Death to Deserters

The Egyptian family that faces a death sentence for its conversion to Christianity.

“God has commanded us to kill those who leave Islam.” These are the words of Islamic scholar Sheikh Youssef Al-Badri, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Egypt, which were stated on Egyptian television. The interior minister of Egypt agrees with the Sheikh and is quoted in a newspaper saying: “Converts are to be killed.” Islamic scholars and the majority of public opinion in Egypt all agree with them -- conversion to Christianity is a mortal sin legally punishable by death.

Such statements are considered by many to be a legal death warrant, allowing the murder of apostates wherever they are. They cause much fear and panic not only to those who leave Islam in Muslim countries, but also to those who leave Islam in the West.

Whereas in the West, religion is considered a matter of personal faith and conviction, being a Muslim is not a personal matter. As you will see from the video below, it is a no-win legal matter with the state. Being a Muslim is not a private relationship with Allah, but a contract with the state in which the citizen must surrender to Islamic law whether he is a Muslim or not.

Three former Muslims are featured in the video: Maher El Gohary and his fourteen year-old daughter, whose original petition to officially practice Christianity in Egypt was rejected; the third is Mohammed Higazy, whose petition to become Christian instead of Muslim was also rejected. Higazy also filed a lawsuit to have the right as a parent to state on his newborn son’s birth certificate that he is Christian, or give him a Christian name. That was also rejected. The statement on his son’s birth certificate declaring that the baby was Muslim, was forced by the government against the parents’ will. All of these former Muslims converted to Christianity years ago, but are still officially Muslims on all their government IDs and passports.

El Gohary’s daughter is forced to attend Islamic classes at her public schools, and because she is officially a Muslim, she can never marry a Christian man. That is the law in a so-called moderate Muslim country like Egypt.

Since their petitions were denied, the three are now back in court trying to gain the right to leave Egypt. All known former Muslims in Egypt are prevented from leaving the country, and some have had their passports confiscated by the government. Former Muslim Naglaa Al-Imam was arrested at the airport as she was about to board a plane. Hers is not the only such case.

El Gohary said, “We must be on the run from this threat. Radical sheikhs have called for our blood to be shed. We are afraid of the uneducated people on the street. Condemnation by the sheikhs can be interpreted as a death order.” Mohammed Higazy affirmed: “The sheikhs have called for me to be killed, … my house has been set on fire; I have been shot at. If they kill us, the government will not punish the murderers.”

This might sound unbelievable to Westerners, and indeed, Islamic advocacy groups in the West count on this incredulity in order to misinform the American public about Islam. They all deny the truth about Sharia, which violates human, religious, and women’s rights that we all take for granted. They intentionally lie in their attempt to calm Western fears of Islam. But the truth cannot be denied that Sharia will not punish any Muslim who kills an apostate. The execution of apostates is delegated to the mob and encouraged by sheikhs, and practiced by many Islamic governments.

That is what former Muslims in the U.S. are afraid of. Just like terrorists who wish to wage jihadist terror against American citizens in order to go to heaven, committed Muslims consider fatwas of death against apostates as a religious duty and Allah’s commandment. That is why those of us who left Islam cannot feel safe even if we live in America and are U.S. citizens. Terrorists are terrorists, whether they want to kill Americans or apostates, and we apostates are targets. To those who claim that former Muslims in America are not living with a death threat, I say: please just watch this video and see how former Muslims are treated.

Muslim organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) are deceiving the American public when they claim that Islam does not have a death sentence on former Muslims. Both organizations have refused to sign a pledge mailed to them by Former Muslims United. The pledge stated that they will denounce any law or commandment that condemns apostates to death.  If CAIR and ISNA are to have any credibility, they should demand a retraction from Sheikh Al-Badri, and tell him that his fatwa for killing apostates is wrong and un-Islamic. ISNA and CAIR, who agree privately with the Sheikh, will never defy conventional wisdom in the Muslim world, which is where they derive financial support.

Nonie Darwish is uthor of “Cruel And Usual Punishment” and “Now They Call Me Infidel” and president of