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Cenk Uygur

On this date in 1970, Cenk Kadir Uygur was born in Istanbul, Turkey. When he was 8, his family moved to New Jersey, where he graduated from high school. He majored in management at the Wharton School of Business, and later earned a J.D. from Columbia University. Uygur was raised as a "not-very-strict" Muslim but lost his faith after taking a college course about Islam and reading the Quran and the Bible.

He now describes himself as a secular humanist and an agnostic. He worked as an attorney, then became involved in local talk radio and television news production. In 2004 he created the online news talk show “The Young Turks.” In addition to internet video, the show was also broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio until 2010.

Uygur has appeared on many television networks as a commentator, including MSNBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera. In 2010 he became a substitute host and paid contributor for MSNBC. In January 2011 he became the anchor of MSNBC Live, but left the network in June 2011 and started hosting “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur” on Current TV, which went off the air in 2013.

In 2018 "The Young Turks" launched its own 24-hour channel on YouTube TV. In 2010 he accepted FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award. He received the American Humanist Association's 2012 Humanist Media Award. Uygur and his wife Wendy Lang have a son, Prometheus Maximus, and a daughter, Joy.

Uygur apologized in 2017 for a series of blog posts from 1999 to the mid-2000s that were sexist toward girls and women, calling what he wrote "offensive, insensitive and ignorant.” He said he wrote the posts, deleted more than a decade earlier, while he was a conservative and before he underwent a political transformation into a liberal.

“I’m offended by [evangelical leaders’] actions, but I’m not offended by their opinion. They believe in a sky god who’s going to suck them up into the sky with a vacuum cleaner. What’s there to get offended by? That’s funny! That’s hilarious! Have at it, Hoss, I’d love to see it!”

—Uygur speech to FFRF’s 2010 national convention

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski; photo by Brent Nicastro

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