"Secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam"
Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi
We call on the governments of the world to:
reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;
eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;
protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;
reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;
and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.
Shaker Al-Nabulsi - Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi is a Jordanian intellectual residing in the United States who has authored widely-cited articles on Islam and Arab governments. In an article for the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa, he asked why Islamic religious scholars haven't issued a fatwa against bin Laden. In 2006 he authored an open letter to letter to Saudi King 'Abdallah Ibn 'Abd Al-'Aziz, demanding an investigation into a doctorial dissertation submitted to the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University that named 200 modern Arab intellectuals and authors whom the author accuses of heresy.
Nonie Darwish - founder of ArabsForIsrael.com and author of They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. She was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo Egypt and the Gaza strip. She is a writer, translator and public speaker. She has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology/Anthropology from the American University in Cairo and was a journalist and editor at the Middle East News Agency. Her father headed the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and the Sinai in the 50's when Gaza was under Egyptian control. He headed the Fedayeen operations against Israel under President Gamal Abdel Nasser's leadership. He was killed in Gaza in a targeted assassinated in 1956 when Nonie was 8 years old.
Afshin Ellian was born in 1966 in Tehran, Iran. At the age of seventeen in 1983, after he had been threatened with execution by the regime, he fled on camelback to Pakistan with help from smugglers. After a few months, he moved to Afghanistan, studied medicine in Kabul for two years and met his wife there. In 1989, when the Afghani authorities had agreed to turn over dissident intellectuals to Iran, Ellian and approximately seventy other intellectuals were chartered to European countries on an invitation that was mediated by a United Nations representative. Ellian arrived in the Netherlands and he was granted the option to study at the University of Tilburg as a refugee. He graduated in Criminal Law, Public Law (International Law) and Philosophy. He continued working at the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) and completed his PhD in 2003 at Tilburg University, after which he joined the faculty of Law in the University of Leiden, where he teaches to this day. Intellectually rigorous and frequently humorous, Ellian's writings of criticism and advocacy of human rights and democracy are considered to be a part of both the European and Middle Eastern debates.
Manda Zand Ervin - founder and president of "Alliance of Iranian Women," an organization working to bring the attention of the world governments and human rights organizations to the plight of the women and children in Iran. I have been actively working with some of the members of the United States Congress, some members of the Administration and European Parliament. I have spoken at the United Nations, Helsinki Commission and the congress of the United States and many other institutes and organizations. She is a frequent guest on BBC, Radio America, NPR, VOA, ABC Radio, and others.
Hassan Fatemolla - Hassan Fatemolla is a Bangladeshi-Canadian journalist, playwright and human rights activist who helped lead a campaign against the introduction of Islamic Sharia law into Canada's system of civil justice. He is the author of Al-Bhodorer Deshe.
Tawfik Hamid - Born in Egypt to a secular Muslim family, as a teenager Tawfik Hamid joined Jammaa Islameia, a terrorist organization led then by Ayman al Zawahiri. Hamid was chosen by this organization to debate and criticize Christians. To fulfill this role he started to read the Bible and began to realize his fundamental disagreements with terrorism. Hamid then began speaking regularly in mosques where he developed a peaceful understanding of Islam that is compatible with human rights. Hamid is now a medical doctor who also holds degrees in psychology and education. In media interviews and at lectures at UCLA, Stanford and Georgetown University, Hamid speaks out against jihadism. His most recent book is The Roots of Jihad.
Shahriar Kabir - Shahriar Kabir is a journalist, filmmaker, human rights activist, and author of more than 70 books focusing on human rights, communalism, fundamentalism, history, and the Bangladesh war of independence. As a result of protesting against government-sponsored minority persecution, he was imprisoned twice and declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International while several international journalist forums and human rights defenders campaigned for his release. The recipent of numerous awards for his contribution to Bengali literature, he has addressed at least sixty international conferences, seminars, and workshops on issues of peace, communal harmony, and human rights.
