Ex-Muslims have to struggle to have their messages heard - on social media as well

At great personal risk, they share their knowledge and enlighten family, friends, and strangers, even if threatened. Op-ed.

Faith Quintero ,

Muslims hating non-Muslims, Jerusalem
Muslims hating non-Muslims, Jerusalem
iStock

Globally, they’ve been censored, jailed, flogged and killed for expressing views we take for granted in most of the West. Even those who live in the United States, where citizens have the freedom to say almost anything, have faced threats, ridicule and smearing campaigns for promoting ideas and speaking truths.

But ex-Muslims reject a faith that calls for a violent wrath upon those who do just that. Apostasy from Islam is illegal in 23 countries with it being a capital offense in thirteen. As they go public, ex-Muslims must balance the delivery of their message to those who’d benefit from their enlightenment, while avoiding harm from those who adhere to the obedience system that prohibits such liberties.


Yasmine Mohammed implores that Democrats stop, “supporting these women [Ilan Omar and Rashida Tliab] that are all about divisiveness. They are the opposite of inclusiveness. These are women that have been unapologetically antisemitic.
Of a number of Muslims who live in the West, a percentage seeks to silence those who leave the Islamic faith or speak out against it. These fundamentalists are motivated by orders within Islamic texts. But, what motivates some decision makers of companies and institutions headquartered in the United States, to penalize those who violate Islamic law, despite abiding by Western law and company policies?

That is what Ridvan Aydemir has been trying to figure out. Better known as the Apostate Prophet, the Turkish Canadian produces videos that debunk claims made in the Quran and Hadiths, to convince his former religionists that only manmade texts can contain so many errors. His informative videos weaken the validity of a belief system that has brought so much harm to those who follow it and those who don’t.

Soon after he shared a screenshot of a recent death threat targeting his family, Twitter suspended his account. Ironically, Twitter has demanded that Aydemir remove content that is unwelcome to no one more than it is to him. After all, the offensive message declares, “You [expletive] I will find you in real life and break in your house when your [sic] sleeping and kill you and your wife. You weak [expletive] you have no life so you decide to chat [expletive] to our religion . . .” It was sent anonymously, so Aydemir attributed it to a follower of a radicalized Muslim speaker, popular on Twitter, who regularly expresses a yearning for the Islamic system of murder to be applied to outspoken ex-Muslims, including Aydemir.

These are not abstract threats. This month, an Islamic perpetrator executed an innocent man who urged his students to cling to freedoms that Islam denies to those under its system.

Twitter is not the only giant who has scuffled with the self-proclaimed "apostate".

Youtube has demonetized most of Aydemir’s videos and they refused to award him the Silver Play Button that’s bestowed on others who have accumulated over one hundred thousand subscribers. Aydemir currently has close to a quarter million.

The intellectual work that many Muslims do in the process of liberating themselves from their restrictive faith, leads them to look at relationships with a new lens. Not only does Aydemir challenge Islamic laws that limit speech and personal beliefs and thoughts, he has also taken aim at Islamic Antisemitism with his well-researched video, “All About the Israel-Palestine Conflict.” [Try Googling those exact words to see how long it takes to get to a pro-Israel video about the Arab Israeli Conflict].

Aydemir is in good company, not in just explaining how the Islamic hatred toward non-Muslims is unfounded, but that the lies that condition believers to buy into the hate, can also be easily debunked.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for some time, has addressed Islamic (and Western Leftist Anti-Semitism). The Somali born activist spoke about prevalent campus anti-Semitism before a showing of Crossing the Line 2, a year after Brandeis University withdrew their invitation to award her an honorary degree. The Wall Street Journal published the remarks she would have made to that graduating class. Hirsi Ali established the AHA Foundation which “works to protect women from honor violence, forced marriage and genital mutilation . . .”

Yasmine Mohammed, born in Canada to an Egyptian mother and Palestinian father, is an activist who was forced into a marriage with a member of Al-Queda. She escaped the marriage and Islam. She reflects on the events that led to her current views and advocacy work in her contribution to SEDAA, a gathering place “that features writers of Islamic heritage.” She detailed her revulsion toward identity politics in, “Unholy Alliance: Why Do Left-Wing Americans Support Right-Wing Muslims?” where she expressed feelings of betrayal by self-proclaimed liberals who celebrate the conservative aspects of Islam.

She wrote in SEDAA how she was so upset by World Hijab Day (founded in 2013) that she spent “the day in bed with a migraine.” Individuals whose lives depend on them posing as Muslims can be grateful that she didn’t stay in bed too long. Three years ago, Mohammed founded Free Hearts Free Minds, “an organization that provides psychological support for freethinkers living within Muslim majority countries - where the state sanctioned punishment for leaving Islam is death.”

In an interview with Independent Women’s Forum, she implores that Democrats stop, “supporting these women [Ilan Omar and Rashida Tliab] that are all about divisiveness. They are the opposite of inclusiveness. These are women that have been unapologetically antisemitic. They are not the kind of women that you should be celebrating in the Democratic party.” In a Twitter conversation, she said, “Then of course they [Jews} end up being persecuted even worse in Europe. East and West are both full of hateful, genocidal anti-Semites…and they all, of course, are angry that Jews have just one tiny strip of land on this Earth where they can live safely without persecution.” She continues to be the target of death threats.

It’s understandable why Islamic autocrats, who personally benefit from rigidly controlling a population, seek to silence ex-Muslims. But, why would U.S. academic, corporate or other entities seek to dimmish the messages of such people? The technique isn’t always as severe as suspending an account or deplatforming an invited guest. Often, it’s as simple as implying that a person who will challenge Islam is a bigot.

Sarah Haider is co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), an organization that “advocates for acceptance of religious dissent, promotes secular values, and aims to reduce discrimination faced by those who leave Islam.” She takes on the word “islamophobia” warning that it treats Islam like it’s a race, when it’s not, and it conflates criticism of the religion with a hatred for the people [many who are victims of it]. She warns that “Islamophobia” erroneously paints a critical analysis of Islam as inherently racist, which chills the conversation and compels compassionate people to back away – leaving those on the extremes to monopolize the debate.

There are so many more ex-Muslims in the fight to enlighten people in the East and West. At great personal risk, they share their knowledge and enlighten family, friends, and strangers. They maintain Twitter accounts, speak on panels, create videos, host podcasts, write op-eds, display letter correspondences, participate in debates and write blogs.

They need and deserve support from people who believe in the value of their message. And their message is quite valuable. It’s unfortunate that the stakes are so high for what they do. No one’s life should ever be in danger for expressing oneself. Ex-Muslims, who provide measured conversation in an occasionally unhinged environment, are unsung heroes. The more people they reach, the better a place this world will be.

Faith Quintero is the author of Loaded Blessings, a family saga that alternates between Inquisition era Spain and modern-day Israel. It's among the Federalist's top books of 2019 list and a Montaigne Medal finalist for the Eric Hoffer awards. The Montaigne Medal is an additional distinction, awarded to "the most thought-provoking books."



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