Egypt: Allegations of Atheist Reversion
Unbelief Brief
September 25, 2023
The Arab Atheists Magazine in Egypt clarifies: no, its atheist founder has not repented and reverted to Islam.

Arab Atheists Magazine: A False Reversion

Last Sunday, Egyptian news outlets published a flurry of articles alleging that the founder of "الملحدين العرب" ("Arab Atheists") magazine, an atheist ex-Muslim, had reverted back to Islam and repented for the atheist content published by their magazine. 

The magazine issued a statement in response to the allegations, clarifying that they had, in fact, not reverted to Islam nor repented and that the allegations were sparked by an attack on the magazine's website, "Atheists in Arabic." The vandals removed the content of the site and replaced it with a false statement about the founder's repentance. In the midst of the cyberattacks and false claims, the next issue of the magazine was unfortunately delayed, but since the attacks, the site has been restored.

In their statement on Facebook, Arab Atheists Magazine shares, "هذه ليست المحاولة الأولى ولن تكون الأخيرة لإسكات الصوت العقلاني الناقد. نحن أتينا من بين ظهوركم وسنظل موجودين معكم ما دمتم أنتم موجودين رغم أنوفكم" ("This is not the first and will not be the last attempt to silence the rational, critical voice. We came from among you, and we will remain with you as long as you exist, despite your noses") - a truth apostates regularly face. Speaking openly about one’s atheism in the MENA region poses risks of fines, imprisonment, death, and civil death (in the case of Egypt and several other countries in the region), yet typically, it is family, community members, and neighbors of outspoken ex-Muslims that dole out punishments and silence apostates before the government intervenes.

Iranian Parliament Approves New Hijab Law

A year after the murder of Mahsa Amini in police custody for failure to adhere to hijab requirements, the Iranian government is redoubling efforts to ensure women do not breach the proscriptions of modesty culture.

Reuters reports that the new laws provide a stricter definition for the breaching of modesty codes, along with fines—and, in some circumstances, prison time—as punishment.

For women, unacceptable covering has been defined as “revealing or tight clothing, or clothing that shows parts of the body lower than the neck or above the ankles or above the forearms”, according to the latest version of the legislation released in local media.

For men, it has been defined as “revealing clothing that shows parts of the body lower than the chest or above the ankles, or shoulders”.

The wife of the Iranian president, Jamileh Alamolhoda, has meanwhile defended the draconian measures, likening them to the sorts of dress codes anyone in any country has to adhere to when going to work. That she would do so is unsurprising, given her insistence earlier this year that giving women opportunities to study and work was a form of "violence" against women.

Indonesian TikTok Star Eats Pork, Goes to Prison

Lina Lutfiawati, an Indonesian TikToker who made her fame reviewing food on the app, has been sentenced to two years in prison. Her crime: eating pork rinds and posting it publicly.

As the New York Times notes, despite the fact that Indonesia is "a secular democracy," the video, in which Luftiawati invokes the name of God before trying the pork rinds (which she called "not so special"), attracted the attention of Indonesia's Ulema Council. She was ultimately convicted under the blasphemy law, which government representatives purport preserves religious harmony in the country.

Returning to the state's moral line has, of course, not been enough, as the Times reports:

Ms. Lina told reporters after the trial that she had apologized many times for her behavior. “I know what I did was wrong, but I did not expect this punishment to be two years,” she said.

It is difficult to conceive of any definition of a "harmonious" society which includes an innocent person being forced into prison for two years for the crime of eating certain food. Such is the destructiveness of blasphemy laws.

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