EXMNA, Secular Groups Hold Historic Meeting with White House

Washington, D.C. – 05/17/2021 – Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), along with Freedom from Religion Foundation, Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, and American Atheists, met with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Friday, May 14th, for an hour-long meeting organized by the Secular Coalition for America.

 

In addition to highlighting shared secular priorities of church-state separation and religious pluralism, EXMNA urged the Biden Administration to be mindful of the underrepresentation of atheists and the non-religious among those granted refugee status in the United States. According to Pew, only 1% of refugees the United States accepted in 2016 were religiously unaffiliated, whereas the most recent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report shows that atheists are the third most persecuted religious minority in the world. There is a rapidly rising cohort of non-believers among Muslim communities, with nearly 1 in 4 American Muslims leaving the faith and non-belief growing at similar rates in Muslim-majority countries, where blasphemers and apostates are subject to arrest, imprisonment, and even the death penalty.

 

“We urge the Biden Administration to take a strong stand against blasphemy and apostasy laws, and to take the actions recommended in the resolutions passed by Congress (H.Res.512 and S.Res.458) to help eliminate blasphemy and apostasy laws around the world,” said Muhammad Syed, President of EXMNA.

Along with these issues, the conversation highlighted the discrimination faced by atheists and Muslims in the United States, particularly as prejudice for both groups leaves ex-Muslims at a unique intersection of bigoted attitudes.

 

The administration was also informed that as an organization, EXMNA supports freedom of conscience and belief not only for atheists but for all people of faith.

 

Sarah Levin, Public Affairs Associate for EXMNA, stated: “We are absolutely opposed to dehumanization of people, including Muslims, and we are also absolutely opposed to silencing criticism, even offensive criticism, of ideas—including religion. Efforts to redefine hate speech to include criticism of religion is the new frontier of blasphemy laws.”

 

This was the first meeting of ex-Muslims with the White House, and we are optimistic that it represents the start of many fruitful discussions between the Biden Administration and our coalition. Our continued collaboration will undoubtedly further the rights of American and non-American ex-Muslims alike.

 

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