Johann Hari: Why do we ignore the plight of ex-Muslims?


Published today on The Independent
25 October 2007

Imagine a woman – let’s call her Beth – who has been an unthinking atheist all her life, just because her family and her friends are, too. One day, she decides to convert to Islam. As soon as she dons the hijab, her neighbours start to swear and spit at her in the street. A brick is thrown through her window; while she is sleeping, her car is torched.

When she speaks out publicly, the death threats come. She is a “whore” who will be “raped to death”. All the other converts to Islam are receiving the same threats. Some have been beaten. Some are on the run. When they approach the police, they are wary-to-hostile. The officers ask suspiciously: what have you been doing to anger these Muslim-bashers?

If this was happening this way, it would – rightly – be a national scandal. There would be Panorama specials, front-page fury and government inquiries into Islamophobia. But it is happening – only in the reverse direction. All over Europe, there are Muslims who are exercising their right in a free society to change their religion, or to become atheists. And they are regularly being threatened, beaten and burned-out, while the police largely stand by, inert.

Ehsan Jami is an intelligent, softly-spoken 22-year-old council member for the Dutch Labour Party. He believes there should be no compromise, ever, on the rights of women and gay people and novelists and cartoonists. He became sick of hearing self-appointed Islamist organisations claiming to speak for him when they called for the banning of books and the “right” to abuse women. So he set up the Dutch Council of Ex-Muslims. Their manifesto called for secularism – and an end to the polite toleration of Islamist intolerance. As he put it: “We want people to be free to choose who they want to be and what they want to believe in.”

Ehsan was immediately threatened with death. He was kicked to the ground outside the supermarket. He was grabbed in a street with a knife put to his throat. He can’t afford to be glib about the risk: he remembers the near decapitation of Theo Van Gough on the streets of Amsterdam. Yet instead of rallying to Ehsan, his party condemned him. The Dutch deputy Prime Minister, Wouter Bos, said they disapproved of an organisation that “offends Muslims and their faith”.

In Britain, my friend Maryam Namazie recently set up the British Council of Ex-Muslims. She was immediately flooded with calls from frightened people who wanted to join but were too intimidated. Endless phone threats inform her that she will soon be beheaded – but she has learned that the police just aren’t interested. “They have never been very helpful,” she says. “They act as if it’s your fault for ‘provoking’ these people, when in fact the Islamist movement uses threats and intimidation as a tool to silence their critics.”

People raised on the honeyed multicultural platitudes that religions such as Christianity and Islam are all about love and hugging puppies will wonder why these people would take such risks to leave their faith. This week I interviewed Mina Ahadi, the founder of the German branch of the Council of Ex-Muslims, after she was named Secularist of the Year.

Mina is a warm fifty-something woman with a big laugh, and when we meet – in a house in London I can’t disclose for safety reasons – she is wearing a big jumper and small, wire-rimmed glasses that make her look like any other German Hausfrau. But she has a very different story, taking me back to her childhood in rural Iran. She tells me: “As a Muslim girl, I was not allowed to do so many things. From the age of 12 onwards I was basically not allowed to leave the house. I couldn’t play on the street, I couldn’t mix with boys, I couldn’t even do the shopping. I hated it. There was terrible violence towards the women in my community, everywhere. One of my cousins, Nahid, went into a man’s house unaccompanied, and the men in my family tied her to a tree and whipped her. When I read the Koran for myself I was shocked, because many of these things are actually recommended by the Prophet Mohammed.”

She soon realised she was an atheist, a view reinforced by her reading of Charles Darwin. When she went to university, the Islamists began to force a theocracy on the Iranian people. She refused to accept the mass sackings of women and the enforced veiling. She was beaten for speaking out, and had to go into hiding. One day, her husband and four of their friends were taken away. Nine months later, in another hiding place, she read that they had been executed.

She decided to seek refuge in Austria, because she read in a book that women’s life expectancy there was higher than men’s, “and I thought – that’s my kind of country!” But she was amazed to find that even in Europe, Islamist groups were being treated as the respected spokesmen for all Muslims by politicians and journalists. Even here, the extreme wing threatened her with death for forming the International Committee Against Stoning to save women, and the police did little. On her visit to Britain, they offered her no protection at all.

