Salafi Muslims in Egypt Are Filing More Blasphemy Cases Than Ever Before

Ben Hubbard and Mayy El Sheikh of the New York Times have a frightening report of how charges against blasphemy — a victimless crime, as the joke goes — are increasing dramatically in Egypt under President Mohamed Morsi.

It’s a witch-hunt, pure and simple. Just take a look at what happened to this teacher who was falsely accused of insulting religion and the government:

Last July, a Christian teacher, Beshoy Kamel from Sohag in central Egypt, heard that someone had created a Facebook page using his name and photograph and was posting messages insulting Islam and President Mohamed Morsi, his family said.

Mr. Kamel told the police about the page, his family said, and posted a warning that still stands on his personal page that the other account was not his.

But when a local Salafi received a private message from the account insulting him and his religion, he filed a complaint against Mr. Kamel, who was arrested soon afterward. Local Islamists heard about the case and spread copies of the texts from the insulting page, causing protests that twice forced the police to delay hearings.

The day the trial opened, Mr. Kamel was sentenced to six years in prison: three for contempt of religion, two for insulting the president and one for slander, court documents say.

The lawyer for the other side didn’t care that Kamel did nothing wrong:

“They should have cut his throat for it,” Mr. Khanous said.

This is religious-based madness enhanced by political power. Morsi’s office claims that “freedom to litigate” is one of the benefits of the revolution, but hashing all of this out in court is part of the problem. Blasphemy charges have no business being played out through the legal system. They should be ignored entirely. Blasphemy hurts no one. If people can be sent to jail for criticizing someone else’s religious beliefs, then there can be no truly civil society.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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