What about the victims of Islam?!

This is a guest post by Soran Tarkhani. He is of Kurdish origin from Iraqi Kurdistan. In addition to working as an assistant lecturer at Salahaddin University in Erbil and is currently pursuing his PhD in political science.


Growing up in “Kurdistan” which is often affiliated with secular philosophy I was naturally aligned with the political left and in opposition to conservative views, views that I considered being religious and looking backwards instead of to the future.

When I came to the United States to study, I continued that aspect of my life, joining various campus groups and associating with liberals with the resultant majority of my social circle avowedly left-leaning.  Excluding my deep support for the Iraq war and liberation of Kurdistan, I felt a shared sense of belonging w/my liberal colleagues and our shared ideals.

After the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris that sense of solidarity and belonging started to crumble. Due to expressing my opinion on the dangers of the religion of Islam I was shunned by my peers and accused of bigotry and racism. I have spent my entire life speaking up about issues related to the separation of Mosque and State within my home of Kurdistan but standing up against religious supremacy within the United States was somehow different. Apparently only certain religions were kosher to be criticized while others were still regarded as sacrosanct. As a result of my speaking up I was excommunicated from various leftists’ forums and Facebook groups that I had long been a welcome participant in. The situation devolved to such an extent that I was afraid of honestly speaking out about my opinion, something which I never experienced even in Iraq.

For some reason there’s a deep aversion to any expression of dissent by those that have been victims of Islam. I firmly believe that the biggest obstacle in the path of the Muslim world is Islam itself.  It’s a sad state of affair when one fears the social consequences of standing up to religious hegemony more in a western liberal democracy than an eastern conservative war-torn one.

Since I was unable to an enough intellectual space for me as an Ex Muslim to speak about my opinions and experiences frankly, I had to rely on an organization dedicated to those like me – anti-clerical dissidents originating in Islam –The Ex Muslims in North America,

To me it remains a complete enigma how defending Islam is somehow a liberal position when Islam a deeply conservative ideology stands against most liberal norms and values. Isn’t the core essence of liberalism an attempt to balance the scales against bad ideologies that are harming and abusing human dignity. How can an unreformed Islam that looks to the 6th century with nostalgia, attempting to turn back the clock deserve protection? There’s a significant difference between standing up for the liberties of individual human beings, Muslim or otherwise and standing up in defense of the ideas they hold dear.

Criticizing Islam should be a liberal individual’s first and foremost goal. If you believe treating women as second class citizens, closer to slaves than peers, killing apostates, prohibiting gay rights, curtailment or elimination of individual liberty, child abuse, underage marriage FGM and other norms do not need to be challenged how can you in good conscience call yourself a liberal? How can you jeopardize your fundamental principles for something that directly threatens your norms and beliefs?

As someone who grew up in a Muslim environment you would expect my words to carry some weight with those that believe that experiences carry weight.  Let’s start off with putting Al Qaeda and ISIS aside, since they’re usually regarded as too barbaric to be slotted into any liberal / civilized norms. Looking at the broader Muslim majority communities and countries. According to IHEU – International Humanists and Ethical Union’s annual Freedom of Thought report of 2015, 13 out of 13 countries that impose capital punishment for apostasy are Muslim majority countries. Pew Research Center’s data from 2012 also indicated that vast majority of Muslims countries have outlawed apostasy and blasphemy with punishments ranging from death to imprisonment of 10 years. There is no Muslim country that fully accepts the rights of ex-Muslims and anti-clerical dissidents. Most countries including liberal bastions like Turkey have prisoners of conscience imprisoned on a variety of charges related to their disbelief. Compare that with the status of disbelief in most countries in the West, when was the last heresy trial, how many men and women are imprisoned due to disbelief.

I’ve often been told that the point of defending Islam is defending victims of discrimination and racism. While that may be true in certain western contexts globally in every single country Ex-Muslims like myself are under threat and routinely murdered. Compare that with the number of western countries that prescribe Capital punishment for being Muslim – exactly NONE. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anti-Muslimism racism and bigotry but that your position is far closer to radical right-wing than that of actual liberals. Neither are interested in breaking the hegemony of Islam in our lives. Neither is willing or desires to distinguish between individuals and ideology. All ideologies should be criticized which is what I stand for.

When someone like myself says Islam is a bad ideology, we don’t mean Muslims are bad people, of course not. What makes Muslims hold negative views on apostasy is not something innate to the people but the Islamic doctrine itself. There is no genetic stamp marker for intolerance of dissent. My entire family is Muslim and I care deeply about them, my deep love for Muslims is what motivates my criticism of Islam. I believe that the major source of today’s problems within the Islamic world is related to Islam itself rather than colonialism, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty and so forth. In particular terrorism and radical Muslims who according to Maajid Nawaz ‘hijacked Islam’ and demonize everyone who think differently.

Those who blow themselves up chant Allah u Akbar rather than shout Rock & Roll. They are motivated by Islamic doctrine – Sharia Law not the Harry Potter franchise. They are motivated by their view of Islam not financial or other awards. In order for change to happen these norms need to be challenged, in order for Ex-Muslims to live without fear in their daily lives it is necessary that Islam is challenged. If you sympathize with the plight of Muslims today, you must criticize Islam, it is the only rational and reasonable way to move forward, it’s also how the West advanced by breaking the shackles of Christian dogma.

If you decide that you are too afraid or too unsure or believe yourself ill-equipped to criticize Islam itself, at least step aside and let those of us that are victims of Islam to stand up and fight back, please stop attempting to erase our voices and existence.  If you choose to side with Islamic religious conservatives against liberals, against secularists – simply because of our skin color, because of our different geographic origin than you are playing a role in halting human advancement, in further hurting victims and in eliminating voices that are essential to progress.

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  • LauraTXN

    Thank you for your comments! Truth is truth and it takes courage to assert.

  • Annie

    Here’s what you don’t get.

    Those that claim to be “liberal” in the West are not the reason the West has Liberal Values.

    The Liberal values of the west you say you admire actually come from Christianity. IE the conservative side of our society.

    It was the left that created the KKK and supported it. It was the conservatives(christians) that stopped it.

    It was the left that supported wiping out minorities via abortion(planned parenthood). It is the conservatives(christians) trying to stop it.

    It was the left that supported Hitler , it was the conservatives(christians) that fought him.

    It was the left that supported communism and as you can see , still do. It was the conservatives that fought against it.

    What the left actually are, Are narcissists. They take credit for everything christians and conservatives Achieve. They rewrite history. They refuse to acknowlege that all the deaths and destruction in Western society during the 20th century, was caused by Leftism, NOT conservative christians.

    This is no difference between them and muslims/Islamists psychologically. They hate truth. They want to believe they are better than others because of their inferiority complex and shame. They have no purpose or meaning in life, and try to “rescue” those they think are weak, when in fact they are the biggest bullies of all.

    You sided with the left, because you are a muslim. Their mind-set would have appealed to.

    NOW….I would suggest you take another look at what formed western values, the enlightenment and the strength of our society.

    It was a conservative Christian view which is the EXACT opposite of both Liberalism and Islam.

    That is why you are confused. You do not know where our society came from. Neither do most westerners anymore.

    Your’s Truly.

    Former lefty.

    • LittleRedSongbird

      Most of this is myth. Sure, Republicans at the time took the progressive side on things, but that quickly changed with Pat Buchanan’s bright idea of The Southern Strategy. Read the wikipedia page on it- it’s at your reading level and a lot of things will become suddenly clear. Same with abortion- Republicans were confused about why they should ban it since it reduced the need for welfare until they realized they could court religious votes and stoke the anxiety of people against Women’s lib. Social conservatives as you know them, the founders like Pat Buchanan, are a slick and cynical bunch.

      Yours truly,

      Former Conservative

  • Mat C

    I can agree with a number of things here but not FGM. I worked at a refugee law center during my studies, and dealt with a woman from Uganda who was seeking asylum because of the legitimate fear of FGM. She was a non-Muslim running from her family and community who were forcing her to undergo this mutilation. She received no help from police, who very much like police in countries with high ‘honour killing’ rates, if I am not mistaken, don’t take the complainant seriously because the crime in question (FGM) is so rooted in the society itself.

  • Ehtisham

    You all left Islam because you know nothing about Islam you people
    just want to enjoy this life and there no place for you in hereafter
    except hell.May Allah give u haddayat…I read your views on hijab.Islam
    give woman respect…Don’t be a sex object in the sight of male By
    uncovering yourself.Please do some research on Islam you left islam
    because you like the sinful ways of kaffir thats why you become a
    kaffir.Sins gives temporary pleasure thing about afterlife

    • Breadstix

      I’ve seen this exact post before. Give it a rest man.

  • Arthur Cunningham

    Somebody talking sense at last.

  • gigi4747

    Conservatism is about preserving the best of the past. Islam is not a “deeply conservative” ideology and in fact conservatives now are the predominant voices in the west against Islam. Not sure why the left is so deferential to Islam. Do they fear it, or is it an “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” type of thing? Or is there something about the totalitarian nature of Islam that appeals to them? At any rate, good to see people raised Muslim speaking up, especially when speaking up often comes with such a high price.

  • Ator Khaya

    Every victim of Islam should read this document and find out the sources of why they have killed us and what they believe. Every victim of Islam needs to share this and know the quotes of the Koran and the hadiths and spread them wide and far for the world to know. You will be shocked at what you will read and the contents of their beliefs.

    You will learn about the sources for FGM, slavery, lack of women’s rights, child marriage, and hatred of non-muslims that are embedded in the religion and practiced by their prophet. Not all Muslims practice these quotes but none of them can deny any verse.

    There can never be reform unless Muslims reject these 120 quotes that I counted. They are the most abhorrent verses you will ever read. The truth about Islam.

  • Ator Khaya

    Even posting this link as a victim of Islam gets me banned. The left double victimizes us

  • Ken Starcok

    Thank you for your fine writing. I find the majority of these comments bizarre.

  • Lynda Strutt

    I am a Canadian woman in British Columbia. Two books on my night table are “How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West” by Perez Zagorin and “1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think” by Raif Badawi.He is a Saudi prisoner of conscience, Raif’s family lives in exile in the province of Quebec. Their husband and father is one of my culture heroes. I recommend both books to anyone wishing to learn more about the struggle to enlighten liberal democracies about Islam.