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Not Possible to Modernize Islam

February 27, 2007

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,468828,00.html

Human rights activists have formed a "Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany" to


help women renounce the Islamic faith if they feel oppressed by its laws. Its Iranian-born
founder Mina Ahadi, under police protection after receiving death threats, talks to DER
SPIEGEL about its goals.

Mina Ahadi has received death threats after founding the group.

An Iranian human rights activist living in Germany has formed a "Central Council of ex-
Muslims in Germany" with 40 others and has received anonymous death threats after
declaring she wants to help people to leave the religion if they so desire.

Iranian-born Mina Ahadi, 50, said she set up the group to highlight the difficulties of
renouncing the Islamic faith which she believes to be misogynist. She wants the group to
form a counterweight to Muslim organisations that she says don't adequately represent
Germany's secular-minded Muslim immigrants.

Ahadi has been put under police protection in recent days. Renouncing Islam can carry
the death penalty in a number of countries including Iran, Saudi-Arabia, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Sudan and Mauritania. In other countries people who turn their backs on the
faith aren't punished by courts, but they are often ostracized by family and friends. It's a
difficult subject among Muslim communities in Europe too.

Ahadi said she wants the new organization to help women who feel oppressed by the
rules of the faith to find a way out. The Council will hold a news conference in Berlin on
Wednesday to outline its goals.

DER SPIEGEL spoke to Ahadi.


SPIEGEL: Together with 29 other immigrants from Muslim countries you have declared
that you have renounced Islam. The campaign is similar to one launched in the 1970s by
women who declared publicly that they had had abortions. What is your purpose?

Ahadi: I haven't been a Muslim for 30 years. I'm also critical of Islam in Germany and of
the way the German government deals with the issue of Islam. Many Muslim
organisations like the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) or Milli Görüs
engage in politics or interfere in people's everyday lives. They were invited to the
conference on Islam (hosted by the government in Berlin last year). But their aims are
hostile to women and to people in general."

SPIEGEL: Why?

Ahadi: They want to force women to wear the headscarf. They promote a climate in
which girls aren't allowed to have boyfriends or go to discos and in which homosexuality
is demonized. I know Islam and for me it means death and pain.