Alber Saber – Arrested for Atheism

Alber Saber, photo from his blog.

Egyptian blogger and computer science student, Alber Saber, has been arrested and charged with insulting Islam.  He is being held in while the investigation continues. There are concerns for his safety in custody as he has already apparently had his neck slashed with a razor blade after guards told the prisoners of the reason for his arrest. It is almost certain the guard’s words were meant to encourage exactly this outcome.

Saber has also announced via family that he is starting a hunger strike.

On Wednesday, September 12th, a Muslim friend and neighbor using Saber’s computer reportedly discovered that he was the admin for the Egyptian Athiests Facebook page, which is the largest of several such groups online with over a thousand “likes”.  On September 10 the notorious “Innocence of Muslims” had been posted on the site. Over the next two days crowds began to gather outside his house, threatening Saber and his mother.

On Thursday night Saber’s mother called the police, hoping for protection. When the police arrived however, rather than fending the threatening mob outside, they arrested her son.

The charge according to his lawyer and supporters, focuses on videos in which Saber discusses his own Coptic faith or lack thereof.  This makes sense as to charge anyone for posting the “Innocence of Muslims” video would set an impossible precedent. Even conservative broadcasters have also shown the video, or sections of it on their shows. It is not yet clear however, which materials will be included in the case against him, which is currently in the hands of the General Prosecutor. The next hearing is expected in four days.

After talking with Saber’s friends it seems likely to me that Egypt’s Islamist leaders are hoping to create a local issue where they can be seen as the tough guys, to distract Egyptians from how the furor in the international arena, in the context of which they seem impotent.

You can show your support by liking the Free Alber Saber page on Facebook.

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About Austin G. Mackell

I am a freelance journalist who has worked for a variety of corporate and community outlets from my hometown of Sydney and from the Middle East, including from Lebanon during Israels 2006 invasion and from Iran during the tumultuous presidential elections there in 2009. I have recently moved to Cairo to watch the revolutions in Arab world unfold.
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44 Responses to Alber Saber – Arrested for Atheism

  1. Although I am very much openly atheist online, I prefer to keep this blank... for my mother's sake. says:

    It’s truly sad, and there is little we can do. My situation is somewhat identical to Alber’s, but my day hasn’t come yet. The worst society is the one where you need to live a double life, pretend and become a kiss ass hypocrite only just to survive. It’s not the worst of tragedies, but it does (among many more) characterize our corrupt society.
    The cynical political play that uses such incidents sickens me. In Egypt, this combined with the big bubble of fears from the Islam insulting film, will be very much used to make up a more radical constitution. Not to mention how Obama has used the reaction for his campaign.

  2. mel says:

    How has Obama used the situation to benefit his election?

    • I’m not sure he has… though Romney may have helped him by overreacting. We’ll see how it plays out.

    • Egyptian Atheist. says:

      It has been used before by Bush and we all know how this has ended. To be fair, both candidates can and should use the reaction to the film to benefit them. The reaction is disgraceful, and using it is not going to make things better.

  3. mel says:

    M
    od’s what R U waiting for!? The cat caught your tongue because U don’t want an athiest to have an opinion

    • The fact you jumped to the conclusion I was trying to silence your atheism is bizarre, and should cause you to reflect. I am one of very few news sources trying to get the word out to protect this atheist and his right to free speech.

      • Jeff Archer says:

        That’s a formidable cause. I’ve been writing about this for years. Even in my home country of the US, atheists are discriminated against, not only by bigots, by law. In seven states, an atheist can’t hold a government job, be it national, regional or local. In three states, we cannot be witnesses in court. There are more than a billion of us in the world and we are the least warmongering and bigoted people in the world. It’s about time that the stigma of atheism is thrown in the trash can, once and for all.

  4. Egyptian Atheist. says:

    I apologies, I was talking about the reaction to the film mainly when I mentioned the political cynicism. Alber’s case will be used politically in Egypt to support their Radical plans for the new Constitution.

    This is an example of how this sort of things are used politically:

    http://video.msnbc.msn.com/msnbc/49044200#49044200

    “Well, it’s very complex. take Egypt, for instance. this is in part a competition between the Salafi groups. these are the extreme radical Islamist groups who are competing with the mainstream Muslim brotherhood led by president Morsi. it is not really about religion. it’s about raw political power and competition. you have a youthful population in Egypt. they are unemployed. they are alienated. they are angry for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the united states. they are susceptible to the manipulation of these groups. you have a cynical president in Egypt who wanted to let them vent their anger and direct their wrath against the American boogie man so that they will not focus on the miserable condition in Cairo. now he realizes that he let the genie out of the bottle. now he’s trying to contain the situation. his reaction really was insensitive. in fact, even appalling issuing that statement later on essentially not even mentioning what happened to the American embassy in Cairo, which is really incredible.”

