Sunday, August 20, 2017

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Why Can't God Protect Himself?

Atheist Republic team member Hassan Kamal, looks at blasphemy law in Egypt.

Egyptian TV presenter El-Beheiry was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy—a charge filed against him by Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Sunni authority. El-Beheiry's show had tackled controversial issues on Islam such as punishments for apostasy, early marriage, and different interpretations of the Hadith—the sayings and teachings of Mohamed.

Blasphemy laws are one way theists attempt to force people to adhere to their religious beliefs. By silencing those who don’t agree with them, the religious enjoy special protections that others do not. Apparently, God is not able to protect him/herself.

In Egypt where Islam is the official religion of state and the Islamic sharia is the primary source of legislation, Muslims and the Egyptian authorities work together to bring to court anyone who criticizes Islam. They do this in order to protect their religion and their God from criticism, and in turn, suppress free thought and critical thinking which might lead people away from Islam.

According to article 98 of the Egyptian Penal Code, those found guilty of insulting the monotheistic religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) could face a fine or up to five years in prison. But the blasphemy law works mostly in favor of Muslims because they are the ones who bring this charge against people the most.

Muslims have called for blasphemy laws worldwide, especially after Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, but Norway chose to repeal its blasphemy law in response to the massacre.

Some members of the Atheist Republic team discussed the issue of blasphemy laws in our weekly hangout and Michael Sherlock wrote a blog post about it here. Michael also has a book on the subject coming out through Atheist Republic Publishing. Check it out here!

What are your thoughts about blasphemy laws? What about “hate crime legislation” when applied to certain religious people? Should people be protected in a different way because of their religion?

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