Despite its dangers and taboos in the conflict-ridden nation, some Iraqi youth are turning towards atheism. Mariwan Salihi met a few of them.
One of the Iraqi capital’s most vocal young activists, who uses the pseudonym Omar Al-Baghdadi for his own security, is often described as “Baghdad’s Converter.” His mission, among others, is to enlighten his friends and other young people about atheism.
“I became an atheist at an early age, after I investigated my former religion, Islam, in depth. I discovered that my religion is not the only one that exists on earth; there are more than 1100 other faiths and their followers all claim that their religion tells the absolute truth. So religion is a form of Dogma,” the 22-year old engineer and activist says from his home in one of the major Sunni-inhabited areas of Baghdad.
“My parents know I am an atheist, and so do my friends”
According to Al-Baghdadi, most of the writings in the Islamic holy book, the Koran, are labeled as “scientific facts,” which he believes are mostly incorrect. “It has many mistakes,” he adds, claiming that even the ancient Hindu scripts from India, the Vedas, contain more accurate facts than the Koran.
The fact that Omar chose to have no religion, and categorizes himself as an atheist, is no secret to his immediate circle of family and friends.
“My parents know I am an atheist, and so do my friends. My brother, Ahmed, became an atheist too after I led him to some books, and discussing with him about many topics regarding science and philosophy. Even most of my friends have become atheists now,” he claims, because of his posts on social media sites like Facebook.
Although his parents have accepted his choice, and respect him for his intellectuality, he also admits that they “hate it” when he tells them that “there’s no God.”
“Not everyone’s parents or family accept atheism, so some of us might hide our convictions from them.”
But he proudly says, that they have the support of other liberal, secular and atheist individuals and politicians in the country, which he declines to name.
“In the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections, in April, atheists will cast their votes for the secular political blocks and parties,” Omar predicts.