Irreligion in Egypt

Irreligion in Egypt is controversial due to the largely conservative nature of the country.[1][2][3][4][5] It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists or agnostics in Egypt, as the stigma attached to being one makes it hard for irreligious Egyptians to publicly profess their views.[6][7] Furthermore, public statements that can be deemed critical of Islam or Christianity can be tried under the country's notorious blasphemy law. Outspoken atheists, like Alber Saber, have been convicted under this law. These types of crime in Egypt hold a status similar to Antragsdelikt, legal proceedings only occur if a citizen takes the step of suing the person engaging in blasphemy, and cases are not initiated by the general prosecutor.

The number of atheists is reportedly on the rise among the country's youth, many of whom organize and communicate with each other on the internet.[8][9] In 2013 an Egyptian newspaper reported that 3 million out of 84 million Egyptians are atheists.[10] While the government has acknowledged this trend, it has dealt with it as a problem that needs to be confronted, comparing it to religious extremism. In 2014 the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Awqaf announced a joint strategy to combat the spread of "harmful ideas" among the nation's youth, namely atheism and religious extremism.[11] In December 2014 Dar al-Ifta, a government-affiliated Islamic centre of education and jurisprudence, claimed that there are 866 atheists in Egypt, a figure which amounts to 0.001% of the population and was called by The Guardian "suspiciously precise".[12] Despite hostile sentiments towards them, atheists in Egypt have become increasingly vocal since the Egyptian revolution of 2011.[13]

In a 2011 Pew Research poll of 1,798 Muslims in Egypt, 63% of those surveyed supported "the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion."[14] However, no such punishment actually exists in the country.[15] In January 2018 the head of the parliament's religious committee, Amr Hamroush, suggested a bill to make atheism illegal, stating that "it [atheism] must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions".[16]

Atheists or irreligious people cannot change their official religious status, thus statistically they are counted as followers of the religion they were born with.[9]

Among Christians

On July 2015, it was announced by Pope Tawadros II that a global survey to understand why some youth leave the church would be carried out.[17] The results were not published, however, it was estimated that 70% of the youth stop attending the Evangelical church.[18]

The Egyptian Council of Churches, of which the Coptic Orthodox Church is a member, along with other Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Egyptian churches, had plans to confront atheism in Egypt, by questioning Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and planning establishments of interfaith committees involving churches and mosques, with the aim of controlling and confronting atheism among members of both faiths.[19]

Currently, atheist and apostate Copts are limited to congregating on online forums out of a fear of retribution from the larger community.[20]

List of non-religious Egyptians

See also


  1. "How oppressive Islam triggers atheism". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  2. "Did Religious Extremism Drive 2 Million Egyptian Youth to Unbelief?". Truth Dig. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
  3. "No God-given right to atheism in Egypt". albawaba. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  4. "A Christopher Hitchens dream: Atheism on the rise in Egypt". Salon. Archived from the original on 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  5. "Egypt's Atheists Want To Speak Their Mind In Post-Mubarak Era | All News Is Global |". 2012-10-31. Retrieved 2013-09-21.
  6. "Who is afraid of Egyptian atheists?". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  7. "Controversial Egyptian film 'The Atheist' gets go ahead by censors". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  8. "Leaving Islam in the age of Islamism". Daily News. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  9. Halawi, Jailan (December 21–27, 2000). "Limits to expression". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on December 26, 2004.
  10. "Egypt: Are there really three million atheists?". BBC News. 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  11. "Govt announces campaign to save youth from atheism". Mada Masr. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  12. Kingsley, Patrick (12 December 2014). "Egypt's atheists number 866 – precisely". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  13. Keddie, Patrick. "Egypt's embattled atheists". Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  14. "The World's Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society" (PDF). Pew Research Center. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  15. Egypt 2015 International Religious Freedom Report
  16. Winston, Kimberly (4 January 2018). "Egyptian Parliament considers outlawing atheism". World-Wide Religions News (WWRN). Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  17. "Office of His Holiness requests your participation in a global survey to understand why some youth leave the church". 7 July 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  18. "Why Youths Are Abandoning the Church". 10 July 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  19. "HCouncil of Churches discusses ways to tackle atheism in Egypt". 20 May 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  20. "Ex-Coptic Orthodox on Reddit". 1 June 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
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