Thanks to Elon Musk, we’re now beginning to see solid evidence of the remarkable degree to which the social-media giants – in collaboration with Democratic politicians, intelligence agencies, and the corporate media –have striven to stifle their ideological opponents. But even the Twitter Files, at least the ones that have been made public so far, don’t satisfactorily convey the worldwide extent of Silicon Valley’s mischief. One of the most egregious cases that have come to my own attention recently is that of Ex-Muslims of Norway (EX-MN), which describes itself on its website as standing “for universal rights and secularism” and for the right of Muslims to criticize their religion and, if they wish, to leave it. The members of EX-MN emphasize their identity as ex-Muslims “because we will not be done with Islam until the Islamic mentality is modernized or Islam is cast onto the rubbish heap of history.”
Founded in 2016 by three writer/journalists – the Turkish-born Cemal Knudsen Yucel, the Iranian-born Lily Bandehy, and the late Iraqi–born Walid al-Kubaisi – EX-MN opposes forced marriage; polygamy; genital mutilation; child hijab; burkas; sexual segregation; taxpayer financing for religious institutions; religious intimidation and threats; and blasphemy laws. And it supports untrammeled freedom of speech. By way of promoting these worthy stances, EX-MN holds seminars, takes part in international conferences and demonstrations, sends its members to speak in schools and at public events, and posts videos on YouTube (most of them in English) about such topics as Koran burning, the concept of “Islamophobia,” pro-hijab Western feminists, and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.
I’m a longtime admirer of al-Kubaisi and Bandehy, a couple of the smartest and gutsiest truth-tellers about Islam you could ever hope to find. Al-Kubaisi (whom I knew slightly) wrote a splendid 1996 book entitled My Belief, Your Myth and died, too young, in 2018; Bandehy, who fled Iran after its Islamic Revolution, is the proud mother of the openly gay singer Tooji, who represented Norway in Eurovision 2012. For whatever reason, however, Yucel, who is the current head of EX-MN, wasn’t really on my radar until recently. I see that after his prime-time TV debut in a September 2020 debate on Islam (which I missed), my friend Hege Storhaug wrote, in an article entitled “Norway’s New Hero” (which I also missed), that “a person cannot be more honest and upright than Yucel. He is passionate about the good society….He is one of us, we who love freedom.”
I’ve now caught up with at least some of Yucel’s work, and I couldn’t agree more. In one YouTube video, he interviews Ninrock-Jeanette Etnestad, deputy head of EX-MN, about her journey out of Islam. Neither of them minces words about the deplorable contents of the Koran or about its destructive impact on the everyday lives of Muslims. In another video, Yucel stirringly urges Westerners to love and defend their civilization and its values – and, apropos of the toppling of a statue of Thomas Jefferson, speaks movingly of the role of great men like Jefferson in shaping those values.
Every country in the Western world should covet immigrants like these. And all freedom-lovers in Norway should appreciate the value to their society of an organization like EX-MN. Alas, in a country where radical mosques that preach the destruction of free Western polities are accorded generous government subsidies, EX-MN receives not a red cent in official funding. And while those mosques are treated with kid gloves by politicians and the media (which routinely characterize their most monstrous positions – e.g., support for the stoning to death of adulterers – as merely “controversial”), EX-MN is subjected to virulent public criticism because its members dare to speak the unvarnished truth about the barbaric religion in which they were raised.
Now it turns out that EX-MN doesn’t just have to live with abuse by radical Muslims and the Norwegian media. It’s also been targeted by at least two of the major U.S.-based social media companies. Yes, that’s right: Silicon Valley geniuses who have no problem providing a platform to the most militant Muslims treat EX-MN as if it were a terrorist group (or, actually, even worse).
This grievous (but unsurprising) situation came to light earlier this month, in a New Year’s letter by Yucel to his organization’s members. EX-MN’s public Instagram page, Yucel reported, had been taken down “entirely without advance notice,” resulting in the loss of “many years’ work.” EX-MN was allowed to replace it only with a private page. Also, because Facebook professes (absurdly) to regard the members of EX-MN as “potential perpetrators of violence,” it shadow-banned EX-MN’s Facebook page – resulting in a 90% drop in readership – and threatened to remove the page entirely.
A brief online search uncovered a previous dustup with Facebook: in 2018, Etnestad, EX-MN’s deputy head, posted an item on Facebook in which she perceptively explained that if many Muslims react with outrage to apostasy, it’s because they’ve learned to associate it “with beating, pain, insults, expulsion, and shame” – the punishments meted out to any hint of deviation from Islamic orthodoxy. “They’ve been brainwashed,” wrote Etnestad, “to connect blasphemy with fear. Many have been threatened with their lives and many have witnessed whipping and punishment by death….Blasphemy triggers them.” Alas, when these easily triggered Muslims enjoy the backing of “state-financed organizations,” i.e. mosques, ordinary non-Muslims conclude that these outraged people “have credibility and must be taken seriously,” whereas ex-Muslims who’ve dared to walk away from the faith and speak the truth about it – and who don’t get a shekel out of the national treasury – are censored on behalf of their offended former brethren.
What happened after Etnestad posted this comment on Facebook? It was censored, and she was subjected to a day-long Facebook ban. Facebook did to her, in other words, precisely what she was describing in the post.
What makes Facebook’s treatment of EX-MN particularly ludicrous is that some of the most reprehensible Islamic individuals and institutions in Norway have Facebook pages that appear not to have been shadow-banned. Fahad Qureshi is the founder and chairman of Islam Net, Norway’s largest Muslim student organization. He seeks the implementation of sharia law throughout the West and supports polygamy, niqab, child marriage, and the stoning to death of apostates, adulterers, and gays. And he has a public Facebook page with 130,000 followers.
Then there’s the Tawfiik Islamsk Senter, Norway’s largest Somali mosque, which preaches precisely the same ideology as Qureshi does. It, too, has a public Facebook page. So does Islamsk Råd Norge (The Islamic Council of Norway), which a few years back refused to say whether or not it opposed the execution of homosexuals by the mullahs in Iran. Ditto Central Jamaat Ahle Sunnat Norway, a Pakistani mosque whose longtime imam has described non-Muslims as animals and defended the Holocaust – and who married his young daughter off to another imam who, among much else, has called for the killing of Muslims who don’t fast during Ramadan. Also on Facebook is the Islamic Centre of Norway, whose longtime imam is a vocal champion of the Taliban.
Yes, you can find them all, and many others of their ilk, on Facebook. Why, when it’s willing to platform such people, have Zuckerberg’s minions singled out EX-MN for quasi-silencing? Yucel suggested in his New Year’s letter that the explanation may lie in Facebook’s relationship with the phony “fact-checking” website Faktisk.no, which has labeled EX-MN as “anti-Muslim” and hence, of course, anathema in the eyes of the progressive elites. Yes, the members of EX-MN are indeed anti-Islam – because, knowing the true face of Islam, they can hardly be anything else. But they’re not anti-Muslim. As their own website explains, they stand with “our sisters and brothers” who still live under Islam’s thumb. It’s a crucial difference – and should be an obvious one to any sensible observer. But try to explain it to the tech savants in Silicon Valley.