Don’t Imprison Student for Being an Atheist


Target: Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America

Goal: Pressure Egypt’s president to drop charges against student jailed for being an atheist.

An Egyptian student named Kareem al-Banna was sent to jail after revealing that he is an atheist. According to an article in CNN, one of his Facebook posts included an image of a scarred woman beside another image of a Quran, with the caption: “It’s OK to burn a woman … but it’s NOT OK to burn a book. Something is wrong with your priorities.” This, along with other posts, prompted Egyptian authorities to arrest al-Banna and sentence him to three years in prison for insulting Islam.

Although freedom of belief is guaranteed by Egypt’s Constitution, they have reportedly been cracking down on atheism and other views that are considered to be sacrilegious. Authorities recently released a survey claiming that Egypt has more atheists than any other Middle Eastern country, at 866. When you consider that Egypt houses a population of over 86 million people, according to the Central Intelligence Agency, the atheist population of the country works out to an infinitesimally small percentage.

This suppression of ideas in Egypt is unacceptable. Just as people should have the right to subscribe to any religion they want, they should also have the right to not subscribe to a certain ideology. Sign this petition to demand that President Obama pressure the current leader of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to stop the persecution of non-believers in his country and drop the blasphemy charges against al-Banna.


Dear President Obama,

I was disturbed to learn about the case of Egyptian student Kareem al-Banna, in which he was arrested and charged with blasphemy for declaring himself to be an atheist. I believe that this is an unacceptable human rights violation. It is the sacred right of every person to subscribe to whatever ideology they choose, and reject the ones that they don’t agree with.

The Egyptian Constitution states that “freedom of belief is absolute,” and yet they are acting in a way that is completely contrary to that sentiment. If they truly care about freedom of religious expression, they will get rid of the blasphemy laws in Egypt. Only in a free and open marketplace of ideas, where people are allowed to voice their opinions without fear of persecution, can a society truly be said to have freedom of belief.

I ask that you please put an end to this suppression of ideas. Please pressure Egyptian authorities to stop persecuting non-believers, and ask them to ensure that the charges against al-Banna are dropped immediately. Citizens should never have to live in fear of their own government throwing them in jail for their views on religion.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andrew Bardwell via Flickr

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