The Muslim call to prayer was heard on Capitol Hill Friday, Sept. 25 at the “Day of Islamic Unity” in Washington, D.C., but the day before, former Muslims announced that they do not feel safe announcing they have left the faith, even in the United States.
According to Nonie Darwish, author of “Now They Call Me Infidel” and one of the founding members of new organization Former Muslims United, there are thousands of apostate Muslims “in hiding” across the U.S. Darwish also said that the number of Muslims leaving Islam is increasing because there is a new generation of Muslim Americans “who are revolting against their parents’ radical Islamist views.”
Darwish’s appearance came the day before the “Islam on Capitol Hill” event which – though touted as expecting a crowd of 50,000 or more – was only attended by about 3,000. Darwish said that the launch of Former Muslims United was not planned to coincide with the event. “They have the right to gather and express their views, and we have the right to gather and express our views,” she said.
The views expressed by Hassan Abdellah, an organizer for the prayer event, included praise for President Obama. He told the crowd at one point, "Don’t be afraid to be Muslim in America because we have established that the Muslim community is a great community, a diverse community, a loving community."
Darwish called it “a little outrageous” for Muslims to claim victim-hood. “I lived as a Muslim in America for a very long time and I was never afraid; I don’t know what [Abdellah] is talking about,” Darwish told HUMAN EVENTS on Tuesday. “Nobody discriminates against Muslims. They are free to build mosques as much as they want, they are walking on the streets and nobody bothers them. … I don’t see anybody that’s running away from America and going back home. They have more rights in America to practice Islam than many other countries.”
In stark contrast, Darwish and the other former Muslim members who spoke on Thursday, Sept. 24 at the launch of Former Muslims United said that they are the ones with a reason to be afraid. “We’re scared for our lives,” said Darwish. “We live in America, with books being sold and bought and read in mosques instigating people to kill us. This literature [teaching Muslims] to kill apostates is not something only taught in the East. It is in every Muslim institution.”
Part of the mission of Former Muslims United is educating the public, media and government about the threat Islamic law poses to former Muslims. “There isn’t another group that actually demands the murder of anybody who wants to leave,” she said, adding that Islam is like the mafia. “At least the mafia, you walked in. Islam, you’re born into it.”
She used the case of 17-year-old convert Fathima Rifqa Bary as an example. Bary, whose case remains under investigation in Florida, told authorities that she ran away from home because she was afraid for her life after renouncing Islam for Christianity.
“I don’t understand how anybody cannot believe this girl,” said Darwish. “Even if her father and mother are the nicest people in the world … her parents are under a lot of pressure from the Muslim community to do something. She has crossed the line.”
Darwish believes that former Muslims need legislation that would make them a protected group. “This is a national threat, but it affects us personally. People like me, and others, who left the Middle East, came to America, running away from the oppression of Sharia, only to find people calling it a religious right in America,” she told HUMAN EVENTS. She suggested that adding a statement specifically about Sharia law to the immigration application would be a good place to start addressing the problem. Even something as simple as declaring “if you believe in Sharia Islamic law, please state if you want to live under it” would help, she said.
Former Muslims United members, including Darwish and fellow apostates and activists Mohammad Asghar, Amil Imani, Wafa Sultan and Ibn Warraq, also sent a “Freedom Pledge to over 50 Muslim leaders asking them to repudiate the Islamic law that requires the execution of apostates who have left Islam,” according to the press release dated September 23. That same date, they also delivered letters asking for investigation into “possible hate crimes and civil rights violations against apostates from Islam” to Gerald Reynolds, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
“We [apostates] have to come from behind the rock, and from behind the tree, and say ‘enough is enough,’” Darwish announced at the launch event. “There’s strength in numbers, and … that’s why I formed this group.”