1. Protection of religious freedom and the right to freedom of opinion and expression for former muslims and critics of Islam
Former Muslims and critics of Islam in Western countries are threatened with physical violence by Muslims. We want Former Muslims to feel free to state publicly, without endangering their life and general safety and well-being, that they are apostates from Islam and explain the reasons why they decided upon this course, even though this may entail criticism of the Quran, the Hadith, and Muhammed, the Prophet of Islam. The Movement of Belgian Former Muslims does not promote insulting or tendentious discourse but expresses the opinion that Islam needs to be treated without special distinction and in the same way as all other religions. Given that certain Muslims react aggressively to criticisms or derision against Islam, resorting to either verbal or physical abuse, the sensitivities of Muslims are being taken all too seriously. By this special attention, one encourages the further perpetuation of violent conduct.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Problem: The presence of immigrants from Islamic countries as well as the gradual organisation of the so-called “Islamic Pillar” in Belgium is putting religious freedom and the right to free expression and opinion under severe pressure. Furthermore, the Belgian State also condones via its Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR) the suppression of the free expression of opinions critical of Islam by misusing administrative resources under the guise of combating racism and discrimination.
Why: Immigrants arriving from Islamic countries are importing into Belgium the customs, habits, and beliefs that are common currency in those nations. In such countries, the legislation is to a very large degree based on the dictates of the Shari’ah. The Shari’ah severely suppresses religious freedoms and the right to utter criticism against religion. Important points of attention are the prohibition against Muslims leaving Islam and the prohibition against criticism of Islam in general, or of the Quran, Hadith, Muhammed, or Islamic law in particular. Islam as a religious ideology is structured in such a way that the identity of a Muslim is tightly intertwined with Islam, thus maintaining a stranglehold on Muslims. Muslims interpret criticisms of any aspect of their religion as criticism of their identity. The thousands of rules that a Muslim must abide by ensure that the believer remains in constant contact with Islam in the course of daily life.
Religious freedom and the Right to Freedom of Expression and Opinion in Islamic countries:
The Islamic nations assembled in the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) have drafted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) does not satisfy the conscience of the governments of the Islamic countries. By drafting a new Declaration, the nations themselves have proved that Islamic beliefs and tenets cannot be reconciled with all points in the UDHR. In practical terms, this is due to the fact that Islam as a religion does not find sufficient protection in the UDHR.
In the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, we read as follows:
Islam is the religion of true unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of pressure on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to force him to change his religion to another religion or to atheism.
“Islam is the religion of true unspoiled nature” is clearly a pronouncement by supremacists who display little respect for those holding a different opinion. A religious leader can afford to say this sort of thing, but not the head of a state also populated by non-Muslims, as is the case for most of the Muslim nations. Yet, because Islam knows no separation between Church (i.e. Mosque) and State, such pronouncements by heads of state in Islamic countries are inevitable and unavoidable.
(a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari'ah.
1. Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari'ah.
(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical Values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.
All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah.
The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.
Freedom of religious beliefs is alien to this “Islamic Human Rights” declaration. On the contrary, major schools of Islamic thought, both amongst Shi’ites and Sunnites, prescribe the death penalty for the Muslim apostate as well as for those uttering criticism of Islam or Muhammad, both for Muslims and non-Muslims.
These two principles from the Shari’ah are, in diverse Islamic countries, applied differently or applied only partially. (Also see our webpage on the subject.) Muslim Apostates are pressured without mercy, if not by the State then by Islamic groups and by their own families.
Why is it important to defend Freedom of Expression, Opinion and Religion?
When certain individuals or ideologies consider themselves above, or become immune to, criticism, this will in the foreseeable future lead to a form of dictatorship. A dictatorship is a situation wherein certain people, or groups of people, are free to practise deviant or dangerous behaviour, while critics of such behaviour are punished for their reactions to this behaviour. For instance, in Belgium one must refrain from publicly voicing the opinion that the Islamic custom of stoning as a punishment for adultery is barbaric. However, Islamic scholars are free to disseminate their opinions, which in a good number of instances oppose the UDHR, whereas ordinary Belgians who dare to express such opinions are hauled before the courts by the Belgian administration by way of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR).
