weren’t for us, Moazan might still be in Sudan forcibly married off merely for being an atheist.


Impact

sex_apartWomen who want to leave Islam will need help to embrace their own freedom, confidence, and flourish.

With your help, we will:

  • Directly assist 100 ex-Muslim women per year with support
  • Create a new "family" for women via workshops, peer group meetings and social events
  • Put vulnerable women in touch with a "friend" who can guide and help them through difficulties
  • Raise the visibility of ex-Muslim women
  • Increase the numbers of ex-Muslim women
  • Transform thousands of lives who interact with us on our website forum and through social media
  • Inspire millions of others who hear about our work and learn that it is possible to leave Islam


Project Plan

Assist 100 ex-Muslim women every year for 3 years with the following:

  • Gather testimonials and personal stories giving a human face to the multi-faceted problems faced by women apostates from Islam to be published in a book.
  • Produce a video documentary on ex-Muslim women.
  • Develop a report on the status of women ex-Muslims in countries under Sharia law or Islamist influence
  • Provide one-on-one assistance to women ex-Muslims applying for refugee status or asylum. Whilst there has been work on recognising gender-based persecution as a reason for applying for asylum, nothing has been done with regards ex-Muslim women who face several forms of discrimination and persecution due to gender and belief.
  • Organise coffee mornings, informational and peer groups workshops
  • Organise an international conference on women, apostasy and secularism
  • Facilitate a coming out in public campaign for women ex-Muslims by countering shame and honour norms and instead promoting liberation and "pride" similar to gay rights movement.
  • Organise direct action and public protests in defence of apostasy and secularism with other secular and women's rights organisations.
  • Campaign on behalf of apostate women facing persecution.
  • Campaign for the decriminalisation of apostasy and discrimination and violence against woman, including by campaigning on behalf of cases of women apostates and against discriminatory laws, holding marches, and through direct action.
  • Organise a mock Tribunal with testimonials from women apostates, blasphemers and those who have transgressed religious or cultural norms.


Needs

CEMB is looking to raise $15,000 for each year for three years to fund the project, including for equipment, hall hire (for conferences and larger events), office space (for private meet-ups, one-one-one  support and security), printing (of report, posters, and leaflets), sessional staff (to write reports, facilitate sessions and provide support), travel (for constituents and volunteers), postage, and an action fund to support urgent cases with small amounts of financial support, amongst others.

We also need pro bono help, namely website designers, graphic designers for posters and publicity materials, researchers for our reports and judges and lawyers for our mock tribunal to be held in London.


Contact

Organization: Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Contact Name: Maryam Namazie
Contact Email: exmuslimcouncil@gmail.com