When I heard that ITV was planning to air a new documentary on the Ex-Muslim phenomenon called ‘Islam’s Non-Believers’, I was hoping for some unbiased reporting from the producers. While I did detect some nuance in the reporting (like the care taken to say‘Islamic Fundamentalism’ instead of the more generalizing ‘Islam’), I believe that the content of the documentary was biased. I will explain more below.
Before I continue, allow me to state that I am in full support of the Ex-Muslim phenomenon. To me, they are part of the growing phenomena of what I call ‘Dissenting Muslims’ (people from Muslim backgrounds who have become atheists, agnostics or do not want any association with the label). They have existed from the beginning of Islam and will continue to exist. Their existence helps believing Muslims such as myself if only we allow them a chance to speak. Help us because, in order to authenticate our faith, we need to hear the challenges to it and, if possible, overcome them. Blind or inherited faith is simply tribal ego.
Having been in contact with Dissenting Muslims for a few years now, I have come to know their tragic stories. They are generally seen as traitors to the Islamic tribe. They face verbal, psychological and even physical abuse. Islam’s Non Believers highlighted a number of stories which I found incredibly heartbreaking. Parents actually withdrawing love and affection from a child is possibly one of the most tragic things in the world. For any reason. Period.
Without going into great detail, I believe that the world of Islam still languishes at this primitive level of consciousness because of its Islamofascist elements. Even in tonight’s documentary, there was a mention of the Jamaat Al-Ulama (congregation of scholars, a self-styled label) which called for the death penalty of Bangladeshi’s atheist bloggers, some of whom were killed in terribly violent ways. If their followers supported hanging atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, I do not think it would take a gigantic leap to promoting the death penalty for Muslim apostates in the UK or anywhere else!Where did the documentary ‘Islam’s Non-Believers’ fall terribly short? By not sparing even a second giving the views of liberal and progressive Muslims. A word with Ani Zonneveld from the Muslims for Progressive Values, for example, would tell the audience what would be for most a sigh of relief – that Muslims who abused and killed apostates were doing so without the sanction of the Quran!
Why could the documentary’s producers not given us this time considering they gave quite a few minutes to the Muslim Association of Britain’s president, Omer El-Hamdoon. Omer was certainly a step in the right direction. He refused to tolerate any kind of violence towards Ex-Muslims. However, he did state that Islam was a religion and refusal of that religion would result in the child losing the previous bond held with his parents and the community that he had as a Muslim. I disagree with his. No one can see faith. If a person loses faith, he or she should still be able to be part of the community. Unless we something to fear, of course.
Another big mistake was to include the infamous Maryam Namazie into the program. Maryam’s blatant comment ‘I don’t like Islam’ should be respected as free speech but should also be taken as a signal about her lack of nuance in analysis! She does not seem to understand the infinite varieties of the Islamic experience and in this lack of understanding, she will simply add fuel to the fire between Islamofascists and their dissenting enemies. ITV should have included Ex-Muslims who appreciate that Islam is not just one single idea and a fascist idea at that.
All in all, the documentary ‘Islam’s Non-Believers’ highlighted the existence of an important phenomena which Muslims should use as a means of challenging their faith. We should not fear this challenge at all. If we believe Islam to be truth, it should be able to withstand any kind of inquiry. Blind faith is no faith at all.