happens to apostates who leave Islam


 Dorothy Thompson May 22, 2008

The penalty for renouncing Islam is death, which the stories in Why We Left Islam and the lives behind them all the more remarkable. Contained in these brutally honest personal accounts written by former Muslims is an urgent truth that the mainstream media and cowed politicians won´t admit that far from being “a religion of peace,” Islam is instead barbaric and repressive, a nightmare for those living under it and those seeking to confront it. We interviewed Joel Richardson, one of the co-authors of Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out (WND Books), to help us understand a religion that allowed persecution of the people of different faiths other than their own. Thank you for this interview, Joel. Interesting subject. Why did you decide to write about this? Thank you. This was a book that was essentially crying out to be published. The world is at a crossroads right now. Whether we admit to or not, we are genuinely in the early stages of a clash between cultures. In the west, whether one is a liberal or a conservative, together we all deeply value the principles that our culture is founded on—the freedoms that hold so dear and respect for all human life etc. The problem is that in cultures where Islam has dominated for the past fourteen hundred years, these principles are not respected or are at the least shoved to the back of the line in terms of their priority when weighed against Islamic law. Whether one is a fundamentalist Christian or a devout Atheist, in the West, we all agree that principles and values such as freedom and human rights underscore every other principle or value that we may stand for. But in the Islamic world, one does not first ask if any particular act or law is in accordance with a proper respect for human rights, but rather one asks if it is in accordance with Islamic law and values first. In Islamic cultures, Islam is always the first and ultimate criterion for evaluating any act or law etc. So when asked the question as to whether death for apostasy is acceptable or not, the Westerner asks whether or not it is in accordance with the principles of freedom and respect for human life, while the Muslim mind—moderate or not—asks if it is in accordance with the proper interpretation of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence. If it doesn´t appear to be just on the surface, then so be it, one does not pit his own judgment against Allah´s laws. Who is wiser? So you see, this isn´t an issue that is going to go away any time soon and as such, the West has some very serious questions to ask itself and some very serious decisions to make if it wishes to survive. The stories that have been gathered in this collection were simply crying out to be heard. Susan and I didn´t really feel as though we had much of a choice in the matter. I understand that the people you interviewed wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. What kind of impression did you get about their feel for the Islamic faith? Have they since denounced their faith? Everyone in the book has denounced Islam. Most of them use a pseudonym, but some such as Parvin Darabi and Walid Shoebat choose to use their real names. Joel Richardson is actually a pseudonym that I use after I began receiving e-mail promising me that my family would be killed and that my head would be removed. The irony of this is that when this occurred a few years back, I wasn´t in nearly as deep as I am now. But I was in dialogue with a fellow that had converted to Christianity and I believe that the threats may have been related to that. But since that time, I have generally tried to use wisdom and a measure of caution. But overall in the US, we are fairly safe compared to even England or many European cities etc. The stories range from those who converted to Christianity to those who converted to agnosticism or atheism. They all however agree that Islam is incompatible with the values and principles that I just mentioned. What makes these stories so compelling in this claim however is that these individuals have nothing to really gain by sharing their stories. They are clearly not agenda driven but simply wish the West to hear them out. Has either of them been found out since the publication of the book? No. Of all the stories you heard, which one stood out in your mind as the cruelest or most heart-breaking? That´s very difficult to say. There are a few that are beyond heart breaking. For some reason, the one that perhaps disturbed me quite a bit was—perhaps because I myself have daughters—the confessions of a fellow from Egypt who spent years literally kidnapping Christian girls and forcing them to convert to Islam. In one case, he drugged a young women, stripped her down and filmed her in this state. Mind you, you have to remember how deeply shame and honor based the eastern culture is. When this women came to, she was told that the film would be shown to her father and family, unless she converted to Islam. She was forced into an abusive marriage and didn´t see her family for years. Her life was ruined. This young man admits, now shamefully that he did these things to dozens of young Coptic Christian women, all for the “victory of Islam”. The stories are all very honest and some, like this one just are brutal in their telling. Do you feel there are more Muslims out there who would like to speak out, but are afraid? What are they afraid of? Absolutely, there are many Muslims and former Muslims who would like to speak out, but are afraid. Few westerners understand the degree to which the religion of Islam affects a culture and controls it through fear and intimidation. Wherever Islam rules, it creates a very oppressive atmosphere among the people. This can be true of any religious culture but most particularly among the most fundamentalist of all religions—Islam. Imagine how it would feel to know that your own mother or father might possibly literally kill you for making a well thought out decision of conscience. Yet many in the book have experienced just that. Sometimes the ramifications for speaking out are simply too great. Why do you feel a need for your book to be read by everyone? What message are you trying to get across to Americans and the rest of the world through your book? As I said above, the West is going to have to decide whether or not what we have is worth preserving. If it is, then we are going to have to develop a far greater resolve than we are presently showing. The book is actually prophetic in many ways in this regard. Right now, there is a poor Danish cartoonist and his wife who are literally moving from location to location, living in fear because assassins have actually been sent after them. For what? Because per the request of the newspaper that he worked for, he did his job and sketched out a crude and innocuous cartoon of Muhammad. So far, there is nothing surprising about this story. But when we learn that not only are many from within the Muslim world furious at him and calling for his death, but there are also many of his own Danish kinsman who are throwing him to the lions as well. What we are seeing is the early development of a sort of global psychosis similar to the Stockholm Syndrome. Fear is a powerful force. And if the West is going to survive, we are going to have to get past our fears and begin to stand united for the Danish cartoonists of this world. As Karl Popper, in his work The Open Society and Its Enemies, insisted, we simply cannot afford to be tolerant of the hyper-intolerant. Until the west wakes up and realizes what a suicidal position it is taking thus far in the early stages of this “clash of civilizations”, they will one day wake up to realize that its all gone. We in the West are good with our bumper stickers, but we are generally slow with action. “Free Tibet”. “Never Forget.” These are all good and fine, but when the “Never Forget” is beginning to happen again right before our eyes, then bumper stickers are no longer sufficient. Its time to stand up. Our hope is that this book will help folks from all ends of the political spectrum to do just that. Thank you for this interview, Joel. Why We Left Islam: Former M
uslims Speak Out can be purchased through WND Books at


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