Our close ally Egypt has long been a symbol of religious intolerance and anti-free speech values — a government partially subsidized by billions in U.S. aid. Now, Amr Hamroush, the head of parliament’s religious committee, has announced that Egypt is moving toward the criminalization of disbelieving in God. That’s right, you will be committing a crime in Egypt if you do not believe. Akin to the policy of the “beatings will continue until morale improves,” Egypt may soon instill belief in God by jailing people for not believing.
Hamroush appears to relish in the sheer stupidity of this latest attack on personal freedom: “The phenomenon is being promoted in society as freedom of belief when this is totally wrong . . . It must be criminalised and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions.”
He is being supported by equally clueless clerics like Mohamed Zaki, the head of al-Azhar’s Supreme Council for Dawa, who insisted that the law was necessary to “deter people from violating the natural instincts of man and punish those who have been seduced into atheism.” Of course, if it was such a “natural instinct of man” one would hope that you would not have to threaten people with prison in order to instill basic faith in an almighty. Zaki however is quick to remind people that “The deterrent must be harsh and impeding to suit this malicious call and stop this poisonous thinking from spreading among Muslims and young people.”