Egyptian Student Sentenced To Three Years For Announcing On Facebook That He Is An Atheist

200px-Facebook.svg125px-Flag_of_Egypt.svgOur erstwhile ally Egypt has again violated the most basic civil liberties in a criminal case involving blasphemy. An Egyptian court has sentenced student Karim al-Banna, 21, to three years in jail for announcing on Facebook that he is an atheist and for insulting Islam. His own father testified against him and denounced his son for “was embracing extremist ideas against Islam.” Of course, neither Egypt nor the father view criminalizing someone’s mere speech about religion to be an “extremist idea.”

Al-Banna’s name appeared on a public listing of “known atheists” in a local newspaper and he was hounded by Muslim neighbors who called for his arrest. He went to his local police to complain and they promptly arrested him and charged him with being an atheist and insulting Islam. He is only the latest person charged with such an offense as Egypt continues to enforce its medieval blasphemy law.

As discussed in column yesterday in the Washington Post, we continue to flirt with the concept of speech crimes related to religion. 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 and Pakistan 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.

These cases reflect the true purpose of blasphemy laws: to silence minority sects and religious critics in the name of a “true faith.” Fortunately the effort of Hillary Clinton and others in the Administration to reach a compromise on blasphemy failed, though there continue to be efforts to create an international standard.

This case reflects the continued commitment of allies like Egypt to deny basic rights of free speech and freedom of religion to its citizens. It is a disgraceful sentence and another embarrassment for the United States in its massive financial support of the country while condemning other nations like Iran for their extremism.

Source: Yahoo

75 thoughts on “Egyptian Student Sentenced To Three Years For Announcing On Facebook That He Is An Atheist”

  1. This is what happens when speech that religionists don’t like gets expressed. It doesn’t matter if the religionists are Islamic or Christian. The speaker gets attacked. We have our very own little terror cell right here on RIL.

    1. Inga – nice ad hominem attack. Inga, you get attacked because of what you write. And you deserve to be taken in hand.

      1. Yes Paul, I get attacked because of what I write, NOW finally the truth comes out. Don’t like what I write? Too bad. The writers at Charlie Hebdo also got attacked for what they wrote, didn’t they?

  2. My book Pink Swastika speaks to many people with Nazi backgrounds. It helps explain their confusion. You are all welcome.

  3. Really Paul? What do you think you know about my past?? Paul doesn’t know me from Adam. It’s amazing that people here resort to such tactics. But it never fails.

  4. Oh yes, that was BEFORE they ran away in fear of being droned, those that were left behind at the Bundy Ranch were pretty PO’d I hear. 😀

  5. I bet those Oath Keeper guys at the Bundy Ranch said a heartfelt prayer before they put the womenfolk in the front lines as cannon fodder, being the good Christian men they are.

  6. Barking Dog, yes Nazi’s used the words “Gott mit Uns” on their belt buckles. The worst people probably need to have a belief system in some higher power, because without it they would probably be serial killers.

    1. Inga –

      The worst people probably need to have a belief system in some higher power, because without it they would probably be serial killers.

      Pure twaddle!!!

  7. Yes Olly, you are capable of evil. Your behavior toward those you disagree with is a reflection of this. Maybe you need some more time on your knees asking for forgiveness and tolerance of others who don’t think like you do.

  8. Olly I’m convinced you are rude and don’t tolerate others opinions when they differ from yours. You are among those who like to pretend they are for free expression, but when push comes to shove, you shove at those who don’t comport with your world view.

  9. Pope Benedict was in the Hitler Youth. He was named after Benedict Arnold. The Hitler Youth was little different than a group we had here in America comprised of adults up until about December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. Our group was called The German American Bund. Many of those people were good Lutherans. They believed in God. They believed in a higher being. They believed in a higher human being named Hitler. I knew some real Nazi folks from America. I knew some in Germany who did not try to hide it much after the war. Most were all God believers.

    1. BarkinDog – all youth in Germany belonged to the Hitler Youth. And Benedict was named after a saint not Benedict Arnold.

  10. “It’s religious people that seem unable to acknowledge that they are capable of great evil, often in the name of following their god/dess of choice.”

    I’m a Christian. Because I’m a poor, miserable sinner, I acknowledge I’m capable of great evil.

    Now, replace Christian with Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, or whatever subculture you can imagine and the statement should be the same.

  11. Some “Christians” here believe that Christianity is beyond reproach. Only Islam and other non Judeo Christian religions are allowed to be questioned. Fundamentalists and their apologists don’t see their belief system in any other way than inerrant. Of course they don’t consider Christian “social justice” churches as being truly Christian, or Christian enough, so they are fair game also.

  12. Nick, I don’t know how to say this any other way than what I’ve been saying. I don’t have a problem saying that atheists can do bad things. The truth is the truth. It’s religious people that seem unable to acknowledge that they are capable of great evil, often in the name of following their god/dess of choice.

  13. Pogo,

    Who is speaking (channeling) for god/dess? What happens when the speakers say god/dess is saying one thing and another speaker say that god/dess is saying just the opposite thing? What happens when the speaker says it is my god/dess and your god/dess is wrong?

    Are you able to tell us who is correct in speaking for god/dess? If so, how do you determine who is correct?

    These are questions that religious people need to answer. It really needs a honest examination and I hope you will do this.

  14. Did you guys know that Joe Stalin attended seminary school? True fact. He enrolled against his father’s wishes.


    Pol Pot attended catholic elementary school.


    2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB:
    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

    Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB:
    If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.

    Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT:
    One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with one of the Israelite men. During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the LORD’s name. So the man was brought to Moses for judgment. His mother’s name was Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put the man in custody until the LORD’s will in the matter should become clear. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard him to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death. Say to the people of Israel: Those who blaspheme God will suffer the consequences of their guilt and be punished. Anyone who blasphemes the LORD’s name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel. Any Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the LORD’s name will surely die.

    Yikes, the Christian Bible is just full of this mean stuff!

    Muslims consider the Christian Bible to be a Holy Book, and that Jesus was in fact a prophet. In Islam Jesus is called Isa Ibn Maryam and he is acknowledged as a messenger of God. Fancy that!


    The point here is not religion bad, nor atheist good. Bad people be bad. And religious training or belief doesn’t seem to make a difference.

  15. Jill, your’e never going to make head way with these people. as others have said here, it’s one’s human nature that determines whether one commits acts that harm others. One sure way to get some people here upset is to denigrate religion, unless it’s Islam, or perhaps some other non Judeo Christian religion. In response, they get extremely personal in hopes of shutting down your speech, should you have the guts to express your opinions about religion. Hmmm, sound familiar? Lashing out in retaliation to others who insult your religious beliefs? Who just did that recently? We see it here every single day here in these comments sections. Jill, Pogo knows full well what you asked him regarding whose religion we should choose to follow, he is simply being obtuse because he doesn’t have a good answer. Take his comments for what they’re worth.

  16. Jill needs to read some history. In modern history, the biggest killers have been almost exclusively atheists, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot killing close to 100 million themselves. North Korea, who the hell knows how many those atheists have killed. Jill is someone who likes to try and wiggle off the hook sometimes. She just plays fast and loose on occasion. You guys seem to have gotten her mind right.

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