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. He is an ex-Muslim and an atheist, and a friend. We have published interviews in Canadian Atheist (here, here, here, and here), The Good Men Project (here), Humanist Voices (here), and Conatus News (here, here, and here). Here is an educational series on ex-Muslims in France.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Can you tell some of the stories, anonymous if need be, of some of women members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France?
Waleed Al-Husseini: We get a lot of testimonies. One of the most touching was for a French girl. Her father is Algerian. Her mother is French. She was born and lived all her life in France. She questioned herself when she was forced to wear the hijab at the age of 13. She stopped playing with her childhood friends because it became a forbidden activity.
She used to, at that time, read from the holy texts of Islam. But then she became an atheist, but she still wore the hijab and lived with her family in an area full of Muslims. That is why even she can’t take the hijab off. She can’t tell her family that she left Islam. She supported us. She came to one of our meetings.
Another woman, she left question Islam after the Charlie Hebdo attack and was asking herself, “Why do we do this? Why do we live in secular society and act like those who live in Islamic state?”
She asked her family and others always she got the answer that we are different and we always should belongs to Islam till she start reading and knowing about me from my 1st book she read it and she became atheist and she really fighter for freedom
Jacobsen: Can you tell some of the stories, anonymous if need be, of some of men members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France?
Al-Husseini: Men’s stories, it is rarer because Islamic society provides men all that they want. Their mistakes mean nothing. The stories, I have more from a refugee who came to France. There is a man. He is from Morocco. He started with freedom of women. Then he went into the freedom of not taking part in Ramadan, but he was arrested.
Then he got discrimination in the court. When he was out, he studied Islam very well, then he understood it very well. So, he left Islam for the same reason
Jacobsen: I ask those two prior questions to provide a basis of the experiences of members, ordinary refugees or French citizens who ex-Muslims are – apostates. How do these stories differ for men and women?
Al-Husseini: Most of the women, they left the suffering because of Islam. That is why they read and become atheism, so there is a clear reason for them. But for men, it is harder because he needs to be humanist and to do more reading to see how to become an atheist.
This is a difference between the stories of men and women. For sure, for women, its clearer with hijab and with the ability to have freedom in life. So, they suffer more than men because of Islam.
The space of freedom is much larger if you are me.
Jacobsen: Have the stories been getting better or worse in terms of the people who leave Islam?
Al-Husseini: Every story is a special case. But we still have a hard time, so the stories are always hard. It is not a fairy tale. We do not have happy ending stories, because even for the ex-Muslim who leave their family.
They will have problems in work between their friends, so the stories still the same: worse.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Waleed.
Image Credit: Waleed Al-Husseini.