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This week's editor

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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

“I don’t want to die because I’m an atheist”: ex-Muslims speak out

In the UK and beyond, filmmaker Deeyah Khan has documented the experiences of ex-Muslims and the “extraordinary levels of persecution, abuse and discrimination they face”.

Where is the line between Islam and Islamism?

A recent conference on freedom of expression threw up issues around relationships between ex-Muslims and reformist Muslims – and the ideological confusion of their allies.

'Faith and family': shrinking common ground at the UN CSW

The Worldwide Organization for Women took a hard line against all forms of comprehensive sexual education, often provided by UN bodies, highlighting ideological differences within the CSW.

Sharia, security and the church: dangers of the British Home Office Inquiry

Does the UK’s Sharia Review resemble the sharia ‘courts’: secretive procedures and discriminatory advisors? Are the Home Office and the Church ignoring conflicts of interest and evidence of discrimination?

Feminist Dissent: why a new journal on gender and fundamentalism?

The journal Feminist Dissent creates a space to interrogate the multi-faceted links between historical and resurgent religious fundamentalism and gender.

Who are they, these revolutionary Rojava women?

Meredith Tax just had to find out who they were - the revolutionary women of Rojava, bearing arms against ISIS, building a new world...she had to find their story, for herself, and in her new book, for us.

Whitewashing Sharia councils in the UK?

In an Open Letter to Theresa May, hundreds of women’s human rights organisations and campaigners warn against a further slide towards privatised justice and parallel legal systems.

Furthering freedom of religion and belief in Muslim-majority countries

Ballot boxes before a culture of toleration for diversity of beliefs takes root in the minds of people can make things worse. Secularization and freedom of religion are a precondition of democracy.

Preventing violent extremism: a noose that is both too tight and too loose

The British government's programme to counter violent extremism hands religious fundamentalists the gift of a narrative of victimhood, narrowing the political space for secular feminists and others to challenge fundamentalism.

Your fatwa does not apply here

The UN Human Rights Council has appointed Karima Bennoune as Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights. Bennoune is the author of the book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.

Sharia law, apostasy and secularism

Opposing religious fundamentalism is a dangerous political activity. It is not a distraction from ‘real’ politics - the demands of social justice and civil liberties - but a pre-condition for achieving them.

Opposing political Islam in Tunisia: Mohamed Brahmi's widow speaks out

On the first anniversary of Mohamed Brahmi’s assassination, his widow, Mbarka Brahmi, denounces fundamentalism and terrorism in Tunisia.  This article is republished following the murderous attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis.

Islam and the "culture of offence": missing the point

In the age of ISIS, dissent and criticism of religion is a life and death necessity. It has been - and remains - key for human progress.

To take a stand is more important than to take a distance

Instead of distancing ourselves from terrorist crimes, as progressive Muslims we should confront the ultra conservative, violent Wahhabi/salafi version of Islam that is practised by both professional terrorists and despotic nations like Saudi Arabia.

Freedom of expression: a sacred right

There is a disconnect between the teachings of the Qur’an and much of the Muslim population’s understanding of the Qur’an. How do we address and resolve this issue?

Progressive Muslims in a world of ISIS and Islamophobes

Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values, explains the struggle to organize progressive Muslim communities and institutions in a fight back in the era of ISIS.

Iran: a 'bloody stain' on the nation

The war on women continues to manifest itself in different forms and intensity globally; tarnishing all societies with a ‘bloody stain’. In Iran, hard-liner interpretations of Islamic principles dictate gender norms, violation of which can be fatal.

The rise of political Islam in Turkey: how the west got it wrong

Only western pundits could have nurtured the hope that someone with strong loyalties to Sharia would also abide by secular law in Turkey. Turkish opposition MP, Safak Pavey, says that by now they must be amazed at how wrong they were.

'Shariafication by stealth' in the UK

Access to justice is being denied in the UK in the shadow of neoliberalism and religious fundamentalism. Minority women are being denied the right to participate in the wider political community as citizens rather than subjects.

Secularism at risk in Sub-Saharan secular states: the challenges for Senegal and Mali

Secularism is being challenged in several Sub-Saharan African states which have long guarded it as a principle of governance. Its preservation is important for the protection of women's citizen rights from religious interventions. In French.

