She Left Islam and Her Family with the Help of Local Atheists

Just over a year ago, Kimberly Winston at Religion News Service wrote an incredible profile of 20-year-old “Samya,” an ex-Muslim woman who grew out of her faith and ran away from her family to avoid being the victim of an honor killing.

Now, Fort Worth Weekly‘s Kenneth Kost has written another in-depth version of her story. It’s just as compelling to read and it landed on the most recent issue’s cover:

Turns out access to the Internet was her gateway out of faith:

“I was exposed to the web in grade school, but there were only a few sites we could visit,” she said. Using the internet at home, “it was under intense supervision because the only computer was in the living room where my dad could easily monitor me,” she said.

But with the iPod Touch, the world opened up in the privacy of her room.

“I didn’t realize the power I had in my hands until one I day I had a question I really wanted an answer to, so I Googled it,” she said. “It hit me in that moment that I could seek the answers I was looking for regarding my religion, science, and a way out to live a real life.”

The most heartbreaking part of the story is how she finally managed to break free from her family:

Each school day, Samya’s father dropped her off on campus. Each day, she pretended to go to class. Instead she was bringing her belongings, little by little, and storing them in a locker.

Finally, after a month of saving money and pretending to go to class, Samya, now 18, packed the rest of what she needed, hugged each family member, and got in the car with her father for the last time.

“I left my phone and a letter for them saying ‘I have to live on my own, I want to become my own person,’ ” she said. “I didn’t want them to track me down with that phone. I hid them kind of under the blanket so they wouldn’t find them right away, while I was still at the school.” But she kept the iPod.

The Metroplex Atheists helped Samya get clothes, shelter, and a brand new identity. She’s now taking classes at a local community college and doing what she can to become as self-sufficient as possible.

What she did took incredible courage, but she’s also had a lot of help along the way. If we want other young women in similar situations to feel confident enough to break free from an oppressive faith, we have to offer the same kind of support. What the Metroplex Atheists did was admirable; now we have to find a way to scale that.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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