Alber Saber Leaves Egypt, Laments its Political Situation

Image via CFI

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.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Best news I’ve heard in a long time. Now if only we could get other blasphemy victims to safety.

    Yet another http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/2013/01/28/philippines-man-sentenced-to-jail-for-offending-religious-feelings

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    Well, if he’s safe, I’m glad he’s safe. That’s a hell of a price to pay, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Gunnyon/1199379815 Matthew Gunnyon

    Good news, I’d love to meet him.

  • Robin

    So brave. Probably braver than I would be in the same situation.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Thank you Paul for this very well written report. Please keep updating us.

    The price Alber has paid is high. Being banished from one’s country, even a troubled country, leaving behind family, friends, culture, home, and homeland has to be painful beyond our understanding. Then to have to remain in hiding like a hunted criminal is even more appalling. I hope he can find a refuge where he can live openly, and I hope that some day, if he wishes, he can return home safely.

  • Egyptian Renegade

    At least Saber got out.. there are hundreds if not thousands of us here in Egypt feel trapped and dont belong..


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