Ex-Muslims of North America

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Ex-Muslims of North America
FoundedSeptember 28, 2013
Type501(c)(3) Nonprofit organization
FocusIslamic apostasy
Area served
North America
Muhammad Syed[2]
Websiteexmuslims.org Edit this at Wikidata

Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) is a 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.


The organization was founded in 2013 in Washington, D.C., 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."[3][4][5]


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.[6]

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 4,000 total members.[4][7]

The organization is run by staff,[8] volunteers and relies on donations.[4]


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.[3][5][9]

EXMNA provides emergency support and grants to ex-Muslims in dire times – from escaping abuse to finding shelter and professional assistance.[10] 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.[11] [12]

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.[13][14][15]

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.[4]


In late 2015, EXMNA took over ownership of the website WikiIslam.[16]

In 2018, Daniel Enstedt cited WikiIslam as an example of a website containing anti-Muslim rhetoric,[17] and Goran Larsson cited WikiIslam as an "anti-Muslim webpage."[18] In 2019, Asma Uddin, advisor on religious liberty to OSCE and a fellow at the Aspen Institute,[19] reiterated WikiIslam to be a "rampantly anti-Muslim website".[20] The same year, Syaza Shukri, Professor of Political Sciences at International Islamic University Malaysia, deemed the lack of positive content on WikiIslam to demonstrate a "definite agenda": the promotion of a monolithic version of Islam—violent, oppressive, and unrepresentative of "how a majority of Muslims view their religion".[21]: 65  In 2022, Rabia Kamal, a cultural anthropologist based at University of San Francisco, noted WikiIslam to be of the many Islamophobic websites dedicated to "surveillance" of Islam and Muslims.[22]

In March 2021, EXMNA announced that it had implemented new content standards on WikiIslam, archived and deleted articles that did not meet those standards, and initiated re-writes of other articles.[23]


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".[7][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]


  1. ^ "Ex-Muslims of North America | Charity Navigator Profile". Charity Navigator.
  2. ^ "Muhammad Syed". The Humanist.
  3. ^ a b "Leaving Islam for Atheism, and Finding a Much-Needed Place Among Peers". The New York Times. May 23, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Amos, Owen (December 29, 2017). "They left Islam and now tour the US to talk about it". BBC News.
  5. ^ a b Hrishikesh, Joshi (February 3, 2017). "Leaving Islam in North America". National Review. Archived from the original on July 5, 2018.
  6. ^ "About Us". EXMNA.
  7. ^ a b Clausen, Todd (June 23, 2016). "Clausen: Wegmans says Ex-Muslims group can buy cake". Democrat and Chronicle.
  8. ^ "Our Team". Ex-Muslims of North America. March 8, 2015.
  9. ^ "Support Communities". Ex-Muslims of North America. July 13, 2019.
  10. ^ "Emergency Aid". Ex-Muslims of North America. July 15, 2019.
  11. ^ Amos, Owen (February 26, 2018). "Ex-Muslims: The American who fled 'gay conversion' in Africa". BBC News.
  12. ^ Olad, Mahad. "Escaping gay conversion therapy in Kenya | The Ithacan". theithacan.org.
  13. ^ "14 campaign groups ask Pakistan to stop its censorship of 'blasphemous' Twitter content". Humanists UK. June 10, 2014.
  14. ^ Kellner, Mark A. (June 10, 2014). "Secularists band together to fight Pakistan's #TwitterTheocracy blockings". Deseret News.
  15. ^ Kellner, Mark A. (June 18, 2014). "Twitter relents, won't allow Pakistan government to block controversial messages". Deseret News.
  16. ^ "Ex-Muslims of North America takes ownership and operation of WikiIslam". Ex-Muslims of North America. 2015-12-03. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  17. ^ Enstedt, Daniel (2018). "Understanding Religious Apostasy, Disaffiliation, and Islam in Contemporary Sweden". In van Nieuwkerk, Karin (ed.). Moving in and out of Islam (First ed.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-4773-1748-8. Anti-Muslim rhetoric on internet sites such as WikiIslam.net ... and faithfreedom.org ... reproduce[s] a negative image of religion that is associated with Islam.
  18. ^ Larsson, Göran (2018-03-13). "Disputed, Sensitive and Indispensable Topics: The Study of Islam and Apostasy". Method & Theory in the Study of Religion. 30 (3): 201–226. doi:10.1163/15700682-12341435. ISSN 0943-3058. For example, the anti-Muslim webpage WikiIslam (on this homepage, see Larsson 2007; Enstedt and Larsson 2013) simply concludes: 'The punishment for apostasy in the Islamic faith is death.'
  19. ^ Affairs, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World. "Asma Uddin". berkleycenter.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 2021-12-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Uddin, Asma T. (2019). When Islam Is Not a Religion: Inside America's Fight for Religious Freedom (First Pegasus Books hardcover ed.). New York. ISBN 978-1643131740. The rampantly anti-Muslim website, WikiIslam, connects Islam and pedophilia even more brazenly, 'Pedophilia is permitted in the Qur'an, was practiced by Prophet Muhammad and his companions, and some Muslims today continue to commit the crime, following their prophet's example.'{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  21. ^ Shukri, Syaza Farhana Mohamad (2019). "The Perception of Indonesian Youths toward Islamophobia: An Exploratory Study". Islamophobia Studies Journal. 5 (1): 61–75. doi:10.13169/islastudj.5.1.0061. ISSN 2325-8381. JSTOR 10.13169/islastudj.5.1.0061. S2CID 213425625. Larsson (2007) did a research on Islamophobia on the Internet, specifically the anti-Islam portal WikiIslam. Unlike Wikipedia, WikiIslam only produces content that are critical to Islam. While the owner does not consider the website to be a hate site, the fact that there is nothing positive about Islam on it proves that it has a definite agenda.... WikiIslam is of course promoting Islam as a monolithic religion that is violent and oppressive, and more importantly, does not represent how a majority of Muslims view their religion.
  22. ^ Kamal, Rabia (18 July 2022). "Muslims and Social Media in North America". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.899. ISBN 978-0-19-934037-8. In fact, many Islamophobic websites have taken on the responsibility of nongovernmental surveillance as an element of their agenda. Internet hubs such as WikiIslam and websites such as Campus Watch, Jihad Watch, and thereligionofpeace.com are just a few of the digital platforms explicitly dedicated to the surveillance of Muslims and Islam both on- and offline.
  23. ^ "WikiIslam overhaul milestone achieved". Ex-Muslims of North America. 18 March 2021. Archived from the original on 19 March 2021. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  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.

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