This is What Hypatia Alber Can Teach Us

Alber Saber is the Egyptian atheist who, last year, was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of blasphemy, and later violently attacked by his enemies while he awaited his verdict.

Even though his appeal was denied by the courts, Saber paid his bail and left the country.

His second chance at life resulted in the birth of Hypatia Saber earlier this month:

Alber Saber holds his daughter Hypatia

Blogger Jonathan Moremi beautifully explains what Hypatia can teach the country of Egypt:

Hypatia, as she so beautifully was called, was the biggest triumph over sectarian hate and police brutality and rotting in dark cells with cockroaches, violent guards and aggressive inmates. She was — and is — the epitome of life and what it is all about: Hope and humanity, compassion and happiness, and the wonderful right to own a future. For everyone. Even for her father who, only a year ago, had to endure such horrors.

If anything, Egypt can learn a lot from Hypatia and her wonderful smile: That it is worth living more than dying, that trust is the essence for happiness, and that without true, compassionate love, people should not even dream of calling themselves fathers. Only in the arms of a father of love, says Hypatia, can I cuddle securely, dream my little dreams of happiness and fall soundly asleep.

It was nearly 2,000 years ago when Hypatia of Alexandria was burned to death by a Christian mob. Let this Hypatia remind us that we must fight back against religious brutality and unquestionable dogma.

(Thanks to Richard for the link!)

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.

  • Tom

    (Typo in the post title – should be Hypatia Saber)T

  • Mario Strada

    All the best to you distant friend.

  • beatonfam

    quite a large name for such a little sweetie to grow into. she is precious.

  • usclat

    It’s heartening to know that reason grows even in the darkest places. Remain strong. There are millions (and growing) who agree with you. May you and your precious little girl have a long and prosperous life.

  • chicago dyke, TOWAN

    i recognized the name immediately and was hoping that was for whom the child was name. such a tragic part of history. there is a good movie about it, called ‘agora,’ if memory serves.

  • Pseudonym

    It was a good movie, but it was about as historically accurate as Amadeus.

  • Alber Saber


  • MariaO

    As I heard the story, she was not burned, but cut to pieces with sea-shells by an angry mob, heated up but people that did not accept an intelligent non-xian woman as a head librarian of the awsommest library in the world and a scholar but could not get a court to do the dirty job for them.

  • Richard Wade

    As a father of a daughter, I can only say that I intimately understand the feelings that are portrayed in that wonderful picture of you and Hypatia. I wish you, her, and all those you love all the best that life can bring.

  • Pseudonym

    Then you misheard the story. It’s inevitable that historical figures tend to get co-opted into modern disputes, but the fiasco which ended in her death was very much of her day.

    It had nothing to do with her being a librarian or a scholar, and everything to do with a widespread perception (probably an inaccurate one) that she was partly responsible for prolonging a feud which had already caused one massacre of Christians. The story is fascinating, and nobody apart from Hypatia herself ends up looking very good.

  • allein

    Do you know of a good book on the subject? I’ve seen Agora (in which she was stoned, not burned or cut to pieces) but I’ve never read any actual history on the subject.

  • Pseudonym

    The only contemporary account is from Socrates Scholasticus.

    Later accounts are mostly attempts to reinterpret the events in the light of the concerns of the day. Neo-Platonists used it as anti-Christian propaganda, John of Niku used it as Christian propaganda, Pre-Raphaelites used her story as part of their reaction to the academy of their day, and modern feminists still use it today. It’s not inherently right or wrong to use a historical event or figure to illustrate contemporary concerns, but it’s not history.

    I would recommend Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska. It’s been a while since I read it.

  • allein

    Thanks, I’ll check it out.