The presence of members of the Council of Ex Muslims in Britain on the recent Pride march has not just caused a reaction from the usual Islamist suspects including some very nasty and misogynistic comments posted on Maryam Namazie's Facebook page.
However it seems even amongst the trade unions supposed bastions of freedom there are those who seek to misrepresent not just the CEMB but also the positions of atheists, secularists and those with legitimate criticisms of Islam.
A certain Lucy Masoud of the FBU (Fire Brigades Union) writes:
Union members who attended this year’s London Pride parade on Saturday were shocked to find out that they would be marching alongside an Islamophobic group.
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), who claim to be gay former Muslims, carried offensive signs such as ‘F**K Islam’ and ‘East London Mosque Incites Murder of Homosexuals’. Their inclusion in the Pride parade caused much concern amongst other participants, including union members who were marching with the London Fire Brigade and were positioned alongside the anti-Islamic group.
The CEMB have written to Matt Wrack with the following response:
Dear Mr Wrack, FBU General Secretary,
It has been drawn to our attention that Ms Lucy Masoud, treasurer of the Fire Brigades Union in London, has written a blog on The FBU website stating that the presence of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) at Pride was “hate on display” and that the group is “islamophobic” (https://www.fbu.org.uk/blog/hate-display-pride). CEMB has responded to the post and would like to know whether this is the FBU’s official position (https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/fbu-we-are-combating-hate-not…/).
As we have mentioned in our response to Ms Masoud, there is a clear distinction between criticism of religion and the religious-Right versus bigotry against people. Charges of islamophobia erroneously conflate the two. In fact, CEMB’s presence at Pride aimed to combat the hate perpetrated against ex-Muslims and LGBT and to defend the right to reject and criticise religion without fear. This was political protest at its best. Had the FBU not recently backed calls to reclaim Pride as political protest?
Given that apostasy, blasphemy and homosexuality are punishable by death in many countries under Islamic rule, our being at Pride was an important moment for our members, many of whom are refugees. It would be unfortunate if the FBU officially defended the vilification of a minority within a minority providing further justification for our persecution by implying that “offence” is more important than murder.
We look forward to hearing from you on your union’s position.
Thank you for your response in advance. We attach a copy of a photo with FBU members and two of ours taken at Pride.
Maryam Namazie, CEMB Spokesperson
Daniel Fitzgerald CEMB Pride Organiser
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK