‘Ex-Muslim’ group bats away Islamophobia claims ahead of Pride in London march

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A secular group called the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has batted away accusations of Islamophobia before it takes to the streets this weekend at Pride in London.

The group, made up of “non-believers, atheists, and ex-Muslims”, is one of the official parade groups for this year’s Pride march, which takes place tomorrow.

Although Pride is already regularly attended by openly Muslim LGBT groups every year, the group hopes to protest in favour of LGBT Muslims, LGBT people in Muslim countries, and also draw parallels between the LGBT rights and “ex-Muslim” movements.

CEMB at Pride

Co-founder of CEMB Maryam Namazie told PinkNews: “One of the problems is the use of this term ‘Islamophobia’.

“It gives the impression that criticism of Islam or the political Islamic movement or Islamic State is akin to bigotry and racism. What we’re saying is that it isn’t. We’re obviously opposed to bigotry ourselves.

“We need to stand up to racism and bigotry and at the same time we should be able to criticise religion and the religious right… people should be allowed to criticise without threat or intimidation.”

Challenged on the provocative term “ex-Muslims”, she noted that ex-Catholic, ex-Jehovah’s Witness and ex-Jewish groups exist.

Namazie added: “When you can be killed for leaving Islam, for renouncing it, for criticising it, it’s important to say what you are as a way of challenging those that want to see you dead.

“It’s very comparable to the gay rights movement and to the demand for LGBT rights.

“People would say, ‘It’s your sexuality, it’s your business, why are you coming out into the street and putting it in everyone’s face? Why can’t you just privately be gay?’.

“The point is if you’re discriminated against, if you can be killed for it then coming out is a form of resistance, it has to be done as a way of challenging the status quo.”

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