The difficult road for ex-Muslims even in the US

It is hard for Muslims to renounce Islam. In 13 Muslim-majority countries such an act is punishable by death but even in other countries that are more secular, there is tremendous family and community pressure to stay within the faith. People who say they no longer believe can face being ostracized even by the members of their immediate families. Given the close-knit nature of Asian families and the strong deference expected to be shown by children to their parents, it is extremely hard for young people to do anything that might harm those ties.

Apostates often feel that they are completely alone and are relieved when they find others like them. This article discusses the plight of some young people in the UK and the US who decided to leave the religion, with two of them Muhammad Syed and Sarah Haider starting the group Ex-Muslims of North America (there is a parallel group in the UK) in order to form links for ex-Muslims and provide a support network.

It is dangerous for such people and many have chosen to remain in the shadows, not speaking about their apostasy openly.

Four years on, Muhammad and Sarah’s network – which is run by volunteers and relies on donations – has around 1,000 ex-Muslims in 25 cities in North America.

People often call in the middle of night. Sometimes they’re suicidal.

One person – after telling his family he was leaving Islam – had a gun put to his head. Another was forced to take part in an exorcism.

Another man, fearing for his safety, fled his family. They hired a private investigator to find him; he has moved states six times in 18 months.

But in a welcome sign that there might be a lessening of the hostility towards them, a few of them have gone on a tour of university campuses to talk about being ex-Muslims, and the article discusses their experiences and that of the audience members.

In the above link, there are some interesting videos where ex-Muslims tell their stories, including one of a woman who went with her Muslim convert husband to Syria with her children to join ISIS but got disenchanted and returned to the US and renounced her faith.


  1. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    Roman Catholic Church, Scientologists, Jehova’s Witnesses… any immersive cult wants to be captive. Some of them even take all your money away when joining them.

  2. rgmani says


    If only FtB had a blogger who could cover this experience.

    Well, FtB had a couple of ex-Muslim bloggers -- Maryam Namazie and Heina Dadabhoy. They have both left this network and moved elsewhere. Heina is associated with Ex-Muslims of North America (though I’m not sure in what capacity) and Maryam is the spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

    -- RM

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