Iraqi refugee works to make life safer for secular humanists

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Nine months ago, Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar stepped off of a plane at Los Angeles International Airport partly curious, partly fearful about where his life was headed. Now, the 22-year-old Al-Mutar lives in the heart of his adopted nation, leads an international organization and is making waves as a speaker, including at an upcoming event at Harvard.

Most people assume that because Al-Mutar is an Iraqi refugee, he is Muslim. This is not the case. Al-Mutar is a secular humanist, and an outspoken one at that. Reared in a moderate Muslim family that encouraged him to think for himself and make up his own mind, Al-Mutar said he became an atheist at an early age.

Though Islam is taught in public school in Iraq, Al-Mutar said “reading philosophy, keeping an open mind, being curious about the world, made me finish all my education in Iraq without losing my brain in the process.”

Earlier this year, Al-Mutar fled Iraq. He received asylum in the U.S., partly due to his conflict with Islamists over his secular humanist identity and partly because his brother, cousin and best friend were killed in sectarian violence there.

After landing at LAX, Al-Mutar spent some months in Houston before moving to Washington, D.C., where he now lives and runs the Global Secular Humanist Movement, a group that aims to use reason, evidence and scientific methods of inquiry — rather than faith and mysticism — in seeking solutions to human problems. On Facebook, the movement has 221,000 fans, and as Al-Mutar speaks at national events, that number continues to grow.

Written By: Ken Chitwood
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

4 COMMENTS

  1. The grand opening of a new Humanist meeting place in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA will take place tomorrow Dec. 8. Al-Mutar will be speaking there. Here is a copy of the details from the website of the new Humanist Hub.

    Humanist Hub Grand Opening Preview Event
    Sunday, December 8, 2013
    12:30 Opening Reception
    1:00 Keynote Speaker – Dan Dennett
    1:30 – 5 Open House
    With special guests:
    Michael De Dora, Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar, Deborah Feldman, Chris Johnson, Chris Stedman, Dharmesh Shah, Greg Epstein.

    When
    Sun Dec 8, 2013 12:30pm – 5pm Eastern Time
    Where
    30 JFK (map)

  2. Though Islam is taught in public school in Iraq, Al-Mutar said “reading philosophy, keeping an open mind, being curious about the world, made me finish all my education in Iraq without losing my brain in the process.”

    Good for you,Al-Mutar! I wish you well in your new life. Live long and prosper!

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