Student in hiding after prison sentence for atheism

Mar 17, 2015

By Emir Nader

An Egyptian student is evading authorities after a court confirmed a three-year prison sentence on charges of contempt of religion and insulting the divine.

Engineering student Karim Al-Banna was arrested in November and in January, after 55 days in detention in the Idku District, the Misdemeanour Court handed out the stiff sentence. The Court allowed for a bail of EGP 3,000 to suspend the prison term.

However, Ahmed Abdel Naby, Al-Banna’s defence lawyer, told Daily News Egypt that on Monday the prosecution successfully appealed the initial suspended prison sentence given to Al-Banna in January.

Al-Banna, 23, was accused of using his Facebook account to publish articles about atheism and which “belittle the divine”.

Lawyer Abdel Naby, who works with the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), said that “the lawyer working with the prosecution is known for extremely Islamist affiliations. He even called for there to be no hearing and for Karim to be sent to jail without trial.” In the initial hearing Abdel Naby said that they were not given opportunity to present their defence case.


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20 comments on “Student in hiding after prison sentence for atheism

  • When state and religion are entwined, “insulting the divine” is just another way of saying “subversion” – saying or doing anything that weakens the government. And it’s self-evident that – in a small way – that’s exactly what he’s doing.
    If they keep leave him be, they’re on a slippery slope – they could end up with free speech.
    If they persecute him, they may look foolish (to the West) and take a short term hit to their credibility, but in the longer term it’s worth it for them, because it’ll discourage anybody else from following in his footsteps.
    The issue of the day could be atheism, or free speech, or civil rights etc. – it’s all subversive activity to the government.
    It’s not about religion, it’s good old fashioned totalitarianism – fascism.



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  • 5
    RandyPing says:

    We atheists need to stop just being outraged, writing complaint email, tweeting and blogging. There needs to be an Atheist Underground Railroad. A small boat, a truck, a minivan etc can easily be modified with hidden storage space. There are smugglers tricks that will make dogs not want to sniff around the package. We can do this. I do not have financial resources, but I have the guts if anyone is willing to put up and STEP UP to aid our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed.



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  • Are you seriously suggesting that we help a criminal evade arrest? I’m appalled. What you want us to do would threaten the very fabric of society. If we wish to change the law and we can only do so by breaking it, then we must accept the consequences of our actions whatever they may be.

    /authoritarian



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  • I do under stand why people need a faith but I am a amazed at the level of stupidity . I agree with a previous comment …. Why do these Muslims get so upset on behalf of Allah or their prophet. why give away all power



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  • Sean_W Mar 18, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Are you seriously suggesting that we help a criminal evade arrest? I’m appalled. What you want us to do would threaten the very fabric of society. If we wish to change the law and we can only do so by breaking it, then we must accept the consequences of our actions whatever they may be.

    What society?? What law?
    These are political trials inflicted by corrupt government, struggling to assert power after military coups.

    Political asylum is not a new concept!



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  • The Fugitive Slave Law, under which escaped slaves were caught, flogged, and re-enslaved, was a law as well. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws were a set of laws. The Pass Laws in South Africa were laws. The Jim Crow laws, were also laws, preventing black people from voting.
    I don’t think you have thought this through – the fabric of what sort of society? Perhaps it’s a fabric worth tearing?



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  • 12
    RandyPing says:

    Yes, I am absolutely serious. How many of our brother and sister atheists have to be imprisoned, flogged and executed before we start doing something useful to help them?
    Internet petitions, protests do NOTHING. May as well be praying. You cannot shame a regime that is shameless. There is no amount of vocalized outrage, no amount of public pressure from outside that is going to make this oppression stop. So we have to take direct action, and defy unjust laws of these tin pot, crackpot regimes. Step up, brothers and sisters. Every atheist, secularist and apostate that they imprison, torture and execute serves to silence a voice of reason and reenforces the despots control over the people who live under them.
    If we can get those free thinkers out, they can continue to speak, they can serve as inspiration to the people of their homelands to resist, to show the tyrants and their subjects that the regimes are NOT all powerful.



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  • What society?? What law?

    Oh Alan, you imperialist dog.

    These are political trials inflicted by corrupt government, struggling to assert power after military coups.

    Actually blasphemy has been a sore point in the region for some time now, and laws against it have enjoyed support from riffraff to scholars.



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  • 15
    RandyPing says:

    Maybe it is the old punk rock mentality in me, but I consider it a duty to thumb my nose at unjust laws. Theists often say that we atheists lack the courage for our convictions. Well I don’t.



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  • Have the courage to rely on the intellect of the movement Randy and its convictions. Science and reason can only win. There is no other way. The Big Crunch of religion is happening. Be patient.



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  • 17
    RandyPing says:

    Meanwhile, are you content to sit back on your laurels while your fellow atheists are imprisoned, executed even? And in what dream world do you think religion is going to go away soon? That is the most magical thinking I’ve seen from atheists. It’s not going away on it’s own, especially in places where the supression of knowledge is so pervasive.



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  • Who said anything about soon? There will come a time. You can only fool some of the people and all that!!! Im not sitting back on my laurels. I am here talking about it for others to see. I talk about in other places. I am doing my modern warfare. Don’t you think this forum is working? Are you here to just have a chat? I’m not. Im here to make a difference. Think Gandi not A Team Randy. Everyone is doing their bit.



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  • He is doing his bit. Get a petition together and pester your government to do something politically. There are many lost ‘souls’ in your own niegborhood that need TALK Randy. I am at risk when I go back to my place of birth but still I talk. As I said, we all do our bit.



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