Showing posts with label egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label egypt. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Egyptian Government Training Squads to Refute Atheists & 'Correct Religious Awareness'


It's been awhile since we've heard from our friends at the Egyptian Religious Endowments Ministry. I was beginning to wonder if they were okay. Back in April, they were going to train a crack squad of roving religious apologists to deal with a recent onset of atheism and religious mehs - particularly with the young Twitter users among them.
“The groups will include one Quran reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” ministry spokesman Mohamed Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt. “The gatherings aim at spreading awareness on the threats of atheism, Shi’a, Baha’ism expiation, killings, and drug addiction.”
You know, sort of like travelling minstrels of yore.

Well, we have a much awaited update now from Grand Mufti Ibrahim Negm from Dar al-Iftaa, which is the premiere moral authority in Egypt - they seem to tell the government what's right and what's wrong.
A wave of atheism is becoming stronger in the entire world, and has become more aggressive because of communication technology; while it exists in Egypt, it is not as aggressive, advisor to Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ibrahim Negm told Ten TV channel Tuesday.
Maybe atheists are shy because the police keep doing things like raiding and shutting their cafes?

You can read about the situation in previous posts on the blog. This wave of atheism has been treated by government and media over there sort of like a plague would be here.
Dar al-IFtaa, Egypt’s authority tasked with releasing religious opinions, will hold seminars to study and refute atheists’ arguments so as to spread “correct religious awareness,” according to Negm.

A “traditional religious scholar” cannot face negative phenomena that have spread lately in the Islamic world, such as extremist ideology, atheism, and “intellectual and sexual perversion,” he said.
Gotta up your game! Until then, though, why not arrest them all, right?
(Image source)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Egypt's Highest Islamic Institution Freaks Out Over SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling

Go 'East' (source)
Oh no! The Americans are all getting gay-married and are going to force Egyptians to all become newly wed homosexuals!
Egypt’s highest Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, has slammed what it called “a campaign by international powers and organisations,” as well public figures in Egypt, to promote and legalise homosexuality.
It's an international conspiracy, I tell you. It must be the work of KAOS!
In a statement released on Thursday, Al-Azhar rejected same-sex marriage, stating that marriage in Islam is only between a man and woman, and that Islam prohibits all “sinful” extramarital affairs, referring to the recent decision of the US Supreme Court to end the same-sex ban.

The Islamic institution also said it rejected all campaigns to spread and legalise homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the Muslim world.  Social media users worldwide have declared support for same-sex marriage, launching “Rainbow avatars” and "#Lovewins” online campaigns.
First the Americans bring down the scourge which is Twitter and their Facebook with their Internet porn! Now, according to the Orthodox Church in Egypt all this gayness and atheism -- all acts of rebellion -- are a huge moral and religious crisis for ALL OF HUMANITY!
“Humanity already is having a huge moral and religious crisis, as well rebellion, which is an entry to atheism and all forms of extremism, including same-sex marriage," said Pope Tawadros II at his meeting with Orthodox Coptic churches in Alexandria earlier this week.
Americans, look at these groups which are so so very disappointed with you legalizing marriage equality! They're all losing their minds. With reactions like this from these people, I think y'all have something to be proud about.

Meanwhile, US evangelical nut jobs are sort of suggesting another civil war over this. Yes, the gays really are that icky for these people.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Egyptian Belly Dancer Sentenced to One Year of Jail and Hard Labor for Making a Music Video

Still from the probably NSFW Hands Off. (source)
Egyptian belly dancer, Reda el-Fouly, made this breast-ful and probably NSFW music video with her boyfriend, Wael Elsedeki. It's pretty awful...
An Egyptian belly dancer has been jailed for a year for posting a raunchy music video in which she sings about enjoying being groped on the bus.
... but does it warrant a jail sentence and hard labor?


The Egyptian government sure thinks so.
Ahmed Bakly of the Giza prosecution said in a statement that the clip “disrupted morality.” He also ordered the arrest of Wael Elsedeki, whom he described as el-Fouly’s boyfriend who had left the country for Tunisia after some social media users called the video scandalous, as well as a third person involved in the video.

Egypt is one of several Islamic countries that enforce modest-dress laws in the Middle East. Last year, Qatar’s state-run Islamic Culture Center launched the “Reflect your Respect” campaign to encourage tourists to adhere to the country’s dress codes and to dress modestly.
In fact, Egyptian clerics have already declared belly dancing to be dangerous - just like homosexuality and atheism! So this is no surprise.

I've already covered the rampant censorship in Egypt when it comes to movies with sex, nudity and atheism.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Council of Churches to Hold Conference to "Counter Atheism in Egypt"

Clearly, this conference could shape up to be a laugh a minute. (source)
I've written it before, Egypt's clerics and government has declared war on atheism -- all 866 atheists. In fact, they're forming special awareness groups to run about the country informing people about atheism.

More news now on the effort of various religious groups within the country -- the newly formed Council of Churches --who began mobilizing last November. This council comprises of Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox and Anglican churches. Gee, I think they might be missing a prominent religion in Egypt.

