22 June 2015

Living without God in the Middle East

A few atheists have also taken part in studio discussions on mainstream TV channels in Egypt where they have been abused by interviewers and other participants. Appearing on Honest TV, Mostafa Zakareya, an atheist from Alexandria told viewers he had no desire to “insult religions” but simply wanted Egyptians to accept him as an atheist.

A well-known cleric then called for his arrest and execution, while the chief of security in Alexandria announced he was forming a special task force to round up atheists in the city.

In Egypt and Saudi Arabia especially, media have been expressing alarm at what they see as a growth in the numbers of atheists. Two Egyptian government ministries have been ordered to produce a national plan to "confront and eliminate" atheism.

Such schemes may have worked in the past when states were better placed to control the spread of “undesirable” ideas but in the internet age they are ultimately doomed. Even so, for governments and large sections of the Arab public, freedom of belief remains an alien concept and the battle to achieve it is likely to be long and hard-fought. [al-bab.com] Read more