Ex-Muslims of Toronto (EXMTO) was formed based on a set of shared values and objectives. First and foremost, we are a support group for our members with a focus on building a safe and friendly social community.
Our role in advocacy is limited to the struggle of ex-Muslims specifically as well as the broader struggle in which non-believers the world over are engaged. Namely, to normalize religious dissent. We will, however, refrain from engaging in or endorsing many other laudable initiatives and campaigns outside of our specific focus on the struggle of ex-Muslims and the related criticism of Islam.
Our engagement in activism is limited to that which showcases the human side of dissent. This is in contrast to overtly provocative and edgier forms of activism which, though in some cases is needed and laudable, may compromise the safety of our members and the cohesion of our community.
At their foundation, our values are based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Furthermore, we believe in the values underpinning secular humanism at its core—the pursuit of maximizing human well-being, potential, and flourishing.
We embrace humanism in a fashion that is in harmony with those who have expanded the circle of moral concern to embrace sentientism, as the latter has been embraced by many members who have and will continue to join our movement.
In solidarity with many organizations around the world who support the struggle faced by former adherents of religious groups, we, the members of the Ex-Muslims of Toronto, stand for and embrace the values stated herein.
- We believe in universal human rights. This includes people who may or may not subscribe to a religion, regardless of whether they at one point belonged to a religious group or not.
- We believe in the separation of religion and state.
- We believe in the right of all people to believe or to disbelieve in a religion.
- We believe that all people should be able to live free of religious intimidation, threats, discrimination, and abuse in the name of religion, culture, or both.
- We believe that inhumane doctrines should be challenged head-on.
- We believe in freedom of speech, especially as it relates to the promotion and criticism of ideas. People have rights; ideas and ideologies do not.
- We believe that restrictions on free speech should only be sanctioned where a clear incitement to violence or physical harm is present. At the same time, we disavow and condemn statements which incite hatred against any identifiable group—and especially so—where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.
- We believe that blasphemy and apostasy laws should be abolished the world over.
- We believe in the freedom to practice religious customs, rituals, and hold religious events so long as they are not antithetical to human rights nor do they impose on the liberties or rights of individuals.
- We believe in challenging religious and cultural ideas which restrict the freedoms, independence and equality of women, children, and minority groups.
- We believe that it is our collective responsibility to disavow racism, homophobia, bigotry (including anti-Muslim bigotry), as well as other forms of discrimination including, but not limited to sexual orientation, gender expression, ethnicity, language, nationality, and creed.
- We believe that legal systems which are based on secularism and human rights are the foundation for human flourishing.
- We believe in one law for all people in society. Parallel legal systems have no place in a progressive society that values equal rights for all.
- We believe that the invocation of cultural relativism to justify abuse, violence, or inequality is wrong. This includes but is not limited to emotional blackmail, domestic violence, FGM, and punishments for apostasy.
- We believe that no state, community, or religious congregation has the right to intervene in the personal, relationship, or sexual autonomy of adults who engage with one another under the auspices of mutually informed consent.
- We believe that the right to consent in personal, relationship, and sexual matters cannot be waived by virtue of a marriage contract or any other agreement, whether legally recognized or not. Domestic violence cannot be excused away or given sanction through religious exemptions or notions of cultural relativism.
- We believe that public education should be free from religious influence. We do not oppose teaching children about religions generally where an unbiased survey of history, philosophy, and controversies can be included.
- We believe that children and young people should be free from indoctrination and manipulation by religious groups and ideologies.
- We believe in the right of children to choose to believe or to disbelieve in a religion, including the one in which they may have been raised.
- We believe that governments should not impose a segregation of the sexes in public spaces for religiously motivated reasons of modesty. Our position here is compatible with opt-in safe spaces for women, such as women-only gyms or female-only ride share services.
- We believe that criticism of Islam, the Qur’an, and religious figures such as Muhammad can be and must be engaged in, whilst simultaneously rejecting anti-Muslim bigotry.
- We discourage the disingenuous use of the word ‘Islamophobia’. We believe the term to be an unfortunate conflation of the criticism of Islam (fair game) with anti-Muslim bigotry (inexcusable). We favour the use of the more meaningful term anti-Muslim bigotry, which unambiguously clarifies that it is the rights of people with which we should be and are most concerned.
- We believe in civil liberties equally, for Muslims, ex-Muslims, and non-Muslims. This includes our support for reasonable accommodation in benign matters such as days off for religious holidays or prayer room space.
- We believe that ex-Muslims should be able to express religious dissent in public spaces without fear of being ostracized from their families, workplace, or society at large.
- We believe that many ex-Muslims benefit from a safe space to express their religious dissent without the threat of mistreatment or ostracization from their families and/or their inherited religious communities.
Specific to the efforts where we can directly affect change, we, the members of the Ex-Muslims of Toronto seek to:
- Promote a space for both support and camaraderie amongst ex-Muslims, whether closeted or public.
- Provide a secure space for closeted ex-Muslims especially, to find support among like-minded individuals.
- Provide a space for new ex-Muslims to grieve and to vent in the private space of sympathetic fellow members.
- Take the safety and privacy of our members as paramount.
- Facilitate the gradual progression of those who wish to be more open about their ex-Muslim belief status with their families or the public at large.
- Advocate for the rights of ex-Muslims, the world over.
- Promote healthy dialogue and debate on religious matters.