Anyway, they're planning a conference on June 16th to “counter atheism in Egypt”. It will take place in a Jesuit school.
Representatives from the Orthodox and Catholic churches will deliver speeches at the conference, including a speech on atheism from a scientific perspective. Workshops for priests will be organized to conclude recommendations after the conference.
Interesting! I would love to hear this speech along with some speeches on their religious beliefs from a scientific perspective! We all know that won't happen though.

More news as this develops!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Egyptian Cleric Is Okay With Atheists Getting Human Rights - Just Not In Egypt


This Khaled Al-Gindi looks like a pretty okay guy. He just says some awful things sometimes. I mean, he basically called Shakira a whore a few years back, but we can't be fun all the time, right?
Last year Egypt cleric Khaled al-Gindi decried a performance by hip-shaking sensation Shakira and likened her profession to prostitution but stressed he was sure she was a "nice person."
Now he's getting more flak because he went on television and said some stuff... energetically... well, sort of like someone targeting a specific a-religious minority. You know, it sort of sounded a little bit like a direct call to suppression of and/or violence towards a minority. I guess you might actually call it hate speech, if you're into that sort of thing.

Al-Gindi is totally cool with atheists living and thinking and believing things! He's chill and completely down with that! He just doesn't want them to talk about them or express them in any way in public in their own country. Just for the sake of argument, let's call that freedom of speech and freedom of expression.


I'm sure Al-Gindi doesn't mean to impose his religious views on society or anything. He just wants atheists to shut the fuck up, that's all. If atheists cannot stop themselves from exercising their human rights, he helpfully suggests their exile as a possible cure to his own discomfort with their theological position.

He doesn't think he should leave the country -- it's just better if they get the fuck out.
It was unfortunate that (atheists) were allowed to appear in the media. They say: "God does not exist. The Prophet is like ISIS" and other baseless, nauseating things, that we, unfortunately, heard. What we need are not polite sheiks, but someone to knock some sense into them.

Polite sheiks are the ones who brought this calamity upon us. That's not what we need. These people need a guy who would be tough with them.

If you want to say that the Prophet is like ISIS and that God does not exist, say it when you are abroad, far away from us.

We are a people of believers, whether Christian or Muslim. We have an age-old belief in God. We are the most ancient believing people in history. It's in our DNA.

If you (atheists) don't like the fact we are believers, go find yourself another nation. Stay away from us. Such blatant atheism constitutes an attack on the fundamentals of society. It is an afront to the beliefs of society and to its symbols. The eagle on the Egyptian flag is a symbol. If you harm this eagle, you might go to prison, but if you harm the god of all eagles, you won't?!? If you harm the eagle, a piece of cloth, you might go to prison, but if you affront our god and the Prophet Muhammed, you won't?!? You are punished if you attack the symbols of this country, but not if you affront our God and Prophet Muhammed?!?

We must not allow any affront to religion. It is absolutely forbidden to declare such things out loud. Islam says: "There should be no compulsion in religion" and "Whoever will, let him believe, and whoever will, let him disbelieve." This means you are free in your beliefs.  But don't go beating a drum in Tahrir Square, proclaiming: "I am an apostate!" What are you trying to achieve? They created a (Facebook) page and a political party for apostates. This is a provocation.
He finds all this atheist talk pretty nauseating and he's 100% certain that his god is also totally disgusted and offended by atheists flapping their mouths and sharing their opinions on the media and banging on drums all over the place all the time. Don't even think for a moment he's defending the sensibilities of a mere nonexistent projection of himself -- an extension of his own persona into the idea of a divinity. That's totally wrong!

I mean, who's going to go to court and lay defamation charges against all those non patriots on behalf of the eagle on the flag -- which he's pretty sure is absolutely crushed by hypothetical people theoretically injuring it! Poor eagle. That's nothing compared to God, who gets really down when people don't have faith in him or call him bad things. Who's going to be tough on the atheists when they poo poo Him?

From what I've seen, atheists aren't exactly beating their drums. They already seem concerned about being thrown into jail. I wonder if Al-Gindi has that problem? No, I guess he doesn't! I wonder if his god has that problem? Nope! I suppose that's not an issue for Him either.

Remember that calamity, the Egyptian singer and actress, Donia Massoud? She got the beautiful atheist tattoo proclaiming that her heart's at feud with God. I wonder what Al-Gindi's solution to this problem would be? At any rate, a recent tweet of her's answers some of the the controversy the tattoo stirred up.
There really seems to be something going on in Egypt. Atheists are starting to speak their minds and feathers are being ruffled.

Monday, 18 May 2015

More Signs of Increasing Atheism In Egypt

Donia Massoud showing off her atheist tattoo at the beach. (source)
Secularism and atheism really seems to be picking up in Egypt -- I've even added an Egypt tag to the top of this blog. I first thought the government was being downright melodramatic by declaring that the country's 866 atheists were a key challenge to society and then them setting up these little re-education brigades to combat atheism. Now, though, I'll admit that there could really be something to this.

