Given that I am rather skeptical of the very possibility of a scientific survey of apostates, it is rather difficult for me to make any psychological, sociological, or anthropological generalizations based on fewer than fifty personal testimonies that would be valid outside this particular group. No quick portrait of the typical apostate is likely to appear–some are young (students in their teens), some are middle-aged with children; some are scientists, while others are economists, businesspeople, or journalists; some are from Bangladesh, others are from Pakistan, India, Morocco, Egypt, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. Our witnesses, nonetheless, do have certain moral and intellectual qualities in common: for instance, they are all comparatively well educated, computer literate with access to the Internet, and rational, with the ability to think for themselves. However, what is most striking is their fearlessness, their moral courage, and their moral commitment to telling the truth. They all face social ostracism, the loss of friends and family, a deep inner spiritual anguish and loneliness–and occasionally the death penalty if discovered. Their decisions are not frivolously taken, but the ineluctable result of rational thinking.
There are very useful analogies to be drawn between communism and Islam. . . .As Arthur Koestler said, “You hate our Cassandra cries and resent us as allies, but when all is said, we ex-Communists are the only people on your side who know what it’s all about.”
Communism has been defeated, at least for the moment; Islamism has not, and unless a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam emerges soon, perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy. And these former Muslims, to echo Koestler’s words, on the side of Western democracy are the only ones who know what it’s all about, and we would do well to listen to their Cassandra cries. — Ibn Warraq, from the Introduction