Target: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
Goal: Revoke laws that target authors and limit free speech in Egypt
Despite Egypt’s constitution allowing freedom of belief, authors are being convicted for their works regarding religion. They are being fined and some are being sent to prison. With a new government now coming into power Egypt should ensure that all media outlets can exercise freedom of speech and all authors and reporters their freedom of belief.
Egypt has several laws that violate freedom of speech, including one that bans “contempt of religion.” Since the country’s former president was overthrown in 2011 many human rights have been violated including conducting mass trials of citizens. One such criminal, Karam Saber who is a land rights activist and author, was sentenced by the Egyptian court for contempt of religion. He received the maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $140. Saber was convicted for his collection of short stories called Where is God? that focuses on the plight of Egyptian farmers. A complaint was filed accusing Saber’s stories of promoting atheism. He is currently trying to appeal his sentence.
Egypt has many conflicting laws both for and against religious freedom. Its constitution says that “freedom of artistic and literary creativity is guaranteed,” and “no freedom-restricting sanction may be imposed for crimes committed because of the publicity of artistic, literary, or intellectual product.” But other articles of legislation contradict this. The penal code states that Egypt can send someone to prison for between six months and five years for “exploiting religion in spreading, either by words, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purposes of inciting strife, ridiculing, or insulting [the Abrahamic faiths] or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.”
Laws that punish citizens so severely for expressing their beliefs and opinions should be revoked immediately. With a new government in place Egypt should protect all human rights and ensure that its citizens get to exercise them. Urge the new president to support freedom of speech and belief.
Dear President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi,
As the newly-elected President of Egypt I ask that you fully support human rights in your country. Currently Egypt has conflicting laws on freedom of speech and freedom of belief. While your constitution guarantees these rights there are other laws that punish those who exercise them. Your country has unfortunately prosecuted many citizens for expressing their beliefs and this is unethical.
Humans have every right to express their beliefs without fear of punishment. As the new leader of Egypt you should be setting an example for all government officials. I urge you to immediately repeal laws limiting religious freedom and freedom of speech.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Amrtarek via Wikimedia Commons