This month marks 15 years since the events of September 11th, 2001. Nearly every American who was alive during that time remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing on that day. Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar remembers as well - he was 10 and growing up in Baghdad, Iraq.
His parents were Muslim and Faisal's father encouraged him to read, research and make up his own mind what he believed. When the Iraq War started, Faisal and his family were in the middle of the war zone. Faisal walked to school past dead bodies and went to bed with the sounds of fighting surrounding him. It was hell, and Faisal saw first hand not only the failings of US Diplomacy, but the intense problems with Islamic ideology. After the first Iraqi elections Faisal began speaking out against Al Qaeda, both publicly and online and received a number of death threats and close calls.
But Faisal had an idea, "to unite humanists all over the world in order to bring positive change." He formed this idea into the Global Secular Humanist Movement in 2010 which is only one of Faisal's many beautiful humanitarian accomplishments, including receiving the President's Volunteer Service Award from the United States, from President Obama this past August.
I sat down with Faisal a couple of weeks ago to discuss his time growing up in Iraq during the Saddam Regime, his choice to leave Islam and speak out against Al Qaeda, why the definition Islamophobia needs to change and his love for humanity, science and the universe.