Alber Saber, the Egyptian atheist blogger and activist who was recently convicted of blasphemy and released on bail, has left the country, for his own safety as well as that of his family. Where he’s gone has not been revealed (and that’s a good thing).
Daily News Egypt just posted a lengthy interview with Saber, and it’s simply a must-read. Saber is passionate and informed, and articulates the secularist case, and the nature of the crisis in Egypt, with aplomb. In it, he elaborates on his horrifying experience with arrest, prison, and the violence and threats he’s encountered (including what he describes as multiple assassination attempts on him, which was news to me).
He also describes his personal journey to atheism, which I think many of us would find entirely familiar: In order to better understand his own Coptic Christian religion, he sought out information about other faiths, and in the process of learning, found them all wanting.
This is no mere human interest story, however. The bulk of the interview concerns Saber’s opinions on the political situation in Egypt. His prescription for bringing about a more secular Egypt, for example:
… the way to achieve state secularism is through raising awareness. It is the same way we were able to revolt [in 2011]. We raised awareness amongst the people that we are not just silly youth and that our demands were for their benefit. Eventually they joined us or at least stopped opposing us.… We should start political campaigns explaining what the word “secularism” actually means. We need to explain separation of religion and state and how the state is an institution and cannot adopt a specific religion. We need to explain things like dictatorship of the majority and how democracy also means protecting the rights of minorities.
And his feelings about overall reform to the Egyptian system are not mild.
What do you think of the newly adopted constitution?
This is not a constitution. I have a problem for example with Article 44 that says prophets and other religious figures cannot be insulted. Who defines insult? Christians do not believe Muhammad is a prophet, is that an insult? If a Christian says that, should they be put on trial? Muslims do not believe Jesus is God, is that an insult?
How can this constitution be brought down?
Forget the constitution, we need to bring down the regime first. Then we talk about a constitution.
His situation remains, obviously, dire. You can be sure that my CFI colleague Michael De Dora will be monitoring this situation very closely to let us know what, if any, actions we can take to help Saber.