As depicted in ‘Mattathias and the Apostate’, turning your back on a religion can end badly (photo: Gustave Doré)
Abdikani Josef has created a Facebook group for Danish ex-Muslims like himself in a bid to give them a platform where they can find support from others who have also taken the step to leave Islam.
The idea for the page, Ex-Muslims of Denmark, came about late last year when Josef and a few other ex-Muslims in his network began wondering how many people in Denmark were in their situation.
“We want and hope to create a free space where we, as Danish ex-Muslims, can blossom. A platform primarily ‘for us, by us’ where we can share our stories with one another (and the rest of Denmark),” Ex-Muslims of Denmark wrote on its Facebook page.
The group has set up a secret group where it hopes other Danish ex-Muslims can meet and discuss the complex issues involved in apostatising and support each other.
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Josef, 28, was himself a radicalised Muslim in his teenage years, but turned his back on the religion – a move that can have serious consequences, such as lost contact with family, networks and friends, and it can even lead to harassment and violence.
According to Martin Riexinger, a researcher of Islam at Aarhus University, it can be considered a great sin to turn one’s back on Islam.
“Consequences can include being excluded from one’s family and also harassment from people in their surroundings, if you live in an area with many Muslims,” Riexinger told DR Nyheder.
As of 2016, a total of 16 Muslim nations criminalise public apostasy – with some carrying death sentences. Some, including Somalia, have large diaspora populations in Denmark.