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Egypt’s New Proposal To Fight And Cure… Atheism

We’ve got to be ready
We’ve got to prepare
The atheist danger is already there
So call the professors, and
Summon the shrinks
There’s harm in the way that an atheist thinks

We made a proposal
And got it approved
Which will see that the atheist problem’s… removed
The godless need helping
Oh, what they’ve endured!
They’re sick, we can tell, and it’s time that they’re cured

We’ll collect their objections
The weak and the strong
In a site where we’ll show that they’re totally wrong
A government project
With just the right touch…
And no one will claim we’re protesting too much

I vaguely remember hearing about this when it was first in the works, but now the proposal has been approved:

Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments), Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a, approved a proposal prepared by a group of Awqaf scholars and experts in psychiatry and sociology to oppose atheism through forming an alliance between the Ministry of Awqaf and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The plan aims to confront the atheistic “phenomenon” by making the youth aware of the danger it poses for religion, morality, and patriotism. Part of the plan also consists of “curing” atheists psychologically, religiously, and socially.

They have seen what happens when the internet makes information and arguments available to everyone, so they know they need to do more than just shout:

In addition, the scheme focuses on collecting and studying all precedent cases made by atheists and proving them wrong, giving obligatory training by experts in psychiatry, sociology, and Islamic jurisdiction, and training university students and young ex-atheists to take part in the oppositional phenomenon. Other plans include “preventive” campaigns for youth and targeting atheism from its core roots and popular areas of expansion. A training program for imams and youth who wish to take part in this initiative is also part of the plan.

A Facebook page under the name of the “بالعقل كده”- which roughly translates to “using rationality” – a slang phrase used to invite people to reconsider and think matters through – will be created to serve as a public form of communication with youth. The aim behind the page is to provide a platform for questions by atheists, and also agnostics, to be answered and to provide methods of assistance for their family members to use.

But hey, they aren’t total dicks:

The Ministry of Youth also plans to set up a hot line to offer scientific and social means of assistance to the families of the atheists, in collaboration with an advisory-committee comprised of of Al-Azhar scholars.

Your family will be taken care of while you are being re-educated.

Egypt Independent has a brief (really, just four sentences!) summary that I find somehow chilling in its brevity:

Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa approved a plan that was prepared by several scholars, sociologists and psychiatrists to confront atheism.

The measure aims to raise awareness among Egypt’s youth of the dangers of atheism on morals, beliefs and nationalism.

The plan also entails answering the misconceptions of atheists through workshops, social media and a hotline that offers support to atheists and their families.

The project will be supervised through a committee of Al-Azhar scholars.

And I have to wonder, would the religious right in the U.S. look at this as horrendous, or as something to strive for?

Comments

  1. says

    Other plans include “preventive” campaigns for youth and targeting atheism from its core roots and popular areas of expansion.

    This is funny.
    They really don’t understand that many people became atheists because they read their religious tomes.

  2. Foxcanine says

    “The plan aims to confront the atheistic “phenomenon” by making the youth aware of the danger it poses for religion, morality, and patriotism. ‘
    Translation: We’re going to indoctrinate your children in hopes that they never hear about the B.S. we’re spewing.

  3. Randomfactor says

    Yeah, it’s totally like those idiots trying to ban Harry Potter, which made it the must-read for their kids.

    ( By the way, I can’t log in on your page. I have to go to Dispatches and log in at Ed’s page. Whatever he’s doing, could that be default-copied to everyone else? Kthxbai.)

  4. =8)-DX says

    This sounds like Egypts’ Normalization. Lock up the religious and secular radicals, curtail free speach, centralize political power and authority, undo previous laws… return to and preserve the status quo.

  5. anubisprime says

    There are many theist movers and shakers that would have envy rotting their heart for such a law in the USA…most seem to be running for political office.

    ‘jus sayin’….

  6. steffp says

    Can’t wait to check that بالعقل كده website.
    Strictly gender-segregated,Al-Azhar madrassa, which mutated to a university in 1961 – meaning they added a few “secular” curricula – is devoted to ““master all knowledge of the world and the hereafter, not least the technology of modern weapons to strengthen and defend the community and faith
    But, on the other hand, the influence of Sufi thought is strong, and they try to bridge the gap to the Shia sect. They also oppose (Saudi-inspired) Wahhabism and Salafism. Which renders them centrist in the Islamic spectrum.
    Nevertheless their publications, politely speaking, tend to be very low-grade apologetic. The site will most likely create a permanent Streisand-effect.

  7. busterggi says

    The Religious Reich in the US has been pushing for this for decades, just change the word for god.

  8. John Horstman says

    [Meta] [O/T] @Randomfactor #3: Do you mean you can’t actually log in at all, or that logging in sends you to a page with links back to Dispatches and the front page instead of the blog you were at? The latter is a long-running problem with the login system. Users who registered through particular blogs (instead of the front page) can only log in through those blogs or the front page. I was helping Jason to troubleshoot this a while back (I am likewise restricted to Dispatches, because that’s where I registered originally since it was one of the handful of blogs requiring registration before the site-wide shift to combat ongoing harassment and specifically impersonation/sock-puppetry), but he was unable to completely solve the issue at that point. He changed things so people should be able to log in wherever they are on FtB, but the automatic redirect to the dashboard still doesn’t work unless it’s the main page or the particular blog where the user registered. If you want a better-informed response (but probably not a solution) or if your problem is that you can’t log in at all, use the tech issue reporting link in the top menu bar to report the problem.

  9. John Horstman says

    On-topic: Yikes. Not really surprising, but bad nonetheless. Also probably an effort doomed to failure: they might be able to force well-reasoned atheists back into the closet, but they almost certainly won’t be able to get them to actually believe in the religious dogma.

  10. Pen says

    Nothing supports morals, beliefs and nationalism quite like a blatant disregard for the truth. Everyone know that!

  11. Ed says

    There was mention of a hotline. So if you have doubts, call the hotline to speak with a brilliant religious apologist/rationalizer to argue you back into belief. Jobs for unemployed theologians I guess.

  12. Ichthyic says

    “The plan aims to confront the atheistic “phenomenon” by making the youth aware of the danger it poses for religion, morality, and patriotism. ‘

    I so love showing things like this to irrational people that spew the idea that ATHEISM is responsible for governments like those of Stalin and Hitler.

  13. Ichthyic says

    And I have to wonder, would the religious right in the U.S. look at this as horrendous, or as something to strive for?

    wait, you have to wonder? why?

    all you have to do is look at things like “Christian Camp” and see they have ALREADY been doing this for years.

    why do you think all the religious nutters support voucher education systems and vote for people who say they will tear down the public education system?

    in some ways, in some places in the US, the systems in place ARE WORSE than those being proposed in Egypt.

    so wish I was kidding, but I think you must be living in denial. :(

  14. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ed @ # 12: So if you have doubts, call the hotline to speak with a brilliant religious apologist/rationalizer …

    And have no doubts that the nice person on the other end will not cut you off or hang up, but will earnestly engage you in probing dialog – at least long enough for the cops to reach and surround your house.

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