In a really awful attempt at humor, actress Mariam Sobh posted a video recently explaining why ex-Muslims speak out against the faith: They just want cash.
Not because they no longer believe in God.
Not because they think Islam in particular has tremendous potential for harm when people take the holy texts literally.
Not because they want other doubting Muslims to know there’s a safe place for them if they ever become “apostates.”
Nope. It’s only because they want to get in on some of that sweet ex-Muslim money.
It seems like everyone is looking for a way to make money fast! But what if I told you I could show you a way to make those dreams come true?
First, I have to ask you this. Do you happen to be a Muslim? If you answered yes, well, soon you won’t be. That’s because with this special program, you have to pretend you’re not one! Why? Well… hello! People who’ve had inside access to this faith are in high demand! You will be the go-to expert before you can say “Creeping Sharia.” All you have to do is join the “I’m Not A Muslim Anymore Tell-All Society” or INAMATAS.
She then lists the perks of being an ex-Muslim, including book deals, “six-figure speaking gigs,” VIP travel around the world, and political positions.
There are testimonials from two “members” of IMAMATAS who brag about some of those perks. In between, Sobh returns to say, “All you have to do is denounce your faith in a series of social media rants and wait for the trolls to bite! Once your story goes viral and receive at least one death threat, you’re a candidate!”
She closes with the line, “We do take a 90% cut on all speaking engagements.”
What a despicable way to completely dismiss a sincere, thoughtful group of people, many of whom have risked their lives in sharing their stories of apostasy.
They’re not doing this for the money. What amount of money would ever be worth the risk of getting slaughtered? They’re putting themselves in harm’s way because they truly believe what they’re saying.
Is Sobh aware that there are 13 countries, as of 2013, where being an atheist is punishable by death, and that all 13 are Muslim-majority?
Just last week, 22-year-old Amgad Abdulrahman, a “member of a cultural club set up by secularists,” was shot dead in Yemen, presumably by radical Muslims.
Anyone who’s read this site for the past few years knows what has happened to critics of religion in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Many of them were brutally murdered by radical Muslims. Others were said to be on a “hit list.” Some left the country — and their families — for their own safety.
And yet Sobh says ex-Muslims are faking it for fame and fortune.
I know a lot of ex-Muslims. You tend to meet many of them when you’re in the atheist world. Nearly all of them are straining to be heard above the noise of anti-Muslim bigots on one side and well-intentioned-but-misguided liberals on the other.
They don’t get six-figure speaking gigs. Or five-figure gigs. Rarely do they get four-figure gigs. Maybe three, if that. World travel? Please. And if anyone can point me to any ex-Muslims currently in the U.S. government, I’d love to know about it. Just because a few ex-Muslims get a lot of attention doesn’t mean all of them do. And even those famous apostates who speak out do so at their own peril. You think Ayaan Hirsi Ali travels with a bodyguard for shits and giggles? You think Maajid Nawaz plans to sue the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation as part of a money grab, and not because they put his life in jeopardy by declaring him an “anti-Muslim extremist”?
Many of the ex-Muslims I know work to help other ex-Muslims come out of the closet even when they fear for their lives because people may discover what they’ve been thinking for so long. They challenge stereotypes and get criticized from all sides.
Sobh doesn’t care. And she’s not some random person, either. That video’s been seen more than 36,000 times on Facebook already. A more thoughtful person would support those who leave Islam while making her case for why they should reconsider, not spread an ignorant lie about their motives.
The response from ex-Muslims and others who call for reform of Islam from within the faith has been unequivocal condemnation of Sobh’s message. (And some are sarcastically wondering when they’ll receive their fancy six-figure ex-Muslim checks.)
This is the White Hijabi version of 'behead the apostate.'If you can't decapitate them, assassinate their character. pic.twitter.com/Y8eOoVKCWZ
— Lalo Dagach (@LaloDagach) July 2, 2017
Secular liberals: when other religious cults issue propaganda about people leaving their sect, how creepy do you think they are? Exactly. https://t.co/IyHLz0NjZB
— Maajid (@MaajidNawaz) July 3, 2017
Sarah Haider of the Ex-Muslims of North America said she was glad Sobh posted this video because we can all learn a lot from it. (Really.)
… I’m glad she posted it, as it is an easy visualization of the following:
1. Despite living in extreme privilege (with the ability to take for granted the freedoms accorded to them in non-Muslim countries), far too many Western Muslims hold little sympathy for ex-Muslims. This includes most considered to be progressives. Many don’t know, and more importantly, don’t care, about the struggles of apostates. The number one priority is to protect the public image of the faith — those harmed in its name are not acknowledged or considered.
2. As extensive polling has made clear, majorities in many Muslim countries want us dead and are happy to share this view with others. This reality is embarrassing to Western, privileged Muslims. The religious aren’t known for their self-reflection, and Muslims are no exception. They would prefer to cover up any ugliness if possible, which entails silencing ex-Muslims. If this is not possible, the next route is to demonize us as callous, immoral, disingenuous — not worthy of attention.
3. Despite facing extreme persecution, ex-Muslims are *routinely* painted as whores — for money or for fame. This shouldn’t be surprising — our message is damaging to apologists. We have reality, facts, human decency and compassion on our side. They cannot prevail if they honestly confront what we say, so they resort to smearing the messenger instead.
4. This demonization places us in greater harm. Actual extremists (or sometimes just honor-driven family) already aim to silence us in any way possible. Muslims who smear us as whores or traitors give them additional incentive.
5. Few religious groups treat their former members with this level of contempt and inhumanity. Most of the others who do are rightly considered to be deranged, dangerous cults.
If Muslims wish to gain respect for their religious beliefs, they can start by treating dissenters with basic human dignity.
Someone give Haider a mic to drop.
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is a man who fled Iraq and came to the U.S. in 2013 after the Facebook group he started, Global Secular Humanist Movement, painted a target on his back. This is what he wrote on Facebook:
So let’s analyze Mariam Sobh’s argument that people denounce their faith (Islam) or criticize the orthodox/conservative aspects of it for financial purposes.
Look no further than the 990s (Income for non profits) of Ex Muslim / Secular Muslim organizations compared to religious & conservative ones and you will see that one has to constantly fund raise for pennies (literally) while conservative ones have tons of money.
Many left leaning organizations have betrayed us and instead sided with the people who think we should be dead.
Many right leaning organizations have an agenda and want to use us for their own benefit and not give a damn about our view points or human rights.
Financially wise, the (Islamophobia industry complex) is far richer than (Secular / Human rights for all industry complex).
Where are these big $$$ checks?…
Seriously. If it’s that easy to make money leaving Islam, then more people would do it. They don’t because, in many countries, that’s a death sentence. The U.S. isn’t immune from that.
What Sobh is doing is belittling people she doesn’t understand and doesn’t care to know more about. If she’s a proud Muslim, that’s fine. Her criticism should be aimed at people who give her faith a bad name, and she should work toward reforming it and helping eradicate that mindset. It’s downright foolish to condemn those who say nothing more than, “People should be able to safely leave Islam if they no longer believe in it.”