If Christian fundamentalists were doing this – as they used to, and would like to again – none of us would hesitate in erupting in rage. But because Islamic fundamentalists are doing it, we feel awkward, and fall silent. The difference is the colour of their skin. There’s a word for this: racism.

Women such as Mina expose a hole in the stale logic of multiculturalism. She shows that secularism is not a “Western” value: she thought of it all by herself, in a rural village in Iran. Yet the attitudes that lead to the persecution of apostates are widespread even within British Islam, because we patronisingly assume it is “their culture” and do not challenge it. Some 36 per cent of British Muslims between the ages of 18 and 24 think apostates should be murdered. The younger British Muslims are, the more they believe it – a bad sign for the future, unless we start arguing back. This isn’t just kids sounding off. Some act on it: a Despatches documentary this year, Unholy War, found dozens of cases of apostates having their cars blown up, their kids threatened and even being beaten and left for dead, on British streets.

One way to keep up the pressure for this reform within Islam is to have a thriving movement of ex-Muslims. They demonstrate to ordinary Muslims that if they are appalled by the unreformed bigotry of their faith as it currently stands, there is a rich and rewarding alternative – secular humanism.

If we in Europe do not defend people like Ehsan and Maryam and Mina, who are fighting fundamentalist thugs for the basic human right to believe and say what they want, do we deserve these rights for ourselves?

