Scott Douglas Jacobsen: As a friend and colleague, we published several interviews together on a variety of topics centered in religion and the ex-Muslim community, especially the ex-Muslim community in France and the organization founded by you: Council of Ex-Muslims of France.
Waleed Al-Husseini: Yes, and thank you for this and interviewing numerous ex-Muslims, because it’s for many still very taboo. For others, it’s fear in the name of not offending some Muslims.
Jacobsen: What new developments occurred for the Council of Ex-Muslims of France for 2017?
Al-Husseini: The most important thing is that we become more recognized in France and more in the media, especially talking about us, our activities. Many have joined our cause once they discover that they are not alone and have the same ideas as us. We support each other.
We improve the discussion in France about most of the Islamic issues including the hijab and what they like to call Islamophobia. So, more and more, we become a real part of this discussion about Islamic values and what Islamists are trying to pass into the secular and liberal parts of society.
I know the debates in France. It is increasing in Canada and the USA.
Jacobsen: For the Council of Ex-Muslims of France, how often do death threats come to the inboxes, or via other means, of members including yourself?
Al-Husseini: I received 5 death threats by internet today. This is a great day and nothing dangerous. It’s been like that since the beginning. The easiest threats are by the internet. For me, it’s not dangerous because the ones who really want to kill you will not tell you before.
The most serious things come from some Islamist organizations and sites, who post our photos to all their readers. This puts us in a very dangerous situation. For any random person, the organized Islamists ask and try to acquire our addresses.
This happened to me, personally, many times. That’s why now my address is hidden and why I am taking greater care to take care of myself. For example, I simply do not travel to certain areas in Paris controlled by Muslims – Muslim areas.
This religion didn’t accept someone to go out. It didn’t accept the criticism. In 2017, only Islam and the mafia act this way.
Jacobsen: You were tortured, for several months, in a Palestinian prison by the Palestinian Authority for charges of blasphemy. I know the types and extent of the torture based on conversations with you. Do these memories resurface, at times, in personal life – of the torture?
Al-Husseini: I’m always trying to forget it. It was a hard time. Most of the time for me was hard. It’s the time recollected when I wrote my book Blasphemer: The Price I Paid for Rejecting Islam. I had to remember all this time with the most difficult detailing.
Now, not that much compared to some others because the victims of Islamic fundamentalism are so many, many paid their lives all over the world and have had the same as what happened to me or worse.
Jacobsen: What threats to secularism exist in France? How does the Council of Ex-Muslims of France represent a bulwark against those who wish to silence the non-religious, ex-religious, and the general formal irreligious?
Al-Husseini: Secularism in France threatens Islamists and is threatened by Islamism. The main problem for some Muslims is that they want the Islamism in place of secularism rather than secular Islam.
So, they do all that they can. They want society to accept the hijab in the name of liberty. They want limited freedom of speech and limited criticism of Islam, which comes in the form of false charges of Islamophobia and racism.
That is why, always, the Islamophobia charges, for me, are a modern fatwa: nothing else. A lot of examples are like the halal food, etc. What we do to protect secularism is that we explain the ways of Islamism, show it clearly, and have a rich debate about it, we do our best to show their hypocrisy and their spokespeople for hypocrites.
We present the real hate of the Islamist imams and Islamism in general, and raising the standards of all these definitions in French society, keep the secular values out of the religious values and going forward with secularism, not back because only secularism will protect our society from civil war.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Waleed.
Image Credit: Waleed Al-Husseini.