Spreading Enlightenment Ideas Beyond Borders

An interview with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar


Islamic terror has been trending down for five years.

Some American officials said this would never happen.

America has failed to properly fight terrorism, said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, so it "has spread, gaining countless new adherents."

Others said fundamentalism's demand for religious obedience over individual freedom means "peace is not possible." Muslims will never embrace Enlightenment ideals like individual freedom and separation of church and state.

But Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, of the group Ideas Beyond Borders, calls that view "ignorant." He says Middle Eastern young people are moving away from fundamentalism. Surveys do show Middle Eastern youth are becoming less religious and less trusting of religious leaders.

Faisal credits the internet. "Facebook, the social media entry to the Middle East, has been kind of revolutionary." It introduced young people to American sitcoms. Friends and Seinfeld, subtitled in Arabic, "show you what good life looks like."

Faisal grew up in Iraq and had a very different upbringing. "I was told, 'you cannot hold hands with this woman…cannot listen to that music.'" That leads young people to "develop a lot of resentment against the establishment."

But until social media was invented, most didn't know about alternatives.

After Faisal escaped Iraq and discovered the freedoms of America, he started Ideas Beyond Borders, which translates articles and books about individual rights into Arabic. They also make short videos about these ideas.

His social media following grew quickly. One of his Facebook pages has 3.5 million likes. "People were searching for it," he says in my newest video, because "this was the first time the ideas of freedom and liberty were available in Arabic."

He asks his audience what videos they would like to see and what books "that if you publish yourself, you might get blown up" they would like translated next. "They often say Steven Pinker," he says.

"What does Steven Pinker say that deserves being blown up?" I ask.

"Enlightenment," he replies. "The values of reason, and science, and separation of church and state, in this case, mosque and state. And freedom of economy. Freedom of movement has really led to a prosperous society."

In the last few years, more young people have pushed back against their countries' repression. "They want individual rights. They want freedom of speech," says Al Mutar.

At those protests, Faisal's volunteers set up tents and pass out Western books like Lying by Sam Harris and Pinker's Enlightenment Now.

Some of his supporters have been attacked by radicals. One was killed.

But Faisal claims young people are winning the war of ideas.

I push back. "I've been told optimistic things before. Arab Spring was supposed to change everything."

Arab Spring was "overblown," he replies. But then the brief rule of ISIS changed the minds of some even very religious people.

"Some believed in the concepts that ISIS advocated…establishing a caliphate and establishing religious law," says Faisal. "But then they live under it and see a beheaded woman and gays being thrown from rooftops. Most people there are just like anyone else. They want to live in peace and prosperity."

Faisal's journey to peace and prosperity began when he was a teen. His neighborhood "became infested with al-Qaida members." He received death threats. That's when he came to America.

"Is America what you expected?" I ask.

"Definitely," he replies. "In fact, much better than I thought."

Americans welcomed him into their homes and gave him books.

Now, Ideas Beyond Borders translates those books into Arabic. "We have 120 translators working for us full time."

It's good that Ideas Beyond Borders spreads the word about freedom.


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  2. The citizens of the Middle East have been experiencing a red white and blue dawn scenario for a century.

    Our boots are on their ground, murdering, stealing land, destroying infrastructure and undermining self governance.

    Only western propaganda calls them terrorists.

  3. Unfortunately, we will have to fight to keep Enlightenment values alive in this country during the Biden Administration and Democrat controlled Congress.

    1. Middle Eastern young people are moving away from fundamentalism
      While Western youth are moving toward a different fundamentalism.

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    2. Radical left wing totalitarian violence IS “Enlightenment values” you historically illiterate dumbfucks. America’s religionists in the colonial period prevented it from fully embracing the Enlightenment as France did. Moral relativism, nihilism, and multiculturalism. You are reaping the fruits of “Enlightenment values”.

      1. The US is the heir to the Sottish Enlightenment. The French Enlightenment took some very wrong turns.

        1. ” The French Enlightenment took some very wrong turns.”

          If only they’d listened to McVoltaire instead of that other guy.

    3. don’t worry i’m sure Biden will have Mr Al Mutar arrested for publishing videos just like they did that other person that they blamed Bengazzi on. Probably under copyright rules or some such BS

  4. And let’s make sure they stay beyond our borders! Enough is enough!

  5. Others said fundamentalism’s demand for religious obedience over individual freedom means “peace is not possible.” Muslims will never embrace Enlightenment ideals like individual freedom and separation of church and state.

    Does religion include political ideology? Are Muslims like SJWs?

