An Iraqi Refugee Becomes a Secular Humanist Leader

Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar, who will be speaking at the opening of the Humanist Hub near Harvard’s campus this weekend, is an Iraqi refugee whose Secular Humanism is very much at odds with his cultural background.

Ken Chitwood of Religion News Service tells Al-Mutar’s powerful story:

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.

Living in Iraq and founding GSHM, Al-Mutar received death threats from al-Qaida elements and the Mahdi Army, two influential and powerful religious militias operating in Iraq. While it is not a crime to be an atheist in Iraq, religious militias take matters into their own hands.

If you haven’t already seen it, the GSHM Facebook page is an excellent resource for religion news from around the world.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.