Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s talk about principles in opposition to one another, for example, freedom of speech and secularism versus restricted speech and theocracy (or its various tendencies). How are France’s values and your own values more in line with freedom of speech and secularism? Why are these more important to be in place rather than restricted and theocratic values seen more in Islam?
Waleed Al-Husseini: For sure, my values are more in line with French values and secularism, and a perspective on humanity that sees everyone deserving of equal rights, and is firm on the need to get religion divorced from the state.
All of these things do not exist in Islam. These things only exist when all Muslims are seen as part of humanity as a whole. When Muslims are the majority in a country, it is different than when they are the minority.
Often, secularism and freedom of speech, and similar secular values, can only be computed only within the framework of Islam and Islamic values. That is why they are asking for the defense of the hijab in the name of liberty, but then they attack criticism of Islam in the name of racism.
Although, Islam is not a race, as I explained in one of our interviews!
Even the hijab is an example of slavery and second-class citizenship in society, in my opinion, it means that women are a sexual tool. It becomes one of the most important signs of Islam in politics.
The criticism of Islam is a human right, according to human rights declarations. I gave you this example to show that is how they use things, to spare Islamic values from criticism!
Jacobsen: Sharia Law can imply Sharia courts, separate and distinct from the universal laws in a secular culture for everyone. So, in effect, a dual-law system can be set in a secular society.
How do these Sharia courts arise in a secular context? What can dismantle them? Why do these separate courts violate the principles of, for instance, one law for all?
Al-Husseini: This is what happened in the UK. That’s why I don’t like “secularism” and prefer the term “laïcité”! With secularism, they make insular communities and everyone lets them do what they want.
I remember in 2010, maybe, one court released someone who was charged with beating his wife, because he said that it is okay to beat your wife within Islam and our religion!
That is why the religions should be out of the state and public arena. The religions should be in their places of worship! No more than this, not in courts, education, or the political and even economic spheres like the factories and goods.
Even the ones with the (halal) label. Yes, because this label is more proof of communitarianism, to create a mini-society inside the mother society.
Jacobsen: What will make for a more just and secular society aligned with secular morality and international ideals expressed in the UN Charter, especially for minorities within minority groups such as ex-Muslims?
Al-Husseini: The way for secularism is very long, especially in the Arabic world. It is the need built from childhood. That’s why we need to stop teaching religion in schools – especially assumed as true rather than as a set of beliefs of one group or another like a world religions class – and we need to teach children secular values.
Also, we should stop telling kids about jihad and should not separate people into Muslims and non-Muslims! It provides a simplistic view of the world. Let them see all of us as humans of many stripes and shades, and types.
And the governments should have a secularism in law and work hard for it!
Because, you know, our problem is not only with the government, but even with people. For example, when the Saudi girl made a video while she was wearing a miniskirt, many people were asking to arrest her and the government did.
So, the problem is in the people! Sure, it’s because this is coming from the brainwashing since they are kids. We have an example looking at what happened recently after Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive the car. People were attacking the cars of women.
Jacobsen: One more principle is the truth, or attempts at its attainment, and obscurantism, or attempts to lie or half-lie and cover the truth in some way. One obscurantist terms, one is the word, which is vague: Islamophobia.
How can truth overcome the obscurantism surrounding difficult topics in a discussion on Islam and the ex-Muslim community?
Al-Husseini: Islamophobia: this the Kalashnikov of what they call themselves ‘moderate’ (for me, moderate in Islam does not exist at all, we just have peaceful Muslims at the moment).
Because, for example, there are the jihadists or terrorists who physically attack you, but then there are these moderates who also attack you in courts! And try to kill you when they make Islamophobia and racism look like the same and mixing all the definitions up. It’s kind of a war of terms; I talk about it in my last book I published in French!
About the truth, we ex-Muslims know more about Islam and the way of Islamism. Let us talk, and hear us out! Don’t attack or fight us, and then allow for our Muslim brothers who destroy their own countries to speak.
So, what do you think they will do with other countries like Europe and USA? They can open more for us to be in the media to speak and not to attack us with Islamophobia and other epithets and invectives.
They can protect those in Arabic and Islamic countries from being arrested based on using their freedom of speech. This liberty to choose. Also, inside France or these other countries for that matter, they can stop the call to kill us because this is hate speech, at a minimum: calling to have someone killed.
I hope the media and people become more serious and more open-minded on this issue.
Jacobsen: Thank you for taking the time once more, Waleed. Always a pleasure, my friend.
Image Credit: Waleed Al-Husseini.