"Polarization is the Mother of Extremism" | Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Ideas Beyond Borders

Human rights activist Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is a survivor of the Iraq Civil War, of being placed on an al-Qaeda death list by a high school classmate, and of the murder of his brother. Faisal escaped Iraq and eventually made his way to the United States in 2013. A firm believer that education and a free flow of ideas across the world can combat extremism, he founded Ideas Beyond Borders in 2017 in an effort to prevent extremism before it takes root.

Ideas Beyond Borders has established a range of international programs to empower individuals with knowledge often suppressed by authoritarian regimes and dictatorships. For example, they've translated millions of words into Arabic to encourage diversity of thought, including books by Steven Pinker (who also serves on their board), Sam Harris, and others. They’ve also partnered with Arabic & Kurdish Wikipedia and have reached millions online. According to Ideas Beyond Borders, just 0.6% of content on the internet is available in Arabic, and in the past year more words have been translated into Spanish than the number of words translated into Arabic in the past 1,000 years.

Ideas Beyond Borders is changing this, one word at a time.

In this episode we talk with Faisal about his personal journey, the work Ideas Beyond Borders is doing to combat extremism, his thoughts on polarization in the United States and around the world, and his favorite American holiday. (Hint: it’s right around the corner! )

If we create a new identity that is empowered, that believes in the ideas of diversity and enlightenment in general, then that is the best counter measure to extremism.
— Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

Audrey Scagnelli