Nibras Kazimi - Nibras Kazimi is a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute and a weekly columnist on the Middle East for the New York Sun. Previously, he directed the Research Bureau of the Iraqi National Congress in Washington DC and Baghdad, and was a pro-bono advisor for the Higher National Commission for De-Ba'athification, which he helped establish and staff. Mr. Kazimi's research focuses on the growing threat of jihadism in the Middle East, as well as prospects for democracy in the region. His primary interest is the national security of Iraq, and how threats to the nascent democracy there are enabled and coordinated by regional Middle Eastern actors and factors. He has traveled widely, most recently to Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and speaks Arabic and English fluently.
Irshad Manji - Irshad Manji is the internationally best-selling author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith. She is circumventing censors by posting free translations on her website: www.muslim-refusenik.com. A senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Irshad writes columns that are distributed worldwide by the New York Times Syndicate. She is also producing a PBS documentary about Islamic reform, to be aired in 2007. Above all, Irshad is president of Project Ijtihad, which aims to reconcile Islam with freedom of thought.
Salameh Nematt - the Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat International Arab Daily (London) and the LBC, the Lebanon-based Arab satellite channel. Among his previous posts, he has been diplomatic correspondent in London for Al-Hayat, as well as the Amman Bureau Chief for Al-Hayat and freelance correspondent for the BBC Arabic Service. For a brief period in 1999, he served as Head of the Strategy Unit at Jordan's Royal Court, an advisory post for the king. He resigned two months after taking the job due to policy differences with the government over democratic reforms. He returned shortly afterwards to Al-Hayat. He was Chief Political correspondent of the English language Jordan Times daily and Al-Rai, the leading Arabic-language Jordanian daily.
Dr. Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington (2001-2006) and a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracies in Brussels (2006). He has been a Professor of Middle East Studies, Ethnic and Religious Conflict at Florida Atlantic University from 1993 to 2006. He has published several books and articles including in the Middle East Quarterly, Global Affairs, Journal of Middle East and South Asian Studies and other specialized journals. He has been interviewed by national networks including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, C-Span, BBC, Sky News, CTV, CBC, Globat TV, al Jazeera, al Hurra, Abu Dhabi TV, al Arabiya as well as local ABC, CBS, PBS, NBC and others. He appears on European, Arab, South Asian and Latin American outlets and is a frequent contributor to US and international radio programs.
Tashbih Sayyed - Editor in Chief of Our Times, Pakistan Today, and In Review. He worked from 1967-1980 at Pakistan Television in various capacities, including writer, editor, director, producer, and general manager. Sayyed has been at the forefront of the fight against the increasing influence of Islamism among Muslims and its impact on world peace. Sayyed is a regular columnist for newspapers in the US, Pakistan, Germany and India, and the author of eight books, including History of The World; Left of The Center; Pakistan: An Unfinished Agenda; Mohammad: A Secularist's View; Foreign Policy of Pakistan; and Shadow Warriors: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban.
Wafa Sultan - a Syrian-American psychiatrist whose essays on Middle East issues are widely circulated in Arabic. On February 21, 2006, she appeared on Al Jazeera's weekly discussion program "The Opposite Direction" to debate Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli. The New York Times estimated that the video of her appearance has been viewed at least one million times. In 2006 she was included in Time Magazine's list of 100 influential people in the world "whose power, talent, or moral example is transforming the world."
Amir Taheri - Amir Taheri was born in Iran and educated in Tehran, London and Paris. He has been a columnist for the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat and its sister daily Arab News since 1987 and a contributor to the International Herald Tribune since 1980. Between 1972 and 1979 he was executive editor-in-chief of Kayhan, Iran's main daily newspaper. He later served as editor-in-chief of Jeune Afrique, the French weekly specialising in Africa, as well as Middle East editor for the London Sunday Times. Taheri has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and The Washington Post, Die Welt, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, La Repubblica, L'Express, Politique Internationale, Le Nouvel Observateur, El Mundo, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and the Daily Mail, among others. Taheri is a commentator for CNN and is frequently interviewed by other media including the BBC and the RFI. He has written several TV documentaries dealing with various issues of the Muslim world. Taheri has published nine books some of which have been translated into 20 languages.
Ibn Warraq - a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism. In 1996 he published the groundbreaking work, Why I am not a Muslim. He went on to edit a serious of anthologies: What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary; The Quest for the Historical Muhammed; The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book; Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out; and Which Koran? Variants, Manuscripts, and the Influence of Pre-Islamic Poetry. His latest book is Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism.