Censorship is the first line of defense for orthodoxy, and fighting it is essential to the health of a free society.
One of the most common undercurrents of repressive Islamic regimes is speech control. States’ constitutions may theoretically guarantee freedom of expression, but in practice, most Islamic nations impose broad exceptions to this rule. Restrictions target religious and political dissent alike.
Of particular concern in the digital age is the weaponization of social media. Ideally a tool to facilitate the free flow of ideas, social media content is routinely subject to regime-imposed blocks in Muslim-majority countries, often with the cooperation of the companies themselves. Meanwhile, special laws enacted in these countries in the last decade have singled out online speech for prosecution—often under the false pretense of controlling misinformation and hate speech, sometimes more explicitly stating the aim to curb political and religious dissent.
Globally, social media companies enforce their guidelines in problematic ways, in some cases discouraging an atmosphere of free expression. Ex-Muslims in particular are affected by this. Algorithmic responses to community violations are frequently abused with targeted reporting campaigns, and community standards recently implemented by Facebook provide that content attacking “ideas” and “concepts” can be subject to removal under certain circumstances.
These conditions pose a threat to the principle that one should be always free to express oneself openly—a principle vital for ex-Muslims’ ability to live free from fear and persecution.
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There’s a lot of confusion as to just why people leave religious groups–and especially what leads ex-Muslims out of the faith. It’s not, for example, abusive parents, or cultural alienation, or even “hating God.” So what are the main reasons people leave Islam?
Leaving Islam, though a markedly long and difficult process, can often come with a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Freedom, authenticity, and a more meaningful life are all among what ex-Muslims state to be the best consequences of leaving the faith.
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As much as leaving Islam is a question of personal belief, that’s far from all it is. Leaving the faith and making oneself an “apostate” is to renounce a slew of rights designated only to Muslims -- and put oneself at risk of prosecution.
Some people think that as atheists, ex-Muslims must harbor some anger, even hatred, towards their former communities. But while they have criticisms and frustrations about the faith, ex-Muslim often have a different relationship with believers.
Once-Muslims come out as atheists, to the ire and disappointment of those who share their former faith. But rather than confront the issues that might lead people to leave the faith, it’s easier to just brand apostates as “fakers,” who never really belonged to the community. That way, they don’t have to question their own belief, logic, or morals.
For many people, religion is a source of community and comfort. Other times, religion can come with all kinds of baggage, guilt, and roadblocks to a meaningful life. Here are some of the BEST things that came out of leaving Islam: