For apologists, the timing for dissent is never right

Yet again the BBC treats Maryam Namazie and the ExMuslims as some kind of horrid contaminant if not just plain traitors.

I was interviewed by Anne-Marie Tomchak for thirty minutes for BBC Trending on 26 November. Despite my also having referred 4 ex-Muslims, including those who maintained anonymity whilst Tweeting for#ExMuslimBecause due to fears for their safety, the programme spoke to Mobeen Azhar and Rashid Dar, two men who identified themselves as Muslims, about my segment which was highly edited for BBC World Service on 28 November.

The presenter Tomchak and the two Muslim men framed the entire discussion about apostasy and the basic human right to leave and criticise Islam without fear into one that was “hateful,” “bigoted,” “an attack on Muslims,” “Islamophobic,” “opportunistic,” “quite offensive”…

So the BBC actually thinks Muslims should not be allowed to leave Islam? It thinks Maryam and the ExMuslims are being “hateful” in saying Muslims can leave?

Why? The BBC is based in the UK. People in the UK are allowed to leave their religions (though it’s socially difficult for some, especially Muslims); that freedom is taken for granted. Why does the BBC make it its business to tell Muslims that they’re not allowed to leave their religion? Why does it treat her as some sort of criminal?

Tomchak and her “experts” insist that #ExMuslimBecause was “bad timing” due to the Paris attacks. For apologists,  the timing for dissent is never right.

Whilst we mourn our dead in Paris, we must not forget the countless others killed by ISIS and Islamists, including this very month in Lebanon, Nigeria, Mali, Iraq, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan… as well as those executed perfectly legally via Sharia laws in Iran, Saudi Arabia… The refugee crisis is in large part due to this unbridled brutality.

In fact, if there ever was a “right” time to challenge Islam and Islamism, it is now.

And why would we not be allowed to do that in any case? It’s not the 13th century. We’re allowed to challenge ideas, ideologies, institutions. We’re allowed to challenge them and we’re allowed to abandon them. The BBC shouldn’t be saying or implying otherwise.

Maybe this example will help Tomchak and the BBC understand what they have got so very wrong (though I am not holding my breath). What they’ve done in their report on #ExMuslimBecause is similar to labelling critics of the Magdelene Laundries or Symphysiotomy as “strident,” “Catholic bashers” or “openly hostile to the Catholic Church.”

Of course there are people who do exactly that: apologists for the Catholic church and all its actions. But they tend to be cardinals or Bill Donohue; they don’t tend to be the BBC.

I know the BBC and its “Muslim community specialists” would have preferred us to raise #ExMuslimBecause in private over coffee. Regressive laws and fascist movements, however, are not pushed back over private chats but via normalising the taboo and through very public challenges and renunciations.

Every movement – from the demand to end racial apartheid, for gender equality, and LGBT rights – were battles fought in the public square. The right to apostasy and blasphemy is no different.

Remove all the BBC’s bogus accusations and one fact remains: the right to religion comes with a corresponding right to be free from religion. #ExMuslimBecause is part of the effort to bring about that hugely important change.

And the BBC should not be crapping on it.

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