Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

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Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Founded 22 June 2007
Focus Representing people who left Islam
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Maryam Namazie, Imad Iddine Habib, Nahla Mahmoud, Rayhana Sultan

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is the British branch of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims.[1] It was launched in Westminster on 22 June 2007.[1]


The CEMB in its manifesto states that its members do not desire to be "represented by regressive Islamic organisations and 'Muslim community leaders'".[2] It says that by the choice of members to openly publish their names and photographs, they act as representatives of many other apostates who fear coming out in public due to death threats they expect to receive.[2] The CEMB members state they are both breaking the taboo of quitting Islam and "taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism".[2]

The Council in its manifesto also demands several things such as freedom to criticise religion, separation of religion from the state and the "protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions".[2]


The Council plans to protest against Islamic states that still punish Muslim apostates with death under the Sharia law, as prescribed by the scriptures of that religion.[1] The Council is led by Maryam Namazie, who was awarded Secularist of the Year in 2005 and has faced death threats.[1]

The British Humanist Association and National Secular Society sponsored the launch and support the new organisation.[3]

The activists of the organisation, many of whom are Iranian exiles, support the freedom to criticise religion and the end to what they call "religious intimidation and threats",[4] Namazie says they have 4,000 users on their forum[5] and assist around 350 people a year, "the majority of whom have faced threats for having left Islam – either by their families or by Islamists".[6]


The CEMB seeks to provide a safe haven for ex-Muslims in trouble, raise awareness about the problems surrounding apostasy, blasphemy, homophobia, sexism and other forms of repression, intolerance and discrimination in Islam, organises and attends public protests and online campaigns for the human rights of ex-Muslims and other victims of Islamism, hosts a weekly television programme called Bread and Roses TV, and holds an annual Secular Conference.

Protests and campaigns

The #ExMuslimBecause campaign, late 2015.

In November 2015, the CEMB launched the social media campaign #ExMuslimBecause, encouraging ex-Muslims to come out as apostates, and explain why they left Islam. Within two weeks, the hashtag had been used over a 100,000 times. Proponents argued that it should be possible to freely question and criticise Islam, opponents claimed the campaign was amongst other things 'hateful', and said the extremist excrescences of Islam were unfairly equated with the religion as a whole.[7]

In July 2017, the CEMB was the subject of a complaint from orthodox East London Mosque and others to Pride London about their placards in a Pride in London march, with claims they were Islamophobic and incited hate, in breach of Pride's guidelines. In response, a Pride London spokesman said: "If anyone taking part in our parade makes someone feel ostracised, discriminated against or humiliated, then they are undermining and breaking the very principles on which we exist. Our code of conduct is very clear on this matter... We will not tolerate Islamophobia."[8]

Bread and Roses TV

Nano GoleSorkh (Persian) or Bread and Roses TV (English) is the CEMB's weekly bilingual television programme and YouTube channel. It is hosted by Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya. The programme aims to promote freethought and break religious taboos around the world. A typical episode is about 25 minutes long, features news about ex-Muslims and human rights issues around the world, an interview with a prominent atheist or secularist activist, the "Insane Fatwa of the Week", and a "Slice of Life".

Secular Conference

Islam's Non-Believers panel discussion at the 2017 Conference.

Since 2014, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain has organised a Secular Conference to discuss issues relating to the situation of ex-Muslims, how to strengthen and grow the movement and how to address Islam, Islamism and other opponents of ex-Muslims, such as Western far-right and regressive left groups. The 2017 conference was claimed to be "the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history".[9]

  • 2014 Secular Conference: Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights Conference
  • 2015 Secular Conference: Sharia Law, Apostasy and Secularism Conference
  • 2016 Secular Conference: Sharia Law, Legal Pluralism and Access to Justice Conference
  • 2017 Secular Conference: International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression

News coverage


  1. ^ a b c d Jonathan Petre: New group for those who renounce Islam, The Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2007
  2. ^ a b c d "Our Manifesto". Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Archived from the original on 2018-11-04. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  3. ^ Maryam Namazie: Launch of the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, Scoop, June 19, 2007
  4. ^ Tom Heneghan: "Ex-Muslim" group launches in Britain, Reuters, June 20, 2007
  5. ^ "Losing my religion". The Economist. 9 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Losing their religion: the hidden crisis of faith among Britain's young Muslims". The Observer. 17 May 2015.
  7. ^ Anne-Marie Tomchak & Greg Brosnan (1 December 2015). "Ex-Muslims give reasons they left the faith, using a hashtag". BBC News. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Muslim leaders complain over 'Islamophobic' banners at Pride". Evening Standard. 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  9. ^ Terri Murray (26 July 2017). "Secularism Conference 'Largest Gathering of Ex-Muslims in History'". Conatus News. Retrieved 8 September 2017.

External links

  • Official website
  • Bread and Roses TV / Nano GoleSorkh
  • Secular Conference
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