My name is Omar Khalil, and I have been an atheist for 10 years.
I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, in a deeply religious environment. I was raised to fear Allah and resent the kafir. By age 12, I had memorised over a quarter of the Quran by heart and was terrified of what punishment might befall me if I missed even one prayer.
I moved to the UK in 2005, at age 15, but my path to atheism began in earnest when I went to university in London in 2010. What began as a desire to improve the image of Islam through community engagement and activism turned into an even stronger desire to fight for the right to freedom from religion, champion critical thinking, and work towards a fully free and secular society.
Over the course of several years, through extensive personal research into theology, history, and critical thinking, I came to two key conclusions. One, that my own morals are in direct conflict with those I was brought up to adhere to. Two, that superstition and belief without evidence is ultimately toxic to the mind and harmful to society. It is to be combatted wherever possible, through debate, discourse, and activism.
My personal role model is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her story resonates deeply with me, and I aim to emulate her methods of debate and thinking to help create a better world for ex-Muslims and atheists.