    I hope Alber gets out. And I am sorry to say this, but Egypt doesn’t feel like home anymore.

  5. Radguy says:

    I think we need pressure from local Islamic groups to be placed on Islamic theocracies.

    Trade sanctions only hurt people, so I don’t think that they are the answer.

    If they refuse to apply this pressure, they can’t expect support from those of us who persistently defend their right to be in the west. In a nutshell, if an Islamic group supports prosecuting blasphemy, I will criticise them relentlessly, the same as any other group who stifle freedom of expression. Inciting violence plus defamation are my lines in the sand. Whilst the crappy movie made people angry, it did not suggest taking violent actions against Muslims, so for me it didn’t incite. Islamic nutjobs holding signs suggesting violent actions and capital punishment against blasphemers ARE inciting violence. They have a flawed idea about freedom of expression. If only we could fence them into small communities and allow their women to ditch them. I think the world would be a better place.

    Lose the religious sensitivity and we can be united in fighting the more widespread oppression. Religious sensitivity is a weakness that can be used against us and favours the oppressive warmongers who want our cultures to be enemies. I don’t want that. On my bucket list is a tour of the cradle of civilisation. I won’t visit theocratic countries, so no tourism dollars for them.

    Alber Saber, Manning, Assange and all others being persecuted for challenging oppressive regimes are my brothers and sisters. Do moderate Islamic groups want to be in our family of free thinkers? (You can be religious and a reasonably free thinker). They are the only ones here in the west who the Muslim brotherhood theocrats may listen to.

    If the MB want to prosecute for insults to their religion, they prove themselves to be just as lowly as the previous dictators.

  6. Nineteenfifteen says:

    If the middle east doesn’t feel like home anymore it’s because it’s not.

  7. ABUKHTZEIRA says:

    In my honest opinion as a Middle Eastern atheist the problem with Egypt is the same problem with most societies in the Middle East. While you have new generation youth who are more non-religious and not as devout to Islam, more educated, and whatnot. You also have sadly a large amount of the older generation, which still clings onto their old beliefs.

    I think Egypt is lovely. Lots of culture and beautiful people. But Egypt needs a serious evolution, it needs to slowly evolve out of the culture of insecurity and conspiracy. It will take time, but I have hope.

    Peace.

  8. Pingback: Atheist Activist Arrested for Blasphemy in Egypt

  9. Thanks Austin for sharing this. The lack of freedom of belief in Egypt is scandalous.

  10. Ville says:

    There is a reason why people with high IQ most likley become/are atheists.
    Religion was made way before everyone could read and question anything.

    What really chockes me is how people still can believe in such things.
    Not that its all bad, but religion should never be mixed with politics.

    There is a reason its call’d belief.
    and not knowledge.

    And to implay that you are 100% sure god exists just make u a non-believer right?

    I really wish Alber Saber all luck and sucsess with this.
    but I can only hope.

  11. tsimon says:

    I’m sadly starting to see a trend in the Arab world of intolerance, call it the Arab dark ages?

  12. Angry Voter says:

    All religion is mental illness and should be treated as such.

    They are a danger to themselves and others.

  13. daniel says:

    We have a similar problem in the US, but with none of the urgency. Our ‘baby boomer’ generation only shares geographical similarity to our younger generations. They are much more religious, far to the right on the political spectrum, and have voted in ways that damage our country tremendously. As they have more money (i.e. votes, given Citizen’s United) and are much more likely to vote, they have ruled the polling booths.

    My thoughts are the same as yours: how do we educate these people, or change their mind? Shy of that, is there any way other than attrition, to stop them from further ruining our country?

    Sorry. Enough of our problems…

    It’s sad to me: we take all of this for granted here. I’m free to be an atheist, actually… free to denounce religions as being detrimental to society as a whole, without a second thought for my own safety. And other societies can’t fathom a culture where someone could create a video that wasn’t state sponsored.

    I hope that Alber is safe. I would like not one more person to die because of this mass hysteria/delusion we call ‘religion’, whether the insanity be called Islam or Christianity. Also, if you figure out how to educate and uplift an entire generation of deluded people, let us know. Maybe we could use the same tactics in the US.

