According to the international news agency Agence France-Presse, 21-year-old Karim al-Banna was sentenced to three years in prison for the “crime” of saying on Facebook that he was an atheist:
[Lawyer Ahmed] Abdel Nabi said his client’s father had testified against his son, charging that he “was embracing extremist ideas against Islam”.
Banna’s name had appeared in a list of known atheists in a local daily after which his neighbours harassed him, said Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher on religion and beliefs at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
When Banna went to file a complaint against them at a police station, he was accused of insulting Islam and arrested, said Ibrahim, who has been tracking Banna’s case.
Banna has been in custody since November.
The appeal is set to be heard on March 9. Though I hope there’s a way for him to get bail money to stay out of prison until at least that time. (If he needs the money, about $140, I’m sure a lot of people would be happy to take care of it… I’m just not sure how to get it to him.)
Even if he gets convicted, there may be a(n unpleasant) way out of the situation. He just has to look to the case of Alber Saber (below), someone we’ve documented on this site for a while now.
Saber, too, was sentenced to three years in prison on blasphemy charges.
A few days later, a “Muslim friend and neighbor” made the connection that Saber was the administrator and that he was indirectly criticizing Islam.
A day after that, this was the scene outside his house:
You know, given that’s there’s supposedly only 866 atheists in Egypt — 0.00001% of the country’s total population — this government sees them as one hell of a threat for simply admitting they don’t believe in God. It exposes just how insecure this Islamic theocracy is.