Egyptian Atheist YouTuber Arrested After Debating Imam

This past November, an Egyptian atheist blogger was arrested by authorities and was allegedly charged with insulting Islam.

Hesham Fouad Ahmed or Hesham El Masry joined a debate hosted by Bassem Sam against an Imam, Ahmed Karima. The discussion was broadcasted live on Youtube on October 30, 2022.

At the start of the discussion, both parties gave each other a chance to talk. But the debate quickly turned heated, with Karima yelling at Ahmed to "stop!" Ahmed and Karima eventually started talking over one another.

Near the video's end, Ahmed appears disconnected from the broadcast. The debate ended with Karima cursing Ahmed and walking out of his seat.

In 2018, a similar incident happened when an Egyptian atheist, Mohammad Hashem, was kicked out of a broadcast debate.

The show's host and another guest told Mohammad to see a psychiatrist.

A week after the October incident, Karima appeared in a video accusing Ahmed of disrespecting Islam.

According to The Secular Underground Network, Karima used his "connections to press the national security to apprehend" Ahmed. Karima also urged the Public Prosecutors in Egypt to arrest Karima and charge him with disrespecting Islam and to block his channel in Egypt.

Ahmed posted his video response to Kalima's accusations on the same day. However, the video linked by the article directs to a non-existing page on Youtube.

In an interview, the manager of Ahmed's youtube channel told Bassem Sam that he had lost contact with Ahmed. The manager told Sam that Ahmed "was apprehended by the National Security." "Hesham (Ahmed) is facing an accusation of disrespecting Islam," the manager added.

This isn’t the first case of Egyptian freethinkers suffering legal consequences for their lack of belief. In 2018, Sherif Gaber, an atheist blogger, was arrested for "promoting his views." Gaber was also previously arrested in 2013 for promoting atheism in Egypt.

In 2015, a student was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail for promoting atheism.

According to Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of the Human Rights Watch, "Atheists are one of Egypt's least-protected minorities, although the constitution ostensibly guarantees freedom of belief and expression."

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