Dutch politician sets up Committee for ex-Muslims by our correspondent in The Hague John Tyler
Young Dutch Labour politician Ehsan Jami has established a Committee of ex-Muslims in the Netherlands to support those who have renounced Islam.
22-year-old Jami (photo) held a press conference on Tuesday – the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York – to announce the birth of the committee.
There’s been an intense amount of interest in Mr Jami and his efforts, much of it critical. Ehsan Jami is proving to be a controversial spokesman, partly because of his outspoken views about the religion he has renounced.
During the press conference, Mr Jami described Islam as “not a religion of peace.”
“It’s a religion of submission…of its followers, submission of Christians, Jews, Budhists, atheists, infidels, the whole world. So I ask myself, how long is Holland going to pretend that we’re not at war with the Muslim extremists. And my message is this to the Muslim extremists: In this country, in this nation and in this continent, there is no more room for you.”
Backing from abroad
Mr Jami was joined by two other ex-Muslims who lead similar efforts abroad. Maryam Namazie heads an organisation founded in the United Kingdom in June, while German Mina Ahadi set up the Council for ex-Muslims in February.
Each of them has met with resistance in setting up their committees, and all three say they have received death threats.
On the other hand, Mr Jami says he has received hundreds of e-mails from ex-Muslims who support his efforts. But he hasn’ t succeeded in finding other former Muslims to work with him publicly. And that’s not due to a shortage of ex-Muslims in the Netherlands.
A number of former Muslims held a press conference earlier this week – at a mosque, no less. Their message was that Muslims can leave the faith quietly, and they take issue with Jami’s confrontational approach. One of them, Peyman Jaffari, calls himself an atheist and a humanist. He told Radio Netherlands Worldwide:
“Ehsan Jami says people have the right to leave Islam. That’s something we ascribe to. But he has another message as well. He calls the prophet Muhammad Osama Bin Laden. And he presents his committee on 11 September. So he’s very polarising and describes Muslims as enemies.”
Mr Jaffari says he’s had some intense discussions with friends and family who were trying to save his soul, but he says he hasn’t faced any animosity for having left the faith. For him, ex-Muslims have more similarities with Muslims than differences.
For Mr Jaffari and other sceptics, Mr Jami’s choice of 11 September was particularly damaging for his message.
But Maryam Namazie, chair of the Council of ex-Muslims in the UK who came to The Hague to sign a declaration of support for Ehsan Jami, doesn’t see anything wrong with the date.
“If you’re against the slaughter of people who were going about their daily business like New York and you’re criticizing the movement that was responsible, what does that have to do with ordinary Muslims? I think that this is what political Islam often tries to do: equate themselves with all Muslims as a way of saying: ‘If you criticise it, you’re racist, you’re attacking all Muslims’. That’s not the case.”
Ms Namazie says that political correctness in western countries has gone too far, with the result that people are afraid to criticise Islam, and especially in public.
But she should be pleased with the week’s events. Criticising Islam was at least one thing the various ex-Muslims here in the Netherlands managed to do.