In 2014, little more than a week after Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was sworn in as Egypt’s President, the government announced that it was preparing a national plan to prevent the spread atheism, particularly among the Muslim country’s youth.
A few months later Al-Shabab, a government-linked newspaper, stated that atheists were “the country’s second enemy after the Muslim Brotherhood” and quoted a psychologist saying that:
Atheism leads to mental imbalances and paranoia.
Now, according to this report, the Egyptian government has disclosed plans to pass into law a bill that would makes atheism a criminal offence.
When Egypt’s crackdown on atheism was first announced, Nuamat Sati, of the Ministry of Youth, told Al-Monitor that the spread of atheism, especially among youth, is what prompted the Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowment), in partnership with the Ministry of Sports and Youth in Egypt, to launch an anti-atheism campaign.
When asked about the availability of statistics showing the increasing spread of this phenomenon, Sati said:
There are no statistics, which means that the size of the phenomenon was never known nor is it known today, so there is no absolute evidence of its spread.
Pastor Abdul Massih Bassit, who was also dismayed about the spread of atheism, said:
There are no statistics and each part of society randomly estimates the size of the phenomenon. Atheists estimate their own number on their Facebook pages at between 2 million and 4 million Egyptians, while certain pastors say that their number is not more than 1,000-2,000.
Both the Ministries of Awqaf and Youth have based their estimations on a TV show in which atheists have a significant representation, in addition to Facebook and Twitter accounts where the number of followers have largely increased, which means that they are now publicly announcing their atheism.
The campaign has two goals. The first is to spread awareness concerning the dangers of atheism and how it creates a threat to society, as well as the controversial issues that might push the youth to atheism. The second is to treat this phenomenon by having a dialogue with atheists and giving them a chance to reconsider their decisions and go back to their religion.
Last month we reported that TV host Rania Mahmoud Yassin, above, claimed that Egypt “unfortunately” had 866 atheists.