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A Sufi Muslim sings during a ritualised "zikr" (religious invocation) to celebrate Mawlid Al-Rifai, the birth of Sheikh Al-Rifai, in Cairo April 9, 2015. Picture taken April 9. REUTERS

Reformed’ Egypt Will Still Bust You For Blasphemy

Recent reports have noted that prosecutions have especially increased in the last half-year against atheists, who often face accusations of apostasy from Islam or of associated moral offenses.

Despite Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s insistence that Islam must undergo a “revolution” and resist extremism, his government continues to prosecute blasphemy cases at roughly the same rates as his predecessors.
Recent reports have noted that prosecutions have especially increased in the last half-year against atheists, who often face accusations of apostasy from Islam or of associated moral offenses. Just weeks before Sisi gave his January 2015 speech on the political role of Islam, a government-endorsed religious organization announced that there were exactly 866 atheists in Egypt, a claim that many actual unbelievers dismissed as unimaginably specific and far too low.

Egypt’s constitution recognizes Islam as the state religion. But Sisi has made a point of distancing himself from unstable and potentially violent Muslims, echoing the country’s pre-revolutionary authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak. And just like presidents who preceded the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Sisi has sidelined the Muslim Brotherhood and other unfavorable groups by trying to beat them at their own game.

Foreign Policy this week quoted Ishak Ibrahim, an Egyptian researcher who noted that while cases against blasphemy declined briefly after Sisi’s summer 2014 ouster of Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi, “by the second half of 2014 they were at the same level as before. Source: Ahmadiyya Times

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