I've already posted about a new Atheist television station, free-mind.tv, recorded secretly in Egypt and produced in the US. Recently, Al Monitor did a nice piece on them, so they're getting traction.
According to Ghanimi, at least 2,000 viewers watch Free Mind broadcasts daily, and the numbers are steadily growing. “We started the channel with modest capabilities, but our impact is expanding,” said Ghanimi, noting that the goal is to have a satellite broadcast within a year.
Then you've got a recent piece in the Cairo Post with Salafist Muslim leader Yasser Borhami.
“Nowadays there are cafes for atheist, streets for atheists, political parties for atheists, TV channels for atheist… That’s strange,” Borhami said in a recorded statement uploaded on “Me the Salafi” webpage.
He's referring to a cafe in Cairo frequented by atheists that was raided by police in December, because of satanic rituals. Apparently, Borhami visited the street this cafe is on -- the street of atheists -- and quipped that it ought to be called the street of the astray.

Apparently, in December, Egypt was named the most atheist country in the Middle East. You would think this would be great news for freethinkers everywhere. However, this upset the president of the country -- probably because atheists and freethinkers are much harder to control than a faithful flock.
In March, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the Holy Quran radio station he was not worried about a “trend” of atheism in Egypt, adding that “the shock was too much; our shock to see people who say there is not God but Allah and Mohamed is His Messenger, or who claims they raise this slogan, and [at the same time] doing this; killing, destroying and sabotaging.”
Speaking of killing, destroying and sabotaging! Just take a look at the picture at the top of this post! That's Egyptian singer and actress Donia Massoud. Egyptian media are in a tizzy because she got a (beautiful!) tattoo on her back saying "My heart's feud is with God".
The controversial ink work arguably implies that Dunia is an atheist or at least doesn't believe in any of the three holy books. Atheism is prohibited by law in Egypt and is certainly not considered a "freedom of choice."
Reader of this blog, Mariam, translates it as "My heart is enemy with god." Bold words, indeed.


I'll also admit that my wife has tattoos, so I cannot help but love women with ink. There really seems to be something strongly individualistic about it.

There really does seem to be some level of open defiance of religion in Egypt -- it does seem to be growing, slowly.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Egyptian Teens Make Video Mocking ISIS: Arrests, Incarceration and Riots Ensue


Four teens have been detained for two weeks awaiting trial. They must have done something pretty grave. No! They're just in Egypt!
In the harmless clip showing boys being boys, a group of teens ranging in age between 15 and 16, appear to be mocking ISIS kneeling on the ground hysterically praying and imitating a beheading. The video was taken during a faith-based excursion in February, and supervising the trip was Gad Younan, a 42-year old teacher who allowed the boys to a shoot a video using a mobile phone. Accidentally, the teacher misplaced his phone’s memory card, which ended up in the hands of his Muslim neighbour in Al-Nasriyah village in Upper Egypt. Upon watching the video, a group of Muslims filled a complaint with Police under Article 98(f) of the Egyptian Penal code which criminalises 'insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it.' 
This is what happens when  your country has a blasphemy law and you've got nosy and probably vindictive neighbours. You might think: 'this is totally insane. There's no way it could ever get more insane than this.' You're wrong!
Not satisfied with just an arrest, allegedly more than 2,000 Muslims decided to march through Al-Nasriya area attacking Christian homes and business. Citing the Copt-owned Watani newspaper, The Daily Mail claims that Ashraf Salah, a computer repair shop owner, said: "They were chanting slogans against Christians and Christianity. They were chanting: 'With our souls and blood, we will defend you, oh Islam! We will not leave you; we will take revenge for you!' They were pelting Christian homes with stones, pounding threateningly on doors and windows, attacking shops owned by Coptic Christians. They destroyed the door of my shop and they destroyed a photo studio owned by the father of one of the boys. For three days we were living in terror and panic. We stayed in our homes and our children didn't go to their schools.”
Yes, this is three days of violence. Naturally, there must be a great deal of deep seated religious hatred between the local Muslim population and the Christians. Although I'm not finding any clear mention that these boys are Christian, I guess the assumption is that only Christians would make a silly video, lose the memory card and have a rotten neighbour snitch them out?

They were at a religious outing, so presumably they were religious of some persuasion.

During the riots three of the four boys' parents turned the children in to the police. The fourth family wisely decided to flee the area. The boys face up to five years in a youth detention centre and the teacher up to seven years in jail!

However, there seems to be some skepticism even in Egyptian sources that the story is actually true. This may be some sort of hoax -- although by whom, I have no idea.
There is a lot of reason to be skeptical of the story, as it failed to make national headlines, and seemingly has only been covered by biased outlets. However, if all of details prove to be true then there is a lot of unrest in the Al Nasrayah village that needs to be addressed before all members of the community will feel safe. In either case this should come as a concern to all Egyptians.
I would say that based on what I've seen regarding human rights vs religion in Egypt lately, citizens should be concerned regardless of whether this is a hoax. For what it's worth, I've found the story over at Fox NewsDaily Mail and Breitbart. I don't see these as fantastic sources and until a source like Reuter or BBC picks it up, it's possible it's just not true.

