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From Turkey to America, From Islam to Freedom

8

21st century: Imagine growing up in a world where you are taught that your own people are the only good ones, and everyone else around you is evil. I was born into a religious Turkish Muslim family in Germany. I never met a Jew until I was 20 years old, but I grew up believing that a Jew is the most deceptive person ever, full of hypocrisy, evil and hostility against me — a random person who happens to be a Muslim. “Monkeys, pigs and rats” is what I knew Jews as, because that is what my parents, other Muslim families and my local imams taught me to believe. “Jews killed all the holy prophets, that’s why God condemned them forever. They will fight us again in the future, but we will kill them eventually. They are even worse than Christians!” This was not just the opinion of my parents and other Muslim families. It was based on Islamic teachings.[1][2][3] We had a neighbor, an old and lonely woman who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, mistaken by my mother for a “Jew”. She was always kind to everyone, but all I knew about her was that we should stay away from her, “because she is a Jew.” If you are indoctrinated with such hate, you might still have similar opinions when you are much older. It was not until I met the first Jews and had conversations with them, that I realized how wrong my parents were, and how the people that I met only then, were friendlier to me than the ones who taught me to beware of all the evil people outside. I was almost 11 years old when 9/11 happened. My mother called me to the living room when the news emerged, and we saw the second plane live on TV. I felt fear and sadness watching it, but my emotions would be challenged immediately, when my mother told me that they blame it on Muslim terrorists, but that it is most likely just a Jewish-American conspiracy. It was terrifying and funny at the same time: The majority of Muslims that I knew (and there were lots of them around us) were silent outside, but talked among themselves about things like these: “Did you know that there were no Jews in the buildings on that day? The world cries about 9/11 now, but that’s nothing compared to all the Muslims that die every day. It was probably staged by the US government. The terrorists were trained by the Jews to make Muslims look bad.” Terrifying. The Muslim indoctrination on 9/11 was one of few things that I was immune against.

Christians? The majority of my teachers were Christians, the majority of my friends were Christians, too, either by belief or by identification. I had such kind teachers, especially the principal of our school, who was always friendly and impartial. (Today she thinks that the West is unfair to Muslims.) But “Hristiyan” (Turkish word for Christian) was always more like an insult at home. It is understandable that the word that I associated with “Christian” the most was “pig”. That’s what I was taught. “Christians eat pork, which is haram, that’s why they are so immoral. AND THEY STINK! They are unclean!” but they were at least better than Jews. Wait… One of the things that I was taught was that it is wrong to say “Christians are better than Jews.” I was supposed to say “Jews are worse than Christians” instead, because it was considered blasphemy to imply that Christians are in any way good or better. More than a decade later I learned where that teaching came from. [4] You can probably imagine what such a mentality did to me. I appreciated my teachers and my friends a lot, but in the back of my mind, they were only nice but still horrible. [5] They were treacherous, hypocritical and filthy. That’s why it was good to declare my loyalty to my religion in any related discussion. That’s why it was important to be proud of my Turkish nationality. “We ruled over them in history and made them shiver. We made them fear, but then we were corrupted by the West and destroyed by Jewish infiltrators. That’s why they are nice to us. They are only pretending. They are afraid that the Ottoman Empire might rise from its ashes again.”

My parents were part of a Sufi sect, that they joined before I was born. It is located in Turkey and was led by a self-proclaimed descendant of Mohammed himself, a sayyid (a very honorable title in Islamic culture). Sufis are falsely seen as orders that are totally peaceful and lovely — they are not. Not only do they have weird practices (such as physical or mental self-harm), they are also just as intolerant and hostile as regular Muslims and their imams that are seen as “moderate” from the outside but are the definition of “radical”. Sufi orders declare mostly that people who disagree with them and disrespect their holy leaders, are sinners or even “hypocrites” (Munafiq: Worse than a nonbeliever). The order that my parents were in does the same thing. We moved from Germany to Turkey when I was 15, and I had no say in this. As a Turkish citizen, I always wanted to protect my residency and visit Germany once in 6 months, because I thought I would go back to Germany eventually. My parents seemed to be fine with it after long discussions, but eliminated the opportunity to do so eventually, forcing me to stay in Turkey, where according to them and the Islamic understanding, I was supposed to live, because Germany is considered a “dar al-Harb” (land of war) and a land of the kuffar (infidels).[6] I went through depressions, I became more and more rebellious. Driven by my fury, I even joined the youth group of an illegal communist revolutionary group in Turkey, and was almost expelled from high school. Later I thought it through and came to the conclusion that communism is nonsense.

