Blasphemy Laws, Fear and Hostility, and French Ex-Muslims: Waleed Al-Husseini

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Waleed Al-Husseini founded the Council of Ex-Muslims of France. He escaped the Palestinian Authority after torture and imprisonment in Palestine to Jordan and then France. Here we talk about updates on French ex-Muslims from Al-Husseini.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Sir, any new books upcoming? Any new events for ex-Muslims on the horizon?

Waleed Al-Husseini: New book not yet, but we will have events in September in London we just try to prepare it.

Jacobsen: For those in the context of countries without blasphemy laws, what is the difference in daily life? How do blasphemy laws change the way someone lives their life in a country?

Al-Husseini: Let’s talk about Europe because in the USA, and elsewhere, it’s different. The difference is that you can say whatever you want. But we still have some limits, look at what happened to that women from Austria. She was condemned last month for blasphemy because she called Muhammad a pedophile.

After this case, you can see, based on the reaction, how much here in Europe; we are still not free to talk about everything, especially taboo topics. That’s why the situation for ex-Muslims is dangerous.

It is dangerous for all of us. Really, I can’t imagine the future how it will be. All these things. But we still can talk and not be arrested or killed like in an Islamic country. 2 months ago, we signed a call against blasphemy law in Poland.

Jacobsen: What are some threats to freedom of expression and freedom of association in a context where people who leave religion are afraid to speak out in an honest way about their experiences?

Al-Husseini: Our threats come from Muslims more than other religions. We could be attacked in the streets and anywhere by normal Muslims. I do not necessarily mean jihadists.

For associations, it’s also different because we get attacks by Islamic accusations in the name of Islamophobia or some organization calling themselves anti-racist and attacking us in the name of so-called anti-racism.

All just to not offend Muslims; while when you kowtow, you help moderate Islam too. But if we keep going without realizing the ills of the crisis, we will never be moderate.

Jacobsen: Why are so much fear and hostility directed at those who leave religion?

Al-Husseini: Because of losing life, and because the other options are violence; they are ready to kill you if you leave Islam. This is the most dangerous thing, especially so for ex-Muslims. And some will lose their work or their families.

Jacobsen: What are some important recent developments in the ability of ex-Muslims to express their views more freely?

Al-Husseini: Internet, social media, and YouTube are the places most ex-Muslims are able to talk about themselves freely. However, with Arabic media, they invite us just to make a show and also for the journalist to show himself as a good Muslim and so on.

There is still a lack of knowledge about atheism or secularism because they mix both. Sometimes, they don’t know what atheism is, and all their information is coming from some purported stupid old crisis of atheism.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Waleed.

Image Credit: Waleed Al-Husseini.

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