On both our show, and on our blog, the producers of Ask an Atheist have been fortunate enough to bring you a lot of good and unexpected news. We were thrilled and relieved to announce that the force of equality prevailed in our state — and three others — last month when marriage equality won at the polls.
This news is neither good, nor surprising.
Alber Saber, the 27 year-old computer science graduate and online atheist activist has been convicted on blasphemy charges in Egypt. On Wednesday. he was sentenced in a Cairo court to three years in prison for Facebook posts where he promoted atheism, insulted Islam and Christianity, and for criticizing religious belief.
Saber will be allowed to appeal the ruling after paying bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds, the equivalent of 160 American dollars.
In short, he’s being jailed for doing exactly what we do every week on our show. He’s being jailed for doing what dozens of my Facebook friends do every day. He’s being jailed for exercising his freedom of thought, speech and belief.
The only thing Alber Saber can be accused of harming with his speech is someone else’s feelings.
Alber Saber has the misfortune to live in a country that recently elected as president Mohamed Morsi. Morsi affiliates with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, who have recently made sport of having their supporters and members beat and detain people who protest the regime’s recent autocratic power grabs, while yelling religious slogans. Afterwards, the released protesters reported that they had been called “infidels,” physically abused and accused of being drug users.
This is not a climate where we can expect any justice for Alber Saber or anyone who respects secular values. This case underscores the real and tangible danger of intermixing religious and governmental authority.