The Independent has a story on being an ex-Muslim.
Amal Farah for instance, a banking executive.
Born in Somalia to Muslim parents, she grew up in Yemen and came to the UK in her late teens. After questioning her faith, she became an atheist and married a Jewish lawyer. But this has come at a cost. When she turned her back on her religion, she was disowned by her family and received death threats. She has not seen her mother or her siblings for eight years. None of them have met her husband or daughter.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – telling my observant family that I was having doubts. My mum was shocked; she began to cry. It was very painful for her. When she realised I actually meant it, she cut communication with me,” said Ms Farah. “She was suspicious of me being in contact with my brothers and sisters. She didn’t want me to poison their heads in any way. I felt like a leper and I lived in fear. As long as they knew where I was, I wasn’t safe.”
Which illustrates what is so problematic about passionate religiosity – it motivates people to cut ties with their own children for the sake of loyalty to a package of illusions. What could be more horrible?
It can be difficult to leave any religion, and those that do can face stigma and even threats of violence. But there is a growing movement, led by former Muslims, to recognise their existence. Last week, an Afghan man is believed to have become the first atheist to have received asylum in Britain on religious grounds. He was brought up as a Muslim but became an atheist, according to his lawyers, who said he would face persecution and possibly death if he returned to Afghanistan.
In more than a dozen countries people who espouse atheism or reject the official state religion of Islam can be executed under the law, according to a recent report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
The Independent looks for dissenters, but it looks in the wrong place.
Some scholars point out that it is against the teachings of Islam to force anyone to stay within the faith. “The position of many a scholar I have discussed the issue with is if people want to leave, they can leave,” said Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “I don’t believe they should be discriminated against or harmed in any way whatsoever. There is no compulsion in religion.”
Why ask the MCB? Why not ask liberal Muslims instead?
Baroness Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith and Communities, agreed. “One of the things I’ve done is put freedom of religion and belief as top priority at the Foreign Office,” she said. “I’ve been vocal that it’s about the freedom to manifest your faith, practise your faith and change your faith. We couldn’t be any clearer. Mutual respect and tolerance are what is required for people to live alongside each other.”
Bullshit. Her top priority has been to demonize secularists.
Yet, even in Britain, where the freedom to change faiths is recognised, there is a growing number of people who choose to define themselves by the religion they left behind. The Ex-Muslim Forum, a group of former Muslims, was set up seven years ago. Then, about 15 people were involved; now they have more than 3,000 members around the world. Membership has reportedly doubled in the past two years. Another branch, the Ex-Muslims of North America, was launched last year.
Their increasing visibility is controversial. There are those who question why anyone needs to define themselves as an “ex-Muslim”; others accuse the group of having an anti-Muslim agenda (a claim that the group denies).
Well, the reason is pretty obvious from everything that has gone before, including the Independent’s mindless resort to the Islamist MCB as an authority.
Maryam Namazie, a spokeswoman for the forum – which is affiliated with the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) – said: “The idea behind coming out in public is to show we exist and that we’re not going anywhere. A lot of people feel crazy [when they leave their faith]; they think they’re not normal. The forum is a place to meet like-minded people; to feel safe and secure.”
But then fair play to the Indy, it does let four exes along with Maryam have their say. Good.