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Apr-05-2013 11:06printcomments

EGYPT: Use of Blasphemy-like Charges Must End

Government officials clearly stated their troubling view that there should be consequences, including criminal prosecution, for individuals who insult the religious feelings of others.

Bassem Youssef
Bassem Youssef photo courtesy:

(WASHINGTON DC) - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expressed concern about the Egyptian government’s continued application of blasphemy-like charges that are used to stifle dissent and limit the freedoms of religion and expression. Bassem Youssef, a well-known Egyptian comedian and satirist, was questioned on Monday April 1, 2013 by Egypt’s Public Prosecution office after being charged with “insulting Islam” on his popular television program. He also was charged with insulting the president and spreading false information aimed at threatening public order. On Wednesday, April 3, Egyptian comedian Ali Qandil was questioned after being charged with “insulting Islam,” based on a February appearance on Mr. Youssef’s program. Both Youssef and Qandil posted bail and were released. These are just two of the most recent examples of a disturbing trend that affects all Egyptians.

“Unfortunately, the Egyptian government’s use of blasphemy-like charges is nothing new,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett. “However, these kinds of charges have increased significantly over the past two years and have chilled the dissenting views of not only Egyptian Muslims, but Christians and other minorities. In fact, during the democratic transition in Egypt, there has been a notable increase in ‘contempt of religion’ cases that disproportionately affect Coptic Orthodox Christians.”

Article 98(f) of Egypt’s Penal Code prohibits blasphemy of the “divine” religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and criminalizes “any use of religion to promote or advocate extremist ideologies...with a view toward stirring up sedition, disparaging or showing contempt for any divinely revealed religion, or prejudicing national unity and social harmony.” Furthermore, Article 44 in Egypt’s new constitution prohibits “insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets.”

During a recent USCIRF visit to Egypt, government officials clearly stated their troubling view that there should be consequences, including criminal prosecution, for individuals who publicly make comments that may insult the religious feelings of others.

“Rather than limiting religious freedom and free expression, the Egyptian government should abolish ‘contempt of religion’ laws, and direct this prosecutorial energy towards government-funded clerics, government officials, or individuals who incite violence against individuals from Muslim or non-Muslim minority communities. Provisions in both the Egyptian penal code and constitution fly in the face of international human rights standards, which protect the right to freedom of religion and expression. These provisions must change if Egypt ever will realize its hopes for a genuine democracy,” concluded Dr. Lantos Swett.

Source: News release from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom



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D. Gilmore April 7, 2013 5:14 pm (Pacific time)

Actually, what hurts Egyptians the most is western intervention. 5 months before the "arab spring" I noted to many that the bankers were speculating for food prices to go up, to make the people in Egypt to get upset. Then use paid rebels to get problems started. Little did I know at the time (admitted by governments and mainstream news) that it would be alciaduh as the rebels. As long as the banker owned west can create havoc, they can stay in control. The western backed rebels in Libya and Syria are totally destroying not only the country, but religion also...Because, over time, the bankers and UN want a one world satanic religion. They already took over 95% of the churches in the U.S. with their 501c3, and most pastors simply go for it so they can get tax breaks...Lets get real here. Pastors in the U.S. are nothing more than slaves to the state, not Jesus. So, IMO, the U.S. is worse than Egypt. In fact, if you google "DHS says Christians are suspected terrorists" you will see what I am talking about..And I dont mean most of the Christians that go to church as a social event, I mean the ones who truly believe in Jesus and His teachings.

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