Former Muslims have taken to Twitter using the hashtag #ExMuslimBecause to give reasons as to why they left Islam. Unsurprisingly, it caused multi-pronged storm across social media, with reactions from voices spanning the political spectrum and the globe.
The hashtag began as part of a controversial campaign by Council of Ex-Muslims Britain, which asked anyone who had left the faith to explain why they had done so. The organization’s spokesperson, Iranian-born Maryam Namazie, said she left the faith because she lived in an Islamic state—and "nothing could be worse."
Namazie was followed by a slew of other former Muslims, who tweeted explanations for why they left Islam. Reasons ranged from experiences growing up in a religious family, to questions about the compatibility of modern-day science and religion.
#ExMuslimBecause I realised Islam is a choice not an intrinsic part of my identity— Luke Khan (@luke_khan77) November 22, 2015
#ExMuslimBecause atheist blogers are being killed in my country #Bangladesh but my muslim friends are directly or indirectly supporting it— সাখাওয়াত সজল (@sh1shazal) November 22, 2015
#ExMuslimBecause I couldn't debate or criticize islam without my parents yelling or screaming at me, and threatening me.— Sarah (@nukacola11) November 20, 2015
#ExMuslimBecause I'm gay and proud to be the first public figure to come out and campaign for LGBTI Rights in Afghanistan.— Nemat Sadat (@nematsadat) November 20, 2015
Perhaps it was inevitable the hashtag would prompt a mosaic of responses. Still, the sheer range of voices coming out were impressive.
There were serious discussions about apostasy in Islam, a subject often shrouded in controversy, with many Muslims believing that there is no compulsion in religion and others expressing more hardline views.
There were the ring-wingers, whose attempts to hail the trend as a victory for Christian America were followed quickly by former Muslims' reminder that enemies of your enemies don't always make your friends. Then there was almost everything in between.
If I was an ex-Muslim I think I might be #ExMuslimBecause of the Muslim reaction to #ExMuslimBecause— MrOzAtheist (@MrOzAtheist) November 22, 2015
Here is a compilation, via Twitter.
Some praised the former Muslims for their bravery, especially as those who leave the faith have been targeted in the past and in some countries it is illegal to do so.
Going thru d hashtag #ExMuslimBecause ... Really brave of people to come up. For all u know, its nothing less than life threatening for them— Vijay Raman (@vjp_23) November 22, 2015
Others mocked the ex-Muslims, saying that they were only doing it to pander to white people.
#ExMuslimBecause I want white people to accept me— Fazzanelli (@Fazzanelli) November 22, 2015
Some Christian Twitter users thought the hashtag was an opportunity to speak about their religion.
I support #ExMuslimBecause I've spoken to many Muslims who've found the love and wonder of Christ, and have been persecuted as a result— Heather Tomlinson ن (@HeatherTomli) November 20, 2015
But they were shut down by former Muslims who claimed that they disagreed with all religion.
#ExMuslimBecause All religions are wrong and primitive. Don't get too excited Christian trolls. Your book is disgusting too.— Ibrahim Abdallah (@Abraha3am) November 22, 2015
And were told to stay away from a hashtag which had nothing to do with them.
So if you're not an ex-muslim then you shouldn't be participating in #ExMuslimBecause. That space is reserved for them and only them.— #BlackExcellence (@riverlinesss) November 22, 2015
Some believed that the hashtag was unnecessary.
#ExMuslimBecause if you have left Islam, you left it, thats your choice, why bash others by tweeting/bashing about their religion?— hava (@umhxva) November 20, 2015
Others took the opportunity to express their happiness in their faith.
Being born a Muslim is the biggest blessing ever, will never understand those who leave it. #ExMuslimBecause— sh (@lebyrian) November 20, 2015
Some were very defensive, even a little threatening.
Whoever started the #ExMuslimBecause save your reasons for judgement day. We'll see how brave you are then.— #BLACKGIRLSMATTER (@KRYPTON1AN) November 20, 2015
But perhaps the most comforting were those who respected their decisions, noting that there is no compulsion in religion.
You are an #ExMuslimbecause the Quran says there is "No Compulsion in Religion" and faith is in the hands of Allah. You are welcome back.— YBrahimi (@abukarimbenzema) November 20, 2015