On Ex-Muslims


There are so many obsessively redundant stories about Muslims and Islam. They are too familiar: stories about the veil, Jihad, the status of women, minorities and apostasy. Western reporters love to search and find a Muslim in the West who tells a story of persecution by Muslims. These stories are sexiest when the person elaborates on his new freedoms in the West and how he/she was not able to breathe until their arrival in the West. They tell about their past suffocation and how they could only read and enjoy “Lolita” in Western countries.

But the stories of apostasy still resonate. Westerners don’t know that apostasy laws were common at the time when they were promulgated in Sharia. The Economist is sometimes reasonable, but other times indistinguishable in its resort to lazy clichés about Muslims. The new issue of the Economist has a long article about “Atheists and Islam.” In the article, all the familiar clichés are squeezed in to draw a most dramatic picture that is worthy of movies about medieval Europe. It operates under the classical premise: that one story about one Muslim suffices to tell the story about all Muslims. And in singling out a story or two about Muslims in the West, the writers don’t know that they often fall victim to deception.

In the last few decades, Western governments developed asylum laws which permit a person to obtain legal status if she/he can establish real concern for safety in his/her homeland. I have served as a consultant to many lawyers and law firms in the West and saw the most bizarre stories by people who are desperate to stay legally in the US. Some people talk about how their tribes (even when “the tribe” does not even apply in Damascus or Beirut) will kill them, because they once told a cousin that they are secular. Another claims that his tribe – again – kills its members if they exhibit effeminate tendencies. And many have stumbled on the legal premise of fear of apostasy. They tell a judge (with no background or knowledge of the Middle East) that governments there typically behead apostates.

The Economist’s article belongs to this genre. It talks about how only in Turkey and Lebanon atheists can live safely, but only quietly. Where do they get this information from? This doesn’t seem to be from someone who know people in the region. I, for one, became an atheist in my teens. My friends and comrades in Lebanon (Lebanese and Palestinians) were also vocal atheists, and none of us faced persecution or even harassment for our views. There is no evidence for any such persecution. Many of my “Facebook friends” are young Arabs who identify their religion as “atheists.” And no one is persecuting them. The Saudi government is a rare exception in this case. But Saudi Arabia is often the exception, although it gets good press here in the US. TheEconomist says that eight states in the region have apostasy punishment on the books, but does not say that no one can find one case of implementation of the law in this case, even if you go back decades in time. There is a clear concoction of a dramatic alarmist sensationalism that does not conform to the facts.

Written By: As’ad AbuKhalil
continue to source article at english.al-akhbar.com


  1. This would be good news, If it were true. I cannot say one way or the other because I simply do not have enough information. However I think it is on the onus of english.al-akhbar.com to demonstrate that their article is no more “shoddy” than the one in the Economist. Furthermore history has shown us repeatedly, that the first commandment religions break, is that of lying.

    To say that the blasphemy law is never enforced (in some states), does not qualify that state to be considered as civilised. (G.B. also please take note).

  2. I don’t care how much other religions sucked when Islam was invented; it doesn’t mean that Islam sticking by those 7th-century standards doesn’t suck now. If you’ll play the culturally relativist “it was a different time” card you can judge people of the past better, but not people of the present. Nor do I believe Islam should be judged by how it behaves in Turkey rather than Saudi Arabia. In the former, Islam doesn’t legally call the shots, and the country is trying hard to convince Europe of its secularism (in the sense of politics and the law being religiously neutral) so it can get into the EU. In Saudi Arabia, Islam does legally call the shots; and, in doing so, it exacts precisely those consequences which it exacts in every other nation today where it legally calls the shots. When Islam is allowed to insist on the answer to “Whom is inferior to whom?”, its answers are decidedly unenlightened. Maybe if this author understood that he could be one of the ex-Muslims he decries without understanding them.

  3. Of course. You can hardly say you are an atheist in the US or some parts of Europe, but it’s ok in the Arab world ! No kidding ! So let’s all draw cartoon of Moises, Jesus, Bouddha , Ganesh and Mahomet, and see what happens. And I live in a world where magic poneys eat rainbows and shit butterflies.

  4. You can sum up the Arab world and the middle east in general as “nations in denial”….  Mr. As’ad AbuKhalil’s “state of mind” is not the exception, but the norm…
    He claims “tribe mentality” does not exist in Syria, even though “Sunni” tribe is fighting “shia’a” tribe as we speak. Is it all manufactured?? Sure it is.  Do they all share the same genes? not necessarily, but they all see themselves as belonging to the same tribe, and if one strays out, they get punished.
    Tribe mentality is a human trait, and it exists in the West and East in similar doses, and Western world is wrong to claim it is a middle eastern  issue.
    The point I would like to make is:  The Arab world and middle east is in denial, and religion has never had a stronger grip as it does now.  I was lucky to go sightseeing in Iran recently, when I noticed paintings done depicting Muslim rulers belonging to 600 years earlier sharing wine and dance in their courts.  The same thing is still practiced today, but no one would be able to see it or even talk about it (it is normally denied, although it is public knowledge!)
    Other denied items in the middle east… 1) No gays in the middle east -Iraqi minister recently claimed there are maximum of 10 gay people in Iraq LOL.., 2) unmarried women don’t have sex out of wedlock in the middle east – it is only the western world which is full of sluts3) All unmarried woman are virgins and anal intercourse is not sex!! 4) etc etc.. I could go on for hours, but to summarise, just like the rest of the world, we live in denial, and even the librated amongst us can’t see it, so we end up telling lies…!!

  5. > The Economist says that eight states in the region have apostasy punishment on the books, but does not say that no one can find one case of implementation of the law in this case, even if you go back decades in time. There is a clear concoction of a dramatic alarmist sensationalism that does not conform to the facts.

    Just speculating here, but could this maybe be because apostasy/homosexual/blasphemer killings aren’t carried out by law, but rather by baying mobs of fundamentalists taking the law into their own hands?

  6. You are on to something here… in fact, who needs mobs when your own family is going to do it to save face from the mobs and the state!!  It is dog eat dog in a tribal mentality anywhere in the world (just look at football in the UK 🙂

  7. This is incredibly shameless. So this person doesn’t know what happens with religious minorities in muslim majority countries? Has he hears of what happens with bahais in Iran? Doesnt he know that Ahmadia in Pakistan aren’t even allowed to call their houses of worship mosques? What does he expect would happen to an atheist? Has he ever heard of Alex Aan?
    To claim that apostasy laws are never enforced is just a lie. But of course it doesn’t happen very often-for the fear those laws generate, and no one will come out and say they don’t believe!
    Yeah, and blame the Economist for covering the story. The truth hurts.

  8. Dear writer,

    Have you heard of Alber Saber in Egypt? jailed for posting a link to the latest anti-Islam movie.


    No? How about the two Christian kids, aged 9 and 10, facing trial over “insulting Islam”?


    How about Beshoy Kamil? sentenced to 3 years for allegedly insulting Mohamed.


    Last week, Egyptian court sentenced 6 Egyptians to death for being involved in the latest anti-Islam movie.


    And the list goes on.

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