In 2009 my beloved aunt, who was always like an older sister to me, died in Germany. She was shot by her husband, whom she imported from Turkey, because she finally wanted to create a family and satisfy her relatives — a decision that she regretted quickly, because she was a person with a Western mind, someone who couldn’t deal with the usual oppressive mentality of Turkish, Muslim men. Her husband threatened her over playing card games online, the police issued a restraining order so he couldn’t come closer to her than 100 m (328 ft), later he acquired a gun from an already present Turkish gang and shot her to death on the street, with 3 bullets into her face, before killing himself. Honor killing: A usual Muslim phenomenon. Instead of pushing me further away from faith and culture, it drew me closer to becoming religious, because I used to talk about religion a lot with my aunt, her death was the biggest shock of my life thus far, I was devastated and depressed, and our conversations went through my mind over and over again. I joined the sect.

It was all about devotion and god before I went further into it. Due to my personality that tells me to research everything thoroughly when I affiliate with it, I kept doing my studies. The sect taught me things that included extreme intolerance of those who “insult god”, also called: “the infidels and blasphemers.” The Quran describes not only Non-Abrahamic religions as infidels and blasphemers, it also calls the Jews and Christians so, even though it is sympathetic toward them at the beginnings, but condemns them in chronologically later verses (eg. 9:29-30). It became so extreme that other Muslims who would do questionable things were also considered blasphemers. Again, a regular Muslim attitude. Hence: “Not a real Muslim”. There were rumors and media reports about the sect leader molesting women. I ignored them first but it disturbed me later. Thinking it through and researching for 3 years, I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be part of the sect, due to inconsistencies in their teachings, not only among themselves, but also contradictions with the fundamentals of Islam. I left the sect.

I was on my compulsory military service in Turkey when I decided to leave the sect. Leaving the sect encouraged me to be more courageous and to dare to question my belief. I was always afraid of that, because if you grow up a Muslim, you learn that you should never question your faith, you should be afraid of such thoughts and say “Allah, forgive me!” when you have such thoughts, [7] but the Quran reminds us also ironically that we should think. It does so multiple times. [8] So, if the Quran asks us to use our minds, then why should it be so dangerous to rethink our faith? I thought about all the things that bothered me during the peak of my religiousness, during which I also read the Quran twice. I started to read it again, and there were many things that I had to think about: The treatment of women, homosexuality, the sun sinking in a muddy spring, verses that were for Mohammed’s comfort, violence in the Quran, contradictions between God’s earlier books (NT & OT) and the Quran, etc. My questioning led me to the conclusion that Allah is not real, it is just indoctrination. It also led me to the agnosticism and finally to atheism. But there is something much more terrifying than all of that, in the case of leaving Islam. One more thing that made me sure that Islam is completely false and terrible: Islam orders DEATH for apostasy! [9]

Only towards the end did I think about how Islam treats apostasy. If Islam is such a beautiful religion, if it is so peaceful (I never thought it is), if it is the truth that god wants us gullible, faulty people to find, then how can the same god order that other gullible and flawed people he creates take my life for deciding to leave it? Leaving Islam means eternal hellfire for me, that I would be sent to at the hands of a peaceful Muslim. Was I afraid? A bit. Was I determined? Yes. “I have a mind” as the Quran says, and I will no longer be fooled. I spent 2-3 more years in Turkey, in which I kept my apostasy to myself among my relatives and my family, because declaring it would mean that I need to be shunned. My parents wouldn’t kill me. I decided to be very open about it elsewhere: At work, among friends, online and around people that I trust. Not among strangers, because from that point I started to question and criticize the norm, and I received my first heavy insults and threats (including death threats) not much later. An old friend who was always nice to me, told me that I should never cross his path if I want to keep my head. He also said that he would report me to the police for criticizing his religion (crime), criticizing the government (crime), and criticizing the country (crime). Of course I couldn’t report him for threatening my life. That would mean outing myself as a critic — and as a criminal. (In July, 2016 the General Directorate of Security even released an announcement, asking all citizens to report criminal speech that is shared on social media.) A businessman who has influence and power in Turkey, but was somewhat close to me, also told me that he received complaints about my stances on religion and the government. He warned me with following words: “Stop talking to people about these things, otherwise I can not protect you from what might happen to you.”

