Real apostates believe in human rights

What’s John Kerry doing bashing IS for being “apostates”?

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, sparked controversy on Tuesday after referring to Daesh as “apostates” while speaking in Rome. His unusual word choice did not go unnoticed, and it was not long before both Muslims and non-Muslim scholars, journalists and political commentators were voicing their opinions on why it was problematic.

“Daesh is in fact nothing more than a mixture of killers, of kidnappers, of criminals, of thugs, of adventurers, of smugglers and thieves,”  Kerry said. “And they are also above all apostates, people who have hijacked a great religion and lie about its real meaning and lie about its purpose and deceive people in order to fight for their purposes.”

Oh really? What are the rulers and clerics of Saudi Arabia then? They must be apostates too.

Charges of apostasy are often used by Daesh—the very group Kerry was referring to in his comments—to justify the killing of those who disagree with them.

Some have argued that Kerry ought to stay away from the word as it is used often by extremists, while others have suggested that he may have called them “apostates” in order to justify US military action against them—so as not to be accused of killing Muslims.

He shouldn’t use the word that way for any reason, because the government he represents is supposed to believe in and support freedom of religion, which of course can’t exist without freedom to leave. The US shouldn’t talk as if apostasy is a meaningful concept.

Former Muslims often face extreme persecution for leaving the Islamic faith, with some suffering ostracization by their family, and even death threats. So perhaps it is understandable that they are not best pleased at being compared to an extremist group such as Daesh.

We reached out to some of those former Muslims to see what they had to say about John Kerry’s controversial word choice.

Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born former Muslim. She is an author, campaigner for human rights and secularism, and spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

“The use of the term […] legitimises the concept of apostasy that leads to the murder and imprisonment of so many freethinkers (ex-Muslim, Muslim and non-Muslim) not just in Syria and Iraq but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” she told Al Bawaba, via email.

Imad Iddine Habib is the founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco.

“Al-Azhar, the well-known Sunni religious authority, refused to consider them Kuffars/Apostates and for once I agree with them,” he said.

“Calling DEASH (sic) apostates is absurd. We, real apostates, believe in Universal Human Rights, secular democracy and stand up for enlightenment values against the religious-right. Many of us have been jailed and even killed for merely advocating and expressing our views.”

IS are fanatics, not apostates.

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