Ex-Muslims of North America

While I was in Washington DC a while back, I got to talk with Sarah Haider for a bit. She’s one of the leaders of the Ex-Muslims of North America, and they are trying to build up a greater profile — slowly and cautiously, though, because as she explained to me, there are a lot of non-ex-Muslims who want to infiltrate their group and expose their membership for apostasy. So if you’re an ex-Muslim who is in the closet about it, and you’re looking for a group that takes sensible precautions to protect their membership, you might want to reach out to EXMNA. I was very impressed with their professionalism and thoroughness.

I also wanted to mention this other aspect of their work. Sure, there are Muslim fanatics they have to be on the guard against, but also they’re imbedded in an unfortunately xenophobic culture that has turned all Muslims, even the ex kind, into boogeymen; and then there are the apologists who go too far the other way and pretend that hard-line Islam is benign and must be sheltered.

These days, there is a stark polarity that exists in media, academia and public life when it comes to discussions about Islam and Muslims. There are those who propagate racist, bigoted and xenophobic ideas against Muslims, against anyone who comes from a Muslim background, and even against people who are not Muslim at all (e.g. Sikhs). These types of people (the bigots) tend to treat all Muslims (or all those perceived to be Muslim) as a monolith, a horde without internal differences or dissent. On the other hand, there are those who react to the bigoted, xenophobic types by trying to justify the violent parts of Islam and the harsh actions of some Muslims. This second type (the apologists) often shields Islam and Muslims from any and all critique and scrutiny, even the kinds of critique and scrutiny they themselves apply to other ideologies like Christianity, Capitalism, Communism, and others.

I don’t envy them the narrow tightrope they have to walk, but these are people doing it as well as possible. Check out Ex-Muslims of North America. Don’t expect them to embrace you immediately, though — they’re understandably wary.


  1. cag says

    If I were in charge of vetting, I would first ask the applicant to draw a picture of Mo, and then have them utter blasphemies. The last stage would be inviting them to a bacon breakfast. Infiltrate that.

    I have friends who came from Iran. They are just as secular as me. We celebrate Christmas (you know, that pagan ritual) together. I get informed about the issues of border security. Instead of hours of grilling, one minute of blasphemy should suffice to clear security.

  2. safxq says

    Woohoo! Finally a group for EX MUSLIMS in North America! Soo needed. And look they’re open to starting new chapters; they already have chapters in different cities! Thanks sharing this PZ.

  3. Rab X says

    Thx PZ. Although I belong to enough social groups this seems to be a good endeavor to start in Minnesota. I’m going to try to organize a group with the ExMNA and to that end here’s an email contact to start things in the Twin Cities: dammahumx at gmail.com

  4. Trebuchet says

    Pah! There’s no such thing as an “ex-Muslim”. If they’ve got brown skin and a funny name they’re obviously terrorists, just like Obama Bin Laden.

  5. untarded says

    No person in America should have any fear of being outed as an “Ex-“religious anything. Ever.
    As an Ex-Mormon, I made damn sure that the old codgers in Salt Lake Cty knew my position. I wrote a letter explicitly demanding that I be removed as a member.

    The LDS church has a history of viciousness. The murder of apostates by secret groups, (Danites), and outright slaughter of innocents (Mountain Meadows Massacre).

    Why should any religious group, Muslim or not, be allowed to intimidate “Ex” members.

    We don’t have to put up with this shit.

  6. ck says

    “Be allowed to intimidate”? You won’t find many people here that would support that. However, these people have to live in the real world with people who see it as their holy duty to enforce their god’s edicts. Their precautions are entirely reasonable given the circumstances.

  7. manuel moegarcia says

    List of names of liberal apologists for Islam.

    List of favorite scientific papers of evolutionary psychology enthusiasts.

    Not long lists. Non-Muslim Islam scholar John Esposito does not speak forthrightly about modern really-existing Islam’s problem with moderity and civil rights. But that the extent of my list.