“The documentary film featured the personal testimonies of ex-Muslims who have faced death threats, severe abuse and ostracization [sic] from their communities for leaving Islam….Some students found the event insensitive given the political climate, while others thought the event promoted discrimination. In the glass display case for Freethinkers, a note was left which read, ‘Atheist Islamophobia is not okay.’ Across campus, many flyers for the event were vandalized or torn down.”
The film is about Muslims being victimized, and the knee-jerk reaction of Leftist and Islamic supremacist students at Portland State University is that this makes Muslims victims. The plight of the ex-Muslims depicted in the film is lost in the brouhaha.
“In some traditional and conservative interpretations of Islam, death and imprisonment are punishments for apostasy.” Actually, the idea that apostates should be killed is the dominant mainstream in Islam, not just an idea held by those who favor “traditional and conservative interpretations.” The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law. It’s based on the Qur’an: “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)
A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated: “The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-‘ashriyyah, Al-Ja’fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”
Qaradawi also once famously said: “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”
But at Portland State University, to quote such statements is “Islamophobia.” Incidentally, I spoke at Portland State University a few years ago. Just before I was about to start, I was told that the Muslim Students Association was having a meeting at that moment in the same building. I immediately went over to the MSA meeting and invited them to come to my event and engage in free discussion and/or debate. None of the Muslim students took me up on my offer.
“Documentary on ‘ex-Muslims’ sparks contentious debate at Portland State,” by Andy Ngo, The Ex-Muslim, November 25, 2016:
This is a guest post by Andy Ngo. He is a graduate student in political science at Portland State University. His academic interests include political Islam and secularism in the Middle East and North Africa. He can be reached on twitter at @MrAndyNgo and email at email@example.com .
On Nov. 23, over 60 people attended the screening of Islam’s Non-Believers at Portland State University. The documentary film featured the personal testimonies of ex-Muslims who have faced death threats, severe abuse and ostracization [sic] from their communities for leaving Islam. The film’s director, Deeyah Khan, is a Muslim and human rights activist.
The event was hosted by secular humanist student group, Freethinkers of PSU.
Controversy surrounded the event in the weeks leading up to the screening. Some students found the event insensitive given the political climate, while others thought the event promoted discrimination. In the glass display case for Freethinkers, a note was left which read, “Atheist Islamophobia is not okay.” Across campus, many flyers for the event were vandalized or torn down.
In response to the backlash, two ex-Muslim women featured in the documentary issued statements which were read or shown at the screening. “I hope you realize that discriminating against ex-Muslims is not an excuse to validate your savior complex,” Rayhana said in a pre-recorded video message.
Sadia sent Freethinkers of PSU a written statement. It read in part, “Islam’s Non-Believers was such an important documentary because for the first time ex-Muslims have been given a face and a voice. It has made us human.”
Despite the controversy leading up to the event, the screening proceeded without any disruptions. Dr. Peter Boghossian, professor of philosophy at PSU, facilitated a group discussion after the film ended.
In attendance were ex-Muslims of Saudi Arabian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Jordanian and Iranian backgrounds. Some of them shared their thoughts with the diverse audience, which included practicing Muslims. Several ex-Muslims requested that video cameras be turned off due to fears they could be publicly outed as apostates and because of concerns for their physical safety.
Apostasy is the act of leaving one’s religion. In some traditional and conservative interpretations of Islam, death and imprisonment are punishments for apostasy.
One Muslim woman in attendance objected to the narrative presented in the film. “The punishment for apostasy in the Qur’an is not death,” she said. “The Qur’an is written in Arabic and most people from Bangladesh, India and other parts don’t speak Arabic.” Two native Arabic speakers later challenged this assertion when they recited several Qur’anic verses which can be interpreted as prescribing death for those who reject God.
At one point, Boghossian had to interject in the contentious discussion. “We could be here for weeks if we are going to engage in an exegetical debate about Islamic theology and interpretation,” Boghossian said.
Despite strong disagreements, the discussion remained civil and engaging throughout the evening. Toward the end of the discussion, an Arab student pleaded to the audience: “To the people who are afraid to criticize Islam … I implore you to think about the minority within the minority. [Religion] is defended every day. The minority with the minority does not have a voice.”…