Here's the 30 second video:


Friday, 1 May 2015

Egyptian Atheists Collecting Signature to Form Official Secular Party

Cairo (source)
I just wrote about the formation of an atheist television station in Egypt.

Another amazing story coming out of Egypt has to do with the formation of a Secular Party. I've heard that Egypt was once a true bastion of secularism within the Middle East, actually -- then the war in 1967 apparently changed everything.
According to Al-Watan newspaper, Egyptian atheists have launched a campaign on Facebook to collect signatures for a party that they would call the “Egyptian Secular Party," which would include secularists, atheists and liberal thinkers. It would also be committed to defend freedom of belief and atheism, and work on removing Egypt's Islamic identity from the Constitution.
Alber Saber has been pushing for a proper Egyptian constitutional amendment since at least 2011 for the same reasons.
This is not a constitution. I have a problem for example with Article 44 that says prophets and other religious figures cannot be insulted. Who defines insult? Christians do not believe Muhammad is a prophet, is that an insult? If a Christian says that, should they be put on trial? Muslims do not believe Jesus is God, is that an insult?
Atheist Hisham Auf represents the new initiative, which plans to collect at least 5,000 signatures from 10 governorates within Egypt to justify the formation of a new party. (Naturally, there are only 866 atheists in the country. So how is this possible, right?)
“It will explain what secularism really means in order to refute the misleading definition propagated by the Islamists,” he said. “We do not intend to have a majority party, but rather a party of an influential minority.”

He added that the party will call for a modern constitution, based on the principle of citizenship, the abolition of religious parties, reducing the role of Al-Azhar in political life and its guardianship of thought, art and the media, and the right to civil marriage for Muslims and Christians.

He also said the party will also address inheritance and personal status laws, remove religious affiliation from ID Cards, call for abolishing laws penalizing the defamation of religion, and support freedom of creativity and art.
I've already run across some opposition to this new party (original Arabic), but -- predictably -- nobody has given me the actual link to this new party's Facebook page. Can anyone help me with this? I'll add to this post when I find out.

Egyptian Atheists Mobilizing Against Oppression With New TV Station

Free Mind TV is edited and produced in USA, but filmed in Egypt. (source)
It really sucks to be an atheist in Egypt. Alber Saber got thrown into jail and had to flee the country. Karim Ashraf Mohammed Al-Banna gets three years in the slammer for saying he's an atheist on Facebook. The police shut down atheist cafes. The government keeps declaring war on atheists and calling it the key challenge to their society. The Egyptian government has even gone so far as to declare there are only 866 atheists in the country!

Well, some of those 866 have formed their own television station to try to dispel some of the ridiculous assertions about secular and non-religious people foisted out into the media in Egypt. It's so dangerous that all production and editing is done in the US -- just the two hosts and some other contributors work in undisclosed locations within Egypt.
Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online TV channel. Free Mind TV defends the right not to believe.

Edited and produced in a studio in the United States, Free Mind TV says it wants to promote nonreligious liberal ideas in the Middle East.
You can actually watch the station LIVE right here -- or watch documentaries -- and it looks pretty slick:

There is also a direct donation page using Paypal.

The two hosts of the primarily news-based information station are the husband-wife team Ahmed Harqan and  Nada Mandour. They are both atheist activists in Egypt who, on at least one occasion, come close to death at the hands of an angry mob and police.
According to media reports, Harqan and his pregnant wife, Nada Mandour (Saly) Harqan, survived an assassination attempt 4 days later - in the evening of October 25, 2014. Harqan managed to flee with his wife after having some injuries and went to the Alhanafie–Alajlany police station to report the incident along with their friend Karim Jimy. Instead of taking action to help Harqan and his wife, the police officers further assaulted them and they were imprisoned charged with blasphemy and "defamation of religion" under article 98 in the Egyptian penal code for asking "What has ISIS done that Muhammad did not do?” on a popular Egyptian television talk show. Harqan's lawyer was humiliated and kicked out of the police station.

Eventually Ahmad and Saly Harqan, and their friend Kareem Jimy were released and charges against them were dropped.
Needless to say, they are under constant threat of danger, which makes what they do all the more extraordinary.
Mandour, also a former Muslim, shoots and directs some Free Mind TV programs.  Since she abandoned religion two years ago, she said, most of her family has abandoned her. Mandour said they hate her for being critical of religion and ultimately declaring herself a nonbeliever.  She no longer sees her parents and is not allowed in the family home.

Nonbelievers from Christian families in the Middle East face similar dangers, said Ayman Ramsy, a former Christian who appears in the broadcasts.
Watch the Voice of America video report for more details on this compelling story.



Thursday, 16 April 2015

Egypt Forming 'Special Awareness Groups' to 'Inform' About 'Atheist Threats'

(source)
I've been covering Egypt's mission to stamp out atheism for awhile now. Best I can tell, they see atheism as a form of extremism, on one end of a spectrum. You've got extreme (not-good) Islam on the one end (Islamic Brotherhood) and extreme not-Islam on the other (atheism).

Well, just recently, the Orwellian Religious Endowments Ministry has put out a plan to form special anti-atheist, anti-drug, anti-bad-Muslim crack squads -- let's call them special awareness groups -- which, I as far as I can tell, will travel the lands spreading information in mosques. This is sort of like those odd roving bands of motivational speakers and actors that would come to my high school every so often, I think.
During a meeting with his deputies from different governorates on Tuesday, Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a said those groups will hold small monthly gatherings between the evening prayers in mosques.

“The groups will include one Quran reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” ministry spokesman Mohamed Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt. “The gatherings aim at spreading awareness on the threats of atheism, Shi’a, Baha’ism expiation, killings, and drug addiction.”
Threats of atheism, indeed. Lovely to be lumped in with killings and drug addiction. The last time atheists were cracked down on was in a cafe. Yes, they were drinking coffee. THREAT! THREAT!

The sole comment on the article had a pretty good point:
What, exactly, is the compelling reason for trying to force people to share your own religion beliefs using force of law? Imagine how you'd feel if atheists took over and criminalized belief in deities. Would that be wrong to do? Yet, the Egyptian government does the same thing, criminalizing a particular religious opinion.
Ah yes, but the atheists are wrong(tm) and the (specific kind of non-government-threatening) Muslims are right(tm)! Well, I'm glad that's cleared up.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Egyptian Cleric Discovers Where Atheists Come From

First known 'pornographic' picture on a computer. It was rendered anonymously on a $2,000,000,000 Cold War era US Defense computer. Afflicting the World Since 1956. (source)
Stop the presses! former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa -- who's said a few slightly controversial things in the past -- is finally totally right about where atheists come from!
The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, told theTV channel CBC Sunday evening that watching porn leads to atheism because industry makers believe that the human body can be used in everything. 
I knew it! That's why Christians and Muslims never watch porn! But what about atheists who do not watch porn or do not like porn? Maybe they just thought about religion and came to the conclusion it didn't make any sense, I guess.

Gomaa makes the further claim that porn causes all affliction in the entire whole world! It's all because of that video you watched on the Internet -- look what you did!
"Pornography, which is made public and is circulated through magazines and movies and has its stars, was an industry initiated in 1960 in the US and is the cause of all affliction in which the world now lives," Gomaa added.
You would think that Gomaa's discovery might clash Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh very reasonable assertion that it's Twitter that is actually the cause of all evil and devastation. Would this cause a Grand Mufti Rumble? That would be awesome!

Alas, no. You just need to realize that the easiest way to total world devastation is porn(evil) delivered via Twitter(evil) over the Internet(evil) which turns people into atheists(evil). It all adds up to super mega evil.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Oops! When Egyptian Government Said Less Censorship They Actually Meant MOAR CENSORSHIP!

Before and After story images from the CairoScene story about Egypt's big censorship backpedal/clarification.
In the past couple of days, Egyptian cinephiles were excited about the government promising not to nanny them so much by cutting out all the nudie bits of movies and banning things left right and centre. There was some hope. Well, cynicism was pretty high.
Initially we here at CairoScene were jumping in joy when we heard that films would no longer be censored, however reading into his statements leaves one to believe that nothing has really changed. Hopefully, there will be a noticeable difference come April, however we aren’t holding our breath and will believe it when we see Scarlett Johansson's boobs in an Egyptian cinema. 
Well it turns out the censorship board in Egypt were only fooling. There will be no Scarlett Johansson breasts bared for Egyptian movie goers. Actually, the government actually means to censor more -- the words just came out as less because I guess that helps PR or something.
Lost in translation, the Chairman of the Censorship Bureau has spent the last couple of days clarifying what he meant when he attempted to explain the implementation of the PG system. His initial announcement was misinterpreted to suggest that they would stop censoring or deleting scenes from films, however that is not the case as Abd El Sattar Fathy clarifies that “Of course, if it is a scene of explicit sex it will be removed, images of male and female genitalia as well as nudity scenes will also be removed."
Sex is bad. Penises are bad. Nudity is likely codeword for that unmentionable female pubic region, women's breasts, everyone's bums: all bad. This is pretty tragic, but there is more.
Fathy continues to hammer the message home saying that “any movie that is clearly promoting pornography, homosexuality or that is damaging Egypt’s relations with some specific countries will still be rejected,” adding that the new measure "would not prevent" deleting scenes of "atheism" or that incite "sectarian strife." That would suggest that they would have banned V for Vendetta, which was released and beloved by Egyptians during Mubarak reign, who in turn started selling the iconic masks in Tahrir during the uprising. 
Indeed, on top of all the other expected hangups with things which are, frankly, not a problem, they add that they just may need to delete scenes of atheism... whatever that is. The minister in charge got ticked off when challenged.
... who is going to protect anyone going to the movies or watching tv?
Dude, that's the whole point of a rating system! It's so that I can feel reasonably safe taking my five year old to a movie and so I'll know that it would be best he not watch Nymphomaniac II, Game of Thrones, or The Ring. Does he believe Egyptians are children? Does he think they are like a flock of dumb sheep?
The short answer to his question is yes, we do want you to cancel censorship, as we are old enough to make our own decisions and with access to the internet will watch what we want uncensored anyway. The new changes to be implemented will largely be used to prevent children from watching films not suitable to their age group.
Adult Egyptians wear their big-boy and big-girl pants. They're grown-ups who want to make up their own minds about what they can or cannot watch using rating systems as guidelines. Whatever the government is afraid of, they are stuck in another era. Egyptians are already watching what they want to on the Internet. Other than total isolation North Korea-style, there is no stopping this now.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Egypt to 'Relax' Censorship of Foreign Films -- Unless They're Porn or 'Atheist'

Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe's latest film was banned in Egypt for being too risque. (source)
It seems like ratings for movies in Egypt have always been stuck at 'G'. You can forget about watching Nymphomaniac in Cairo -- well, you likely can watch it but all the sex scenes will be cut out mercilessly. What's the fun in that?

It seems that recently, the government's censorship board has discovered that Egyptians adults do not wish to be treated like babies -- and they have access to the Internet, where they can watch the uncensored movies anyway.

So now the plan is to stop hacking and slashing films and introduce a rating system similar to Canada and the United States. The article calls it the PG rating system. This is all well and good, I guess, except it seems like they could actually be going to use this to just ban films outright which are pornographic and atheist.
This announcement has been something Egyptians have wanted forever, however there is still reason to be skeptical as the chairman explains "we are not going to censor movies anymore, and we are not going to delete sexual scenes, but we are not allowing any movie that calls for atheism, or porn movies."
Perhaps what's really meant is anything more mature than PG will simply be banned? So now Egyptians are being seen as 13 year olds rather than 5 year olds then? As for atheism, I've reported before about how Egypt is at war with atheists. Interesting how this policy trickles all the way down to popular cinema.

The writers at CairoScene suspect that this is just more of the same government censorship and control. Because the government agency ultimately gets to decide what's pornography or atheism.
It is hard to know exactly if that means anything will really change, as the labeling of any film as atheist or pornography is left to interpretation, and may just result in the film being banned as opposed to releasing a censored version. As it stands, the chairman points out that he has only banned one film, Ridley Scott’s controversial film, Exodus. The decision to ban the film was made after talking to historians who pointed out inaccuracies, and was ultimately refused for a supposed Zionist message.
Historical inaccuracies indeed.  I tend to agree with the writers that it will be a cold day in hell before they can see Scarlett Johansson's boobs in an Egyptian cinema. 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

What Happens When Neither Side Is Serious About Human Rights



When I read headlines like Egypt chides Turkey for human rights violations, it really makes me want to facepalm my forehead to a pinkish pulp.
Egypt’s ambassador to the United Nations Amr Ramdan expressed concerns towards the “deteriorated” human right situation in Turkey during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, state- run news agency MENA reported
Of course, neither side really cares about human rights. This was just all a tit for tat political retaliation between the two countries. The basic human freedom of expression is all a farce here.

I've written about both Turkey and Egypt and they're both roughly tied for completely ignoring the human rights of anyone who goes against the government of the predominant religion, Islam. I guess both still lag behind Saudi Arabia, but their both on their way.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Egyptian Atheist Gets Three Years In Jail For Posting to Facebook


Egypt has escalated their government program to fight the spread of atheism in the countryKarim Ashraf Mohammed Al-Banna declared his atheism on Facebook, was subsequently harassed, went to report this to the authorities, got arrested by the authorities.
Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher on freedom of religion and belief at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), told Daily News Egypt that Al-Banna declared his atheism on Facebook and subsequently was harassed in public. Upon seeking to file a report of the assault at a police department in Idku, Al-Banna was arrested.

He was arrested and has been held since November. Now, a three year jail term has been handed to Al-Banna -- he can delay with 1,000 EGP ($165 CDN). His own father supported the case against him and pointed out his son's "suspect" books.

Again, his crime is simply insulting the divine and contempt of Islam -- speaking out and questioning.
He is accused of using his Facebook account to publish articles that “belittle the divine”, according to the rights group Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
As I've been reporting, Egypt is in the midst of a major campaign to eradicate what it sees as a threat to the nation: atheism, which they wish to stamp out. Just a few weeks ago they tore up a cafe in downtown Cairo because: atheists and Satanists.

Not much more information for now. I'll keep reporting as more comes through. Meanwhile, it looks like Egypt has taken the next step in their tyrannical mission to silence anyone who dares to question the dominant religion. Waiting for our Office of Religious Freedom to chime in now... cue the elevator music.

The punch line here is that apparently atheism is not illegal in the country. Of course, that won't stop charges of contempt of religion from being levied -- e.g. blasphemy laws.

Of course, this is all the more reason to get rid of our own blasphemy laws here in Canada. Check out more about CFI Canada and Humanist Canada's effort to do just this.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cairo Police Shut Down 'Atheist Cafe' Due to 'Satanic Rituals'


The Egyptian government has been funny, what with them knowing precisely how many atheists there are in the country or attempting to ban televised belly dancing competitions. It's because recently the rhetoric has been ramping way up against atheists, who have been identified multiple times as the greatest challenge to Egyptian society which must be stamped out.

