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Apostasy in the Media

20 April 2008

Highlighting freedom for apostates from Islam

“I believe that the classical law of apostasy in Islam is wrong and based on a misunderstanding” – Usama Hassan

Dear Christian Friends,

I am delighted to see how the British media have in recent months begun to focus on the issue of conversion from Islam and the persecution of Muslims who choose to embrace another faith.

Tomorrow Tuesday 22nd April at 2000 BST there will be a programme on BBC Radio 4 called “Could I stop being a Muslim?” (repeated Sunday 27th April at 1700 BST). I urge you to listen. It highlights the stories of Muslims who have left their faith and suffered huge pressure and rejection from their families – all such a normal experience for those who convert from Islam. It also mentions converts who have been murdered or officially sentenced to death, and looks at the theological basis in Islam for the death penalty for apostasy. Read more at [Link].

As a convert from Islam myself, part of my life’s work has been to seek to see this most cruel of laws removed from Islam, and to see that Christians like myself are given freedom to choose and believe without facing persecution and possibly death. It has been my privilege to be able to advise and guide behind the scenes some of the journalists involved in recent media initiatives on apostasy from Islam. Read more about the issue of apostasy in my detailed paper [Link].

It is good to hear imams like Usama Hassan stating clearly that he believes the classical law of apostasy in Islam is wrong and denouncing those who advocate the death penalty. Finally the world is waking up to this outrage and injustice. The secular media is to be congratulated for taking up the issue. Many people signed Barnabas Fund’s petition and letter-writing campaign on the apostasy law in 2003, and you especially will be encouraged that your efforts are continuing to bear fruit.

Please pray with me that the issue, once raised, will not be forgotten again. Pray that we shall see a real move towards ensuring freedom of conscience for all, even those who are born Muslims.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo

International Director, Barnabas Fund