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Some Young Arabs See Secular State as Solution to Terrorism

FILE - A Palestinian youth reads verses of the Quran, Islam's holy book, during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan at the beach side Mosque in Gaza City, June 9, 2016.

As terrorist attacks linked to radical Islam leave more and more families devastated, some are suggesting a separation of mosque and state in Middle Eastern nations.

Writer and humanist Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar spoke with HashtagVOA about the importance of supporting young Arabs who are fighting to take religion out of politics.

“There is a growing number of Arab young millennials between 20 and 30 who are mostly advocating for human rights and secular liberal values," Faisal told VOA. "I think that the United States and the West should stand in solidarity with these people.”

The recent shooting of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, was very quickly politicized, as American presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump explored how to prevent future attacks with their respective agendas.

Faisal, though deeply saddened by the event, has openly politicized it — looking to politics in the Middle East as the root of the problem.

"Unfortunately the issue is political," Faisal said, citing the long list of Arab countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. "I lived in Iraq — I lost my brother, my cousin, and al-Qaida targeted many of my friends — and I would like to see less of these attacks.”

Faisal does not seem optimistic that the Islamic faith will grow to accept the LGBT community, citing not only government punishments for homosexuality, but also both Islamic State and Al-Qaida, who use religion to claim that homosexuals should be thrown off of tall buildings.

"If religions don't modernize to accept LGBT & women's rights, then religions need to die, not people," Faisal said in a recent Facebook post.

A former Iraqi refugee now working in New York City, Faisal founded the Global Secular Humanist Movement, an organization promoting secular humanism, a worldview that emphasizes human interests, the inherent worth of nontheistic individuals, and the belief that human beings can be ethical and moral without religion or a god.

"The Global Secular Humanist Movement is a social movement that aims to promote public understanding and acknowledgment of the secular humanistic worldview, including economical freedom, equal individual rights and acceptance for people who hold it," the organization's Facebook page says.

The Facebook page, awarded Favorite Agnostic/Atheist Facebook Page of 2011 by Readers' Choice Awards, has over 300,000 likes.

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