The Dilemma Facing Ex-Muslims in Trump’s America

Mar 9, 2017

By Simon Cottee

“Challenging Islam as a doctrine,” Ali Rizvi told me, “is very different from demonizing Muslim people.” Rizvi, a self-identified ex-Muslim, is the author of a new book titled The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason. One of the book’s stated aims is to uphold this elementary distinction: “Human beings have rights and are entitled to respect. Ideas, books, and beliefs don’t, and aren’t.”

The problem for Rizvi is that the grain of Western political culture is currently against him. Those in the secular West live in an age when ideas are commonly regarded as “deeds” with the potential to wound. So, on the left, self-critique of Islam is often castigated as critique of Muslims. Meanwhile, the newly elected president of the United States and his inner circle have a tendency to conflate the ideas of radical Islam with the beliefs of the entire Muslim population. So, on the right, the very same self-critique of Islam is used to attack Muslims and legitimize draconian policies against them.

One possible response to this problem is to back down and stay silent. The Atheist Muslim is a sustained argument for why silence is not an option. I met up with Rizvi in his hometown of Toronto recently to discuss his reasoning.

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3 comments on “The Dilemma Facing Ex-Muslims in Trump’s America

  • @OP – Meanwhile, the newly elected president of the United States and his inner circle have a tendency to conflate the ideas of radical Islam with the beliefs of the entire Muslim population. So, on the right, the very same self-critique of Islam is used to attack Muslims and legitimize draconian policies against them.

    Trump’s bigoted, simplistic, gross, and incompetent approach to problems in general, is rooted in his egotistical lack of respect for the authority of expertise!
    Ignoramuses with no consultation skills, who think they know better than highly trained and experienced experts, inevitably produce sloppy, failed, and damaging plans!

    Legal challenges against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban mounted Thursday as Washington state said it would renew its request to block the executive order and a judge granted Oregon’s request to join the case.

    The events happened a day after Hawaii launched its own lawsuit, and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said New York state also asked to join his state’s legal effort.
    Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the state is joining fellow states in challenging the revised travel ban.

    Washington was the first state to sue over the original ban, which resulted in Judge James Robart in Seattle halting its implementation around the country.
    Ferguson said the state would ask Robart to rule that his temporary restraining order against the first ban applies to Trump’s revised action.

    “My message to President Trump is — not so fast,” Ferguson told reporters.
    “After spending more than a month to fix a broken order that he rushed out the door, the President’s new order reinstates several of the same provisions and has the same illegal motivations as the original.”

    Robart on Thursday granted Oregon’s request to join Washington and Minnesota in the case opposing the travel ban.

    Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said the executive order has hurt Oregon, its residents, employers, agencies, educational institutions, health care system and economy.

    Trump’s revised ban bars new visas for people from six predominantly Muslim countries: Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
    It also temporarily shuts down the U.S. refugee program.

    Unlike the initial order, the new one says current visa holders won’t be affected, and removes language that would give priority to religious minorities.

    Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin said that the state could not stay silent on Trump’s travel ban because of Hawaii’s unique culture and history. Hawaii depends heavily on tourism, and the revised ban would hurt the state’s economy, he said.

    The courts need to hear “that there’s a state where ethnic diversity is the norm, where people are welcomed with aloha and respect,” Chin said.

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  • @OP – One possible response to this problem is to back down and stay silent. The Atheist Muslim is a sustained argument for why silence is not an option.

    Trump’s simplistic bigotry and rushed incompetently drafted legislation, is posing problems for various culturally civilised organisations which plan educational or sports events or other trips involving travel to the USA!

    Girl Guides of Canada cancelling U.S. trips due to ’uncertain’ entry rules

    TORONTO — Girl Guides of Canada will not approve any new travel to the United States, describing the decision as difficult but necessary to protect its members.

    The organization released a statement Monday saying it decided to cancel future trips due to uncertainty over whether all of its members would equally be allowed to enter the U.S.

    It said the organization values providing safe, inclusive and accepting experiences to its members, including when travelling.

    Although the U.S. is a “frequent destination” for its members, the organization said all trips including travel that requires connecting through an American airport will not be approved.

    Girl Guides spokeswoman Sarah Kiriliuk said the decision is a preventative measure.

    “We just looked at our organization and realized that we do have a lot of girls travelling and this was potentially creating a situation that would either be a risk for the group or would create an uncomfortable situation in the case that somebody did get turned back at the border,” she said.

    She said policies are already in place that require a group to turn back in the event anyone on a trip is blocked at the border.

    A nationally sponsored trip to a camp in California that was scheduled for this summer is also being relocated to another international destination.

    Kiriliuk said while some members may be disappointed by the change, the organization is still encouraging international travel.

    “There’s a lot of other places to see in the world,” she says, adding the organization is part of an international network with partners in India, Switzerland, Mexico and other countries.

    The organization is not the first to stop children’s trips to the United States.

    Several schools and school districts across Canada debated going ahead with trips south of the border following the first executive order issued by President Donald Trump that imposed travel restrictions to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

    A Winnipeg junior high school cancelled a trip by its track team to Minnesota in January because it wasn’t certain all students would be able to cross the border.

    The Greater Essex County School Board in southwestern Ontario decided in February to cancel a handful of trips over concerns of safety and equity, while districts in southern Vancouver Island debated whether to ban all U.S. travel or handle each trip on a case-by-case basis.

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  • The sheer incompetence of Trump’s travel ban (apart from constitutional and other issues), has just been illustrated, as while Egypt and Saudi Arabia were not on his list of countries whose citizens were banned as a sources of terrorism, other majority Islamic populations were.
    Egypt has just declared a state of emergency because of ISIL attacks on Coptic Christians.

    Egypt’s president has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that killed at least 45 people.

    Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s measure will have to be approved by the parliament.
    He had earlier ordered the deployment of the military across the country.

    So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday.

    The group has targeted Copts in Egypt recently and warned of more attacks.

    President Sisi made a defiant speech at the presidential palace after a meeting of the national defence council to discuss the attacks.

    He said the state of emergency would be implemented after all “legal and constitution steps” were taken. The majority in parliament backs Mr Sisi.

    The state of emergency allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people’s homes.

    Sunday’s attacks coincided with one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

    The attacks come weeks before an expected visit by Pope Francis intended to show support for the country’s Christian minority. He has condemned the explosions.

    Mr Sisi, a former army chief, has been criticised by local and international rights groups for severe restrictions on civil and political rights in Egypt.

    Human Rights Watch says tens of thousands people have been arrested in a crackdown on dissent, and that security forces have committed flagrant abuses, including torture, enforced disappearances and likely extrajudicial executions.

    This suggests that the risk of terrorism from Egyptians, was greater than from some of the listed countries which lacked terrorist attacks on America by their citizens!

    It looks like another middle-eastern country in turmoil!

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