21-Year-Old Egyptian Imprisoned For Being An Atheist

21-Year-Old Egyptian Imprisoned For Being An Atheist


After posting a simple Facebook status announcing that he is an atheist, 21-year-old Karim al-Banna found himself charged with insulting Islam and was yesterday sentenced to three years in prison, reported AFP.

According to the defendant’s lawyer, the 21-year-old was sentenced to prison on Saturday in Beheira. The lawyer added that his own father testified against for “embracing extremist ideas against Islam.”

“He was handed down a three-year prison sentence, and if he pays a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($ 140 or 117 euros) the sentence can be suspended until a verdict is issued by an appeals court,” al-Banna’s lawyer told AFP.

In statements to AFP, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights’ Ishaq Ibrahim said al-Banna had initially been arrested in November 2014 when he went to a police station to complain that his name was published “in a list of known atheists in a local daily [paper].”

Instead of allowing him to file the complaint, al-Banna was accused of insulting Islam and arrested.

News of the imprisonment came just weeks after Egyptian writer Fatima Naoot was referred to trial for criticising Islam’s sacrificial rituals. Naoot, who published her views on a Facebook post, was charged with being “in contempt of Islam.”

While Egypt’s constitution criminalises insults of the three monolithic religions, courts have often taken great  discretion in defining what ‘insults’ to religion are.

Egypt’s police authorities have recently launched a crackdown against atheism and have even shut down a cafe, accusing it of fostering ‘satanism’ and ‘atheism.’

In a recent poll conducted by Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta it was claimed there are 866 atheists in Egypt. The poll was mocked by social media users as a result of its dubious implementation.

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  • jernfrost

    I wonder how this works. This law sounds very discriminatory, as it seems to only apply to Egyptian citizens. If Egypt was going to imprison anybody visiting Egypt who was an atheist, then they’d have a rather big problem on their hands.

    Although I must say atheists are a marginalized group all over the world. Even in a western country like America, statistics show that people would rather elect a pedofile to office than an atheist. Says something about the low standing of atheists.

  • Nubi

    I don’t know…

    Sometimes people use various excuses to throw other people in jail.

    Like, why would a government waste funds on a guy who decides not to agree with them? Maybe he doesn’t believe in god, but I’m sure there’s a lot more to this story than what it seems. It just seems too fishy, that’s all.

    Just sayin’

  • Omar Tarek Hassanein

    So ashamed of my country and the followers of our beautiful religion. First of all it’s ***** like you that drive people away from even considering to read anything… So sad how people that claim to follow a religion; where we are servants to God, play God. Never play God….Who the F**K cares what he believes in as long as he is not harming any other soul or body. May God save the souls and straiten the minds of the sicken’ minded that believe they can play God.

  • ezbakelovin

    Come to America Karim, we could use more like minded; bright individuals as urself. You will be more effective at influencing your fellow Egyptians from abroad than staying there. You, like many of us have long realized the perils of religion and the shape in which it leaves countries. We can influence change through education and social media, but you must do this from abroad brave soul for I fear someone of your own may harm you worse than your government.

  • David Rice

    He isn’t being persecuted and oppressed because he lacks belief in the gods: he ist being persecuted and oppressed because he admitted he lacks belief in the gods.

  • Intellectualist

    Thank you for employing the suspended sentence. However I do find it objectionable that another superior intellect is ostracized and will likely leave Egypt depriving the Egyptian people of his talents. Hire this kid as an advisor to a government ministry with a nondisclosure agreement. Don’t let the brain drain continue. Thanks

  • Elzeenor

    21st century and the age of knowledge and science, and yet we still have a fair bit of morons clinging to their religions trying to rule everyone else’s life. It’s gotta go. Common sense shows us religion has never done an ounce of good when compared to the harm it has created and continues to do.

  • Nora Martin

    I believe everyone has a right to their own opinion and thoughts even if it is not the same as mine. I do not have to agree or like it but it is not my right to hurt or kill someone for theirs not put them in jail. This person went to make things right of his on free will and then you put him in jail? What sense does this make? Stop being such extremist!!!! God will handle these issues and it is not for man to handle because our faith is between ourselves and our God not each other. This is just my thoughts.

  • DES

    Does anyone know the name and location of the cafe that was closed due to these accusations?

    • Mahmoud.

      It’s name was “Hekayetna” but was mostly known as “The Atheists Cafe”, it’s located in Downtown, Cairo.

      • DES

        Thank you!


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