12-Year-Old in Egypt Lays Into Theocratic Fundies Like You Wouldn’t Believe

This kid, Ali Ahmed, is amazing. He speaks with poise and clarity and reason, and his arguments really do seem to come from deep within, rather than being a collection of learned-by-rote platitudes.

The Arab world does not have to devolve into a pit of fundie misery. If it doesn’t, this young man — and other brave, brainy whippersnappers like him — will be the reason why.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Fred

    Well he just put a giant target around his neck.

  • flyb

    Pretty neat (if it’s legit and not some internet pranksters adding bogus captions over a kid talking about a recent soccer match or something).

  • CoboWowbo

    From the Huffington Post:

    ” While some Reddit commenters have questioned whether the interview was improperly translated or may have been staged, Arabic-speaking commenters say the translation is accurate, and the boy’s evident passion in speaking suggests his tirade was not scripted. ”


  • flyb

    Nice. Thanks for the info!

  • CoboWowbo

    No problem :)

  • Stev84

    Yeah, I wondered about that too for a second :)

  • Great Hit

    He has a lot of passion, however, he made the same mistake as a lot of people do. I hate that statement of “manipulating the religion to do things it doesn’t command”. I commend his efforts, but that is still a juvenile thing to say. It’s like if someone were to force christianity on the US as the country’s religion, then try to have all of the gay people killed. You will get people shouting up and down the street that it isn’t something commanded by the bible. Yet, it is and others will know it.

  • Chris Ho-Stuart

    Good to know the captions are legit! So now can someone confirm that this isn’t an adult midget with 40 years experience in politics and activism? :-)

  • Noah Smith

    Jeez give him a break, he’s twelve year old Egyptian kid.

  • 3lemenope

    It may not, strictly speaking, be accurate in all cases, but nonetheless it is still a vitally important approach to these types of social debates in societies whose people are accurately characterized as having broad and strong religious commitments. It is important to use arguments justified by sources of authority that one’s audience is already primed to accept.

    So, for example, one argument where this comes in handy is regarding female genital mutilation in North Africa in predominantly Muslim areas. It is important for the argument to be made, in public, by Muslims toward Muslims, that Islam does not encourage the practice of FGM. Are there oodles of great secular reasons not to tolerate the practice? Of course. But if you want to stop the practice in a place where Islam is taken as a social authority, some space needs to be made between Islam as an institution and the practice that you want to curtail.

  • Jim Hudlow

    That in no way appeared to be somehow contrived….that young man showed passion and knowledge born of experience and questioning. I am so impressed with him and I hope we don’t read of his untimely demise by the powers he is rightly exposing. That area of the world has a habit of eliminating such voices.

  • Jim Hudlow

    Go live in Egypt a while and then you try and express it more correctly based on how you are treated or what you view going on….and yes…give him a break…he is a very advanced 12 years old…tho growing up there does not allow you to be a kid for long I suspect.

  • Jim Hudlow

    Sadly that is so true.

  • sk3ptik0n

    Juvenile? I guess he is entitled to that.
    I dare anyone to take 20 US high school students and just have them spell half of what this kid has intimate knowledge of.
    Heck, there are plenty of elected officials that don’t know what Fascism means. Forget the high schoolers.

  • Miss_Beara

    I hope the kid stays safe. We know what happened to the girl who wanted education for girls – thankfully she survived.

  • Fredsta

    F***ing AWESOME! Go free Egypt!

  • Jason Hinchliffe

    I’m floored. I’ll be forwarding this video to my teacher friends. Our kids need to learn a lesson from Ali.

  • starmom

    I love the guy in the background alternately dying of laughter and beaming with pride. Dad, maybe?

  • allein

    I had to watch it again just to watch that guy. I kept seeing him out of the corner of my eye while I was trying to read the captions the first time, and at first I couldn’t tell what he was doing. My guess was Dad, too.

  • 3lemenope

    All areas of the world have a habit of eliminating such voices.

  • tsara

    …can he run Egypt, please? It would make me feel so much better about the world.

  • Theodore (Tugs) Njáll McCowan

    Can he come to America and sort out the problems?

  • TeamRed_vs_TeamBlue

    The kid is awesome. Stand by for the fundie nutballs to kill him now.

  • http://religionconfidencetrick.blogspot.com/ jonny

    Purging one’s betters for making you look bad (in comparison) or fear that they’ll simply prove too competitive is surely one of the most terrifying Self-destructive horrors our species routinely engages in.

  • M. Kontak

    Note, that German-Egyptian author and atheist Hamed Abdel-Samad has been the aim of a fatwa shortly before the overthrow because he described the Muslim Brothers as being fascist (May also be worth a post here, but I actually don’t find an English source for that).
    Let’s hope, that this brave boy has more luck…

  • SeekerLancer

    Unfortunately a lot of these problems haven’t even been sorted out in places like the United States yet.

  • David McNerney

    Dad should be proud – of himself, or whoever created the environment that nurtured this incredible young man. He didn’t lick this off the ground.

  • Artor

    Ali Ahmed for President of Egypt!!!

  • towercam

    AGREED! Ali Ahmed is sharp, alive and aware.
    Would that his style of awareness becomes the way to be!
    I encourage All to share the video and article, please!

    I’d like to see a collection of videos of sharp-minded kids.
    It will show the adults where their minds should at least be.
    Maybe it will go viral. That would be a very good thing.
    Let’s make that happen! :)

  • BenofSoCal

    Wow! Just Wow!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    That young man is amazing and inspiring. I hope he survives.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Funny how you never see Joe Klein risking his life standing in the middle of an Islamic country torn by revolution decrying the evils of Islamic theocracy.

  • baal

    I’m enjoying your series of Joe Klein meme comments.

  • Guest

    I had the same thought. Extremist/militant Muslims are not going to like his comments and they’ve killed for less.