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Leaving the Faith

29 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 11 January 2014

Pretending to fast while sneaking food, keeping the pretence that you still follow the faith, scared that you may be found out and disowned by your family. Sarfraz Manzoor talks to people who have decided to leave Islam and become former Muslims.

Sarfraz visits a fairly typical London pub where a group are getting together to plan a stand-up comedy night. All of them describe themselves as being an 'ex-Muslim'. But as the laughter subsides and the regulars at this particular comedy night start to tell their stories Sarfraz find out that there isn’t really anything comical about leaving the faith.

Sarfraz Manzoor meets the group and hears their individual stories, which on the face of it do not sound like comedy material. Some of the members say they have been threatened with violence and others have been shunned by their families - losing all contact with them. Some have not actually told their families and live a difficult double life, going to the mosque one day whilst quietly attending the ex-Muslims club the next. Just how dangerous is it to say you are no longer a Muslim, to reject the teachings of the faith you grew up with, which are followed by billions?

Heart and Soul hears how in certain countries, fuelled by laws and attitudes that go back to medieval times, the punishment for apostasy could be your life. Sarfraz hears what drives these young people away from Islam in the first place and explores the sensitive issues around being a Muslim - or not - in 21st Century Britain.

This was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2013.


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