Born in Babylon, Raised in Baghdad, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar experienced the villainy of extremism and authoritarian regimes firsthand. He survived the Iraq Civil War, the murder of his brother, and several kidnapping attempts before becoming a refugee in the United States in 2013. A practitioner of countering extremism and misinformation on an international scale, he’s traveled to conferences and spoken on campuses across the globe on his experiences working to create an alternative positive change in the region. He founded the organization Ideas Beyond Borders, a non-profit dedicated to empowering people across the globe with access to new ideas and fresh perspectives. Faisal received the “President’s Volunteer Service Award” from President Barack Obama and is a Fellow at the Elevate Prize Foundation.
“Still, one thing I do know is focusing only on the negative helps perpetuate a victimhood mentality that is helpful to no one, most notably to those who are actually victims of injustice. Had I listened to the naysayers and cynics, my life might look very different than it does today. I might never have started Ideas Beyond Borders, or become friends with some of the most prominent intellectuals in the country. Instead, I held my head high and relentlessly pursued the success and life that was available to me here, and I am better for it. Americans who consider themselves activists should think twice before painting this country as such a terrible place to live. They could unknowingly be thwarting a new immigrant’s hopes and dreams before they even have a chance to try to make it here. I am so glad I didn’t listen to them.” From his article, Overcoming American Cynicism