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An Interview with Sadia Hameed on Religious Authorities, Age Demographics, and Maryam Namazie (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/06/22


Sadia Hameed is a Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She discusses: religious authorities providing a counter push; age demographics; looking to latter 2019; and Maryam Namazie and other resources.

Keywords: Britain, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Ex-Muslims, Islam, Maryam Namazie, Sadia Hameed.

An Interview with Sadia Hameed on Religious Authorities, Age Demographics, and Maryam Namazie: Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How are the religious authorities providing any form of counter-push to either effort to support those who are leaving the religion or a religion? What are some communities, religious, across the board supportive of the work of CEMB?

Sadia Hameed: We have been engaging more. I do not know if you attended the 2017 conference. There was a female imam. We always support the progressives and liberals, or the true progressives and true liberals.

They also tend to stab us in the back. Our last conference, we have been trying for an entire year to be part of the inclusive mosque initiative. They are more of a liberal mosque.

They allow transgender and LGBT members to come and pray. It is unheard of. They then through our secular conference held a counter-conference, when we had asked them to engage with us anyway rather than this; they passively aggressively held another conference.

They talked about how secularism was a Western and colonialist, and imperialist, construct. It was not for the brown person. They named and attacked specific speakers. Sometimes, I think what ends up happening is the liberal-progressives, and some of the LGBT Muslim groups; we need to support them wholeheartedly.

We know that the community that they are so desperate to be a part of wants them dead. We do stand in solidarity with them. They attack us. We stand in solidarity with them, because we are both considered unwanted by the community.

It is the same with LGBT Muslims. They think that if they do something that those who are against them do; then they will be accepted. Conservative Muslims are never going to say, “Oh, those LGBT Muslim groups hate CEMB too.”

“We’ve obviously got the one thing in common. We’ll be friends.” It is not going to happen. If you are LGBT, there might be some who accept you. But the conservative and fundamentalist groups in our country, they will not change their mind on you.

The institutions will not, even though the individuals will, because the institutions have made their position very, very clear on that.

2. Jacobsen: What about the age demographics? I note most of those coming to Councils or organizations tend to be on the younger side. I do not hear much from those who may be from the elder set or, at least, the near-retired set.

Hameed: Our age range ranges between 16 and to the oldest member who is 67 or 70. The largest proportion of our members are between 20 and 40.

3. Jacobsen: If we are looking at the latter half or latter portion of 2019, what are some of the other initiatives that are going to be coming online? What will be some of the extensions of some of the programs already in place?

Hameed: We have done Fast Defying for many years. We are carrying on with the asylum seekers. We do quite a lot around misogyny and opening our service and making our service more accessible to women.

It is putting a lot of time and effort into it. We are doing stuff around the rights of children. We were supposed to protest outside the steps of a place that created the child veil to put on 6-year-old children last year.

But because of the weather warnings, we got stuck. We will carry on next year. We also have been doing a lot around child fasting issues. We have some projects coming around later in the year. They are not quite ready enough to announce yet.

There are half-finished projects this year [Laughing].

4. Jacobsen: The main name in my experience with interviews is Maryam Namazie, of course. Who are other inspiring women ex-Muslims? Who are other inspiring men ex-Muslims?

What are some books for individuals who are curious about the issue or for questioning Muslims if they are simply in terms of their freedom of religion rights not seeing that faith as one for them to practice?

Wherein, they simply want to live a life without one.

Hameed: What I would recommend to people to look for inspiring ex-Muslim women, I would look online at past conferences with lists of ex-Muslim women who are phenomenal who you can engage with.

This year’s atheist conference, there was a YouTuber called Mimzy Vidz. She does accessible videos for young people. It is with a lot of videos. She attended a faith school herself. Her dad ran one.

Then they both changed. Her dad is an agnostic. Mimzy is an atheist. They would be really, good people. They are easy to engage when you are young and do not have a lot of time.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, she is the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She is a sort of female atheist who is good go to. There was a woman who had her husband murdered in Bangladesh.

She is doing magnificent work now. She has been quite heavily involved in the movement. Now, there is Jamilah Ben Habib. She is a women’s rights activist. There is a Muslim professor and human rights campaigner who is fantastic.

She has written a book about women and Sharia law. It is an academic read; it is very, very wordy. It depends on the type of reader that you are. It took me months, months, and months, to read. It can come across as a bit of an ego-drive flip-flop.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Hameed: If you are interested in that stuff, it is a delightful read. Fauzia Iliyah. She is the Founder of the Atheist and Agnostic Alliance of Pakistan. Deeyah Khan, she is the spokesperson of One Law for All. She is an ex-Muslim herself.

She is a human rights activist and researcher. She is outspoken and a great speaker herself. Gita Saghal is the director of Centre for Secular Spaces. Again, she is fantastic to read.

There is a playwright as well if you are interested in artsy stuff. Her name is Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti who wrote a play called Behzti. It was about “dishonour.” It was about a young woman who was raped in a Sikh Gurdwara. She was attacked. Her play was shut down. There were riots.

There was controversy around the play. Yes, she is one. She is a really, interesting woman. If you are looking for inspiring women, there are so, so many out there. They are worth looking up

If you go to our website, there are plenty. There have been many doing the work that we have been doing for a long time, including Southall Black Sisters. It is about combatting violence in our own communities to do our battle.

Our work on religious fundamentalism and saving apostates; those are our two remits. They fit together quite nicely. There were so many. I had to start reading this literature after I left home.

This would have been problematic in my home. It probably would have gotten me a beating, to be honest. If you look at these sources, there are some to direct you too, e.g., Women Against FundamentalismYour Fatwa Doesn’t Apply Here.

There is so much literature out there. I could send so much to you. I could suggest so much to you, the readers.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Sadia.

Hameed: Brilliant, thank you so much.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 22, 2019:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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