INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDER OF "COUNCIL OF EX-MUSLIMS"
"Not Possible to Modernize Islam"
Human rights activists have formed a "Central Council of
Ex-Muslims in Germany" to help women renounce the Islamic faith
if they feel oppressed by its laws. Its Iranian-born founder Mina
Ahadi, under police protection after receiving death threats,
talks to DER SPIEGEL about its goals.
Mina Ahadi has received death threats after founding the group.
An Iranian human rights activist living in Germany has formed a
"Central Council of ex-Muslims in Germany" with 40 others and has
received anonymous death threats after declaring she wants to
help people to leave the religion if they so desire.
Iranian-born Mina Ahadi, 50, said she set up the group to
highlight the difficulties of renouncing the Islamic faith which
she believes to be misogynist. She wants the group to form a
counterweight to Muslim organisations that she says don't
adequately represent Germany's secular-minded Muslim immigrants.
Ahadi has been put under police protection in recent days.
Renouncing Islam can carry the death penalty in a number of
countries including Iran, Saudi-Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Sudan and Mauritania. In other countries people who turn their
backs on the faith aren't punished by courts, but they are often
ostracized by family and friends. It's a difficult subject among
Muslim communities in Europe too.
Ahadi said she wants the new organization to help women who feel
oppressed by the rules of the faith to find a way out. The
Council will hold a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday to
outline its goals.
DER SPIEGEL spoke to Ahadi.
SPIEGEL: Together with 29 other immigrants from Muslim countries
you have declared that you have renounced Islam. The campaign is
similar to one launched in the 1970s by women who declared
publicly that they had had abortions. What is your purpose?
Ahadi: I haven't been a Muslim for 30 years. I'm also critical of
Islam in Germany and of the way the German government deals with
the issue of Islam. Many Muslim organisations like the Central
Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) or Milli GÃ¶rÃ¼s engage
in politics or interfere in people's everyday lives. They were
invited to the conference on Islam (hosted by the government in
Berlin last year). But their aims are hostile to women and to
people in general."
Ahadi: They want to force women to wear the headscarf. They
promote a climate in which girls aren't allowed to have
boyfriends or go to discos and in which homosexuality is
demonized. I know Islam and for me it means death and pain.
SPIEGEL: What will your organization do?
Ahadi: One example: One representative of the Central Council of
Muslims in Germany said that a carnival procession float (during
the recent carnival in Germany) showing Islamists with explosive
belts had offended Muslims. But there was no evidence of that.
The associations pretend that they represent everyone and to some
extent are acknowledged as such by the German side. That's bad.
We have to give a signal against that and say: Not in our name.
We are secular humanists. We want to give these people a voice.
Someone has to make a start. We're advocating human rights.
SPIEGEL: Some of your members are also active in communist
organizations in their home countries.
Ahadi: Yes, many were active in left-wing groups. We have
received more than 100 membership applications in recent days. We
want to create a new movement, in other European countries too.
We hope that soon there will be 10,000 of us representing many
SPIEGEL: Won't your campaign just harden the battle lines?
Ahadi: I don't think it's possible to modernize Islam. We want to
form a counterweight to the Muslim organisations. The fact that
we're doing this under police protection shows how necessary our
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