What are the limits to the Right of Free Expression of Opinion?
As far as we are concerned, the right to freely express one’s opinion does NOT extend to, or condone, the following aspects:
- The direct or indirect calling for the killing, the physical abuse or ill-treatment, or the threat of physical violence to and of individuals.
- The approval of the killing, the physical abuse and ill-treatment, or the threat of physical violence to and of individuals for their expression of opinions contrary to one’s own convictions and beliefs.
- The direct or indirect call to the stalking of individuals.
- The direct or indirect approval of terrorist actions by organisations that are included in the EU list of terrorist organisations.
- The approval or encouraging of paedophile behaviour, even within the bounds of marriage.
- Slander or insulting behaviour towards individuals.
- The call to Jihad. According to the mainstream Islamic scholars, Jihad signifies war against non-Muslims for the purpose of embedding Islam as an established system (offensive jihad) or to defend it (defensive jihad). Also consult our webpage on Jihad. The problem with this Jihad-concept is that it represents a military notion that sunders the ties between Muslims and the (Western) countries in which they are resident, and forms them into a kind of global army. The loyalty they would be expected to feel towards the country where they are citizens is replaced by loyalty to a sort of virtual worldwide Muslim community that regards itself as being perpetually under attack. In practice, some Islamic militants in Western countries resist being sent to Islamic countries. In France, for instance, there were a number of cases of military personnel refusing to go to Afghanistan because they would have to fight against muslims; and rather than being sentenced for treason, they were simply discharged.
- The call for the introduction of Shari’ah, or the approval thereof, without accompanying restrictions. For instance, the Shari’ah implies:
+ the call to violence (Jihad) against non-Muslims who refuse to become subject to the laws of Islam
+ the death penalty for apostasy or criticism of Islam;the Shari’ah allows anybody to kill any apostate without incurring any penalty for the act
+ permission to indulge in violence against women in the family
+ discrimination against non-Muslims via all sorts of legal provisions
+ discrimination against women via all sorts of legal provisions
+ no minimum age for marriage. The Shari’ah allows, within the marital state, sexual intercourse with minors younger than allowed under Belgian law.
+ the killing of a non-Muslim who is married to, or has sexual relations with, a Muslim woman
What exactly are the demands of the Movement of Belgian Former Muslims?
To the Minister of Interior Affairs:
- providing the necessary protection to threatened Former Muslims as well as to critics of Islam.
- the screening and banning of Islamic publications that are in contravention of Belgian law. We propose to restrict this to publications that were written less than one hundred years ago, so that the Quran and the Hadith do not fall within this remit.
To the Minister of Justice :
- the rescission of all legal articles that make punishable by law any and all criticisms of religions, ideologies, or historical-religious figures in whatever wording they may be expressed, even where the criticism in question may be incorrect or not wholly correct
- the promulgation of legislation that equates any call to a Jihad, or to the introduction of the Shari’ah, with an expression of high treason
- just like offences motivated by racism, offences motivated by religion or by another similar ideology must be met with more severe punishment
- the penalty of lengthy imprisonment for anyone guilty of threatening violence against critics of a religion, or of preparing such attacks, or calling for them: and this for the reason that the threat to the safety and well-being of Former Muslims or even of moderate Muslims creates a climate of fear and threatens a person’s freedom of belief. Severe punishment ought to create a deterrent effect.
- the penalty of lengthy imprisonment for people calling for Jihad, or for the introduction of unrestricted Shari’ah law.
- the penalty of lengthy imprisonment for anyone guilty of disseminating publications calling for Jihad, or for the introduction of unrestricted Shari’ah law.
To the Prime Minister competent for the actions of the CEOOR :
- halting the equating of criticism of Islam with acts of incitement and inducement to hatred and discrimination against Muslims