More from that article about ex-Muslims.
[Imtiaz] Shams, who seems remarkably self-possessed for his young age, agrees that there are particular gender issues that afflict disillusioned Muslims. To this end he has tried to link up with feminist societies at universities. “But there’s a real problem in this country,” he says. “People don’t want to touch anything to do with leaving Islam. Especially in universities, where the politics are insane.”
He has a point. In recent times the National Union of Students have refused to condemn Isis on the grounds that is would justify Islamophobia. Shams believes that this kind of gesture and the NUS decision last month to lobby alongside Cage, the militant Islamic prisoners pressure group, undermines the position of dissenting Muslims. “What it does is to say to reformists and secularists, you’re not really Muslims.”
And Shams is not the only one who believes that, to put it mildly.
He believes Muslims face an identity crisis.
“We don’t know who we are. There’s a feeling of insecurity as a brown person, often for good reason. I went to school in a really white school. My nickname was “Terrorist”. The kids didn’t know better. I grew up in that narrative. I was very religious. I believed there was a caliphate and we should fight for that. I had a strong sense of justice. One of the things that people do not understand about radicals is that they’re often guided by a sense of justice.”
But as often with abstractions, you can apply the word “justice” to anything. The word is only as good as it is. Mr Biblical Gender Relations thinks his prattle of ownership and cows and authority is “justice,” because he understands justice within his theocratic framework. Certainly Islamists are guided by a sense of justice, but what they mean by that is primarily justice to Allah and the prophet, and to the people who do the most to submit to [what they take to be the laws of] Allah. They are hugely exercised about justice to Muslims; they’re not so exercised about justice to Jews or infidels.
Fully aware of the mental stress so many dissenting Muslims suffer, he has been working to get appropriate therapy for those going through the emotional dislocation of leaving Islam.
“One ex-Muslim I know went to get therapy from a white female therapist and in the end she referred him to a Muslim support network.”
Too often, he believes, non-Muslims are unable or unwilling to see beyond the religious identity of Muslims. They are increasingly trained to understand religious needs but are frequently flummoxed by those who reject those needs.
“If you’re a secular or atheist Jew,” says Shams, “no one is going to say you’re not allowed to say anything about your community. Of course you are. But with Muslims it’s different – white people think you’re not really Muslim. That’s exasperating.”
I see that all the time, from obviously well-meaning people who think they’re doing the right-on thing.
Nasreen, Vali and Shams all agreed that it will only be by bringing greater attention to Muslim apostates in British society that their predicament will improve. It would also help, they say, if they could rely on the progressive support that was once the right of freethinkers in this country.
“Attitudes need to change,” says Cottee. “There has to be a greater openness around the whole issue. And the demonisation of apostates as ‘sell outs’ and ‘native informants’, which can be heard among both liberal-leftists and reactionary Muslims, needs to stop. People leave Islam. They have reasons for this, good, bad or whatever. It is a human right to change your mind. Deal with it.”
Honestly, that’s been one of the core goals of this blog – my blog – from nearly the beginning. If nothing else, I can help with this project of bringing greater attention to Muslim apostates in British society so that their predicament will improve.