By Mohamed Hisham
I am Mohamed, an Egyptian human rights activist.
When I was a small child, my parents had a keen interest in my religious education. I attended a school to learn the Koran by heart and I prayed several times a day in a mosque. Islam took over much of my childhood and my beliefs, but by the age of eight I had already come to doubt the validity of its claims and stories.
I became an agnostic at a young age as I could not find conclusive evidence to support the claims made by religion. However, due to social pressure and the immaturity of my critical thinking skills at the time, I chose to hide my true feelings and became a Muslim again. I actually spent my teenage years on the edge of joining a jihadist group, which fortunately did not happen.
During this time, according to Islamic mainstream teachings in Egypt, basically everything that was pleasant, was forbidden. “Immoral” music and movies, sex with men or women outside of marriage were – and continue to be – strictly forbidden. Such restrictions make a person wish for a shorter life in order to reach Islamic paradise. The sooner the better.
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