    1. “Does religion include political ideology? ”

      Perhaps. Muslims have been pretty sound on business and trade. It was thanks the Muslim traders that the use of the convenient ‘arabic number system’ spread around the world. The Islamic revolution of Iran succeeded in no small part due to the support of the bazaari class, Iran’s small business community. Incredibly, it’s possible to be both pro market and anti enlightenment.

      1. Actually, so-called “Arabic Numerals” were Sanskrit in origin. It’s just that the Europeans first saw the Arabs using them and attributed the numerals to the Arabs.

        Islam also forbids charging of interests on loans, which is a big disincentive for business capital to move into Islamic-ruled nations, as well as a disincentive for people to maximize existing resources outside of financing and banking.

        Moreover, the Islamic prohibition on alcohol and pork means that when Islam conquered a territory, vineyards and wineries were abandoned, hogs were loosed into the wild, where they uprooted and ate vegetation and trees and created desert.

        Before the U.S. and the West brought drilling and refinery technology, Muslims were using crude oil on open wounds like the Ancient Romans with their “heroic medicine” techniques. They literally didn’t know what to do with oil without us teaching them.

        Finally, treating women as property, stoning and defenestrating homosexuals, relegating Jews and Christians to the status of pets, and slaughtering Polytheists like Hindus means that Islam destroyed much human intellectual and physical human potential.

        So, no, “Free Minds and Free Markets” really are all of a single piece.

        1. “Actually, so-called “Arabic Numerals” were Sanskrit in origin. It’s just that the Europeans first saw the Arabs using them and attributed the numerals to the Arabs.”

          Hence the ironic quotation marks. Europeans were introduced to the system by Muslim Arabic speakers, not speakers of Sanskrit. It’s more likely that Sanskrit speakers introduced the system to the Chinese and other East Asians, but these peoples adopted it from the Europeans, even though they too call it ‘arabic numbers.’

          “Islam also forbids charging of interests on loans”

          I believe usury is deprecated in other Abrahamic religions. Same goes for homosexual practices, and support for genital mutilation, especially of males, is the norm. Christians have a particularly shameful record of pogroms and witch hunts against other faiths and free thinkers. Hypatia and Galileo come to mind.

          1. All very true. Which is why I would say to Muslims that they don’t need to submit to ANY God. Don’t replace one shitty religion with another.

            1. Religious persuasion is a personal matter. I don’t think telling Muslims that they needn’t submit to their god would change anything. They would probably resentfully tell you our beliefs and disbeliefs are our business, so butt out.

              1. Yet by the very words of Mohammed, they want to make their religion the entire world’s, so simply stating that they need no God is tame by comparison.

        2. I understand that Sanskrit scholars from India invited to Korea in the mid 14 hundreds were important influences in the development of Hangul, the syllabic ‘alphabet’ used in South and particularly North Korea today. I reckon ‘arabic numbers’ were widely adopted in the peninsula only since early in the 20th century after being introduced by Buddhist and Shinto Japanese speaking colonial occupiers rather than Sanskrit or Arabic speakers.

  6. Feisal Saeed Al-Mutar has the absolutely right idea for counter-Jihad!

    By contrast, Red China has got it all wrong with its imprisonment of Muslim Uyghur civilians in concentration camps. This only stokes Islamist Jihadis in the martyrdom complex they revel in and use to terrorize and conquer the Kuffir.

    Yes, we should still hunt down Al-Queda, Boko Haram, Al-Shabob, and ISIS to the ends of the Earth.

    But when it comes to Muslim non-combatants, the way to fight Islamist Jihad is not by dehumanization, but by treating Muslims like human beings, something that Islam has never done for them.

    Tell the Muslim masses that they have dignity and don’t deserve to be forced to face Mecca with their asses in the air 5 times daily to pray to some bloodthirsty desert Sky-Father named Allah! Tell them they don’t need to supplicate and submit to any other God by any other name as well!

    Tell the Muslim women what I once told one in a store: That they don’t have to risk heatstroke in the Summertime by wearing headscarves and black circus tents! Let them know they can remove them and you won’t tell anyone!

    Let both Muslim men and women know that “honor” is something that nobody else’s words or deeds can take away and that “honor” isn’t worth cauterizing little girl’s clitorises, throwing battery acid in their faces, or snuffing out innocent life!

    Let them all know that, while not mandatory, they are certainly welcome to a barbecue pork plate, a glass of beer, wine, or whiskey, or any other hospitality American and Western people have to offer.

    (Vinegar-based Eastern Carolina BBQ is best, but that’s a friendly Jihad best fought later away from our Muslim guests, until they are acclimated to our weird ways.????)

