Recently, an Egyptian atheist, wanted to share information with me regarding a link to a site for Egyptian atheists. This surprised me in light of the recent imprisonment of Alber Saber, in part, for expressing atheist views.
During that conversation, I asked, “Are you OK to be openly atheist there?”
He replied, “No, not really. I am very careful with what I say most of the time…I do get death threats sometimes, but kind of used to it… and obviously my parents don’t know about it.”
Because he is an atheist living in a country where it is unsafe to express his ideas, I volunteered to lend him my voice at this blog and on TAE. I told him to say what he wants to say, and I will make it public, because I live in a country where expression is, obviously, more tolerated. I encourage other atheists in free nations to give voices to our counterparts in gagged situations around the globe. If we can use our freedom of expression to provide a platform to those who are denied it, then it’s well used.
What follows is the message I was given to share publicly. I have corrected a few minor typos, but otherwise, this is unedited:
Egypt from the eyes of an Egyptian Atheist
This is me, writing about Egypt from the first day of January 25th 2011 Revolution till the presidential elections. Me, is an Egyptian ex-Muslim currently an atheist and had been so since I was 17. I am now 31 years old.
Starting 25th January 2011, there were calls for protests against the dictator regime lead by Hosni Mubarak that was basically run by businessmen who were friends of his sons Gamal and Alaa Mubarak.
Me like thousands of Egyptians took it to the streets in peaceful protests, demanding basic human rights, Freedom, Social Justice and good living conditions for all Egyptians. That day was magical with the number of people joining us in the streets who saw that change is possible after the success of the Tunisian revolution.
From that day till the 28th of January 2011 majority of the people in the streets were liberals, secularists, leftists, communists and obviously Egyptians with no political affiliation, people, good people who demand and want change. During that time the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis (“Hardcore Muslims”) were in their houses, the Muslim Brotherhood was waiting to see what will happen and the Salafis were all waiting for a sheikh to issue a fatwa to join in. Some sheikhs said that joining these protests is against Islam, some later joined in with their followers.
We all inhaled tear gas that was expired, got shot at with all kinds of bullets and I personally saw and helped some of the injured, some of which died between my hands. Beautiful, free boys and girls who left their homes from the back of their parents like myself, for a cause that no human should even ask for, as freedom in all its forms should be a birth right. But what should we say about the world we live in that we still are in capable of sharing together as humans. How can we call ourselves Intelligent species with our hatred to one another, and divisions that we created whether it be religious, race country borders, gender or skin color.
On 27th January 2011, the Internet and cell phone networks were cut off taking us back to the 80s or before. I advise no dictatorship to do this for it was the day with most people in the streets and blood too. I will not go into details of people run over by police cars and random beatings detaining and disrespect performed by the police during those days and after it too.
The demands changed due to the slow response of the regime (well it was quite old) and now it was simple and unified all across Egypt “The People demand the removal of the regime”, and after an 18 day sit-in in Tahrir Square, other squares in Egypt and protests in front of all the lively places in the country, the regime fell apart on 11th of February 2011. With blood and patience, not as much blood as being split in Syria right now, the regime was gone and celebrations started all around Egypt.
Finally we were free, or so I and many others thought, but wait we still had the cunning Muslim Brotherhood dreaming of taking over the country and the backward Salafis who want to implement sharia in its worst forms, like that in Saudi Arabia. (Why is a country named after a family name? And how did this family get hold of the country? Are questions worth thinking about for the Salafis who may read this).
A brief history of Egypt so that for those who don’t know should be in picture, at least from my point of view. From the late 1800s all the way till 1960s, Egyptians used to go for education and work in Europe and the west in general coming back with liberal progressive ideas about life and religion. In 1925 an Egyptian writer named Adham Ismael wrote a book titled “Why I am an atheist” and the response was civil as an Islamic scholar wrote a response to the book titled “Why I am a Muslim”, I hope it would have remained so. There were some problems for secular intellectuals, like Taha Hussein who was accused of blasphemy but there was never any serious threat to life, like in the case of Naguib Mahfouz who was almost assassinated in 1994 on the hands of Islamic Extremists , Farag Fouda who was killed after a debate about a secular state in Islam in 1992 with Omar Abdul Rahman who issued a fatwa with his death. (We will get back to Omar Abdul Rahman who is currently in prison in USA), or Nasser Hamid Abo Zaid who was divorced from his wife for being an apostate when some Islamists took him to court and won the case against him.
In 1970s after Saudi Arabia starting getting rich of oil, Egyptians started working there and came back with Wahabi, Salafi interpretations of Islam taking us slowly to the back. They now have TV channels and strong hold over a large number of followers, who OBEY, and yes it had to be in capital letters.
Now to the revolution once more, after the regime fell the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) replaced the regime in what it was doing and there was more blood, virginity tests for girls who took part in the revolution and arrested by them, we then had some protests in which all other than Islamists took part in. During which we were accused by the sheikhs most of them at least, of being secular atheists who do not want the country to succeed. We then reached the referendum for some amendments of the old constitution, that was a turning point as the SCAF used the sheikhs to pass this referendum and in the majority of mosques Imams were saying that those who will reject referendum will go to hell (as if there is evidence for its existence). We ended up with a messed up road map for the revolution, it was failed attempt for the SCAF to stay in power. Later the Islamists understood the game being played by the SCAF and turn against them. It was late for all except for the Islamists, as they always have, they obediently heard.
It was during this time, that it became clear that the hold the Imams had over the minds of the people will take us to the dark ages which now is I am sure is inevitable.
Now we are having a constitution being written, with utter disrespect to freedom and yeah based on sharia. Some of the people writing the constitution want to pass laws of legalizing marriage of 9-year-old girls and not allowing foreign languages in schools.
So much for working for freedom and liberty, the people running the country now are like Republicans without the secular constitution to save the rest from stupidity ignorance and backwardness.
Our current elected a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, stood in Tahrir Square after being elected for a four-year term and promised the people many good things, but also “weird” things like working on freeing a terrorist like Omar Abdul Rahman from prison in USA.
While for what happened to the revolution, all I can say is that the corrupt system that people died for is still alive and it just grew a beard.
A few days ago an atheist (ex-Christian) running a facebook page for Egyptian Atheist was “discovered” in his neighborhood and a mob gathered around his house and when his mother called the police for protection he was arrested for insulting the prophet on his page. Here is a link to about him he is Alber Saber as of today his mother does not know where he is detained (www.facebook.com/FreeAlberSaber).
I do not hate religion for I don’t care about it, and I think it might be important for the less fortunate people in life who have nothing to live for other than an afterlife. Although, I know lots of very poor atheists and non religious people who choose reason over superstition. But to have religion in politics is something that must never be allowed, for even if a god(s) exists nobody knows what he/she/it wants.