After every Islamist terror attack, we liberals go into overdrive with our hashtag empathy. #IllRideWithYou and #TerrorismHasNoReligion start trending from Calgary to Canberra. Non-Muslim women, who cannot tell a Surah from the Shahada, upload selfies on Instagram in their £4.80 floral headgear from Cherry Blossom Hijabs (plus £3.25 Royal Mail standard delivery), in solidarity with their Muslim sisters. The irony of choosing this grody regalia of repression as a symbol of camaraderie is so thick, I will require a separate 1000-word post to dissect it.
Liberals have consistently taken the onus of protecting Muslims from bigotry (and rightly so), often suppressing the debate on radical Islam in the process. However, there is a minority within this minority -- the ex-Muslims, whose existence we seldom acknowledge. This small group of freethinkers have broken the fetters of dogma, committing the most egregious infraction in Islam - apostasy, a crime for which they face imprisonment or execution in more than 20 countries.
YouTube and Facebook -- which were considered to be bastions of free expression thus far -- have begun stifling these dissenting voices.
Between the regressive leftist hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn and the xenophobic exhortations of Donald Trump, ex-Muslim activists provide a lucid perspective on Islamism. Folks like Armin Navabi, Maryam Namazie, Ali Amjad Rizvi and Eiynah, articulate that it is possible to criticise religious ideologies while simultaneously denouncing bigotry against its practitioners; that human life is sacrosanct, but ideas are not. You'd think these secular warriors (non-jihad variants) would be the darlings of Western liberals, but instead, the political left treats them as pariahs, as much as their own native community does.
Ignored by the mainstream media (and browbeaten on University campuses), they have primarily used social media platforms to get their stories out. However, YouTube and Facebook -- which were considered to be bastions of free expression thus far -- have begun stifling these dissenting voices.
As Eiynah explains:
As an ex-Muslim, I cannot begin to express the number of ways in which our voices are silenced. We are cast out of conversations about our own communities and lives, we are refused platforms in mainstream media to avoid offending Muslim sentiments, and more recently we are viciously targeted on social media. Where enough complaints against content can not only have it removed for no real reason, but also have our social media accounts suspended entirely; it leaves us abruptly cut off from the only place we've safely managed to tell our stories and form an outspoken community.
My Facebook account has been removed twice, I've lost contact with many who depended on me to help provide resources and support. My recent joint venture podcast ironically titled "Polite Conversations" has been targeted twice and removed from YouTube almost as quickly as it was uploaded -- and we've only produced one episode so far. Will each episode come with built-in censorship and uphill battles, I wonder...
There is an organised, systemic effort to silence the voices of those who critique Islam from within. It only serves to demonstrate how much weight our voices carry in such a political climate. Meanwhile, Neo-Nazi videos, clerics promoting wife beating and actual anti-Muslim bigotry are allowed to exist without issues. Policies like Facebook's Real Name Policy continue to further endanger those who are already marginalised -- those who risk their lives to oppose a violent ideology.
Fanatic hate-channels such as this one are thriving on YouTube.
This militant right-wing Hindutva nut-job posts a video of mob justice being meted out to two Muslims for allegedly slaughtering a cow. He goes on to make vile threats to "beef-eating Muslims"(sic), describing in morbid detail how he plans to chop off their extremities. The clip has been up since Oct 2012.
While "freedom of speech" upholds the rights of all others, we're bound by Islamic blasphemy codes, even in the West.
Similarly, Facebook routinely blocks secular pages and posts that are critical of religion, while blatantly racist pages are free to operate with impunity. This thought provoking post by Simi Rahman was promptly removed by Facebook (possibly due to mass reporting by organised Islamist FB groups), and later reinstated after public uproar.
Slut-shaming is clearly well within the bounds of Facebook policy, unlike criticism of religion.
Eiynah has this to say:
The Ex-Muslim perspective is a valuable viewpoint that the world is missing out on. One that brings to light the idea, that all within the Muslim Community are not a homogenous orthodox block. Currently, the wrong voices are driving the conversation.
By ignoring, and silencing Muslim dissenters in a climate where radical Islam flourishes, we're looking past valuable insight into a key issue of our times. Why are ex-Christians, ex-Scientologists hailed as liberal heroes? They are seen as brave for challenging the suffocating grip of the religion that once held power over them. Why then, in stark contrast are ex-Muslims shunned in liberal circles?
We exist under constant pressure to remain silent. Though my YouTube podcast has been re-instated for now, I sit in wait of the next time my work, my voice, my social media presence will be attacked. While "freedom of speech" upholds the rights of all others, we're bound by Islamic blasphemy codes, even in the West.
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