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Anti-Atheist Crackdown Coming in Egypt?

Egypt is hardly known as a haven for religious freedom, even after the military deposed the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. But it appears that things may be about to get worse as the Sisi government prepares for a crackdown on atheists in that country.

Labelling Egyptian atheists as terrorists might be just a bit too confusing because the Sisi regime has already allocated the Muslim Brotherhood to the terrorism slot.

Instead, the government is preparing to launch “a national plan to confront the phenomenon of atheism”.

Atheists have become increasingly visible in Egypt since the 2011 revolution and have been using social media to explain their point of view. For example, one Egyptian atheist, Ismail Mohamed, presents a regular talk show on YouTube called Black Ducks.

Since the military takeover in Egypt last year, the official line has been to regard atheism as a social problem, much like crime or drug-taking, and to blame it on the Muslim Brotherhood for giving Islam a bad name…

Not to be outdone – and despite the fact that atheism is not actually illegal in Egypt – the head of Alexandria’s Security Directorate also told the programme he was forming a task force of police officers specialised in tackling such “crimes” to round up atheists…

According to al-Ahram, the forthcoming national plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism in Egypt is being developed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. This may seem odd, but atheism in the Arab countries is often viewed as a “problem” that temporarily affects young people, until they eventually see sense. (A Saudi atheist in his late forties recently told me that his family are still assuming he will grow out of it.)

Al-Ahram reports that the “phenomenon of atheism” has been discussed by Ne’mat Sati from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Dr Ahmed Turk from the Ministry of Awqaf and Dr Majid Ayad, a professor of artificial intelligence. The newspaper says this was the second in a series of meetings to prepare the national plan.

The plan, apparently, will be multi-faceted, involving “religious, psychological, educational and social” specialists.

This is not good news for Albert Saber, Ben Baz and many other Egyptian atheists who live in constant fear already.

Comments

  1. Sastra says

    Yes, it looks like it’s going to get very bad in Egypt. All the more reason to work on making the idea that ‘religion is sacred’ less sacred around the world.

    Although I would certainly not expect the same thing to happen in the United States, I am anticipating some wistful praise coming out of the usual suspects.

  2. matty1 says

    As far as I can tell Sisi is indistinguishable from Mubarak only better at vote rigging. Seriously no one gets 96% of the vote without something being off.

  3. says

    matty1 “As far as I can tell Sisi is indistinguishable from Mubarak only better at vote rigging. Seriously no one gets 96% of the vote without something being off.”
    Their Populist message of low taxes and hippie punching really resonated with the common voter, plus Sabahi was seen as being weak in the War on Terror, on account of him not having any tanks and planes and guns. Plus Sisi’s New Black Panthers were actual panthers.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    And US Sec. of State John Kerry responds with $500M worth of kill toys.

    To think he used to be a progressive, decades ago…

  5. Nick Gotts says

    Pierce R. Butler@9

    It’s not just a crackdown on atheists. It’s banning of the Muslim Brotherhood*, thousands of arrests both of MB members and secular dissidents, clampdowns on freedom of speech, assembly, press and social media, hundreds of death sentences on flimsy evidence, three Al Jazeera journalists sentenced to years in jail for doing their jobs… But none of that counts for anything against the need for a US-compliant regime in a geostrategically vital country.

    *No, I don’t like the MB, but it is a mass movement which repeatedly proved its appeal to the Egyptian people at the ballot box. Such movements have to be defeated politically, not crushed by brute force, if you actually want anything like a free society. Of course, the American elite doesn’t want a free society in Egypt, as it might act against their interests. A compliant military regime with a democratic facade is ideal.

  6. iangould says

    But it’s a SECULARIST dictatorship – which many regulars here have been assuring us is the highest form of government ragheads can ever hope to aspire to.

    Sure this government is imprisoning, torturing and executing people at a much greater rate than its Islamist predecessor but for every brave, wise, heroic atheists viciously persecuted for their beliefs a thousand dsubhuman brainwashed Hajis get what’s coming to them.

    Surely that’s a big win for the forces of justice and enlightenment.

  7. freehand says

    Trebuchet: What an utter disaster the “Arab Spring” has turned out to be.
    .
    I think the riots were largely over hunger. With world-wide harvests being disaster, grain prices have more or less doubled in the last few years. When 25% of your family income is spent in the form of whole grains in burlap bags, this is a big deal.
    .
    Yes, they would have preferred a decent democracy, but this is a risk when countries have revolutions. I suspect the new governments won’t be able to feed the people well, either, so the revolution isn’t over yet. A year of watching your children starve will make the parents pretty desperate. I’m not sure there’s anything that any government can do about this, however. Global warming will likely not be good for human rights.
    .
    iangould: But it’s a SECULARIST dictatorship – which many regulars here have been assuring us is the highest form of government ragheads can ever hope to aspire to.
    .
    Cites? Noting the difficulties of fundamentalist religions, revolution, and US interference is not the same as saying that these cultures or tribes are inherently incapable of it.

  8. colnago80 says

    Re iangould @ #11

    The fact is that, if Morsi had been allowed to continue in office, his regime would have imposed an Islamic dictatorship on Egypt, which would have been far worse then what Sissi is imposing.

    Re gotts @ #10

    A comment to be expected from the blog’s resident defender of Islamofascism.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nick Gotts @ # 10 – Indeed, our Secretary of Sellout is rewarding a plethora of power plays, among whom endangered atheists count as collateral damage.

    Since Egyptian gays apparently remain tightly within their closets, Sisi has to pick his scapegoats wherever opportunity allows. Dunno how he’s going to blame rising food and fuel prices on Dawkins, a few bloggers, et al – maybe Chris Hedges will offer some consultation.

  10. iangould says

    Re iangould @ #11

    “The fact is that, if Morsi had been allowed to continue in office, his regime would have imposed an Islamic dictatorship on Egypt, which would have been far worse then what Sissi is imposing.”

    The fact is that you just pulled that “fact” out of your bigoted arse.

  11. colnago80 says

    Re iangould @ #15

    All I know is that the mad mullahs in Iran and Erdogan in Turkey made that their first order of business. I have not the slightest doubt that Morsi would have done the same. Apparently, like Gotts in Scotland, Gould in Oz is an apologist for Islamofascism.

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