Apostasy in the Islamic Republic of Iran as a reason for flight

An article by Mohamad Hosein Tavasolli

Iran is one of 12 countries where apostasy from the Islamic faith is punishable by death. Mohamad Hosein Tavasolli had to flee the Islamic state of God because of this. However, his application for asylum was rejected and his deportation was only suspended.

An atheist at the age of 16 and thus a alien in the Islamic state of God Iran

Mohamad Hosein Tavasolli

I grew up in a well-off, open and liberal family in Shiraz, which was moderately religious. At the age of about 16 (2012) I realized for myself that I can no longer believe in a God and I am therefore an atheist. At the age of about 18 years (2014), I regularly attended meetings of a group of trustworthy like-minded atheists. After I found out by phone during a car trip that one of our group meeting places was searched by the Iranian security service Etelat, I immediately went into hiding and hid with friends in a distant city. Within 10 days a friend got a fake passport with visa for me, with which I could fly from the airport Khomenei in Teheran to Athens on 15.12.2015. From there I flew on to Düsseldorf and arrived in Germany the next day. Since then my asylum procedure has been in progress.

My escape from the Islamic Republic of Iran

The political group in which I was active has questioned the regime – the Iranian state is responding to this with all its rigour. We could not talk openly about it. We exchanged ideas on the Internet or in groups in which we felt safe. Those who risked too much were quickly put in prison with all the consequences.

In 2015, after some of my comrades-in-arms had been arrested, I realized that I had to escape. I had read a lot about Germany, especially about how liberal it is, how everyone could move freely, how everyone could accept the religion of their choice or simply believe in no God. I also could no longer “play as if”: as if I agreed with the regime and the religious rule and its representatives. So I fled to Germany. Here, unfortunately, I met again in the camp and in the collective accommodation my opponents from whom I had fled. So I had to be very careful. After a long search I came across a group of secular refugees. I can exchange with them; we are taking action to make citizens who are unaware of this situation aware of the situation of the apostates in Iran, but also in the whole Islamic world. I wish all people in the world the freedom that can be enjoyed in Germany. The protests in Iran have given me some hope again: Perhaps it can still come to a secular state. What is certain is that many people (especially the young) no longer want to live under the old regime and religious rule. Their private life should no longer be controlled and restricted.

I have been in Germany since 2015, learned German and integrated myself. I am still waiting for my asylum application to be granted. In Germany I have contacted the Central Council of Ex-Muslims to find like-minded people as an ex-Muslim. I have also been in contact with the aid organisation “Secular in Exile” since 2016. After an association “Secular Refugee Aid e.V. – Atheists help” was founded in Cologne, I am also in contact with it. There are also activities in Stuttgart that are of interest for ex-Muslims, e.g. lectures by Mina Ahadi (1st chairwoman of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims e.V.) organized by the gbs regional group Stuttgart and since 2018 also regular meetings of the group “Secular Refugee Aid Stuttgart”, where refugees from Syria, Iraq and Iran participate and we discuss problems and plan activities together.

I stand up for other refugee atheists and draw attention to the character of the Islamist regime and the threat to dissidents who are politically persecuted and executed in Iran.

From here I would also like to support the worldwide implementation of Article 18 of human rights (freedom of thought, conscience and religion): Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in teaching, practice, worship and observance. The Iranian state responds to apostasy with all severity. I would be threatened with 20 to 30 years in prison in Iran – if I were lucky – and possibly I would be executed immediately.

Mohamad Hosein Tavasolli was born in Iran in 1996. He has an education as a welder and an IT education and worked in Iran until he fled. He was politically active in an atheist group and had to flee into exile when the group was discovered by the Islamic regime. In Germany he completed several language courses. Currently he is fighting for the recognition of his reason for flight “atheist / apostasy”. His first asylum application has just been rejected, a new application is in preparation. The current status is “toleration” and “suspension of deportation”. Hosein Tavasolli has attended language courses and was also employed at times. The Duldung notice explicitly states that “gainful employment is not (no longer) permitted” – with the justification that a consolidation of the residence status should be prevented.

Pressemitteilung: Veranstaltung „Menschenrecht: Glaubens-Freiheit“

Die Säkulare Flüchtlingshilfe e.V. lädt Sie herzlich zur Veranstaltung Menschenrecht: Glaubens-Freiheit ein. Der Informationsabend mit spannenden Vorträgen und Gästen wie dem Journalisten Günter Wallraff und Dr. Lale Akgün, Autorin und MdB a.D., sowie Betroffenen findet statt am

Donnerstag, den 6. Februar 2020 um 18:30 Uhr, im
FORUM Volkshochschule im Museum am Neumarkt,
Cäcilienstr. 29-33, 50667 Köln. Continue reading “Pressemitteilung: Veranstaltung „Menschenrecht: Glaubens-Freiheit“”

Interview with Mina Ahadi on criticising Islam in Germany

Mina Ahadi, Chairwoman of the Council of Ex-Muslims Germany, was honored as one of five freedom heroes by the BILD newspaper in September 2019. The Atheist Refugee Relief took this opportunity to talk to Ms. Ahadi about the changed debate on Islam in Germany.

