Iranian-born activist in Germany creates group for Muslims who
renounce their faith
Ex-Muslim Council for those who renounce Islam
Friday, April 20, 2007
Mina Ahadi, an Iranian-born activist living in Germany, has founded a
council of former Muslims who have renounced their faith. Members of
the Central Council of Ex-Muslims are immigrants from predominantly
Islamic countries. Ahadi, who is now under police protection, spoke
with RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari.
RFE/RL: Why did you decide to create the Council of Ex-Muslims?
Mina Ahadi: It's been 11 years now that I've lived in Germany, and
the friends and I who founded the council have been critical
regarding some events in this country. On the one hand, when there
is talk about people who have come to Germany from countries such as
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey, they're all being labeled
Muslims; then all of these 3 1/2 million people are put in the same
bag, and Islamist organizations are being presented as being in
charge of them.
People like myself, we sought asylum in Germany and we came to live
here because we [opposed] political Islam and such organizations.
Many of the problems here -- such as honor killings or imposing the
Islamic hejab on children, or building a number of mosques here --
create divisions among people. All of these are explained to society
based on the argument that Muslims have a different culture or
Muslims have different ideas. All of these prompted those of us who
are critical and who oppose such things to create a body that will
have different policies regarding such issues.
RFE/RL: What policies are you following and what is the aim of your
Ahadi: We are humans, and that's our most important identity. All of
the people, men and women, who have come [to Germany] from [Islamic]
countries are humans. They've come to this country because of a
better life, because of freedom, and because of better conditions.
And they want to live with the people of this country, with Germans.
They don't want to have a parallel society. They don't want again
for young girls not to have the right to have a boyfriend or not
have the right to participate in swimming class because their
families are Muslims.
We represent a secular policy, a human policy. And we want to stand
up against political Islam and against Western governments' policy of
RFE/RL: How many members does your group have?
Ahadi: We started with 40 people, but currently we have 400 members.
For now, we want our members to be from Germany. We have received
membership requests from other countries -- for example, from Egypt,
Morocco, Iran, [and] Scandinavian countries. But we have not accepted
foreign members yet. All our members are living in Germany, and our
only principle is that those who become our members [must] be
atheists and not believe in God or any religion.
RFE/RL: You've said in interviews that you aim to give a voice to
Muslims who do not want to be Muslims anymore and give a different
image of people from Islamic countries who live in Europe. Could you
Ahadi: We want to change the existing picture that all people who
have come from Islamic countries are fanatics, religious, or
backwards and that their culture is very different from others. In
my view, this is not an accurate portrait. People who come from
these countries, regardless of whether they're Muslims or not,
they're not different from other people, and they want to have a
[normal] life. And we are defending their rights.
RFE/RL: As you know, renouncing Islam is considered a grave offense
among some Muslims, and in some Islamic countries, including Iran,
apostasy is punishable by death. Don't you think that your move and
the creation of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims could create
tension and provoke some Muslims?
Ahadi: I'm aware that a person who says, 'I'm not a Muslim anymore,'
faces the danger of death. That's why I'm now under police
protection. But I don't think it causes tensions. It is possible
that some groups or organizations might issue fatwas against people
who have [renounced Islam].
But I think one should not be afraid, and this taboo should be
broken. Our goal is to break the taboo -- people who don't believe
should have the right to say it [publicly], and no one should [be
able to] harm them for that. But in some countries where Islamists
are in power, this is a taboo; and we want to break this taboo.
I actually think that our movement will motivate people to express
themselves and live according to their beliefs. If this movement
expands and grows worldwide -- which is our goal -- then it could
create a global front against political Islam and force [proponents
of political Islam] to retreat. In Germany, there have been no
official fatwas against us, and I see it as a retreat that we have
imposed on Islamic organizations and also on the Islamic Republic of
RFE/RL: You said there have not been any fatwas against you or the
other members of your group. But have you received death threats?
Ahadi: Right after we launched our campaign, quotations from my
interviews were published on some websites, and it was said
that "this woman should get her response," or they said that "she
should be murdered." So there have been death threats against me on
[some] websites and also through letters we have received. But there
has been no official fatwa by mullahs or by the Islamic
establishment of Iran.
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