The head of Egypt's Parliamentary Religious Council 'Amr Hamroush on January 15 called atheists a threat to the nation and its society, calling on the world's most populous Arab state to formally criminalize atheism. Mr. Hamroush made the statements to the daily newspaper "al-Shorouq."
In 2015 a 21-year-old Egyptian man was given a jail sentence on the grounds of him being an atheist, despite it not formally being an offence at the time.
The proposed legislation was brought before the Egyptian Parliament in December 2017 by Mr. Hamroush. The move has elicited largely negative online reactions from both the religious and non-believers.
Egypt may soon outlaw atheism. The United States should boldly and unequivocally condemn this attack on freedom of thought https://t.co/Da5vJP8hye— Secular Coalition for America (@seculardotorg) 7 January 2018
Just read that Egypt wants to ban Atheism. Right well if I ever go there, I'll just tell them I practice the Jedi Religion. Tossers.— Corrine O (@CorrineOConnell) 15 January 2018
People of faith--all faiths--need to understand that everyone, including the unbeliever, has a basic human right to religious freedom.— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) 7 January 2018
Lawmakers in Egypt are seriously considering passing a law that would make atheism illegal. Blasphemy is already… https://t.co/sU00GyGjmN— United Humanists (@UnitedHumanists) 14 January 2018
Irreligion is treated as a capital crime in at least twelve Muslim-majority states and Nigeria which is predominantly Christian, although levels of enforcement vary widely from country to country.
The issue of blasphemy is already highly charged in many such states, where perceived insults to the Prophet Muhammad or disrespect shown to the Qur'an has led many to call for alleged offenders to be punished by the state.
There remain however varying interpretations within Islamic authorities around the world over what constitutes blasphemy or atheism. The proposed legislation to outlaw atheism however reportedly has support from the al-Azhar Institute in Cairo, one of the most influential centers of Islamic scholarship in the world.