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Friday, 15 November 2019

HRW: 'Egypt needs to stop persecuting people for atheism'

Rights group says the latest jail term against an atheist student is part of a 'coordinated crackdown on perceived atheists'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 13 Jan 2015
HRW
Middle East director at HRW Sarah Leah Whitson (Photo: Reuters)
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Human Rights Watch has called on the Egyptian authorities to stop persecuting people for atheism, after a student received a three-year jail term for Facebook posts that allegedly insulted Islam.

The New York-based group said the sentence handed down on blasphemy charges were part of a "coordinated government crackdown on perceived atheists."

“Atheists are one of Egypt’s least-protected minorities, although the constitution ostensibly guarantees freedom of belief and expression,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“Egyptian authorities need to be guided by the constitution and stop persecuting people for atheism.”

On Sunday, 21-year-old Karim El-Banna was found guilty, after his own father testified against him, and was sentenced to three years with a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($140 or 117 euros), AFP reported.

According to a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Ishaq Ibrahim, Banna was arrested when he went to file a complaint against his neighbours who harassed him after his name had appeared in a list of known atheists in a local daily.

Banna, in custody since November, was accused of insulting Islam, Ibrahim, who has been tracking the case, told AFP.

According to EIPR statistics, revealed to HRW, Egyptian courts convicted 27 of 42 defendants on charges of contempt for religion from 2011 to 2013. Judges acquitted three defendants and rejected charges against 11 others for lack of standing.

In mid-December, the head of Cairo’s Abdeen district headed a police raid against what he called an “atheist cafe” and closed it down.

"Egypt is party to human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which require its government to respect and protect freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, without any discrimination," HRW said, stating different cases of blasphemy persecutions.

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Maha
27-02-2015 11:19pm
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That Joke isn't funny!
to be arrested because you are atheist,and spending a three years in jail because you are simply don't believe what others do,it's a bad joke to me. i do understand that our situation here in egypt has been different like that since forever you can be in jail for any reason or no reason at all,so i am not surprised at all by the accusation. but what make me so angry the people who always saying that the core of any religion is accepting and understanding opponents,and now what all they do is judging every one and they seem very keen in doing that as if it a divine mission,poor people. finally,i just can't believe that even his own father testified against him.
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M Omsri
14-01-2015 06:49am
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Kill a chicken to scare the monkeys
Look, without the occaisional example being set through police and judicial intimidation there would not be enough fear instilled into our populace for the correct functioning of our quasi military police state. God knows we dont have enough bullets if the people stop being scared.
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ahmed
13-01-2015 05:27pm
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yes yes
I'm an Egyptian atheist, proud of my self and proud of my country but I wish my fellow Egyptians would wake up from their religious and zealous addictive delusion, both christian and muslim. we are all just human, and religion is purely man made and not for the age of today. Have respect for yourself and use common sense! We don't need holy books, you're mind is capable of great things if you set it free from the shackles of the ancient tribal stories. God is make believe. Don't be afraid to think for yourself.
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zakki
13-01-2015 05:08pm
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atheism
In many countries is Atheism absolutely norm. For example Czech republic is more then 80% atheists. It will be not place i Jails :) I m Atheist and Proud !!! Religion is just like opium for folks...
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Lucky
13-01-2015 04:53pm
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How is Jailing someone for their lack of belief suppose to help?
It will create resentment, hate, depression, fear of the governing authority, unhappiness... Those are pretty much all the qualities that weigh down a soul and keeps the lost in hell. Just like persecuting people for having a religion or persecuting people for the color of their skin or persecuting people for being born with a disability. Freedom of religion includes not having to fear for having their belief. If people would stop persecuting each other, and develope more social ties... the door is always open to the new believer. You won't win their hearts by punishing them for their beliefs. Just as they won't win your hearts for dumping on yours. Now who's gonna be the bigger man and practice that *forgiveness*?
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Sam Enslow
13-01-2015 02:23pm
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All free or none are free
What happened to no compulsion in religion? Laws against atheism only produces hypocrites, people acting as though they believe something they do not. If established religious institutions believe they are suffering losses to their faiths, perhaps they should ask themselves why. Have they lost contact with the people?
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