Egypt’s Government Moves Toward Blasphemy Citizen Arrests

stoningJust when you thought that blasphemy laws could not get any worse, the Muslim Brotherhood has come up with a new idea: citizen arrests of tourists for blasphemy. The Middle East is replete with cases of mobs killing people accused of the slightest offense toward Islam. Now, according to Internet reporting, the Egyptian prosecutor general for the Muslim Brotherhood has pushed through a new law permitting ordinary Egyptians to arrest those who offend Islamic law.

With the tourism business in Egypt already in full collapse due to the rise of the Islamic party and social strife, the Egypt’s Coalition to Support Tourism has criticized the move as the final death knell for the industry. That is probably what many religious extremists want. By gutting the tourism industry, Western influence can be reduced and their own authority strengthened.

Imagine how a business deal gone bad at a store will now end with a shopkeeper accusing a tourist of an offense to God and placing him or her under arrest. Even if cleared, it would guarantee a couple days in a rotting Egyptian jail. Then there are those public displays of affection between Western men and women or drinking in public that can be punished under Sharia.

One of the greatest challenges in the Middle East has been to control mobs of irate extremists seeking to stone people to death for such offenses. Now, the top prosecutor appears to want to deputize those same individuals in policing society for blasphemous conduct.

For many years, I have been writing about the threat of an international blasphemy standard and the continuing rollback on free speech in the West. For recent columns, click here and here and here.

Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard. This shows the natural progression of such laws to enlist the mob in its enforcement.

23 thoughts on “Egypt’s Government Moves Toward Blasphemy Citizen Arrests”

  1. The State department should immediately upgrade Egypt’s status and issue a travel WARNING against Egypt for Americans. That would give employees some cover if they didn’t want to be posted there. It might also save some out-of-touch tourists with the pyramids on their bucket list some grief. Egypt is only one country that should be added to the list, India isn’t on either list but probably should be- at least for women travelers.

    Warning (long term problems) list:

    Alert (short term problems/issues) list:
    (Egypt is on this list as of 2-6-13 and I suspect that this policy has something to do with it)

  2. I rather think this is BS. I lived in Egypt and not among expats. This is according to “internet reporting “. This blog comes up first ehen googling the topic.

    Another point-citizens arrests for breaking the law are allowed in this country. I dont see rampant abuse by fellow citizens.

    Egypt has religious values but Egypians want peace and freedom.

  3. Here, we just continue to pretend that the law means something. And it does appear to mean something, if one is powerful enough.

  4. Anonymously Yours 1, March 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Are we there yet…..



    We’re closer than many seem to think.

  5. Extremism comes from many quarters. Sharia law is an extremism to be banned in every state, but there is no strong country morally in any good enough shape to pull it off. America has a bad human rights record & its getting worse with Gitmo, Iraq, Bush & Obama, not to mention our police & Swat teams. I sometimes think we get involved with the Arab countries as they are some of the few countries worse than us! Of course, this backfiring ‘Arab Spring’ was probably ordered like this by the western Illuminati. They consider war & strife a lucrative business. We have to take our planet back.

  6. “Citizen’s arrest for blasphemy”? That immediately reminds me of other events past and present:

    (1) Salem witch trials, where false accusations were usually made by people with agendas or vendettas, either settling scores or trying to steal others’ property.

    (2) North Korea arresting tourists. The one in 2012 I don’t know about, but there have been tourists (foolish enough to go there) who have been arrested for making comments about the regime (foolish enough to say it).

    (3) Thailand and its cowardly laws. Criticizing or insulting their king is a criminal offense? That’s pathetic.

    Anyone who can’t handle criticism or mockery deserves criticism and mockery. If a mythical “god” is powerful enough to create the universe, why is it so powerless now and can’t personally punish a “blasphemer”?

  7. Arundhati Roy on Iraq War’s 10th: Bush May Be Gone, But “Psychosis” of U.S. Foreign Policy Prevails

    “On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the global justice activist and author Arundhati Roy joins us to discuss the war’s legacy. Roy is the author of many books, including “The God of Small Things,” “Walking with the Comrades,” and “Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.” Roy argues the imperial mentality that enabled the United States to invade Iraq continues today unabated across the world. “We are being given lessons in morality [by world leaders] while tens of thousands are being killed, while whole countries are shattered, while whole civilizations are driven back decades if not centuries,” Roy says. “And everything continues as normal.””

  8. The Shame of America’s Gulag

    Posted on Mar 17, 2013

    By Chris Hedges


    If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.