In 2016 I created my online character: The Apostate Prophet (Former: The Prophet). Ever since I started my activities, I received hundreds of incredible insults and credible death threats. On Facebook I reached 10,000 followers in several months, on Instagram I was around 9,000. I received so many messages from minorities and Ex-Muslims in Muslim countries, telling me that they can’t follow me or like my content, because “you know why”, but that I speak for them and that they are thankful. Some messaged me, saying they feared for their lives and wanted to leave the country. Others wanted to stay and hope for a better world. Receiving dozens of such messages made me aware of the responsibility and the importance of my work. So I took it more seriously. I even have a huge collection of all the threats and insults that I received. It is hilarious and shocking at the same time. It was on Instagram under the hashtag #terroristsinthemorning, but it is no more, since Facebook decided to deactivate all my activities that were followed by 10k people and more. Of course, nothing happened to the people who sent me death threats and insults. Facebook’s handling of this is a direct violation of their own Community Guidelines. My social media activities were undermined and put on hold multiple times by Facebook and its puppet Instagram. One might say that Facebook is free to do such things, but is it good? Facebook does not value free speech, it destroys it. It can freely do so because apologists and naive Westerners enable such a perversion of Western values. I started my YouTube channel recently, I always wanted to show my face, no matter the danger, and there I receive the same type of messages. I will keep going, nevertheless, and I will reveal my face. One thing I know is that it is not me who should be hiding in the shadows, because I criticize an idea. An idea that you are allowed to praise with lies, but can’t criticize with truth. It is them who should hide. Those who want to kill me, those who wanted to kill the Danish cartoonist, those who attacked Charlie Hebdo, those who threaten and kill priests, those who lynch “heretics” in Pakistan, those who killed Theo van Gogh, those who forced Ayaan Hirsi Ali into hiding, those who threaten Pamela Geller… It is them, their defenders and those who silence us. They should hide — not us.

In 2016 I met my wife, online. I proposed to my wife in 2016. She is an atheist, which means that I am not allowed to marry her, because in Islam she is considered a filthy infidel — a filthy infidel like me. You can probably assume how my family received the news. I didn’t care. I wanted to leave the country, because Turkey had become a place where I was neither safe, nor happy any more. Especially after the dubious attempted military coup in 2016, things have become worse and the country is on its way to a religious dictamocracy (I made that word up). Instead of moving to another country where I could be free, I moved to the wonderful United States of America in 2017, where I am finally free, safe and happy with my new family. I can now pursue my path without fear: Contributing to the survival and protection of my beloved West. Criticizing the brutal “religion of peace”, that naive and ignorant people in the West want to protect. The same religion that orders my death for leaving it and criticizing it, the same religion that strictly forbids the Western value that makes us free: Freedom of speech.

Ridvan “Rico” Aydemir (The Apostate Prophet)

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ApostateProphet

Twitter: https://twitter.com/exmuslimprophet

Instagram: https://instagram.com/theapostateprophet

Sources:

[1] Quran: 5:60: “Be apes and pigs” to Jews

[2] Sahih Muslim, 41:6985: Before Judgement Day, trees and stones will ask Muslims to kill Jews

[3] Quran: 5:82: Jews worse than Christians

[4] “Ehl-i Sunnet İtikadı” by Ahmed Ziyaeddin (Important Turkish Islamic scholar, 19th century)

[5] Quran: 5:51: Don’t take Jews and Christians as allies

[6] https://wikiislam.net/wiki/Dar_al-Harb

[7] Sahih Muslim 1:244: Questioning Allah is inspired by Satan and MUST be avoided

[8] 28:60, 2:242, 6:32 etc.: Muslims should use their minds

[9] Sahih Bukhari 9:83:17: Death for Apostasy

 

 

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