  14. i pray for peace all over the world-amen

  15. Pingback: Egyptian atheist arrested for posting ‘Innocence of Muslim’ on Facebook – National atheism | Examiner.com | Mobile Atheist

  16. Tina Berry says:

    Sharing and tweeting about #FreeAlberSaber as much as I can but I need help. Is there anything else we can do?

  17. Pingback: Egypt: Blogger arrested for atheism « Religious Atrocities

  18. Pingback: El blogger y estudiante de informática egipcio Alber Saber arrestado por ateísmo [ENG]

  19. preoccupiedimagination says:

    Very interesting. He will be tried by Morsi’s court? Or is this part of the Salafist’s agenda to destabilize the newly formed government? You’re right, this will set a precedent on freedom of expression. I hope for the best.

  20. Pingback: Egyptian atheist arrested for posting ‘Innocence of Muslims’ on Facebook – National atheism | Examiner.com | Mobile Atheist

  21. Pingback: Blogueiro ateu egípcio postou filme anti-religião islâmica e quase é linchado – Assista :

  22. Jason says:

    Love is the most important thing. Atheism as well as the actions of those arresting the atheist are both deceptions. Religion in its purest form is an expression of love as well as the fight to survive both strong emotions. God as a notion is an expression of love and survival. Deception in any form is wrong. Teligions all have faults and we must correct them but we must not exterminate them. The human mind is fragile and as children must be fed love and the chance to survive. Please rethink atheism and everybody love each other as we are getting lost in confusion.

    • Tina Berry says:

      This incident is not a reason for us to question atheism, religion is the offender here. I would never try to prevent you practicing your beliefs. Please don’t try to push them on others.

      • Jason says:

        Look. I’m not attacking you. I don’t think anybody would attack the notion found in many religions that we should all love each other. We should condemn somebody for arresting somebody over an internet posting of a movie. I don’t tell you what to believe. Atheists are known when push comes to shove of attacking beliefs of others ie just deying everything. Religions for many including Islam is a cultural heritage and I would say their treatment of women is wrong. But you can’t be successful at exterminating their religion but you can call for equal rights for women. Belief is a survival mechanism and if you listen carefully to what religious people say is defending their human right to survive. Atheists may have strong beliefs in other areas but when it comes to what they say in public arenas it’s finger pointing and denial of God and that may be good but you have to express some survival and hope other than just criticism.

    • Jack Martin says:

      What does any of this even mean? Atheism is the rejection of a claim, a claim that has no evidence. Atheism is the default position. If you have evidence that there is a God or whatever, provide it, otherwise Atheism is the null hypothesis.

  23. motherofdragons says:

    This is really an issue of different interpretation of Freedom of Speech. A small spark can turn to a huge flame. This wouldn’t have happened if there was responsible expressing of ideas through proper media. Though, I agree with Austin that right of free speech should be supported, responsible free speech should be considered.

    • Jack Martin says:

      Who determines what is responsible and what the proper channels are? Americans have the right to mock any Religion at any time for any reason. We are not bound by the laws of Religious fanatics and NO ONE has the right to limit our expression. If I want to make a video of myself urinating on Muhammed for ten minutes I will, because I can. You do not have the right to never be offended.

  24. Bob says:

    I don’t see the ‘Innocence’ posted on the page https://www.facebook.com/Egyptians.Atheists at all. Not under Posts by Page at least. Maybe it was removed?

  25. Gizo says:

    He’s not arrested for atheism, he was accused of posting anti-Islam Video

  26. Pingback: Alber Samer, Egyptian atheist arrested for Prophet film, “disappeared” « Patrick Galey

  27. kay117casmir says:

    Reblogged this on kay's Blog and commented:
    Injustice

  28. Pingback: Egyptian Blogger Alber Saber needs your help – Please sign the Petition « Skeptical Science

  29. Pingback: Alber Samer: Arrested, Assaulted, Accused of Insulting Islam « Patrick Galey

  30. Pingback: They're at it again - Page 2 - Religious Education Forum

  31. brich22 says:

    I want to sue the Egypt government for reverse blasphemy.

    Superstition should be called out for what it is.

  32. Fai Peta says:

    I wonder. is there any way to impose sincere piety or reverence? The mind can be anywhere it chooses to and this is a blessing for several reasons. It is this freedom of mind that allows people to expand their horizons and achieve miracles. As long as anyone decides to be free spiritually, will respect such a need in every body else. Acceptance and respect to all is practice of spirituality that is requested for any religion and what I believe, God wants mostly.

  33. Pingback: Alber Saber, Atheist Activist Charged with Blasphemy, Welcomes a New Addition to His Family

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