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Sep 21 2013

Forgetting Pharbin Malik

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Forum remembers Pharbin Malik.

Pharbin Malik was sixteen years old when she died on a street in Birmingham, England, in 1989. She was killed by her father because she did not follow his religion anymore.

We could find no photograph of her anywhere online, or in newspaper archives.

It seems the world has forgotten her. And yet, her story reaches forward in time to touch raw and exposed nerves today.

Like there is no picture we can associate with her, so it is that we who leave Islam are somehow faceless, erased from history and kept hidden away.

The absence of her picture, and the silence accompanying her death, reflect the experiences of many of us who choose to leave Islam, and for that choice are forced to live in fear and silence.

Leaving Islam is the worst crime there is.

We hear the echoes of her story as they resonate in our own lives and in the lives countless apostates of Islam today.

The stigma surrounding apostasy, leaving Islam and openly saying so, is difficult to understand for people who have never had to face these taboos.

Apostates are seen in Islamic canon as sub-human, as the lowest of the low. When an Islamic extremist wants to threaten a Muslim they often carry outtakfir, a pronouncement that their rival is no longer a Muslim, and is thus deserving of punishment and violence, and even death.

The taboo against leaving Islam and the ever present fear and threat of violence deny people the most basic right of free conscience. Because of the fear of being labelled an apostate, criticism of Islam is stifled from within Muslim families and communities, leading to the oppression of individuals, and the suppression of dissent and questioning within Islam.

We ask people to remember the stigma faced by ExMuslims, and the intimidation, ostracism, violence and death threats that so often pressure ExMuslims to remain silent and ‘closeted’.

Stand with them. Remember them. Help them when you can.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    If only everyone could know and remember every single victim of such hideous belief and atrocious behavior.

  2. 2
    miraxpath

    Ah, not very many standing with apostates here. Too islamophobic?

    Here’s to a girl who sought to live her own life and the brave of the CEMB.

  3. 3
    AJ Milne

    I begin to think a monument somewhere to persons murdered for their apostasy would, in fact, be a very nice gesture.

    It doesn’t have to be all about ex-Muslims. Don’t honestly know what other religious groups might have this on their rap sheet recently. I’d be interested to see a list of incidents, see how that breaks down. But I don’t so much care. Whichever group does this, I want to tell them this is no longer on. And a monument is a nice way of saying: we respect–even celebrate–your right to leave the religion of your birth.

    (Interestingly, my first quick attempt to find such a list found at the top of the search this charming document apparently just arguing in favour of such murders, leastaways for Muslims living in Islamic theocratic states… Niiice. Not honestly sure who this ‘Bassam Zawadi’ wank is, mind, nor what profile he has… He just seems to be the guy Google figured I wanted to read. And no, Google, bad call. For that search, anyway.)

    ‘Course, also, murder’s only the very bloody tip of the iceberg. Lesser punishments for apostasy go through battery to shunning. And lots of religions practise that also very not-nice last one.

    But about that monument: I really think there should be one, somewhere. Possibly even with a nice list of names.

    It’s the enforced invisibility that’s a huge part of the nastiness, here. Apostates are told this: be quiet, be silent, be invisible, be ashamed. I think telling the people who want that invisibility that they cannot command such, and we will absolutely hold up those who reject a given religion and have been made to suffer for it as heroes is the middle finger they richly deserve. And flies in the face of what I suspect they’re trying to do: make the very notion unthinkable and terrifying.

    … speaking of, I’d almost want to do a monument just to the people who’ve been so shunned, forced into exile, so on. But realistically, you couldn’t put the names on such a thing. It’s pretty hard to work with lists that long, and rocks that big, I figure.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    I like that idea. It would be a good project for someone – for one of the groups, in collaboration with the CEMB – and maybe other CEMs. IHEU? NSS? BHA? QED? Maybe all the groups.

  5. 5
    AJ Milne

    I really am liking it, more I think about it.

    I figure I might start by sounding out officialdom at AAI, as I’m a member there. Not sure they’re really the group, given their structure, and the next thing that occurs to me is: where would such a thing even go? This is one of those distributed problems…

    But yes, this would just be _very_ right.

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    Good idea. I met Carlos Diaz in Dublin; he’s lovely. Want a Facebook intro or anything?

    Probably the CEMB would have ideas about where. Maybe Brum, in honor of Pharbin Malik and Malala Yusafzai. Or London, or Paris, or the Hague…

  7. 7
    AJ Milne

    Re intro, might be nice, thanks much.

    (No hurry, tho’… I’m gonna mull a bit, before sending out feelers. Do a bit more reading, see what I can scare up in documentation of cases, positions of and studies by human rights bodies, so on. I figure I know _some_ of this already, but research is always good.)

  8. 8
    rnilsson

    Lars Vilks could probably be persuaded to volunteer into creating such a monument.
    He has made a career out of building provocative monuments, from beach scrap constructions to roundabout-Mohammed-dogs.
    As to whether that is a good idea, however, I am not entirely convinced.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Hmm. What about Elisabeth Wallin? Might she be a good idea?

  10. 10
    rnilsson

    Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, the photographer? Yes, why not. She is no stranger to controversial exhibitions of artful pictures. And apparently she lives on Södermalm, so she might even bump into your best buddy Björn from time to time ;-)

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