Well, the saber rattling seems to have given way to action this week. Cairo police raided and shut down an atheist cafe.
Egyptian security forces have stormed what they described as the "atheists' cafe" in downtown Cairo, raising fears of a renewed crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

The popular cafe, located in the capital's Abdeen neighbourhood, was a nest for "Satan worshippers", according to Gamal Mohie, chief of the local municipality.
None of the authorities responsible were able to explain why people who do not believe in supernatural deities would ever be worshiping the devil -- having rituals and wild dancing apparently!
"There was no sign reading 'atheists' cafe' outside, as nobody would put up such a public announcement. However, it was popularly known as a place for Satan worship, rituals and dances. There were also Satanic drawings at the entrance," Mohie said, adding that the owner was arrested during the raid.
Right. If these pictures are any indication, it looks like there were Nazi swastikas drawn by someone outside of the entrance. These police are either very confused or are just looking for any excuse to either oppress potential political opposition or to cause a diversion from their own performance.

A story over at Morocco World News describes the situation further.
Egypti’s Youm7 quoted the head of Hay Al Abidin Jamal Mohi as saying that the café was located on Avenue Al Falaki in downtown Cario, and “it was a resort for atheists and Satanists who were spreading wrong ideas about religion.”

Jamal Mohi went on to add that local authorities decided to destroy the café after they received many requests from residents who live the café.

“Residents said that each midnight, atheists and Satanists in the café would start performing sort of satanic rituals,” he explained.

Mohi also revealed that the local authorities destroyed the café amid local women’s ululations of joy.
Atheist activist Ayman Ramzy sees this all as a political ploy to divert Egyptians from meaningful questions of government policy.
Ramzy went on to add that local authorities should worry about the critical issues that Egypt is facing, such as the growing number of homeless children, rather than violating the individual freedoms of Egyptian citizens.
Just recently a French journalist and friends were detained and interrogated in a Cairo cafe for discussing politics after a woman overheard their conversation and contacted the police.

It seems to me that things are getting progressively worse for freedom of expression in Egypt for atheists and anyone who may have an opinion at odds with the official State sanctioned status quo.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Egyptian Government: There Are Precisely 866 Atheists In Egypt

'Now, how'd they figure that one out?'
The behaviour of the current Egyptian government has gone from goofy to downright erratic lately. It was all still sort of funny when the government attempted to block a belly dancing competition because it was dangerous like homosexuality and atheism. However, the government there seems to be completely overrun by mad clerics who keep repeatedly singling out atheism (and anything they'd like to call atheism) as the greatest threat to Egypt society (one, two, three, four, five, six). It really sounds like they are gearing up for a good Saudi Style purge in this country -- and remember what they did to Alber Saber.

Well, now here's a some ridiculous insanity to act as a bit of levity above the background of ominous government threats against atheists in the country. It turns out that the government knows there are precisely 866 atheists in Egypt!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Egypt's Muslim & Christian Leaders Uniting Against Atheism

By Daniel Mayer (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Religion has been the cause of so much conflict and harm in this world. Alas, if only they could find something to bring them together, to unite them! Well it turns out religious leaders in Egypt have found something to set aside their differences over and finally come together! Halleluja!
Christian churches in Egypt say they are joining forces with Egypt's Al-Azhar, a prominent center of Sunni Muslim learning, to fight the spread of atheism in the country.
Everyone gang up on the atheists, now.

I suppose this is a step up from arresting and brutalizing atheists, which is what they've done with bloggers, including Alber Saber, who managed to get away. As I've written before, they plan on using psychologists and stuff to persuade kids not to be atheists... and maybe throw them into jail later if that doesn't work.
For his part, Ahmed al-Tayeb, Egypt's Grand Imam and leader of the Al-Azhar, said on state television last month that atheism was a "fad" borrowed by Egyptian youth from the West.

"The atheism trend is new to the Arab world and Egypt," al-Tayeb said. "It is regretful… that some young people now openly brag about being atheists."

He went on to say that atheistic and "materialistic" ideas were "shallow by nature."
These 'apparently existential threats to society' fads that are so shallow! Don't worry though, freedom of thought is in the constitution! Based on their history so far, I'm totally confident there will be no problem at all.
Freedom of thought is enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. However, a handful of Egyptians have been prosecuted in recent years for "defaming religion" on social media platforms.
Oh right... just a handful -- the ones we actually hear about. It only takes a handful of people being brutally persecuted to keep the general population in line.
"The Church and the Al-Azhar are drafting a constructive mechanism to address atheism," Poules Halim, a spokesman for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, told Anadolu Agency.

His statements came following a two-day conference, organized jointly between the Al-Azhar and the church, aimed at forging a "scholarly response" to atheism, which, Halim said, had been "spreading increasingly" in Egypt over the past three years.

