Watch June 27 discussion on Persecution, Shunning and Survival: Being Ex-Muslim/Muslim and LGBT for Pride Month. The event was a Pride In London Coming Out event.

With Jimmy Bangash, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Spokesperson; Khakan Qureshi, Gay Muslim activist and Stonewall LGBT+ school role model and Diversity Role Mode; Lilith, Trans Woman with migration background; Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, French-Algerian openly gay Imam and founder of the first European inclusive mosque in Paris; Nemat Sadat, Author of the Carpet Weaver and first public gay ex-Muslim from Afghanistan; and Saima Razzaq, Birmingham Community Activist and first Muslim woman to lead UK Pride event. Poetry by Halima Salat. Event chaired by Youtuber Fay Rahman with welcome and closing by CEMB spokesperson Maryam Namazie.


FAY RAHMAN is a British-Bangladeshi ex-Muslim atheist Youtuber. Fay grew up in the UK, in a non-practicing Muslim family. Through Islamic schooling she joined the Tableeghi Jamaat and then later adopted the even more conservative Salafi practice of Islam with the encouragement of her father and later her extended family. Fay left Islam in secret in February 2017 and openly in October 2018 – avoiding an arranged marriage, surviving an attempt on her life and causing her family to disown her. Fay collaborates with Faith2Faithless, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Faithless Hijabi for activism in free-speech, women’s rights and religious freedom. She has an active YouTube channel where she shares her experience as a young woman who has left Islam, the challenges she faces and the inconsistencies in Islam in order to reach others who are doubting or closeted and assure them that they are not alone.

HALIMA SALAT is an ex-Muslim Kenyan Somali. She defines herself as a free thinker, a rebel and an atheist. She was born Muslim but no longer believes in Islam. She was a closet non-believer for a while until when she came to live in the Netherlands 3 years ago. Halima just recently had her “coming out” declaration in Amsterdam. She has many problems with Islam but the core problem is that she truly believes Islam is against a woman’s individual right to steer her own path. Halima is also a spoken word artist and reads her poetry in the few English spoken word scenes in Amsterdam.

JIMMY BANGASH is a Gay Ex-Muslim Human Rights Activist living in the UK. He grew up in a traditional Pashtun family in London where he struggled with both the homophobia and ardent misogyny within his community. He is a contributing author to the book ‘Leaving Faith Behind’ a collection of stories of individuals who have left Islam and he has published poetry and prose on Sedaa; a website that gives voice to people of Muslim heritage. His activist work involves; Spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Committee Member of Faith to Faithless and he is the resident Life Coach at Free Heart Free Minds where he provides one to one coaching and mental health support to Ex-Muslim in Muslim Majority Countries. As an activist, he seeks to unbridle the reins of patriarchy from gays and women of Muslim heritage. As a coach, he works to empower individuals to live lives of authenticity, wellness and self-expression.

KHAKAN QURESHI is the founder of Birmingham South Asians LGBT – Finding A Voice – Birmingham’s first independent non funded social/support group for South Asians who identify as LGBTQI+ regardless of faith and culture. He sits on the multi-faith advisory panel for the National “Impact on Faith and Sexuality” survey created by The Ozanne Foundation, is Administrator for Gay Muslims United, an international online support group on FB, is Co-administrator for British Asians LGBTI, another online support page which attempts to support those within the UK. He is also Stonewall LGBT School Role Model, Diversity Role Model and Independent Speaker, listed on The Independent Rainbow List 2015, Shortlisted for the European Diversity Award 2016, National Diversity Award 2018 and British LGBT Award 2019. He was nominated for the NDA 2019, organised the first South Asians LGBT Conference 2018 in Birmingham and co-ordinated the LGBTIQ+ Intersectionality and Islam Conference 2019. He has written articles about his personal experiences, homophobia within South Asian communities and Islamophobia within the wider community for Attitude, Gay Times, The Gay UK, Gay Star News and other digital magazines.

LILITH is a trans woman with migration background. She is working for the rights of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers in Germany since 2015. Since November 2017 she is working for the German-wide LSVD e.V Project “Queers Refugees Deutschland”. The aim of the project is to network the structures existing throughout Germany as well as refugee LGBTI activists and to support them in their work. Other than that she is a board member of “Schwules Netzwerk NRW e.V.” and provide her expertise on the matters of trans* persons in the state of NRW. She is involved in the “Queer European Asylum Network” where she provides information on the Queer Refugees and their needs in Germany so that the project can help further for policy briefing for federal government in Germany. She has a degree in Environmental Sciences with a focus on migration due to environmental changes in Island States. She is also an active supporter for the rights of atheists and Ex-Muslims.

LUDOVIC-MOHAMED ZAHED is a French-Algerian openly gay imam, founder of the first European inclusive mosque and CALEM confederation, Founder member of the interfaith network GIN-SSOGIE, Founder member of the Inimuslim international network, and Member of INERELA – theologians living with HIV/aids. He is Associate editor of the Arab research and development (Batna & Amaan universities), one of the 3 French gays of the year (2012), Queer Muslim Award winner of the year (2014), Pierre Guénin prize (for CALEM, 2012), and awarded for Moral Courage (2013). He is currently rector of the CALEM Institute and has Doctorates in Anthropology and in Psychology of religious facts.

MARYAM NAMAZIE is an Iranian-born writer and activist. She is the Spokesperson of One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and hosts a weekly TV programme broadcast in called Bread and Roses. She is on the International Advisory Board of the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom and Euromind. Maryam and CEMB were featured in a 2016 film “Islam’s Non-Believers” by Deeyah Khan. She was also a character in DV8 Physical Theatre’s “Can We Talk About This?”. She was joint winner of the 2019 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize; awarded the 2017 Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism award; 2016 International Secularism (Laicite) Prize from the Comité Laïcité République; Atheist of the Year by Kazimierz Lyszczynski (2014); Journalist of the Year at the Dods Women in Public Life Awards (2013); awarded the National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year Award (2005), amongst others. The Islamic regime of Iran’s media outlets has called Namazie “immoral and corrupt.”

NEMAT SADAT is the author of the debut novel The Carpet Weaver, which was published by Penguin Random House India in June 2019. Sadat’s debut opened to wide critical acclaim in the Indian national press and was India’s most written about debut fiction last year. Sadat was also profiled in many publications such as Grazia India, The Sunday Guardian, and VOGUE India. Sadat is the first native from Afghanistan to have publicly come out as gay and ex-Muslim and to campaign for LGBTQIA rights in Afghanistan and Muslim communities worldwide. He was interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and many other journalists after the Orlando massacre–the largest single attack on LGBT people in recorded history. While teaching at the American University of Afghanistan, Sadat secretly mobilized a gay movement off campus but was then persecuted by the Afghan authorities and deemed a national security threat for allegedly subverting Islam. Sadat has previously worked as a journalist at the UN Chronicle, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and ABC News Nightline, and has earned six university degrees, including graduate degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford. He is working on his second novel, Keeping Up With The Hepburns, while pursuing a master’s degree in writing at Johns Hopkins University.

SAIMA RAZZAQ is a community activist from Birmingham and the first Queer Muslim woman to lead a pride event in the U.K. She is chair of SEEDS (Supporting the Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools), a campaigning group that was formed in light of anti-LGBTQI protests outside schools in Birmingham, in 2019. Saima also runs Birmingham’s only floating hotel; Boatel Birmingham with which she hopes to diversify the inhabitants of the city’s waterways.