La laïcité à l’épreuve dans les États laïques d’Afrique au Sud du Sahara : Les défis pour le Sénégal et le Mali

La laïcité est mise à l’épreuve dans plusieurs États d’Afrique subsaharienne qui l’ont gardé comme principe de gouvernance. Or sa préservation est importante pour les femmes, car elle permet de protéger leurs droits citoyens de toute intervention religieuse qui n’a jamais été aussi conservatrice et liée à la ‘droitisation’ complice du politique.

Conquering fear with hope: Secularism 2014

The Secularism Conference taking place in London this weekend is a chance to hear activists who are transforming human rights. As western academics teach that secularism has had its day, many activists from the global south consider that it is vital to oppose the religious right.

Promoting the global secular alternative in the ISIS era

While many of us watch in horror as ISIS advances, and fundamentalist ideas spread across religious traditions around the world, Maryam Namazie and Marieme Hélie-Lucas - secular feminists from Iran and Algeria - told Karima Bennoune why they are convening the International Secular Conference in London.

From 1990s Algeria to Iraq today: trampling Islam underfoot in the name of Jihad

What is the ideology motivating alleged “warriors of God” to “trample Islam underfoot in the name of Jihad”?  Algerian anthropologist Mahfoud Bennoune explored this question in 1994, offering an analysis of the political beliefs motivating “throat-slitting emirs” still much-needed today.

From 1990s Algeria to 9/11 and ISIS: understanding the history of "Homo islamicus fundamentalensis"

Today’s brutal jihadists like “Islamic State” follow in the footsteps of fundamentalists who have afflicted Muslim majority societies since the 12th century. Algerian anthropologist Mahfoud Bennoune revisited that history in order to strategize against jihadists - a task which remains essential.

25 years: women working against fundamentalism in the UK

In 1989 women of many faiths and none formed a collective in London to work at the interface of feminism and anti-racism, in struggles against both religious fundamentalism and the excesses of neo-liberalism. They told Deniz Kandiyoti the story of Women against Fundamentalism.

No laughing matter: Women and the new populism in Turkey

Stirring up moral anxieties over women's conduct and propriety is key to a populist discourse that pits a virtuous “us”- the people- against an immoral “them”. But despite its potential for authoritarian control of gender relations, this new populism holds many attractions for women.

Gaza: The Jewish Right and the Muslim Right

The war in Gaza has strengthened both the Muslim Right and the Jewish Right; while the results have been disastrous for the people of Gaza, they aren't good for the people of Israel either. Meredith Tax asks, what does this mean for the two state solution?

Is that what we fought for? Gaddafi's legacy for Libyan women

Women played a largely unreported role in last year’s revolution in Libya. Now they have to fight both Islamist and secular men if they’re to have any influence in the new Libya, says Lindsey Hilsum.

Human rights without religion is like a fish without a bicycle

Is separation between religion and the state essential to human rights?  Meredith Tax says secular space is necessary for the protection of religious and sexual minorities, freedom of thought and expression, and women's rights. It might even be central to the survival of the planet.

Apostasy and asylum: escaping the clutches of religion

In countries where there are no apostasy laws, blasphemy laws are frequently used to persecute and punish apostates. Rahila Gupta reports on how the dangers of apostasy in Muslim majority countries is making British courts more open to granting asylum.

Rashid Rehman: chronicle of a death foretold

Defenders of Pakistan's blasphemy laws say the rule of law prevents rule by mob.  The May 7 murder of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman - to prevent him from defending a young professor accused of blasphemy - shows the hypocrisy of such a defence, says Meredith Tax. 

Algeria: voices for democratic transition cannot be silenced

In the six weeks since the citizens Barakat movement for a free and democratic Algeria was founded it has moved from cyberspace onto the streets. The voices calling for democratic transition are being heard. Pro-democracy activist Louiza Chennoub spoke to Karima Bennoune

University Challenge: secular neutrality or religious privilege?

UK universities appear to be elevating the right to manifest religion and religious freedom over other rights, including freedom of expression and gender equality.  Students need to resist this tide of religious privilege in the interests of a secular and progressive university education, says Radha Bhatt

Let’s criminalise forced marriage: secular and Islamic perspectives

In a rejoinder to Amrit Wilson's article Criminalising forced marriage in the UK: why it will not help women, Tehmina Kazi lays out the arguments for the criminalisation of forced marriage, with a particular focus on the Scottish Parliament's recent consultation on full criminalisation

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