April 2017
President's Letter

By Ani Zonneveld

Dear Everyone,

An earthquake has taken place in the Muslim world and hardly anyone noticed. Like all earthquakes, it destroys. This earthquake however is destroying the ugliness that has dominated the Muslim world on the issue of apostasy: Morocco’s High Religious Committee’s decision that Apostates Should Not Be Killed, is a complete u-turn from their previous position five years ago. We salute their initiative, the principled stance of making such a hard decision.

Such a decision ought to be heard by everyone. It has to make a difference to those unjustly jailed, awaiting punishment, awaiting death. Otherwise, what is the point?

We at MPV have always believed that apostasy is a fabricated political tool of repression in the name of religion, by which many lives have been unjustly destroyed. For 10 years, this has been our principled stance, informed by the educated readings of many Muslim scholars. As a Muslim human rights organization, we have always stood alone on this issue, and in defiance, because we knew how the Muslim individual at the community level, all over the world, was simply sick and tired of the status quo.  

A few days ago, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) convened a small group of experts in Beirut, in a discussion entitled “Faith for Rights,” reasserting again “religious leaders' core responsibilities against incitement to hatred” regardless of one’s faith.

It is in this very spirit that MPV launched our #ImamsForShe global initiative in 2015. The more we support and embolden human-rights affirming Imams in their sometimes life-threatening environment, the better this world can be.

Please read our position statement on apostasy and blasphemy here.

Onward and upward...

  • President's Letter
  • MVP at the UN
  • MVP Netherlands
  • KMU Malaysia
  • MPV Australia
  • MPV New York
  • MPV Los Angeles
Quick links:
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MPV at the United Nations

UPR Pre-Sessions
The Netherlands
MPV Nederland will be represented by Ms. Fenna ten Berge, making its presentation on human rights issues in The Netherlands at Les Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. Ms. Berge will raise the issue of discrimination on the basis of religion and freedom of expression. Read the UPR stakeholder report on The Netherlands here.To request a private meeting, please write to her at fenna@mpvnederland.org.
Date: April 5th
Time: 10:00 am local time
Where: Room XXIII Les Palais de Nations, Geneva
MPV’s partner in Tunisia, Coexistence, has been invited to present its report on human rights violations in Tunisia in Geneva. On behalf of Coexistence, Ms. Marwa Mansouri will make her case on the right to life, the prohibition of torture and freedom of religion. Read the English translation of the UPR stakeholder report on Tunisia here. To request a private meeting, please write to Marwa at marwa.mansouri88@gmail.com.
Date: April 5th
Time: 10:30 am local time
Where: Room XXIII, Palais de Nations, Geneva , Palais de Nations, Geneva
On May 2nd, we will be observing the Tunisia UPR Review Session. Representing MPV will be Ani Zonneveld.
We submitted our Universal Periodic Review on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, focusing solely on the issue of blasphemy and apostasy. This UPR concluded with recommendations on the role the Pakistani government should take, including overhauling its Islamic school curriculum to promote a culture of peace and plurality; encouraging religious institutions and actors that receive state funding to promote inclusive and egalitarian narratives of Islam; and debunking any religious justification for blasphemy and apostasy following the example of Morocco’s High Religious Committee. Click here to read the full report.

MPV Netherlands

MPV Nederland has been Marching! We participated in the Women’s March on Amsterdam on March 11 and the March against Discrimination and Racism in Amsterdam on March 18 to demonstrate our support of universal human rights for all. Read more at Het Parool or NOS.

Inclusive jum’: We will hold our first inclusive Friday prayer in The Hague on April 21st. For details email fenna@mpvnederland.org.


KMU Malaysia

Aizat Shamsuddin from MPV affiliate KMU Malaysia moderated a forum titled “Institutionalized Religion: The Impact on Human Rights” in conjunction with the Asian Law Students’ Association (ALSA) UM Symposium 2017: The People’s Advocate on March 15, 2017 at University of Malaya. Joining him on the stage were Aston Paiva, a human rights lawyer and Norhayati Kaprawi, a women’s rights advocate and a documentarian.

On April 1 & 2, 2017, KMU Malaysia successfully organized a two-day event “Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue for Youth”, supported by the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. One of the most important session was training youth to innovatively promote freedom of religion and belief through the localization of Marrakesh Declaration. 5 groups presented their projects role-playing as different stakeholders such as politicians, universities, religious leaders, media and non governmental organizations. A report and more pictures to come!
MPV Australia

On March 26, MPV Australia hosted a barbecue and picnic in Melbourne in honor of Fair Go for Families. FGFF is a campaign begun by the Refugee Council of Australia in protest of the Australian Government's treatment of asylum seekers, which separates and restricts families from reuniting. The picnic saw a good number of guests attending and it emphasized the importance of family, love and mercy. Our President, Reem Sweid, also spoke to the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria on recognizing that there are 1.5 billion ways to be Muslim — the theme of our ongoing campaign to show that no one can ever be ‘too Muslim’ or ‘not Muslim enough’.
MPV New York

On March 24, 2017 MPV hosted an event called “Progressive Muslims: Get Out of the Closet Already!”, a talk and dinner with MPV Founder and president Ani Zonneveld.  Ani lead Maghrib prayers at MCC NY and talked afterwards over dinner. Members had the opportunity to hear about the work MPV is doing and why now is the time to step up. For questions about MPV NY, feel free to contact Bee Diaz via email bhashmi21@gmail.com. You can also find more upcoming events on Muslims For Progressive Values- New York (MPV-NY) on the Facebook group page.
MPV Los Angeles

On April 2, we participated in the 2nd Annual Interfaith March. As a symbol of our solidarity with our neighbors and colleagues, we marched between several select houses of worship, representing the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as we lead the way toward peace and unity among us all. MPV’s Ani Zonneveld sang at the closing of the rally. Look up #InterfaithMarchLA on Twitter for images. Click here for an excerpt of Ani's singing. 

For upcoming activities in LA, click here.

MPV-Nederland — The Atlantic, “How the Netherlands Made Geert Wilders Possible” March 13, 2017
Modern Diplomacy, “The Quran liberated women from subhuman status, gave us rights to choose whom to marry, to work, to be in leadership positions, and to ultimately live in full dignity. And yet in 2015 Wahhabi imams have relegated women to subhuman status by allowing husbands to cane their wives into obedience and promoting a version of Sharia that permits forced and child marriages and condones honor killings. Women have become sexual objects through forced veiling, which makes our voices, skin, hair, and faces off-limits, and even a handshake is deemed a potentially arousing sexual experience.” — Ani Zonneveld (2015), The Vagina Diatribes, Part I: Why Violent Gender Extremism Persists, March 29th, 2017

World Religion NewsFaith Leaders Sign Support Brief for Gavin Grimm”, March 7, 2017
• The Daily NewsLA interfaith event shows solidarity with targeted communities”, March 26, 2017