I’m very late in catching up with the Ex-Muslims of North America. The prod was seeing a tweet of mine – about Universities UK and the gender segregation trainwreck – favorited by Sadaf, and looking to see who she is. She’s one of the founders.
While not fully comprehending the gender essentialism ingrained in the religion and its practices, Sadaf always felt that gender equality would never be attainable under Islam or her own Afghan culture. and has since pursued the creation of an inclusive safe-space for Ex-Muslims. While working with the Toronto group and staying connected with the global online communities, Sadaf has come to know the dangers, the troubles, and the alienation of being an Ex-Muslim. Ever since, Sadaf became a Community Organizer and aids North Americans in creating a safe-space of their own. Sadaf’s goal is to have an Ex-Muslim group in most major North American cities and to help others find strength and solidarity through our communities.
On their About page, they explain that because of the apostasy taboo and the dangers that go with it, they are not about public advocacy but rather about support and solidarity for other ex-Muslims.
As our membership grows, and we make gains in terms of visibility and social and legal protections for our members, we envision the group moving towards having a greater focus on outreach and advocacy, while maintaining, as always to the best of our abilities, the safety and privacy of our most vulnerable members.
And while they’re doing that they also have to avoid two opposing traps.
While we denounce the bigotry of those who promote their racist and xenophobic ideas under the guise of criticizing Muslims, we also denounce the cultural and moral relativism of those who propagate the idea that all people of Muslim backgrounds are the same and want to follow Islam, and that Islam is somehow less capable of being scrutinized than other belief systems. We are the people who have both first-hand and well-researched knowledge about Islam and we bridge the worlds between the polarized discussions of Islam through our lives and our voices.
Another of their team is Kiran Opal.
In 2008, Kiran became involved with Maryam Namazie’s UK-based Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), and its affiliated online forum. There were countless others like her: people of Muslim backgrounds or converts to Islam who no longer believed in the religion, but felt forced by their families and communities to keep their doubts and their agnosticism/atheism to themselves. Kiran has helped people access anti-violence services and shelters in their area, and build asylum cases when possible. She has helped rescue young women from forced marriage in their parents’ countries of origin, working with legal and medical advisors and law enforcement all over the world to provide assistance to people living under repressive rules and threatened with violence.
In 2013, Kiran heeded the growing need for open and public Ex-Muslim voices, and for connections between Ex-Muslims who feel isolated in small pockets around the world, by co-founding Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) with a group of passionate, reliable, and earnest Ex-Muslims. Kiran brings her experience and contacts to EXMNA to foster deep connections between previously isolated Ex-Muslims and allies, and to show that Ex-Muslims are not anti-Muslim. While being open about her lack of belief in Islam, she respects others’ choice to remain in the religion, and hopes to be afforded the same respect.
Kiran is coordinator of ExMuslimBlogs.com: an exciting project spearheaded by EXMNA co-founder Sarah Haider. She works closely with Muhammad Syed, who has been instrumental in putting together the new organization and continues to be its cool, calm center. Kiran is also honoured to work with Sadaf and Nas from Toronto, whose efforts in organizing and nurturing the Toronto Ex-Muslims group have provided the fertile soil for EXMNA. Kiran is also infinitely thankful to Maryam Namazie for being such an inspiration, and to the amazing admin team at the CEMB forum who have helped so many Ex-Muslims throughout the world, even as they themselves have had to remain anonymous. Their work makes a difference, and it will be remembered.
Yes. Infinite thanks to Maryam for being such an inspiration.
You can Like their Facebook page.