This article definitely lacks any sort of explanation of what they actually talked about and what this constructive mechanism is. I'm waiting to see what sort of nonsense they'll come up with. They've had hundreds of years and I'm still waiting.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Things Are Getting Absurd & Dangerous In Egypt

Religious Endowments Minister Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa (source)
It's fun and all writing about Egypt's whacky reactions to belly dancing on television, but things really do seem to be going from bad to worse there when it comes to human rights.

What's particularly concerning to me is how the government wishes to stamp out anything they think is atheism (which includes actual atheism) alongside throwing eight gay men into jail for getting married. I'm pretty sure both of those things are human rights violations. They're playing atheism up as being the largest threat to their very existence with homosexuality a close second.

Well back in September, as incoherently as ever, government minister of Religious Endowment Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa declared that he knew where the sudden wave of atheists and homosexuals are coming from. It's sort of predictable. Actually, I'll give you one guess.
Interviewer: How do you explain the spread of atheism in our society? Has it become a widespread phenomenon?

Gomaa: Yes, it has. There are two reasons for this atheism. One reason is the hijacking of religious discourse by extremists and terrorists. Some people have their own opinion about our religion. The other reason is the colonialist Zionist force, which sponsors and supports atheists and atheism, and finances homosexuals and homosexuality, in order to fragment this society. They want to undermine the stability of our region any way they can -- by means of terrorism, of atheism, of nihilism, and of deviance. So we must confront atheism, nihilism, homosexuality and moral depravity the same way we confront nihilism and terrorism. Our society cannot thrive unless we take a moderate approach.
Israel and the Jews, naturally. Only days ago, I wrote about a Malaysian politician who was blaming the Jews, New World Order, atheists, --- insert anyone who's not Malaysian and Muslim here -- for moral decay there.

Moderate approach? Like, arresting gay people and throwing them into jail for three years? Or do you mean throwing Alber Saber into jail for being an atheist -- atheists can get five years in jail just for being atheist.

This tone seems a bit more ominous and, frankly, fascist than the cuddly and misguided government initiative to deal with atheism.
The ministries of Waqfs (Religious Endowments) and Youth have said they will launch a nationwide campaign to tackle atheism in the predominantly Muslim country. The planned drive will recruit the efforts of moderate clergymen, psychologists, sociologists and political specialists to address the youth, according to local media.
With these statements by Gomma, we have a clear identification of threatening elements of the country's population.  Mere disbelief in god or one's sexuality is characterized as radical or terrorist or impure, the enemy to the stability of the region and a threat to society.

It's sounding very xenophobic and as if Egypt is really gearing up for a Saudi-style culling of 'undesirable elements' in their population. It sounds like something dreadful is about to happen. It looks to me like atheists and LGBT people are the most threatened minority in Egypt today.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Rising Atheism Identified as 'a Key Challenge' facing Egypt


Egypt has had many challenges recently, like the Arab Spring or that whole military coup back in January.

For mercy sake, the country is still reeling over that televised belly dancing competition, which surely shook society to its very limit! With all these belly dancers on television, is there any hope? Does anyone have any time to consider the political situation in Egypt when pelvises continue to oscillate on national television?

Keep calm, though. Even with belly dancing not completely resolved, the Egyptian government and senior clerics have bravely identified the rise of atheists as truly the largest, most dire threat to their entire civilization.
 In a sign of unprecedented concern, Egypt’s top Islamic official recently warned against the spread of atheism in the traditionally religious country.

“Atheism is no longer a marginal issue,” Shaikh of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayeb, said on Egyptian state TV. “It has become one of the many challenges facing the country. There are agencies and institutions in the country concerned about this issue.”
And because education, employment, healthcare, poverty, secularism and democracy are 'just fine thanks', the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Ministry of Youth have teamed up to ensure young people are 'thinking right' and 'believing the right.'
The ministries of Waqfs (Religious Endowments) and Youth have said they will launch a nationwide campaign to tackle atheism in the predominantly Muslim country. The planned drive will recruit the efforts of moderate clergymen, psychologists, sociologists and political specialists to address the youth, according to local media.
I guess there are two positive  points here. It's obvious that atheism is making some progress in Egypt and it appears to be at least moving the discussion towards a more moderate point. They've even taken to banning fundamentalist Islamic clerics from giving sermons, which seems rather overbearing and unconstitutional to me, frankly.

Like lots of religious people who do not understand atheists, a Christian representative thinks this whole atheism business is some sort of rebellion against tradition.
“After revolting against the political regime, attention is turned to rebellion against the family’s authority and then the religious authorities represented by clergymen. Some people believe that as long as the ruler of the country is deposed, why not depose the chief of the world too.”
Also according to him, high unemployment and materialism is also a cause. Shouldn't the government be concentrating on the unemployment situation? Maybe a little materialism might help in coming up with concrete solutions to jobless rates rather than these pie in the sky witch hunts against belly dancers and atheists.

Apparently, there is an estimated 2 million atheists in the country out of nearly 90 million which is hardly a sizable minority.

If you're caught, you get up to five years in prison as well. That should be the real story here. Maybe Egypt should also concentrate a bit on their human rights and freedom of conscious problems as well.

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