A revealing "Interview with an Arab atheist - Does Islam drive its youth away?" By Esra'a (Bahrain) at the Mideast Youth site (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):
While I was in the UAE earlier this week, I conducted an interview with one of my friends who is an atheist.
So I’d like to share this interview with Adel Jalal, a 23 year old business student in Abu Dhabi.
Q: Hi Adel. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: Yes. I’m Adel, a student from the UAE. I love everything about classical Arabic music and I’m addicted to Arabic literature.
Q: Interesting introduction, but I must ask, why do you stress the love of Arab culture so much?
A: I don’t hesitate to describe myself as atheist, but when you describe yourself as such here tell me the first thing that comes to your mind? Probably brainwashed, Satan worshiper, traitor.
Q: True, but that doesn’t really answer the question. Why do you boast about your love of Arab culture, specifically? I noticed that when we first discussed this, you said that you’re an atheist shortly before you tried to convince me that you’re not anti-Arab. Explain to me why you feel the need to do that?
A: Because non-Muslim Arabs are left out. We feel like we have no real space in society, especially in any intellectual field. When I say I’m atheist, people always tell me that I have become traitor. A sell-out. Someone who doesn’t know what it truly means to be “Arab.” Why? Because Arab means Muslim and Muslim means Arab? What does personal religious views have to do with my culture, my past, my identity? An Arab, this is something I am. This is something I take much pride in. Why do people attach my personal opinions to who I am, to my nationality? Does being Arab mean being intellectually identical to every other Arab out there?
Q: Hey, who’s the one asking the questions?! Kidding. I’m very interested in what you’re saying, especially about the left out part, in fact I previously interviewed an Arab Jew who stated just that. It’s a shame really when people aren’t accepting of differences, be it political or religious. So tell me, were you born a Muslim?
A: Yes and raised a Muslim. To be honest this is what drove me against religions.
Q: What do you mean?
A: I mean that religion is everything to a person. Especially when you strictly practice it, it quickly consumes everything you have. If you don’t honestly believe in any religion then you shouldn’t identify yourself as a believer of any religion.
Q: So your choice of being a Muslim has much to do with socialization rather than Islam itself?
A: Precisely. I have a problem with any existing religion that people are forced into. In any normal society there should be a choice, and whatever that choice is, it needs to be respected.
Q: What about Islam? When people learn that you are an ex-Muslim, do they ever imply that you’re anti-Muslim too?
A: Yes even though the connection for me isn’t really there. For a lot of ex-Muslims you will see that they have a major problem with Islam itself most likely due to the societies they live in. My reasons aren’t Islam, in fact I have a bigger problem with Christianity than Islam, and I have no problem with being in a Muslim culture and living around Muslims or being a part of a Muslim family. But I have a problem when someone is offended with my decision of not being a Muslim, and in the Arab world this is a huge problem as I’m sure you know.
Q: Yes, my problem is with Islam being enforced upon people who don’t really accept it but don’t have the balls to say “I don’t want this religion and I don’t respect it.”
A: Exactly and this is what our youth faces today, fear. If they say it they are damned to Hell by not only their families and friends but by society as a whole.
Q: Look at the case of Kareem Amer for example.
A: Yes it’s indeed a very discouraging example of the risks we face if we publicly state anything our society disagrees with.
Q: And that’s exactly why a group of us Muslims are fighting for Kareem despite what he said about Islam … and his main supporters represent Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, and Morocco, so it’s Muslims from all over the Arab world fighting for Kareem. It doesn’t mean we agree with him, it just means that we need to allow these ideas to be stated without people facing harsh consequences, especially a prison sentence!
A: I agree but it’s going to take years for anyone to be really convinced of that. Remember that most Muslims think it’s their duty to silence or kill these types of people; “Kafirs.”
Q: Most Muslims? Come on.
A: Okay, a lot of them.
Read it all.