I: Leaders of secular, “ex-Muslim” groups from several European countries recently signed a declaration of “Principles of Tolerance,” with the intent of countering Islamic radicalism and supporting Muslims too afraid to openly renounce their religion. There are plans to found a similar group in the U.S.
Prominent intellectuals, including author Ayaan Hirsi Ali — now living in the United States — and politicians on the far right and left of the political spectrum signed a statement of support for the group.
The organizers of this movement persevere, even though (as AP notes) “under some interpretations of Islam, changing religion in forbidden, and apostasy is a heresy punishable by death.”
II: And, here, from the Guardian, is commentary on the fate of Muslims who make a different religious, as opposed to secular, choice:
One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops is warning that people will die unless Muslim leaders in Britain speak out in defence of the right to change faith. Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, whose father converted from Islam to Christianity in Pakistan, says he is looking to Muslim leaders in Britain to ‘uphold basic civil liberties, including the right for people to believe what they wish to believe and to even change their beliefs if they wish to do so’. Some Islamic texts brand Muslims who convert to other faiths as ‘apostates’ and call for them to be punished. Seven of the world’s 57 Islamic states – including Iran – impose the death penalty for conversion. Now Ali, who some see as a potential Archbishop of Canterbury, has told Channel 4’s Dispatches programme of his fears about the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in Britain. ‘It is very common in the world today, including in this country, for people who have changed their faith, particularly from being Muslim to being Christian, to be ostracised, to lose their job, for their marriages to be dissolved, for children to be taken away,’ Ali said. ‘And this is why some leadership is necessary from Muslim leaders themselves to say that this is not what Islam teaches.’