Comments

  1. says

    ISLAM IS ISLAMO – FASCISMTHE EVIL INSANITY THAT IS ISLAMBy,Larry Houlewww.godofreason.comintermedusa@yahoo.comThere is no Islamic fundamentalism, Islamo – fascism, political Islam, Islamic terrorists, Islamic militants, jihadists, Wahhabism, radical Islam who have hijacked the religion. There has been no hijacking. These demented souls are following exactly the teachings of the Koran – they are following in the footsteps of their founder – the man of evil – Muhammad. In the end – IT’S ALL ABOUT ISLAM.Islam is a barbaric, sexist, violent ideology (not a religion) that worships a pagan god (Allah) and women are oppressed under Islam. How could any reasonable person be ‘proud’ to follow a man who was a pedophile, endorser of clitoridectomy, slave trader, rapist, polygamist, punched his child bride and endorsed whipping/beating women and ploughing them like fields, stoned women to death, flogged his slave women for fornication while he had sex with slaves himself, raped his slaves, propositioned women and passed them round to friends, denied women equal inheritance, or equality under the law etc forever and abused and denigrated them in every way–not to mention his general sadism to others, mass murder, amputations, beheading, flogging, thievery, pillaging, lying, megalomania—unending horror. All Muslims believe the Koran is the divine word of God – the laws of God – that God authored the Koran and a copy of the Koran is in heaven. The Koran remains for all Muslims, not just “fundamentalists,” the uncreated word of God Himself. It is valid for all times and places; its ideas are absolutely true and beyond all criticism. To question it is to question the very word of God, and hence blasphemous. A Muslim’s duty is to believe it and obey its divine commands. This means that all teachings of the Koran are the Laws of God and must be obeyed without question. A Muslim has the full right granted by God to do the following to infidels: Infidels can be murdered by Muslims as a ETERNAL LAW OF GOD. Not only can they all be murdered but the wives and daughters of the murdered infidels can be taken as booty, raped, and then sold as slaves. That’s right – God permits the raping of female slaves. Indeed in Islam – rape is not a only a sexual weapon – it is a weapon of war. Having murdered the woman’s man, Muslims can now – sanctioned by the law of God complete their final humiliation and domination of her body. Her sons can be sold into slavery. If there is any doubt as to the boy’s age of puberty – Muslims can pull down their pants and inspect their genital area for hairs. Even the slightest sign of hair growth means that these young men can be taken and beheaded. These infidel women can then be bred like cattle and their off spring sold for profit. As an ETERNAL LAW OF GOD, Muslims can then loot and pillage the property of the murdered infidels, and must share 1/5 of the booty obtained from the sale of boys and women and the proceeds of looting with God. Muslims can own slaves as an ETERNAL LAW OF GOD. Slavery has been an integral institutionalized part of Islam since it’s creation by Muhammad. Muhammad owned 40 slaves. Muhammad was allowed by a ETERNAL LAW OF ALLAH to rape his slaves ALL THIS EVIL ARE THE LAWS OF GOD AS SET DOWN IN THE KORAN. Not only that but righteous Muslims who slay and are slain in the service of God can ascend as martyrs to the evil sexually depraved Islamic Paradise of eternal hard – ons and virgins who re – generate as virgins after each sex act. THIS IS THEIR ETERNAL REWARD FOR OBEYING THESE EVIL LAWS OF GOD. What I have described are not sins or crimes against the Laws of God – THEY ARE THE LAWS OF GOD. Ask yourself the following questions: How can any Normal, rational, reasonable person read the Koran with it’s language of pure hate, terror, violence – a blue print of murder, war, slaughter and not immediately realize that these are not the words/teachings of any God – not the teachings of any God – The Creator of the Universe – a God of Peace and Goodness but the words and teachings of a 7th century Arab chieftain – Muhammad. Slavery is one of the most evil and vile institutions ever created by humanity. Slavery is an integral institution central to Islam. As a Muslim you can kill non – Muslims, take their wives and daughters as sex slaves, rape them at will, loot and pillage, sell the sons and women and daughters into slavery and then MUST share the immoral proceeds with God. Can you imagine such evil insanity? To any rational, normal person reading these Kornic verses (and these are just a small sample of the 1000’s and 1000.s of the total teachings of hate, terror, cruelty, depravity etc that are Islam.) the claim by Muslims that they are reading the words, teachings, laws of ALLAH is insanity. How can you be a normal person and believe in a religion that preaches a Paradise of big breasted, big eyed sexual nymphs called Hurs that you can molest with eternal hard ons for all eternity in the presence of God who teaches you how to engage in orgies, group sex etc. How can you be normal and believe that by fulfilling Kornic teaching 9:111- “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain” you will go to this demented sexual whorehouse of God and not directly to hell and damnation. 9:111 is the teaching that has been used by Muhammad and his lieutenants to mobilize the suicide bombers, the beheaders, the jihadists to kill and slaughter millions. An estimated 270,000,000 people have been murdered by Islam because of 9:111 over the past 1400 years. No ALLAH would ever teach 9:111 for if ALLAH gave such a law He would be the greatest killer in all the universe – not an ALLAH of love and peace and goodness but a mass murderer on the scale of a Hitler or Stalin or Muhammad. 9:29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low. 9:29 is the declaration of war as a law of ALLAH against the infidels. The LAW OF WAR is permanent and will not end until all the infidels are murdered or pay a subrogation tax or convert to Islam. This is criminal. Again and again – this is not ALLAH’s law – this is Muhammad’s law. There is no way you can claim to be a peace loving Muslim and leave this evil in the Koran. 9:50 When the sacred months have passed away, THEN SLAY THE IDOLATERS WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM, AND TAKE THEM CAPTIVES AND BESIEGE THEM AND LIE IN WAIT FOR THEM IN EVERY AMBUSH, then if they repent and keep up prayer [become believers] and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them No God who is God would ever teach the following words of violence, war, terror. You can hear Muhammad yelling at his followers – “ Slay the Idoltars” giving instructions of war – “ lie in wait for them in every ambush” Do you think God, Creator of the universe would order murder and micro manage these murders telling Muhammad how to kill his prey. Muhammad gave these instructions – “lie in ambush.” All the Kornic teachings are the teachings of Muhammad. He created the ALLAH of the Koran. Muhammad invented ALLAH, and staged the revelations to give him authority over his followers and justification to war against the neighboring tribes of so called idoltars (pagan Arabs) and Jews and Christians – the first infidels that faced the murderous onslaught of this killer and murderous conquering ideology. When Muhammad spoke, he was speaking the word of ALLAH – the laws of ALLAH – that had to be obeyed without question. How could the word of ALLAH be challenged. By morphing into ALLAH and His messenger,
    Muhammad set up the perfect totalitarian system whereby his rule could not be challenged. MUHAMMAD WAS ALLAH and ALLAH WAS MUHAMMAD. The ALLAH of the Koran never existed except in the mind of Muhammad. No God would ever create the depraved Paradise of Islam described as: “Men with protracted erections and engaging themselves in sex present a scene worth watching: most of them, if not all, remain locked, like the dogs, with the Hurs and the young boys for a protracted period of time. Lying on the top of the Hurs (this position changes, on the basis of the men’s fancy), and riding the boys from their back, they create a scene that no human has seen before in his lifetime. In a sentence, it is a mass orgy. God loves orgy, but it does not cause arousal to His own sexual desires, as He is impotent. He, however, visits His honored guests from time to time to make sure they have been doing fine in the Gardens. He helps them with guidance where they need it in order to make their stay in them most pleasurable. After all, this is what He had promised them all along.”This immoral evil Paradise would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. Millions have been murdered so their Muslim murderers can ascend to this evil Paradise. Again quoting– “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain” 9:111 Those who “fight in the way of ALLAH” and kill and are killed will achieve martyrdom and enter this Paradise (Garden). On 911 – the 19 Muslims on those planes were obeying 9:111 so they could ascend to the highest levels of Paradise and each be rewarded with a 1000 virgins that they could molest and sexually abuse for all eternity. The eternal hard – on promised to Muslim men who achieve martyrdom is a powerful motivation. How can any normal person believe in Islam with such a pagan Paradise, believe in such an evil ALLAH, pray to such an evil book – the Koran. “As for the righteous (Muslims)…We (Allah) shall wed them to beautiful virgins with lustrous eyes” – Q 44:51-54 Estimates vary as to the number of virgins (2 to 72) per male Muslim in heaven (Sahih Bukhari 4:54:476, Al-Tirmidhi 2562). Actually the Tirmidhi Hadith states that 72 wives is the minimum, perhaps for the not so devout Muslims in the 7th heaven. Mohammed said: “The least reward for the people of paradise is 80,000 servants and 72 wives” – Al-Tirmidhi 2562, 2687. Prophets, suicide bombers and other Islamic martyrs in Islam’s first heaven may get up to 1000 virgins each. For maximum enjoyment of these numerous wives, Muslim men are guaranteed superb erection in heaven: Paradise for sexual intercourse”. It was questioned: “O prophet of Allah! can he do that?” He said: “He will be given the strength of one hundred persons.'” (Mishkat al-Masabih 4:42:24; Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2536). When asked, “Do we have sex in Paradise?” Ibn Kathir, the renowned Islamic scholar explained: ‘Yes, by him who holds my soul in his hand, and it will be done…and when the sex is finished she will return pure and virgin again’ – Tafsir Ibn Kathir. Al-Suyuti (15th century) another famous Islamic theologian and Quranic comentator adds: “Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected (Muslims in heaven) never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world …Each chosen Muslim will marry seventy houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetising vaginas.” With its offer of eternal hard-ons and gratifying heavenly sex with virgins who “re-virginate” after sex, its little wonder Muslim terrorists, suicide bombers and other Islamic martyrs are in a hurry to enter Islam’s brothel paradise. Do you believe that God selected an evil murderer Muhammad to create a religion and then commanded that anyone who refused to believe in God’s religion – refused to believe the evil teachings of God and His Messenger – Muhammad must be murdered. That believers in God’s religion have the moral right to murder all human beings who refuse to convert to Islam, rape their wives and daughters, etc and if they are killed in the process of fulfilling 9:111 they will ascend to the immoral and sexually depraved, sick Islamic paradise to rape and molest virgins for all eternity. THIS IS TRUE INSANITY.

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    Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to koran-AT-reformislam.org.When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at koran-AT-reformislam.org. If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.http://www.reformislam.org/reform.php

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