On Saturday, members of the Council of Ex-Muslims in France met to launch their group publicly and discuss their mission: to promote liberty and equality for all people, regardless of their faith. Their Facebook page explains:
“We are a group of atheists and non-believers who have, because of this fact, been threatened or faced restrictions in our personal life. Many of us have been arrested for blasphemy.”
The group was formed in remembrance of Frenchman Jean-François Lefebvre de la Barre, who was executed in 1766 for refusing to remove his hat when a religious procession passed by him.
The Council claims that “Today, countless la Barres face threats, torture, imprisonment and death for apostasy, blasphemy, heresy, and refusing to comply with Islamist norms.”
Palestinian blogger Waleed Al-Husseini first organised the council, after being accused of making blasphemous comments towards the Prophet Mohammed, and seeking refuge in France.
The Council is composed of some thirty members, representing nearly a dozen nationalities.
It follows on the heels of the UK’s Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, headed up by Maryam Namazie. A similar council also exists in Germany.