Why Ex Muslims should be noticed
I am an Ex Muslim. And I believe Ex Muslims should be supported and recognised within western media and society. Our existence goes virtually unnoticed. But we do exist. That’s the crucial point. We aren’t all like the brilliant Ayaan Ali Hirsi, Ibn warraq and Salman Rushdie. Whilst those aforementioned people are incredibly brave and talented, regular Ex Muslims aren’t like that at all. We could be anyone. The seemingly pious Muslim you see reading prayers. The young quiet teenager. The imam at the mosque. The girl covered underneath a veil. We could be anywhere. Anyone. In any place. But we exist. And we need to draw upon that.
I had never heard or seen of any Ex Muslim before I left Islam. I remember never seeing any mention of any of us in any news channel, no newspaper or magazine. I felt like an alien in my skin when I left Islam. A thorn in a sea of roses. The odd one out. It seems to be a common experience with the Ex Muslims I speak to online. They thought they were the only one feeling like this way. And for me, when I joined Twitter I was incredulous to find how many Ex Muslims there truly were. My family told me repeatedly, ‘no one leaves islam’. It was truly surreal, to have someone tell me that they could identify with me. For some Ex Muslims, going online to connect with others can act as a refuge. They can air their views freely and have the liberty to do so. For example, if they are in an Islamic country or are still pretending to be Muslim, it gives them an outlet and somewhere to be heard and speak freely. It certainly is true for me.
The question began to float around in my mind, why is there no acknowledgment in western media that Ex Muslims exist? Why are we met with stereotypes and prejudice that we hate Islam, we hate Muslims, we’re islamophobic ect. I still don’t know the answer. But the most common one that is suggested to me was : they’re afraid of upsetting Muslims. I get this one. Some Muslims do believe in the apostasy punishment of death for those that leave Islam, like my family. Some Muslims loathe our existence and take it as a personal insult, that we could DARE find fault and leave their religion. Some Muslims accept us and respect our choices. Some Muslims pray for us to return to Islam. Some Muslims love us regardless and see past the issue of our beliefs. But those are few and far between. Many Muslims aren’t aware that we exist. And we do.
Another thing that really upsets me is the death penalty for apostasy of Islam in some countries such as Brunei, Saudi Arabia ect is virtually unknown. I think, why hasn’t this barbarity been questioned extensively in liberal societies and media? Why haven’t there been demands of these countries to abolish these laws? Why do the UN do something about this? The answer is : they either don’t know about it, or they defer it to the fact it isn’t our country. It doesn’t matter if it’s not our country. We are humanity. We take care of our fellow human beings and we owe it to them to step up when any oppression or barbarity is in place. Nothing upsets me more than my country’s casual dismissive attitude to these issues and #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen campaign, which no one around me has ever even heard of it. We should be ashamed. At the end of the day, temporarily upsetting a small minority of people versus drawing attention to the sick oppression of Saudi women and Ex Muslims under the threat of death seem more important than the former. Facts don’t care about your feelings.
Secular societies, media and countries, most of the western world should cover us. I feel out of place in society, that I’m only accepted if I don’t mention certain things. I’m treated like an exotic object the minute people hear of my apostasy. Bombarded questions and hushed tones. Wide eyes. I feel embarrassed. I want to feel accepted. No longer a rarity.
We have so many interesting stories and perspectives to give. Many Ex Muslims are suffering, from abuse, depression, isolation, self harm as a result of their ordeal. And we don’t deserve to be censored or discriminated against directly or indirectly. We don’t deserve to be denied the fundamental right of free speech. We are entitled to our own views, the same as others. We deserve to be aired.
It’s funny. They tell me, there is only a few of you Ex Muslims compared to everyone else. You’re the minority. You won’t change anything. I study psychology. Minority influence. I tell them Google Serge Moscovici.
I long for the day when we find a semblance of societal acceptance, and we are no longer just ‘tolerated’. And with a new documentary on ITV entitled exposure about Ex Muslims, airing 13th October, something tells me that is very good news.