Esra’a (from Bahrain) at Mideast Youth posted an interview with a 23-year-old Arab atheist.
His answers to a lot of questions are not too different from what you might hear an American atheist say. I posted some of the more interested questions and answers below.
Q: … you said that you’re an atheist shortly before you tried to convince me that you’re not anti-Arab. Explain to me why you feel the need to do that?
A: Because non-Muslim Arabs are left out. We feel like we have no real space in society, especially in any intellectual field. When I say I’m atheist, people always tell me that I have become traitor. A sell-out. Someone who doesn’t know what it truly means to be “Arab.” Why? Because Arab means Muslim and Muslim means Arab? What does personal religious views have to do with my culture, my past, my identity? An Arab, this is something I am. This is something I take much pride in. Why do people attach my personal opinions to who I am, to my nationality? Does being Arab mean being intellectually identical to every other Arab out there?
Q: Yes, my problem is with Islam being enforced upon people who don’t really accept it but don’t have the balls to say “I don’t want this religion and I don’t respect it.”
A: Exactly and this is what our youth faces today, fear. If they say it they are damned to Hell by not only their families and friends but by society as a whole.
Q: What’s the difference being “careless” and “atheist?” I meet so many people who call themselves atheist when they really mean that they don’t subscribe to any other religion.
A: Yes, for the past two years I used to describe myself as agnostic until I realized that I strongly disbelieve in the existence of any God as there is no real evidence, which is what led me to become an atheist. Religions are all mythical. This is the argument that usually offends others… but I don’t have anything against their views! I’m just saying what I believe and people here go crazy about it.
Q: A lot of Muslims all over the Muslim world would literally kill anyone who disagrees and then they expect progress. In my opinion this isn’t really Islam. By the way, what do you think about Koranic (real) Islam and political Islam?
A: No offense but the fact that there are so many types of Islam only proves that it’s not a real religion but rather one created simply for the sake of social control.
Q: … If they dislike anything about you, what you’re wearing, or what your opinions are, they immediately blame you for being an infidel. And don’t even get me started on justifications of rape.
A: I know, it’s like I can see your hair and I’m very tempted to rape you. Islam gives me that right, it told you to wear a hijab and you didn’t! Now I can rape you and Allah will understand. Heh.
Q: Actually, this is an existing mentality. You find this argument all over. Is it really our fault when men claim they can’t control their raging desires to have sex with any woman who shows her face or hell, even HANDS?
A: My girlfriend is Japanese and she tells me that this same idea exists in their culture too, which is also very male dominant. Of course this is with Geishas, not with hijab. As you know Geishas paint their faces white, and if a man sees a trace of her real skin color, this is considered very tempting! I was surprised when she told me. Whenever we discuss these things it’s really amazing how many similarities we have.
Q: … you even quickly agreed to do this interview, why?
A: To show everyone that Arabs aren’t really what most people say we are especially with regards to our youth. Atheism, converts, apostasy, these are all considered big taboos that’s why we don’t talk about it. People fail to understand us and who we really are when we fail to discuss these things publicly and securely. Everyone thinks we’re so oppressed and that we easily fall for religion or that we are comfortable with our societal and cultural restrictions, but we are so diverse here. Arabs should never be defined as Muslims. We’re all different and fellow Arabs need to learn how to respect this difference instead of trying to make everyone else think the way they do.
Q: Do you find Islam to be a problem that leads to our societal restrictions?
A: Well, a lot of religious Muslims are decent and understand the importance of living in a free and tolerant society. I know that Islam is not our problem. Politics is our weakness and Islam is just an excuse that many of our governments successfully get away with.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Bahrain, Mideast Youth, Arab, Muslim, Islam, God, Koran, Allah, Geisha, Japan[/tags]