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 a friend. Here we talk about secularism in France in 2018, the status of the Council of Ex-Muslims of France, new books, recommended books, and concern for safety.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What do you see as the issue for 2018 and secularism in France?
Waleed Al-Husseini: For me, the most concerning issue in France this time are the things that have been said by the president when he said that the state is secular, but the society is not. This is one of big things. We do not agree here.
Even French secularism cannot accept this because since the beginning, that society also incorporates secularism. If the society does not incorporate secularism, that means you will open the door more for Islamism (political Islam).
There will be more things like hijab and then separated sexes in the society, and make more of a micro-society within the larger society. One that does not integrate. Also, the president went to church and asked for church to be into political and return things back between the republic and church.
But this also is a danger to open the big door for Muslim fundamentalists to come into French political life. These two issues, for me, are the most dangerous things done by president Macron. They are anti-secularism in France.
Jacobsen: It has been a while. What is the status of the Council of Ex-Muslims in France? Is everyone safe? Is the community growing?
Al-Husseini: Yes, we are all safe. I received more threats, but I’m still alive. I founded one conference with ex-Muslims in Norway. It was good to speak about the right of blasphemy and what is going on in Europe and how things going on with isolation and other stuff.
So now in Norway, we got some ex-Muslims from Turkey and Pakistan too. It means we grow to be in most of the European countries and share the ideas because the situation is different from country to country.
Jacobsen: Any new books in the works, coming around the corner?
Al-Husseini: My second book was published in France last year. I wish it would be translated into English because this one is important. I speak about the celebration of Islam radicals in Europe. I explain the strategy of political Islam.
I try to find solutions with explaining things like “Islamophobia” and racism and the using of these definitions to throw at the liberal society, and then using freedom for soft isolation from society.
I would like to publish in English, but still now there no suggestions for translation.
Jacobsen: Can you recommend some books for people interested in learning more about the experiences of nonbelievers and ex-Muslims in particular?
Al-Husseini: The Blasphemer: The Price I Paid for Rejecting Islam, it’s my book. The book of Ayaan Hirsi Ali called Infidel: My Life. Another book by Ibn Warraq entitled Why I Am Not a Muslim. These books are testimony and published in English.
We have others in other languages: French and German but not English.
Jacobsen: As you know, I have done several interviews and articles on and with the ex-Muslim community around the world. What is their primary concern regarding personal safety and getting their messages out to the secular, democratic world, which tends to be the Western world?
Al-Husseini: Yes, sure and thank you for all this work you do to help us reaching our voice for more people; for us, yes, because we face the dangers there, we get killed or arrested without knowing about us.
That is why we try to make our voice heard more, especially for the Western world. Because the Arabic world doesn’t accept us. They do not have the democratic culture. For the Western world, to tell them, there people are leaving their region.
They will understand us because they face the problems of religion and dictators. All these reasons make us send these messages for them. Messages about our personal safety. As you know, this is our big problem. Anyway, it’s become problem for anyone to speak about Islam or Islamism and the reason is clear as to why.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Waleed.
Image Credit: Waleed Al-Husseini.