Great news here, as calm and cool reason has been winning out over violent and hateful superstition in certain quarters. Thanks to the rabid fanatics who have managed to alienate the better educated and more worldly youth! Such developments provide great hope for the future that we can be rid of our stark divisions and become increasingly united as a single human family.

Let’s hope it continues, in the face of persecution of nonbelievers, especially in Egypt.

Leaving Islam in the age of Islamism

A growing generation of skeptics and atheists is increasingly coming to the fore.

By Mohamed Abdelfattah

What would prompt a former youth member of the Muslim Brotherhood to declare that he is putting his belief in Islam “on hold”? What would convert young people to become not only non-religious but extremely anti-theist following long periods of activism with Egypt’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi club, the Salafis?

What I said may be surprising for many, but not for others. The past several years have witnessed every single young man or woman with a shred of critical thinking to leave the Islamist movement. Starting with the Egyptian revolution and the Islamists’ shameful position against it, young middle class educated members have ever since continued to trickle out.

But this mere organisational friction is not the subject of this article. What I intend to expound on is more far-reaching. It’s about those often-silent people who decided to abandon faith completely as a result of their faithful experiences.

“I’ve decided to put Islam on hold as a religion,” wrote former Muslim Brotherhood activist Osama Dorra in his blog post. “For the conflict I’ve found between some of its details and what I think is sanity, justice, and logic has reached an inconceivable limit.”…

“Although the Islamist movement managed to reach power, it has been unprecedentedly dethroned from the hearts of many Egyptians,” so lamented Nageh Ibrahim the founder of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya in a recent article in Al-Masry Al-Youm. Several other preachers have said multiple times recently on TV that Al-Da’wa, or proselytising for Islam, has been losing a lot of credibility as a result of politics.

The issue of rising religious skepticism has been noticed by many. It has taken space in much of the local press and several opinion pieces. But it’s been petty stuff. Instead of defending someone’s right to disbelieve, it’s being treated as a problem that needs confrontation. Instead of presenting a seething critique of the most backward and reactionary ideologies, a self-styled intelligentsia is acquiescing to the Islamist framework in its weakest of times.

A growing generation of skeptics and atheists is increasingly coming to the fore. They are regarding religion, in practice, as at worst harmful and at best unnecessary….

Islamists rising to power has not yielded their much-awaited fantasised moment of everything-turning-Islamic. Instead, it’s contributing to an unprecedented wave of skepticism, social secularisation and atheism….