    Finally, tell the children of Muslim parents that they are not born Muslim or anything else religiously or philosophically. Trach them that, with thought and effort, they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, that all good things are found on Earth and in the Natural Universe, and there’s is much more to life than strapping on dynamite vests and murdering their fellow human beings!

    Carry on, Enlightenmenteers, both in the East and the West!

    1. “Tell the Muslim masses that…”

      … if they are oppressed by Islam they are free to come to the USA, seek asylum and enjoy the freedoms that all humans deserve. This may be the best way to shore up the values of the Enlightenment both within and beyond the border.

      1. There is that too. All I ask of immigrants anywhere is that whatever caused what brought you here must stay home.

        Disease, famine, poverty, superstition, crime, terrorism, and tyranny all have to stop at The Golden Door, but otherwise, come, work, save, invest, play, and enjoy!

        1. “Disease, famine, poverty, superstition, crime, terrorism, and tyranny all have to stop at The Golden Door”

          I think these things are already among us, and always have been. Blaming Muslims isn’t going to make them go away.

          1. True, but nobody needs any more of these, and this goes for all immigrants, not just people from Islamic nations.

            1. Immigrants are threatening, sure, but not because they are terrorists, superstitious or poor etc. Immigrants tend to have more gumption, moxie and are less risk averse than the native born who might think they are owed a living.

    2. “By contrast, Red China has got it all wrong with its imprisonment of Muslim Uyghur civilians in concentration camps. ”

      I wouldn’t be too sure. Imperial China during the 19th century saw the slaughter of vast numbers of Christians during the Boxer rebellion and even more Hmong Animists during their conflict with government.

      I’m skeptical about reports in the media about the situation in Xinjiang. Here’s a report about a massacre in Yunnan, which I heard vague reports of while I was there in Yunnan, but since has seemingly been erased from history:

      Pingyuan township of Yunnan Province of China and several neighboring villages had been a smuggling center for guns, gold and drugs since 1980’s. Most of the 15,000 residents in this area are Hui Muslim immigrants, who used to take advantage of community solidarity and “minority and religion privileges” to hide gun smugglers and drug traffickers

      The post-GCR (Great Cutural Revolution) communist government adopted much more cautious and moderate policies than GCR era in dealing with Muslims. Back in early 1980’s, those policies overrode law enforcement in many cases to set Muslim criminals free and finally got the communist government in huge troubles: in Pingyuan area, police were routinely killed in ambushes, communist mayor was murdered and multiple police stations were demolished.

      In the end the communist government determined to purge Pingyuan of cancers. The 1992 anti-drug raid was carried out by 2,000 soldiers. Dozens of armed insurgents were killed during the raid. Three soldiers were killed under a disguised gun bunker. In the next 80 days of reinstatement of law and order, 800 more suspects were arrested. The raid also seized about one ton of drugs and ~900 illegal weapons. A number of Chinese Han girls held by Muslims as sex slaves were rescued. Many Miao, Han and Yi residents, who were forced to leave their home by Muslim immigrants, took back their houses and lands.

      Since the 1992 overhaul operation, Pingyuan hasn’t had any major drug dealing or Muslim riot issues.

      1. The drug referred to above is heroin from Myanmar. The town was never more than a transshipment point and not a ‘smuggling center.’ My source in Myanmar military intelligence led me to believe that Xinjiang was the best place in China to procure illegal weapons, for what it’s worth.

        1. So where did this report come from? We are talking about a nation that suppressed news of the COVID-19 outbreak and allowed it to spread worldwide.

          1. “So where did this report come from? ”

            I found a reference to it on the internet using a the duck duck go search engine. Before that I was aware of the incident by word of mouth from residents who lived in the area.

            “and allowed it to spread worldwide”

            Viruses don’t need permission to spread. That’s one of the things that make them dangerous. The virus would have spread even if the Chinese government ordered it not to.

            1. But it wouldn’t have got far if people knew of the source of contagion and took steps to isolate it. The Reds in China suppressed that knowledge and the Doctors who revealed it.

      2. Even so, none of this justifies imprisoning the innocent in concentration camps and “re-education centers.” None of that stops the Islamist threat and indeed, stokes their martyrdom complex.

        Anywho, Red China is hypocritical about Islam. They don’t want Muslims in their midst, yet they will use nuclear armed Islamic Pakistan as a “cat’s paw” against India. Indeed, they provided the technology for Pakistan to make their nuclear missiles. And those Chinese SKSs don’t just export themselves to Islamic terrorists worldwide.

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