News

Egypt To Confront ‘Threats of Atheists, Baha’is and Shiites’ With New ‘Special Groups’

Egypt To Confront ‘Threats of Atheists, Baha’is and Shiites’ With New ‘Special Groups’

athe

In a meeting held Tuesday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Downtown Cairo, Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a stated that he plans to form special groups dedicated to spreading awareness of the “threats” of atheism and the Baha’i and Shi’a religions, in addition to social issues such as drug addiction and murder.

The discussion included delegates from different governorates and ministers from various departments whom Minister Goma’a called upon to collect statistics on aspects such as the current number of mosques in their areas. Once data is received, ministry spokesman Mohamed Abdel Razek stated that groups will be formed and begin to hold monthly gatherings until Ramadan begins.

“The groups will include one Qur’an reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt. The meeting also discussed ways to regulate mosque employees, and outlined a system for every mosque to have a minimum of one worker. The meeting also considered the upcoming Religious Speech Freedom Forum to be held this May, and reviewed their proposal regarding what topics should be examined. The conference will be deliberating laws regarding religious speech in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood, including regulations to eradicate Brotherhood preachers.

Atheism and freedom of religious speech has been a hot-button issue in Egypt after the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. In January, 21-year-old engineering student Karim Al-Banna was arrested on charges of being an atheist and “insulting Islam” on Facebook. He faces a three-year prison sentence if his current appeal does not succeed. Last week, the Ministry of Religious Endowments stated that it will begin to undergo heavier surveillance of private schools with religious associations, and restructure Muslim Brotherhood affiliated institutions. Since 2011, out of over 40 accused and tried for charges of defamation, 27 have been convicted in court, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

When President Sisi called for a “religious revolution” in January, the whole world felt a rumble of hope at the possibility that religiously moderate reform in parts of the Middle East was in the horizon. Since Egypt is home to Sunni Islam’s leading authority, Al Azhar, the statement by President Sisi held immense potential. Egyptian Atheists, however, beg to differ.

“Given the current nature of religious speech in Egypt and the organization of meetings such as the Ministry of Religious Endowments’, I do not believe that outright Atheism will be accepted anytime soon. Egypt needs to work on its issues with general freedom of speech first before we can start including religion or any other social issue,” said one Egyptian Atheist who would rather not be named.

The problem also affects Egypt’s top source of revenue: tourism. Tourists tend to avoid countries where the threat of arrest exists merely at the chance that a passer-by may hear you and a friend speaking English, or discussing politics and religion. Egypt has a chance to do what other nations are rarely able to- start over. Given the recent push towards modernization and globalization, these social issues need to be addressed, and equality actively strived for.

Coptic Pope Tawadros II To Participate In Events Marking 100 Years Since Armenian Genocide
Suspect Arrested For Murder of English Expat in Egypt

Subscribe to our newsletter


News
@KariMegeed

An avid traveller, photographer, and culture aficionado who received her sciences degree in Anthropology from Loyola University Chicago, Kari is currently devoting her time to Egyptian Streets, in addition to launching her travel magazine, Le Voyageur.

More in News

Two Young Egyptians Slammed for Humiliating South Sudanese Refugee Student

Egyptian StreetsNovember 17, 2019

Reema Juffali Makes History as Saudi Arabia’s First Female Racing Driver

Egyptian StreetsNovember 16, 2019

Pope Francis Receives Al Azhar’s Grand Imam in the Vatican to Achieve ‘Coexistence’

Egyptian StreetsNovember 16, 2019

15-Year-Old Victim of Attempted Rape Cleared of Murder Charges

Egyptian StreetsNovember 14, 2019

Egypt Launches First Smart Electric Bus Route

Egyptian StreetsNovember 12, 2019

Lowest in Decades: Egypt’s Inflation Rate Drops to 2.4%

Egyptian StreetsNovember 10, 2019

Sufis March in Egypt to Celebrate the Birth of Prophet Muhammed

Egyptian StreetsNovember 9, 2019

Egyptians React to the Sad Death of Haitham Ahmed Zaki

Egyptian StreetsNovember 8, 2019