Ex-Muslims feel betrayed by the left

In Europe, the debate about Islam is too shallow -- perpetually polarized between those who want to build walls around a Christian Europe and those who automatically deem any criticism of Islam to be "right-wing".

Ingrid Colanicchia
Ingrid Colanicchia MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Ex-Muslims feel betrayed by the left - NewsMavens
Mosque. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Terrorism, immigration, Islam: in Italy, the debate on these issues is perpetually over-simplified and polarized between those who want to build walls around a Christian Europe and those who automatically consider any criticism of Islam to be "right-wing". This dichotomy creates sterile comparisons and prevents us from understanding this complex phenomena.

The right-wing attitude has been denounced and abundantly described, but the leftist self-censorship is also harmful, especially in Italy. That is why Italian politicians -- maybe even European politicians -- would do well to listen closely to people with first-hand experience of Islam. For example, associations of former Muslims -- which exist abroad (in France, Germany, Great Britain and so forth) -- that are at the forefront of the debate surrounding the separation between religion and state. They feel "betrayed" by the left, whom they accuse of blindness to the realities of Islam.

Allow me to give an example. In Britain, dozens of Sharia courts are active, tolerated by the government: a truly parallel legal system, where Muslims in Britain solve family law issues -- mostly to the disadvantage of women. (To have an idea of what it means to live under sharia law, look at the testimonies gathered by One Law for All).

The British Government also assumes that all migrants from Muslim countries are themselves Muslims. This reductio ad unum does not take into account the complexity and fluidity of individual identities.

Kenan Malik, author of Multiculturalism and Its Discontents: Rethinking Diversity after 9/11, writes:

"To say that no human can live outside of culture, however, is not to say that humans must live inside a particular one. To view humans as culture-bearing is to view them as social beings, and hence as transformative beings. It suggests that humans have the capacity for change, for progress, and for the creation of universal moral and political forms through reason and dialogue.

To view humans tied to specific cultures is to deny them this capacity for transformation. It suggests that every human being is permanently shaped by a particular culture and that changing or that culture would be to undermine the very dignity of that individual. It suggests that biologically Jewish or Bangladeshi descent somehow make a human being incapable of thriving as a participant of a different cultural group".

Former Muslims are rebelling against this homogenization, which has been the basis for many multiculturalist policies of the last decades. Let us remember that many fled Muslim countries where they were persecuted for their atheism or apostasy (in some countries punishable by death) only to have a "Muslim" label slapped on their head in Europe.

The challenge is great, and the stakes are very high. Especially when it comes to women's rights. To the German ex-Muslim association, who celebrated its 10th anniversary on 17 November, I can only offer my best wishes.

Details from the story:

  • According to the Freethought Report 2016, there are laws that punish apostasy in 22 countries. In 12 of these countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, Yemen) the penalty may be death. Of these, five (Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Somalia), to which Pakistan is to be added, blasphemy is also punishable by death.
  • In several European countries, there are associations that bring together former Muslims, who are committed to emphasizing the importance of separation between religion and the state (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Conseil des Ex musulmans de France, Zentralrat der Ex-Muslime ...)
  • On November 17, Zentralrat der Ex-Muslime, the association of ex-Muslims in Germany, celebrated ten years of existence.
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