Saturday, November 16, 2013

Egypt's Minorities and discrimination: Irreligion and Atheism in Egypt

Out of my interest in human rights and freedom in general I was checking some resources for marginalized groups or minorities in Egypt and I was surprised when I stumbled upon the following video on YouTube.

The video is relatively long (1 hour and 35 minutes) but will definitely give you an idea about how minorities are being treated in a country that claims to be democratic.

For non-Arabic speakers this video was recorded from a live talk show on TV hosting a young atheist Egyptian (Ismael) and a doctor from Al-Azhar to discuss atheism in Egypt or irreligion in general.

From the first few minutes of the talk show it was clearly obvious how this one-sided, closed minded discussion will progress, it was even obvious that this was nothing but a plot to attack a group of people who have different ideas and beliefs than the majority of the population.

The topic of atheism and irreligion in Egypt is just another sensitive example to the hate aimed towards anyone who is different and doesn't believe in an Islamic patriarchal society, just like the oppression being practiced upon Christians, homosexuals and women.

I'm still amazed by how good Ismael was talking and holding up against all the attacks against him, his arguments were polite, reasonable and clearly shows that he wasn't only defending the rights of atheists in particular but the general idea of freedom in an oppressive society that chose to persecute anyone who is different in anyway.

I wish I can find another version of the video subtitled with English but so far I can't so I apologize to non-Arabic speakers but I want to point out some of the major issues I found in this video here:

1- All the phone calls that were received were biased and were meant for the sole purpose of attacking the young man, even the one call that was allowed from his friend was cut in the middle without giving the caller (Ahmed) the space to talk.

2- The host was utterly unprofessional and biased not giving any space for Ismael to talk or explain anything, furthermore she was attacking him personally, even the way her questions sounded in Arabic show how much she was trying to attack and embarrass Ismael.

3- Al-Azhar's doctor argument wasn't reasonable and mostly out of topic, although he asked Ismael many times not to interrupt him, he and the TV presenter were constantly interrupting Ismael. 

4- The accusations that atheists are psychos or mentally ill shows how ignorant and stupid both the TV presenter and the doctor are.

5- Using the same old cliche excuse of accuse anyone with new ideas as a traitor who is being funded by foreign organizations who are definitely Jews that have nothing to do except planning to destroy Egypt.

This video proves that Egypt still has a long way to go in the aspect of human rights and personal freedom which whether we like or not might take decades to establish based on the state of denial shown here in the discussion.

It shows also that the last hope these activists have to spread the word of their cause is basically alternative media like Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

However, many of the human rights activists are constantly being arrested and persecuted with charges of blasphemy, in 2012 Alber Saber was arrested for running a blog spreading Atheism followed by Sherif Gaber in 2013 and these cases are 2 of the few that managed to make it to newspapers while many more activists are being arrested but the cases are unreported.

If you like this post please share it to help spread the word and the cause.
Atheism Irreligion Egypt discrimination minorities
Image Via CFI


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