Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’

January 19, 2014

 

Amal Farah, a 32-year-old banking executive, is laughing about a contestant singing off-key in the last series of The X Factor. For a woman who was not allowed to listen to music when she was growing up, this is a delight. After years of turmoil, she is in control of her own life.

On the face of it, she is a product of modern Britain. Born in Somalia to Muslim parents, she grew up in Yemen and came to the UK in her late teens. After questioning her faith, she became an atheist and married a Jewish lawyer. But this has come at a cost. When she turned her back on her religion, she was disowned by her family and received death threats. She has not seen her mother or her siblings for eight years. None of them have met her husband or daughter.

It can be difficult to leave any religion, and those that do can face stigma and even threats of violence. But there is a growing movement, led by former Muslims, to recognise their existence. In more than a dozen countries people who espouse atheism or reject the official state religion of Islam can be executed under the law, according to a recent report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union. But there is an ongoing debate about the “Islamic” way to deal with apostates. Broadcaster Mohammed Ansar says the idea that apostates should be put to death is “not applicable” in Islam today because the act was traditionally conflated with state treason.

“The position of many a scholar I have discussed the issue with is if people want to leave, they can leave,” said Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “I don’t believe they should be discriminated against or harmed in any way whatsoever. There is no compulsion in religion.”

Baroness Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith and Communities, agreed. “One of the things I’ve done is put freedom of religion and belief as top priority at the Foreign Office,” she said.

The Ex-Muslim Forum, a group of former Muslims, was set up seven years ago. Then, about 15 people were involved; now they have more than 3,000 members around the world. Membership has reportedly doubled in the past two years. Another affiliated group, the Ex-Muslims of North America, was launched last year.

Zaheer Rayasat, 26, from London, has not yet told his parents that he is an atheist. Born into a traditional Pakistani family, he said he knew he didn’t believe in God from the age of 15. “For a lot of older Muslims, to be a Muslim is an identity, whereas, for me, it’s a theological, philosophical position. They might feel they have failed as parents; some malicious people might call them up, gloating about it. Some would see it as an act of betrayal. My hope is that they will eventually forgive me for it.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/allah-vs-atheism-leaving-islam-was-the-hardest-thing-ive-done-9069598.html

 

New Islamic Broadcaster for the Netherlands

April 13 2013

 

A new Muslim broadcaster in the Netherlands has been granted the provision of radio and TV programmes. The Commissariat for the Media has granted broadcaster SZM a license valid through 31 December 2015.  At the initiative of the supervisory body, various Islamic organizations are to collaborate in the SZM, as a result of which the Commissariat feels the broadcaster will be representative of Muslims in the country. Each major religion in the Netherlands has a representative public broadcaster, however ideological broadcasting will cease in 2016, after which time only eight broadcasting organizations will exist.

Far-Right Party Attacks Public Broadcaster

The far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has criticized the Austrian national public
broadcaster (ORF)’s documentary program, Am Schauplatz and its producers, Ed Moschitz
and Julia Kovarik, for their recent coverage of a protest against an Islamic centre in Vienna.
The documentary, entitled “The Fear mongers,” follows a pair of right-wing skinheads who
participated in the recent demonstration in Vienna’s Floridsdorf, where the leader of the FPÖ
gave a speech. Moschitz has been accused of biased reporting by the FPÖ, especially following
another report in which skinheads were to be seen attending an FPÖ rally. In response to the
party’s accusation that Moschitz had incited the youths to shout Nazi-slogans, the ORF has made
public all the raw material for the program, in which no such slogans are to be heard.

Netherlands announces new Islamic broadcaster

The Dutch Media Authority announced that the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (SMON) has received the new broadcasting permit for Islam and may begin broadcasting in September 2010.

The decision follows several months of conflict among Islamic broadcasters in the Netherlands, who operate during the percentage of time set aside for religious groups in Dutch media. Internal divisions between previous broadcasters NMO and NIO led to their dissolution.

The Dutch Media Authority has been reviewing applications for the replacement since October 2009, choosing SMON over the Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (SMO) and Joint Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (VMO)

Former director of Netherlands Muslim Broadcaster arrested

The former director of the Netherlands Muslim Broadcaster (NMO), Frank Williams, has been arrested for accepting bribes of at least 600.000 Euros. His son, daughter-in-law, and a film producer have also been arrested. The four suspects were arrested in a criminal investigation of misuse of the broadcasting funds of the NMO, one of the public broadcasters subsidized by the government, NIS reports. The finance ministry announced that Williams is suspected of “forgery, defrauding the income tax service and taking bribes as director of the NMO”.