    At its bottom the problem is not race—although race plays a huge part in incarceration rates—nor is it finally poverty; it is the predatory nature of corporate capitalism itself. And until we slay the beast of corporate capitalism, until we wrest power back from corporations, until we build social institutions and a system of governance designed not to profit the few but foster the common good, our prison industry and the horror it perpetuates will only expand.


    We fancy ourselves to be oh, so civilized.. and point the finger at “the barbarians” in other countries. What about our “barbarians” — the ones in our prisons, as well as those who are terrorizing people on the streets of America. What about our “barbarians”?

  9. We’re no better, just different. Towards that end, we need to look homeward where we have a Stasi-like network killing people “softly.”

    We need to get our own house in order.

    ‘United States of Amnesia’: No accountability for ‘grievous errors’ in Iraq

    Published time: March 18, 2013 11:19


    One decade later, the global community is aware that the intelligence claims of Iraqi WMDs were patently false at least – and a blatant fabrication at worst – but this knowledge has done nothing to erase the damage of the conflict.

    The exact number of Iraqi civilians who lost their lives during the war varies considerably, depending on the source. The Iraq Body Count project (IBC), for example, puts the number between 110,937 and 121,227. But the Opinion Research Business (ORB), an independent polling agency based in London, has calculated the number of fatalities at over 1 million.

    For the survivors, each of whom seems to know somebody who was killed or injured in the conflict, the physical aftermath of eight years of war and insurgency is visible everywhere.

    In Fallujah, previously the site of fierce fighting between Iraqi resistance fighters and US forces, more than half of all babies conceived after the start of the war were born with heart defects, and the area has a disturbingly high infant mortality rate.

    Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time of the invasion, said that Iraq has changed the way the world sees the US. “Our rhetoric is high and lofty and we talk about human rights and human dignity and freedom and democracy, and then what do we do? We mount a war of aggression on Iraq, kill a couple hundred thousand people, and mess it up majorly, including the region,” Wilkerson told RT in an interview.

    Wilkerson explained that when such incidents occur, “the world stands up and begins to balance the hegemon.”

    When asked if the individuals who made the decision to invade Iraq, despite widespread global protest, should be held responsible, Wilkerson said that “history will hold them responsible,” emphasizing that there is “no accountability for people who make grievous errors in high office in the United States.”

    He then quoted the title of a book by American author Gore Vidal, saying: “We’re the United States of amnesia!”

    Washington’s tendency to forget its past mistakes could prove disastrous, with new war talk brewing on Capitol Hill. Former CIA intelligence officer Gannon warned that the US intelligence community was experiencing something he called the “politicization of intelligence,” which, he argues, has been hampering US foreign policy since at least the Vietnam War.

    “Whenever you have a situation where you have a forced mindset, as you did in the early 2002 to 2003 period [in the run up to war in Iraq], or as you did in the Lyndon Johnson administration in the early years of Vietnam, or with Iran in 1979… when we weren’t allowed to deal with the opposition, you create an environment for ‘politicization of intelligence,’” Gannon warned.

    The retired CIA officer concluded by saying that Washington currently holds similar attitudes towards the Middle East.

  10. Gary T:

    who would go there now?

    So much for the Arab spring.

    But Islam has been denouncing reason for at least a thousand years. So much for their math and medicine and poetry in the first four or five hundred years afte the death of the Prophet.

    I guess this is the end result when you put your eggs in the faith basket.

  11. I would say ALL tourists should not go to Egypt.
    I understand that a significant portion of their economy came/comes from tourism.

  12. Yet another wonderful coup by our CIA and State Department.

    I do have sincere pity for anyone whose company is doing business with Egypt. The worst phase such an individual can possibly hear …”Pack your bags, you have a sales meeting in Egypt.”

  13. First, tourists from the US should stop going to Egypt and so should our money. I love Joe Biden but OBAMA should not be sending anyone or our money to Egypt.

    The US keeps saying countries like Egypt are our allies yet they seem to stand for everything we SAY we are against.

    Citizens arrest for blasphemy– as blasphemy is now defined as offense of a religious persons sensibilities that certainly gives the citizens of Egypt wide latitude to arrest any foreigner. Women will no doubt be even more at risk than usual. Foreigners should not go to Egypt. I hope the State Department will issue an alert to Americans.

  14. Didn’t Mr Biden just go to Egypt and write a check for a couple hundred million $ (or was it a few billion)? I see that money is going to good use. NOT!

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