Egyptian atheist Sherif Gaber was arrested in 2013 for starting a Facebook group that included posts about his own deconversion out of Islam and support of LGBTQ rights. (The police “investigation,” if you want to call it that, was a complete joke.)
After he was given a one-year prison sentence for his “crimes,” Gaber was released on bail… and promptly ran away to an undisclosed location somewhere in Egypt. He’s been making some excellent YouTube videos from that location ever since.
Yesterday, however, he learned some scary news.
The conservative al-Nour party in Egypt filed a blasphemy claim against Gaber, and there’s a good chance the attorney general will have him arrested in the next couple of days. He sent the following message to his supporters on Patreon, which one of them forwarded to me:
… if i [am arrested,] that means i’ll be sentenced to at least 5 years in prison. for those who don’t know i’ve been already arrested to 1 year with hard labor in 2013 for just defending homosexuality. imagine the charges that will be against me this time.
I don’t know what to say really.. but i’m worried this time. i don’t know what i should do.. even if i wanted to go out of egypt now that will cost and will take at least a month and even by then it’s not guaranteed.
The al-Nour party is a hard-line Islamist political group that want to implement Sharia Law and works closely with the country’s President/dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The party’s attorney, Haitham Hashim Saad, is the man who told the attorney general that Gaber needed to be arrested for “assaulting the Islamic religion… and denying what is proven of religion and ridiculing the divine spirit and the Prophet.”
Despite his fears, Gaber was defiant on Twitter:
As expected. today some muslim lawyers reported me to the attorney general because of my videos. i'll probably get arrested in the next few days, but i don't want you to get mad. i'll keep making videos when i get out.. i'll write the scripts in prison.https://t.co/QK9vaa7sNk
— Sherif Gaber (@Mr_SherifGaber) March 31, 2018
Needless to say, if the story is accurate, then it’s appalling that an atheist would be jailed (or worse) for daring to think critically about the Qur’an. But this is what we’ve come to expect from Egypt, a nation where being an atheist is a punishable offense.
Here’s his most recent YouTube video, a hilarious conversation between an atheist and a Muslim sheikh. Gaber plays all the characters. Turn on the English subtitles, sit back, and enjoy:
When I asked him in 2015 why he was making these videos when he was already a target of Islamic radicals, he offered some prophetic words:
… You can say I’m a wanted person by the police now. I know they’re gonna arrest me soon or later. That’s why I made the videos. I wanted to say what I wanna say before they get to me.
I genuinely hope that prediction doesn’t come true. I’ll provide updates as I get them.