Ex-Muslims of North America

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Ex-Muslims of North America
EXMNA logo 2.svg
Abbreviation EXMNA
Founded September 28, 2013
Type 501(c)(3) organization
Focus Islamic apostasy
Area served
North America
Muhammad Syed[1]
  • Sarah Haider[2]
  • Stephanie Tessier (Administrative Officer)[3]
  • Aysha Khan (Project Manager)[4]
  • Abdul Hurayrah (Project Administrator)[5]
Website www.exmna.org

Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization which describes itself as advocating for acceptance of religious dissent, promoting secular values, and aiming to reduce discrimination faced by those who leave Islam.[6][7]


The organization was founded in 2013 in Washington, DC, by Sarah Haider and Muhammad Syed and in Toronto by Sadar Ali and Nas Ishmael. They say that it is the first organization of its kind to "establish communities exclusive to ex-muslims in order to foster a sense of camaraderie and offer a space free of judgement for lack of religiosity."[8][9][10][11]


Its stated mission is to reduce discrimination faced by those who leave Islam, advocate for acceptance of religious dissent, and promote secular values; counter the isolation facing non-theist ex-Muslims by fostering communities and support networks; and strive to amplify diverse ex-Muslim voices and experiences, and stand against those who seek to stifle criticism of Islam.[10]

The organization has chapters in 25 cities across North America, a BBC article says that the organization has about 1,000 volunteers in 25 cities in North America and an article in the Democrat and Chronicle says that the group has about 24,000 total members.[9][10][12]

The organization is run by staff,[13] volunteers and relies on donations.[9]


Sarah Haider explains the goals and actions of EXMNA (2017).

EXMNA organizes support chapters across the United States and Canada which are closed-group meetings for safety reasons; individuals who wish to attend the support group events must go through a screening process for identity authentication purposes.[8][11][14][15]

EXMNA provides emergency support and grants to ex-Muslims in dire times – from escaping abuse to finding shelter and professional assistance.[16] In 2018 Mahad Olad, a US college student was taken to Kenya and held against his will. He was to undergo conversion therapy to cure his apostasy and homosexuality. He was rescued through EXMNA's efforts and provided a grant to pay for his flight back to the US.[17] [18]

EXMNA publishes The Ex-Muslim which the organization says is the world's first and only online magazine and blogroll that offers a "nuanced insight on Islam from former Muslims."[10]

EXMNA spearheaded a campaign which successfully pressured Twitter to reverse its decision to submit to a request by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block content and accounts which the agency deemed blasphemous in what a report by The New York Times said was the first time that the social networking service had agreed to withhold content in Pakistan.[19][20][21]

EXMNA went on a 2017–2018 campus tour across North America in what the organization said was a first-of-its kind effort to bring Muslim apostates and other activists to colleges across the United States and Canada.[7][9] Entitled "Normalizing Dissent Tour", they covered in collaboration with student groups a variety of questions and challenges that Islam had brought to the Western world through panels, talks and discussions.[7][22] The tour's featured speakers included Simon Cottee, Maryam Namazie, Afzal Upal, and Ibn Warraq.[23]


Haider said in a 2015 address to the American Humanist Association that "I always expected feeling unwelcome from Muslim audiences, but I did not anticipate an equal amount of hostility from my allies on the left." Her critics have accused her of being pro-war, on the far right, an Uncle Tom, a House Arab, and a native informant. Yet she maintains she is a progressive liberal and the organization EXMNA has no certain political affiliation.[11]

In 2016 a Wegmans in Fairfax, Virginia, refused to make a cake for the organization that was to be used in celebration of the third anniversary of the group's founding after a supervisor deemed the name of the group offensive; the company subsequently filled the cake order free of charge and issued an apology to EXMNA after legal intervention by a staff attorney from the Freedom From Religion Foundation who described the decision by the employee to refuse service as "a potential civil rights violation."[12][24]

In 2017 Facebook locked out EXMNA's account for a week because it had allegedly violated the company's terms of service although it did not specify which standards the account had allegedly violated.[25] The page was subsequently unblocked, with a Facebook spokesperson saying in an email to the Observer that "the pages were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate."[25]


In late 2015, EXMNA took over ownership of http://wikiislam.net, an anti-Islam wiki intended to be a "comprehensive and accurate source of information on Islam . . . based primarily on its own sources"[26]


  1. ^ "Muhammad Syed". Ex-Muslims of North America. March 8, 2015.
  2. ^ "Sarah Haider". Ex-Muslims of North America. March 8, 2015.
  3. ^ "Stephanie Tessier". Ex-Muslims of North America.
  4. ^ "Aysha Khan". Ex-Muslims of North America.
  5. ^ "Abdul Hurayrah". Ex-Muslims of North America.
  6. ^ "Ex-Muslims of North America Granted 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status". Ex-Muslims of North America. October 29, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c "Ex-Muslims of North America launch campus tour". Ex-Muslims of North America. August 29, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Leaving Islam for Atheism, and Finding a Much-Needed Place Among Peers". nytimes.com. May 23, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Amos, Owen (December 29, 2017). "They left Islam and now tour the US to talk about it". BBC News.
  10. ^ a b c d "About Us". EXMNA.
  11. ^ a b c Hrishikesh, Joshi (February 3, 2017). "Leaving Islam in North America". National Review. Archived from the original on July 5, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Clausen, Todd (June 23, 2016). "Clausen: Wegmans says Ex-Muslims group can buy cake". Democrat and Chronicle.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Ngo, Andy (May 23, 2017). "Inside the Secret World of Ex-Muslims". National Review.
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ Amos, Owen (February 26, 2018). "Ex-Muslims: The American who fled 'gay conversion' in Africa". BBC News.
  18. ^ "Escaping gay conversion therapy in Kenya"
  19. ^ "14 campaign groups ask Pakistan to stop its censorship of 'blasphemous' Twitter content". Humanists UK. June 10, 2014.
  20. ^ Kellner, Mark A. (June 10, 2014). "Secularists band together to fight Pakistan's #TwitterTheocracy blockings". Deseret News.
  21. ^ Kellner, Mark A. (June 18, 2014). "Twitter relents, won't allow Pakistan government to block controversial messages". Deseret News.
  24. ^ Gryboski, Michael (June 21, 2016). "Wegmans Apologizes for Refusing to Bake Cake for Ex-Muslims". Christian Post.
  25. ^ a b Bonazzo, John (12 May 2017). "Facebook Blocks Posts From Atheist, Ex-Muslim Pages". Observer.
  26. ^ "About WikiIslam". WikiIslam. Archived from the original on 30 June 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.

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