Atheist Group Wishing to Reach Out to Ex-Muslims Responds to School After Being Denied a Name Change

Just a couple of days ago, I posted about how the London School of Economics’ Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society was blocked from changing its name to specifically reach out to ex-Muslims.

Their school’s student organizations committee decided the name change to the “Atheist Secularists Humanists & Ex-Muslims Society” would make their meetings an unsafe space for ex-Muslims because it’d basically be painting a target on the group (“Look! This is where the apostates are!”)

Today, the atheist group issued a public response to the LSE Students Union. They don’t buy the rationale, either:

We are glad that you acknowledge that the situation of ex-Muslim students is precarious and deserving of special attention, and that they are in need of a “safe space.” On a less enthusiastic note, we are saddened by the fact that you did apparently not consult with ex-Muslims before taking your decision…

… The risk of danger that ex-Muslims face in many places does not exist on our safe, quite secure and liberal campus. If we were to follow this line of thought, we should also do away with the LGBT Society and LGBT events, since they also face danger from extremists in this very country — their events have suffered attacks from bigots in the past.

With regard to your proposal to change our name to substitute this change for “ex-religious”, we feel that this would defy the purpose of the name change, as explained in our initial statement and above. Our name already implies ex-religious, and the case for ex-Muslims is a separate one entirely. We are in agreement that ex-Muslims are a specific group with different needs to other ex-religious people due to their unique situation, and consequently they are in have a more pressing need for representation and a safe space than other ex-religious groups. The reports of many of our ex-Muslim members and friends testify to this need for special attention

I’m glad the students are fighting back. This is too important a topic for them to back down now. They certainly have my support.

(Via Heresy Club; image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Thumper1990

    Surely Ex-Muslims are already welcome in this group, as any ex-religious person would be, and exactly as any group of this type should be. I don’t see the need for the name change at all.

    • Tim

      Your argument could equally apply to LGBT groups – surely the L is not strictly required because all lesbian women are gay.  But having the L there makes the group more inclusive and welcoming to gay women (who might otherwise dismiss, perhaps wrongly, it as “for the boys only”) and that is a good thing.       

  • Will Chain

    That’s actually a very good response! I love the fact that they used the committee own concerns about the security of ex-muslims to argue for their idea for creating a safe space.

    I also love the parallel they did with LGBT groups. Those are some smart kids!


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