Mina Ahadi and Vitali Klitschko

Atheist Refugee Relief: Mrs. Ahadi, you were honoured this year on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the BILD newspaper together with the Klitschko brothers, Joshua Wong and Raed al-Saleh as a fighter for freedom. This is significant insofar as criticizing Islam used to be defamed with the politically instrumentalizing term “Islamophobia”. You yourself were often put in the political right corner. What has changed? Continue reading “Interview with Mina Ahadi on criticising Islam in Germany”

Secularists demonstrate in Iraq

A man sings a song that sounds similar to the religious chants that were also heard in IS videos. He is filming himself with his cell phone as he walks down a street in Baghdad where a demonstration had recently taken place. The demonstration was brutally suppressed. Thick smoke rises to the sky and car tires are still burning. But the man sings no religious song. He sings: “Oh world, I come to you to tell you that this is not a religious revolution, but a humanist revolution. They shot at us with guns and artillery, but the Enlightenment follows us revolutionaries.”
One of the triggers of the riots is the bad labor situation in the country. But this time, unlike in the past, according to the newspaper Al-Bayina Al-Jadida, there were no slogans or banners to be seen.  People no longer seem to follow the old religious or political groups. They seem to be looking for new ways beyond these.

The Islamic world is changing. After a long period of religious fundamentalism, the group of young people who long for a modern, enlightened society is growing. For example, in “The Arab world in seven charts: Are Arabs turning their backs on religion”, the BBC noted that atheism is spreading in the Islamic world. Atheist Refugee Relief is also experiencing a steady increase of 150% in requests from nonreligious people throughout the Islamic world in this year alone. Given this, it seems strange that so much consideration is given to religion in the integration process in Germany. Young people in the Middle East are already a lot ahead.

Secularists demonstrate in Iraq

A man sings a song that sounds similar to the religious chants that were also heard in IS videos. He is filming himself with his cell phone as he walks down a street in Baghdad where a demonstration had recently taken place. The demonstration was brutally suppressed. Thick smoke rises to the sky and car tires are still burning. But the man sings no religious song. He sings: “Oh world, I come to you to tell you that this is not a religious revolution, but a humanist revolution. They shot at us with guns and artillery, but the Enlightenment follows us revolutionaries.”
One of the triggers of the riots is the bad labor situation in the country. But this time, unlike in the past, according to the newspaper Al-Bayina Al-Jadida, there were no slogans or banners to be seen.  People no longer seem to follow the old religious or political groups. They seem to be looking for new ways beyond these.

The Islamic world is changing. After a long period of religious fundamentalism, the group of young people who long for a modern, enlightened society is growing. For example, in “The Arab world in seven charts: Are Arabs turning their backs on religion”, the BBC noted that atheism is spreading in the Islamic world. Atheist Refugee Relief is also experiencing a steady increase of 150% in requests from nonreligious people throughout the Islamic world in this year alone. Given this, it seems strange that so much consideration is given to religion in the integration process in Germany. Young people in the Middle East are already a lot ahead.

Violence against ex-Muslim on open street in Flensburg

Amed Sherwan (Photo: private)

Even in non-Muslim countries threats and violence against ex-Muslims are unfortunately not uncommon. A recent case from northern Germany bears witness to this.

Flensburg. The confessed ex-Muslim and secular activist Amed Sherwan just came out of a house entrance when he was hit on the head and feet from behind and was beaten and kicked lying on the floor. This incident took place in broad daylight in the presence of numerous people in the center of Flensburg. After the police and ambulance were alerted quickly, the worst could be averted.
This was preceded by an argument between the perpetrator and Sherwan two days earlier at a street festival in the idyllic port city. The perpetrator had obviously recognized Sherwan and at first only verbally attacked him. When Sherwan pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket shortly afterwards to take pictures at the party, the perpetrator again insulted Sherwan and accused him of having taken a picture of his wife. The woman spat at Sherwan and the man threatened Sherwan. Two days later he then carried out the threat. Continue reading “Violence against ex-Muslim on open street in Flensburg”

How Islamist networks silence critical voices on Facebook

It is 13 July 2019 when Aida (name changed) calls me and says: “Facebook has blocked my page again. I don’t have access anymore”. It is now already the twentieth time that this happened to her. This time it’s about the accusation of hate speech and nudity. The entire Facebook page is now no longer accessible. Not even for her. Everything is gone. All her work, the critical discussions with the subscribers. Everything lost.

Continue reading “How Islamist networks silence critical voices on Facebook”

Social work free of religion – collaboration with the Brighter Brains Institute

We are excited to announce our collaboration with the Brighter Brains Institute! More and more secular organizations are recognizing the need to make a contribution to the accomplishment of social tasks through humanitarian commitment. Because it is a problem that the emergency in certain regions of the world is used to spread religious dogma.

Clinic for Disease Prevention
Continue reading “Social work free of religion – collaboration with the Brighter Brains Institute”

Atheist Refugee Relief speaks in EU Parliament

On 20.06.2019 the European Humanist Federation invited the Atheist Refugee Relief to the EU Parliament to a meeting with the headline “Are you a true humanist”. Together with two other humanistic organisations (humanism.org.uk and humanistischverbond.nl) we were able to point out the special situation of non-religious refugees. Representatives of the Dutch government and the European EASO were also present.

Continue reading “Atheist Refugee Relief speaks in EU Parliament”

It’s like taking off a very old and dusty mask – leaving Islam in Yemen

More and more people in the Islamic world are leaving their religion. Many do this in silence, but some write about it. A particularly fascinating example is the blog of a young woman from Yemen. It takes a lot of courage from this conservative country, which has also been at war for almost four years, to express criticism of Islam.

We have succeeded in making contact with this extraordinarily courageous woman. We were interested in who was behind this Facebook page. However, when we questioned her, we were anxious to preserve her identity and did not ask any personal questions.

Continue reading “It’s like taking off a very old and dusty mask – leaving Islam in Yemen”