While atheism in Egypt rises, backlash ensues
Mon, 30/09/2013 – 15:19
Hazem Abdel Hamid
In a religious country such as Egypt, despite atheism being a taboo highly frowned upon, atheists say their numbers are on the rise. But with any new movement taking hold, a cultural backlash is bound to ensue.
In an attempt to understand the tribulation faced by Egypt’s atheists, Egypt Independent met with 15 atheists, mostly in their 20s, at a café in downtown Cairo.
“Atheists are all around Egypt,” said Othman Othman, pointing to a group of young people sitting at the table next to us.
The number of atheists in Egypt is not less than three million, Othman claimed, but they do not label themselves “atheists” as society would disown them.
Those who have come out publicly as atheists have been not only isolated by their friends and families, but also society in general. However, others who turn down their familial religion have faced many worse trials than mere isolation.
Asmaa Omar, 24, who has just graduated the Faculty of Engineering, said that once she revealed her beliefs to her family, they began to physically and mentally torture her. Her father slapped her in the face and broke her jaw. She was not able to eat properly for seven months.
Both her immediate and extended families began to insult her. “You just want to have free relations with boys,” they would say, or “You used to be the best girl in the family,” and “Now you’re a prostitute.”
By now, she said, most of her friends have cut their ties with her and other girls no longer speak to her after she took off her veil.
Milad Suliman, or better known as Evan, was fired from his company over his beliefs. His boss confronted him with the ideas he shared on his Facebook page and told him the company could not have an atheist among its employees.