Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is pleased that an Afghan atheist recently gained asylum and protection in Britain for his atheism. Whilst this is being hailed as the first case of its kind, the CEMB has worked on countless asylum cases over the past several years with a rising number securing asylum based on their atheism and due to a well-founded fear of persecution for apostasy and leaving Islam.

In light of the abysmal situation for ex-Muslims in many countries under Sharia law, as highlighted in our recent report “Political and Legal Status of Apostates in Islam”, asylum and protection for apostates and ex-Muslim atheists is a basic right.

Whilst the numbers of those being granted protection are increasing, there are still large numbers of ex-Muslims facing refusals and deportation to countries where they face death at worst and a loss of liberty and rights at best.

One such case is that of Muhammad Nasir Irshad who is currently detained at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre awaiting deportation to Pakistan where he faces a real risk of persecution because of his atheism. His appeal has been refused; he had no legal counsel during his appeal given that legal aid was also refused him and he has been fast-tracked for deportation. The Home Office has refused his claim asserting that ex-Muslim atheists are not in danger in Pakistan.

Nasir Irshad has approached the CEMB to assist with his case. We call on the Home Office to immediately cancel any attempts to deport Nasir and to grant him the protection he deserves and which is his right. Needless to say, the Home Office will be held accountable for Nasir’s life and liberty.

For more information, contact:
Maryam Namazie
Council of Ex- Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731



  1. Looks to me like the British don’t want to upset a member of their precious Commonwealth of Nations. If they give Irshad asylum they are admitting that the shithole of a country, Pakistan, is failing on human rights and would therefore be obliged to expell them.

    1. Not really. I don’t think Britain can unilaterally kick another country out of the Commonwealth although it is quite right that Britain is rather precious about upsetting the edifice. In Pakistan’s case it has been more a case of the country leaving the club in a huff over Britain rather than the other way around. For a while you couldn’t tell from one moment to the next whether Pakistan was in or out. The cost of repeatedly changing the letterheads on its missions to Commonwealth countries from “High Commission” to “Embassy” and back again must have been a significant drain on its foreign exchange.

      Britain has, in any event, for some time been accepting refugees, such as Ahmadis, from Pakistan. I think that what has happened in this case is that the official has taken the hint from a government which has been lurching (or listing) ever more to the right in fear of UKIP and the Daily Mail. For many years now populist politicians and the tabloids have been collocating the word “bogus” with “asylum seeker”. This lurch has been even more apparent in Australia where the bogey of “asylum” has reached delirium.

      It is very easy to demonstrate the stupidity of the argument that Pakistan is a safe place for apostates and unbelievers. Campaigning pressure really could be successful. The legal argument has already been won in the case of Afghanistan. It is a straightforward matter to prove the case for Pakistan too. If it is not a safe country for Ahmadis, it certainly is not safe for atheists.

  2. Part of me doesn’t want atheists to be given asylum, but hear me out here. If atheists keep leaving religious countries, how are those countries ever going to change and become more secular?

    Having said that, as has already been noted, you’ve got to be pretty stupid not to realise how dangerous it is for atheists in some countries. So, give them asylum… it’s what it’s for, for goodness sake!

    1. Giving people asylum does not prevent change. An external opposition is necessary to complement people working inside the country for change. People outside campaigning and supporting are just as necessary to give hope to those inside the country that they are not alone and that the world is watching. Without asylum being given to those in real danger people inside would give up hope of change.

      Compare the two examples of Indonesia and Chile. In both cases the US engineered a right-wing military take-over accompanied by horrific slaughter and repression. It is true that the sheer scale of terror in Indonesia’s case was greater, but the experiences of the two countries is different in a qualitative sense. In Chile there was a vocal and active opposition in exile which eventually brought about a transition to a real, informed and vibrant democracy. That was not the case in Indonesia where citizens remain terrified and cowed to this day. There were cosmetic changes, but Indonesia remains an military based oligarchy and a sham democracy.

      Change comes about by many different actors. Those who risk all by working from within, both openly and covertly, and those who support from outside and whose very existence would be threatened if they were to be returned to their countries. It is true that change cannot be imposed from outside and that it must spring from the urge of the people themselves. Without refuge for some in other countries that would be difficult, if not impossible.

      Personally I shall continue to try to “do my bit” to defeat religious and political domination and enslavement within Indonesia, which is my current home, openly and try to encourage others to “come out” against tremendous odds. But I will also try to support those who need help to escape persecution and both official and private threats to their safety. I also recognise that there may be a time when I can work better outside the country. I do know that those who are suffering from religious persecution in Indonesia are deeply grateful for the support they receive from outside, both from their country-fellows in exile as well as from Atheist and secular organisations in the west.

      Please do your utmost to make the British government realise that if they deny asylum to those who hold conscientious beliefs contrary to the dictates of their home government and people and put their lives on the line in doing so, Britain itself will be seen as cowardly giving in to cruelty and injustice. Compassion and wisdom go together.

  3. I’m (almost) lost for words. How do they train the dumkluts at the Home Office? Do they only recruit people who have never read a newspaper, watched television, listened to the radio or used the Internet?

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