Egyptian atheist, Alber Saber has been sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting religion,” by a Cairo court. According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union:
Egyptian Facebook user, Alber Saber, has today been sentenced to three years for “offending” religion. He should be out on bail by tomorrow, pending an appeal of his case.
Saber featured on the cover image of Freedom of Thought 2012, a report by International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) on global discrimination against nonreligious people, published Monday.
He was accused earlier this year by neighbours of administrating an atheist Facebook page and for linking the “Innocence of Muslims” Youtube video. After a mob surrounded his house, his mother called police. Instead of dispersing the crowd the police arrested Saber himself. He was eventually charged over videos in which he himself discussed his religious skepticism.
During his initial detention police were accused of leaving Saber in a crowded cell, telling fellow inmates he was charged with apostasy, resulting in physical attacks on Saber.
“Of course, we are appalled that merely for expressing disbelief in Islam, a young man should face not only the ludicrous ordeal of court proceedings, but that he may be incarcerated for three years,” said Sonja Eggerickx, president of IHEU. “We hope that the state authorities are better able to understand their duty of protection to Saber while he is out on bail and, if the sentence cannot be overturned, during any time that is served. We urge calm and understanding from religious clerics and the public, and remind the Egyptian authorities of their duty to safeguard vulnerable citizens.”
Eggerickx continued, “We cannot stress enough that this prosecution and sentencing stands against international human rights treaties. Egyptian law has found Saber guilty, not of hate speech of inciting hatred, not of malicious comment against any individual, but simply because his beliefs do not conform to the majority religion. Article 98 of Egypt’s penal code does not target malicious or harmful acts, it criminalises someone like Alber Saber merely for causing supposed offence to abstract concepts.”
How one goes about insulting an irrational belief system is beyond me, but – jail time for not believing in majick? One would have thought that sort of thinking went out with the dark ages, but – not in Egypt apparently. Having said that , the last person jailed in the UK for blasphemy was jailed in 1921 – not so terribly long ago. Maybe all those right wing Christians arguing that “separation of church and state,” is a “War on Christianity,” might want to rethink that approach? Just remember – be careful what you wish for…….
This is sickening, and if you want to register your protest, there are several “Free Alber Saber” pages on facebook.