Critics of Religion Like Alber Saber Face Uncertain Future as Egyptian Islamist Constitution Passes.
Saber and Other Critics Face Uncertain Future Under Islamist Constitution.
The Islamist Egyptian constitution has been voted in with what is reported over 65% of the vote, on an extremely low turnout of around 30%.
The country’s opposition says that it has no legitimacy.
Apart from accusations of fraud, there is clearly not the kind of overwhelming popular mandate needed for a framework for law and politics.
There are many reasons to oppose the Constitution, not least the record of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.
One area which will attract attention is its repression of critics of religion.
The case Alber Ayad was highlighted in yesterday’s Le Monde (it has received scant attention in the liberal British press).
Introduction from Wikipedia (slightly modified)
Alber Saber Ayad (also Albert) is an Egyptian blogger arrested on 13 September 2012 on allegations of having shared the YouTube trailer for the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims on his Facebook page.
On 12 September, Alber Saber’s home was surrounded by a crowd calling for his death for heresy and atheism. The crowd attempted to break down the door, and also threatened to burn down the house. Saber’s mother called the police for protection, and Saber was arrested by them the following day. Saber later stated that a police officer incited other prisoners to attack him in detention; he was beaten and cut on the neck with a razor.
Police confiscated Saber’s computer, but found no evidence that he had uploaded the video in question. Instead, Saber was charged with “defamation of Islam and Christianity, insulting the divine and satirizing religious rituals and sanctities and the prophets under articles 98, 160 and 161 of the Egyptian Penal Code“, with a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment.The prosecution stated that Saber had “promoted his extremist thoughts in speech and writings by creating web pages, including [the] ‘Crazy dictator’ and ‘Egyptian atheists’.
Le Monde says that Saber was originally extremely pious. He then turned to an interest in politics and the liberal opposition to the Mubarak regime. During the 2011 anti- protests he became more and more radical, attracting the attention of the security services. He created a Facebook Page. This became a forum for the handful of anarchists and atheists who shared his ideas (“d’anarchistes et d’athées se reconnaissant dans ses idées). Saber says, God is not another Dictator (Dieu n’est qu’un dictateur de plus). He spoke about Darwin and the historical inconsistencies in religious texts.
Saber says himself, interviewed by Egypt Independent,
This goes way back. In 2008, I joined the April 6 Youth Movement and participated with them in several demonstrations against government corruption at the time, in addition to joining the Youth for Freedom and Justice Movement and [Mohamed] ElBaradei Youth Movement. That is why I was arrested on 26 January 2011.
I was then among those who met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces when we were on a hunger strike to demand the prosecution of [former President Hosni] Mubarak and the dismissal of the prosecutor general.
On 25 January 2012, state security officers stormed my house in my absence, took my computer and conducted a search. From that moment on, security officers have wanted to get rid of people like me.
With the rise of the religious right in the aftermath of the revolution, Saber says,
I quit political work and began criticizing the situation of Egypt from the inside, especially after the widespread emergence of Islamist currents after the January revolution, and with the difficulty of convincing members of these groups not to mix religion with politics. I decided to make videos discussing the differences between religions, until the issue of the film ["Innocence of Muslims"] insulting the Prophet came up.
AMAY: Did you post the film insulting the Prophet on social networking sites?
AS: I did not do that because I believe in the freedom of opinion and belief. There is no evidence on my accounts on either Facebook or Twitter that I ever posted the film.
Saber says he has never insulted the ‘taboo’ of religion as such. Specifically, he denies ever having shared the trailer for the Innocence of Muslims.
On 12 December 2012, Saber was found guilty and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was allowed to appeal if he first paid $167 bail. Though the bail was paid, police returned him to prison.
He was finally released on bail, pending an appeal.
Those who try to ‘understand’ Muslim anger’ at the Innocence of Muslims will now see how an Islamist dominated state deals with those incur its wrath.
Le Monde states, that in the new
Constitution, rédigé par les islamistes et soumis à référendum samedi 22 décembre, “l’insulte aux prophètes” est strictement prohibée. Et Albert risquera une peine beaucoup plus lourde .
In the new Constitution, written by the Islamists, and subject to a referendum on Saturday the 22nd of December, “insulting the prophets” is forbidden. Albert risks facing an even heavier penalty.
FaceBook Page Free Alber Saber!