Egypt: Student jailed for Facebook atheism

Egypt: Student jailed for Facebook atheism January 11, 2015

In Egypt, a 21-year-old student has been fined and sentenced to three years in jail for coming out as an atheist on Facebook.

Karim al-Banna was sentenced to three years in jail for insulting Islam after he announced on Facebook that he is an atheist, his lawyer said Sunday.

Banna was jailed by a court in the Nile Delta province of Baheira on Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Adding insult to injury, Banna’s own father testified against him at his trial, alleging his son was “embracing extremist ideas against Islam.”

Reports indicate that previously Banna’s name had appeared on a list of known atheists published by a local daily. After facing harassment from some of his neighbors, Banna went to file a complaint against them at a local police station. After which Banna was accused of insulting Islam and arrested.

The student’s lawyer, Ahmed Abdel Nabi, told AFP:

He was handed down a three-year prison sentence, and if he pays a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($ 140 or 117 euros) the sentence can be suspended until a verdict is issued by an appeals court.

An appeal of Banna’s conviction is expected to be heard on March 9.

Banna has been in custody since November.

Not only does the conviction and sentencing of the young atheist reveal the poverty of the Islamic faith and the Egyptian government, it also reveals the real dangers atheists face in the Middle-East.

Previously in Egypt, a 27-year-old blogger, Alber Saber, was sentenced to three years in jail on charges of blasphemy. And last June, a Coptic Christian man was sentenced to six years in jail for insulting Islam.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, in a most vicious act of theocratic cruelty, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was publicly flogged last Friday in front of a mosque in the city of Jeddah for the crime of insulting Islam.

(Photo Credit: guidecosmos)
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