This Photo of Ex-Muslims is Sparking Outrage Around the World

This Photo of Ex-Muslims is Sparking Outrage Around the World September 17, 2019

Standing tall and proud on top of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, four ex-Muslim activist friends pose for a photograph that is challenging social perceptions around the globe.

Armin Navabi Featured Image
Mimzy Vidz, Veedu Vidz, Armin Navabi and Harris Sultan. Berlin, Germany 2019.


Mimzy Vidz, Veedu Vidz, Armin Navabi and Harris Sultan are ex-Muslim activists who wound up in the center of controversy last week after an image of the four standing on the Berlin Holocaust Memorial went viral. The image and its caption, “With my fellow freedom fighters” immediately sparked outrage with other ex-Muslims, atheists and religious followers alike. People took to Twitter and Facebook to accuse the four of being anti-Semitic, hateful, disrespectful and abusive. Some even demanded the image be removed.

Others were able to see the photo in a different light. Some suggested that the four, being from a state of oppression themselves, were inspired by the memorial and stood in solidarity with the victims of the holocaust. Ali Rizvi, an ex-Muslim activist, said, “…the image shows SOLIDARITY with the oppressed and the victimized. These are not graves, nor are they meant to symbolize them…”.

Another follower, @angerspreadthin, asked, “The pyramids were built by slaves – should no one take pictures with them?” She continued, “The Colosseum hosted events where many people died…should we not take pictures at these landmarks?” When presented with opposing views such as these, it challenges the social perception that these types of images have to be offensive. It’s not inherently disrespectful to take a picture of yourself and friends at a memorial, intent matters.


Ex-Muslim activists often face criticism for the stances they take against Islam. For instance, while many in the West try to normalize the hijab as a choice, ex-Muslims tend to shine a light on the women’s rights violations associated with it in Islamic cultures. Fighting Islam is associated with the make-believe term, “islamophobia” and they are silenced by being painted as bigots. These four freedom fighters are inspirational. As they stand with other victims of oppression, let’s stand with them.

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  • ephemerol

    I don’t understand why pplz get on the internet with a knee-jerk interpretation of something as ambiguous as this and practically insist that their framing of it is the only possible lens through which it can be viewed, with a certainty apparently on a par approaching that of the sun rising in the sky tomorrow morning.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    because righteous indignation has little place for nuance and grey area.

  • Fighting Islam is associated with the make-believe term, “islamophobia”

    You really think there’s no such thing as Islamophobia? The overwhelming majority of the “criticism of Islam” I come across does nothing more than characterize Muslims as irrational, homophobic, misogynistic lunatics who are prone to acts of horrific violence.

    That’s a far cry from a sober critique of the tenets of a belief system.

  • ephemerol

    …or thought, or self-reflection…

  • Jim Baerg

    ‘Islamophobia’ gets used to conflate criticism of the religion with hatred for the believers.
    How about ‘anti-muslim bigotry’ for the latter.

  • There’s a big difference between making the distinction you’re making and just dismissing Islamophobia as a “make-believe term.”

    How much sober, informed, empathetic criticism of Islam is out there, and how much is just regurgitating the rhetoric of “experts” like Sam Harris and Bill Maher? Is calling Islam a “medieval death cult” really supposed to constitute an honest appraisal of the history, culture and geopolitics of the Middle East?

  • john smith

    islam is trash in every way. muslims are people who deserve dignity. this isnt hard.

  • Art Weissman

    Religion – it DOES poison everything.
    But people will continue to ‘believe’… in Allah, Yahweh, Ganesh, and the thousands of others. There are a small percent of humans who place evidence over emotion, rationality over wishful thinking, and acceptance over tribalism.
    I hope we don’t carry our myths to Mars when we build a colony. It would be a shame to see some religious symbol on a Martian building.

  • Jim Baerg

    “death cult”
    To some extent that is a valid criticism of every religion that emphasizes an afterlife over the one life we know we get. The use of that doctrine to encourage suicide bombings makes it even more valid.

  • JSloan

    Can you point to anyone who refers to Harris and Maher as experts, other than yourself?

  • Fraser

    Same can be said for Christianity. It is no different and prone ot the same abuses.

  • Contractions of Fate


    “The pyramids were built by slaves – should no one take pictures with them?”

    The pyramids were not built by slaves at all, you under-educated buffoon..

    And this “Solidarity” bullshit is just another bunch of idiots doing a selfie on the holocaust memorial. They are not standing in solidarity at all, they don’t even look like they might be. They are abusing a memorial.

    It’s irrelevant that it is not actually a war grave. If people climbed on, stood on top of, ran along or did hand stands against the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the USA, they’d be arrested and pilloried by public outrage.

    And rightly so.

  • I had no idea where they were standing in that photo, since I’ve never seen that memorial, nor have I ever seen a picture of it, so to me it was just four people standing on some kind of staircase. Now that I’ve admitted that I had no idea what the Holocaust Memorial looked like, I’m waiting for someone to accuse me of being anti-Semitic because of that.

  • Dhammarato

    The tenets of a belief system are two fold, and then there are two Islams. There is Islam the religion from the time before Medina, This is the religion that most want Islam to be. And then there Is Islam after Medina this Islam is a war machine that intends world domination. This Islam must be destroyed even if the Islamic religion is taken down with it. The world has already too many religions and Islam has a wing of murder and domination. The whole world will be better off without both kinds of Islam. May Ex-Muslims prevail. May they take Islam to the toilet where it cannot do more Harm.

  • Michael Enquist

    Just take a look at most posts and comments here in patheos atheist …

  • Michael Enquist

    How about anti-Dentite?