Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Egypt well on its way to becoming a decent Middle Eastern theocracy

Given the drama currently unfolding in Turkey, a significant development affecting a critic of Islam in Egypt has probably been missed by many of us. The German news magazine DER SPIEGEL has reported prominently about the case, alas only in German language, thereby not exactly helping the situation.

The German-Egyptian intellectual and author Hamed Abdel-Samad gave a talk in Cairo last week where he publicly criticised the ideology of Islam (the religion as much as what goes under the label of political Islam). He specifically criticised tendencies in this ideology that he described as 'religious fascism' and that he suggested are a direct result of its prophet Mohammed's teachings.

Abdel-Samad might be right, he might be wrong, I am not an Islam expert. Whether this political scientist and Islam expert is right or wrong is neither here nor there to be honest. What happened subsequently is the real scandal: Just to prove him wrong close allies of Egypt's President Mursi were quick to denounce him on national TV and called for him to be killed. True to form this sort of stuff goes these days down well in Egypt's academia, namely in its centre of Islamic academic excellence, al-Azhar university. Mahmud Schaaban, professor of rhetoric and himself an explicit opponent of secularism in any form, calls Abdel-Samad an apostate and notes that even if he regrets what he has said, he must be killed. His regret might help him in his afterlife, but meanwhile he just must get killed. