Today is International Imad Day to stand with 22 year old Imad Iddine Habib who has received threats after his establishment of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco and to exert pressure on the Moroccan government to guarantee his security and respect freedom of expression and thought. Rather than prosecute freethinkers, the government should prosecute those who issue fatwas and death threats against the likes of Imad.
On 15 May, add your name to the list of signatories below; send letters of protest to the Moroccan embassy in your country of residence; Tweet #Imad, #Atheist, #exMuslim; do an act of solidarity, including posting a photo of yourself holding a message like Imad has done (you can also email the photo to email@example.com as Imad has been banned from updating the Council of Morocco’s Facebook page); click “like” on the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco’s Facebook page and more.]
Below are a few acts of solidarity with Imad;
Here’s one from activist Rafiq Mahmood in Indonesia:
It is not my fault that I am an ex-Muslim. After many years of struggling with doubt I realised that I didn’t believe in Islam any more. I could not say the Kalima because it wasn’t true. I have not done anything wrong. I would be lying if I said I believed when I did not. Why should I be punished, put in prison or threatened by the mob with death? I can’t help it if I don’t believe. I am being honest. I am not convinced. If I am not convinced then I do not believe.
There are many people like me. There are many young people struggling with doubt. Why should they have to hide and run away from the police or angry people if they honestly and truthfully admit that Islam doesn’t convince them any more? It is up to Islam to persuade us, not up to us to persuade ourselves. Belief is not something that can be forced. It comes from inner conviction. If there is no inner conviction then there is no belief.
There is nothing wrong with not believing. Groups like the ex-Muslim Council of Morocco and its predecessors such as the ex-Muslim Council of Britain and Germany exist to give support to people who feel like us, to say, “We are not alone,” and to share our thoughts and hopes for a better world where people can be free to be themselves. The ex-Muslim Councils say that it is possible to leave your religion. A religion based on fear is not something that has a sound foundation at all. It is like trying to sit on a boiling kettle to prevent the lid coming off.
There is also nothing wrong with saying why we are ex-Muslims and what we don’t like about Islam. If Islam is, as we are always being told, the truth, then our arguments can be met with better arguments. Sticks and prison or the beheading sword are not better arguments. They are the admission of defeat, the admission that there are no ideas left and you have to resort to violence.
It is a disgraceful and shameful thing that good, intelligent and caring people like my friend Alexander An is in prison here in Indonesia for merely posting a link on facebook. A gentler and more truly peace-loving person I have yet to meet. Now another brave young man, Imad Iddine Habib, is facing pressure from the authorities in Morocco for daring to offer a support network for those, like us, who no longer buy into Islam.
It is utterly disgraceful that the King, whose duty is to all his people, should permit the High Council of Ulemas, which he chairs, to decree a fatwa of death to those who, like us, leave Islam. It brings his throne and his Kingdom into the gravest disrepute. Such a death penalty is a penalty for being honest, for striving to be normal citizens living in the open and fulfilling their part for the common benefit of all. Ex-Muslims are not bad people. We care deeply for the good of the community and for each other. Why should our contribution to society be denied by throwing us in jail, making us flee to Western countries or cutting us off from life itself?
Ex-Muslims are ordinary people. We are not enemies of the state, although we do want a better, freer state where everyone has equal opportunities to fulfil their potential and serve the community. We do want to see secular states emerge because we feel that secularism gives everyone the best chance of being themselves, whether they are religious or not. There is no shame in being an ex-Muslim. We just want to be open and honest and to be ourselves.
I fully support International Imad Day (15 May) and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco.