An Ex-Muslim Explains Why Her Community Needs Help

Robby Bensinger recently sat down with Marwa Berro, the ex-Muslim blogger behind Between A Veil And A Dark Place, and their conversation covered everything from the concept of “Islamophobia” to how we could all help make things better for ex-Muslims, as Berro explains below:

We are black sheep. We are rejected by many of the people and organizations that socialized us. Those of us who are public are accused of being imperialist tools of the West, of getting paychecks from Zionist organizations, of being part of a larger agenda of globalization and other such ludicrous nonsense.

Also, and this is sickening, horrifying, the women among us are often subjected to the crudest forms of misogynistic threats of rape and violence for daring to advocate for human rights. Our causes are routinely reduced to a desire to legalize sin and fornication and lewdness (all imagined evils) and any humanistic values we endorse are brushed aside as a mere front.

Many of us are also in hiding, and bear significant social and material costs for being what we are. Apostasy bears a great social burden in Muslim societies. At the very least, we are shunned, outcast, disowned if we were to go public. Others of us simply cannot. We live in places with such inescapable codes of living that we are not free to choose a nonreligious life and must continue to practice rituals of faith as though we believed, and are thus forced to suppress ourselves, and live a lie.

Others who are less lucky suffer violence in brutal ways as the recompense for sin. In many areas of the Muslim world, death is called for as the just punishment for apostasy. In other places, death or brutalization as punishment for apostasy is not technically legal but is overlooked when it does happen. The acceptance of it is surprisingly (or not) mainstream, as this Pew Poll shows.

I will quickly here note that both I and some close friends have suffered unjustifiable violence at the hands of our own families in response to perceived ‘sin’ we committed.

And for those of us who are capable of speaking—our voices aren’t loud enough on their own to cast light onto the invisible, in-the-closet apostate from Islam that has no recourse and is trapped in a way of life they cannot adhere to with good conscience and find too dangerous or costly to leave.

It’s a heartbreaking-but-ultimately-inspiring interview. If any other parts stand out to you, please tell us in the comments!

(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.

  • Bob

    I admire her and all other Muslims turning to free thought. It takes great courage and integrity.

  • offspaceorg

    Free thought is really important for a friendly co-existence in a multicultural society. here in Zurich the Mahmud Mosque posted a huge statement that they are open minded and peaceful. http://offspace.org/blog/art-installation-mahmud-mosques-minaret/

  • ShoeUnited

    I feel really terrible for those that want out but can’t.

    • sarah_13

      It’s astonishing that this is continuing not in Saudi Arabia but in the United States of America? If women are not safe they are not safe anywhere.

      • ShoeUnited

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I just feel terrible for people who want to get out of religion but can’t. Saudi muslims or American mormons, doesn’t change how I feel.

  • abusedbypenguins

    Over 200 years ago there was a underground railroad for people of color to escape slavery from the south to the North in the US. This needs to be set up all over the world to help women escape their slavery. No matter what religion enslaves them.

    • Syed Iftekharuddin

      America is the most rapist country on earth, American women should be liberated by Islam

      • baal

        Don’t confuse lack of reporting with lack of actual rapes. In Islamic countries, women can be stoned to death for adultery if they are raped. In that environment, you have a strong reason to not tell anyone about a rape.

        • Syed Iftekharuddin

          only muslim’s countries put rapist to death

          http://hotair.com/archives/2013/08/31/californias-pillowcase-rapist-to-be-set-free-again/
          “An admitted serial rapist who attacked 38 women in California could be a free
          man within weeks after the state’s Supreme Court denied prosecutors’ requests to
          block his release from a state mental hospital.”

          soon islam will liberate all your women

          • Anna

            And you wonder why people think your religion is barbaric? Most developed countries do not put anyone to death. The fact that you believe people should be killed is not helping your case.

            • abusedbypenguins

              Islam is primitive and barbaric. Half of the islamic culture are slaves and the other half isn’t quite civilized.

              • Anna

                It’s a bad situation. Pretty much all religions have the potential for barbarism, but in Western developed countries, the most extreme forces of fundamentalism are kept in check by secular governments. If Islam didn’t coincide with so many theocracies, perhaps Muslims as a whole could achieve moderation.

                • abusedbypenguins

                  The reliance on a single book written with stone age, bronze age and iron age superstitions and fairy tales sees a culture stuck in the past. Without western technology, where would they be? Too bad they are not like the Amish and keep to themselves, but that has it’s own problems.

            • Syed Iftekharuddin

              my religion is the fastest growing religion in your country

              • abusedbypenguins

                That’s because they are escaping yours.

              • Anna

                How do you think Islam is going to take over the United States when Muslims are less than 1% of the population?

                • Syed Iftekharuddin

                  by preaching

                • abusedbypenguins

                  On street corners or door-to-door?

                • Anna

                  How? Where do you think Americans are going to come across your preachers?

                • WillBell

                  And that is going to somehow going to increase the percentage of the US population that is muslim by >5000% to become the majority of the population?

      • Aroup Chatterjee

        Liberated by Islam! Are you a clown?

        • Syed Iftekharuddin

          i am nothing like you

      • Timothy McLean

        Let’s assume for a moment that your statement is true. Most women here are still un-raped. On the other hand, most women in Islamic countries have their rights infringed in ways that seem right out of a history book for much of the First World. If I was a woman, I’d rather have a slightly higher chance of being raped than a near certainty of being barely better than property.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    I just came across her blog a few days ago, via a post about the blogging network by Heina Dadabhoy. Thanks for the link to the discussion.


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