Egyptian civil servant could lose job for promoting Atheist beliefs

Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Dec 2014

School librarian Ayman Botros is referred to court for expressing his beliefs publicly in newspapers and on television

A minaret of a mosque is seen beside a church in Cairo February 23, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

An Egyptian school librarian was referred to an administrative court trial on Wednesday for promoting atheist ideas.

In referring the case to the court, the administrative prosecution said that it is not acceptable for a civil servant to express his beliefs about God and religion publicly in newspapers and television, especially considering that he works in an educational institution and should be a good example for students.

Ayman Ramzy Botros, a librarian in his early 40’s who was born a Coptic Christian, was transferred by the education minister to an administrative post in May, the court could ultimately terminate his employment in education.

Botros was among a number of non-religious Egyptians who signed an open letter in September 2013 addressing then-interim president Adly Mansour with the demand to be represented in the committee that was commissioned to draft the 2014 constitution.

“As Egyptian citizens we all have citizenship rights including running for elections,” the letter read and claimed that atheists represent a considerable proportion of Egyptian society.

It said Athiests include “academics, students, doctors, artists and writers who live both inside Egypt and abroad.”

The interim president did not respond to the letter.

Religious bodies in Egypt as well as the government are working on a plan to ”confront atheism” and a number of protocols and agreements were signed in the last few months between Egypt's top religious institution Al-Azhar and the ministries of endowment, culture and youth to face what they describe as a "disturbing phenomenon."

A number of Egyptian Atheists, including Botros, have become vocal lately about their beliefs on television and in newspapers; however officials in the endowment ministry recently stated that the number of atheists in Egypt is 866.

Conducting a tally of Athiests in Egypt from official records is impossible since Egyptian law only allows members of Abrahamic religions to register their religious affiliation.

“We are many but the prejudice against us makes it hard for most of us to talk about their beliefs in public”, said Botros in one TV show.

A few days ago Egyptian police stormed what they described as the "atheists' cafe" in downtown Cairo. The municipal authorities said that the cafe was a place for Satanist atheists.

Botros, who might lose his job in the disciplinary trial, could also face a criminal court trial as the administrative prosecution also said that the education ministry filed a complaint to the general prosecutor against him.

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