Indian Ex-Muslims Finds Safe Haven and Belongingness Online P-admin Atheist Republic

Read More Atheist Republic Online groups of India-based atheists have seen a rise in number in the past decade. In the last five years, the number of online communities made up of ex-Muslims from almost zero to a handful. These groups boast memberships of over 100 people, with one group’s membership reaching 300 individuals.
100 members in an online community is a pretty low figure. That is, if you approach the figure from a perspective that does not include the possibility of life-threatening violence and social stigmatization. Being an ex-Muslim has its inherent problems.
Islam has a well-documented history of killing those who leave the faith covertly and even especially those brave enough to make their denouncement of the faith in public.
Just like other atheists whose decisions are marred by the idea of familial abandonment, many ex-Muslims suffer the same fate. Arif Hussain Theruvath, a member of the Ex-Muslims of Kerala Facebook group, was left by his wife. His family also prohibits him from seeing his children. Theruvath, who actively joins online discussions regarding atheism, and any other topics his Facebook groups allow for discussion, says that he does not regret his decision.
“Social media has given us more opportunities to network and find each other,” Theruvath explained. He added that with the social media platforms, they could find the much-needed validation to become more confident and receive the support they need for their views.
Theruvath’s online community, hosted on Facebook, is one of the few online communities for ex-Muslims in India. Ex-Muslims of India and Ex-Muslims of Tamil Nadu were set up in 2019 and 2016, respectively. Some of these groups used to meet in person before the pandemic; now, they turn to online platforms as their haven amidst the social and familial turmoil.
Most of the members of these communities also need to resort to using pseudonyms. Some fear their safety when they go outside; others fear their own family finding out about them. In 2017, an outspoken member of the Ex-Muslims of Tamil Nadu was killed. This incident has dramatically shaken the ex-Muslim communities.
One of the founders of New Age Islam, a website that holds progressive views on Islam, Sultan Shahin, provided an insight on what adds more danger to being an ex-Muslim in India. Shahin stated that “Atheism is an accepted part of Hinduism; not so, Islam.” Shahin said that being an atheist in Hinduism most of the time creates problems when you publicly announce your atheism, but in Islam, the act of being an atheist itself can cost you your life.
Hina, an ex-Muslim and a member of the ex-Muslim online groups on Facebook, stated that “India is comparatively safe because the state does not prosecute us.” She still finds it frustrating because the Hindus will not protect them, and the ruling Hindu-majority administration uses ex-Muslims to attack and bring down Islam.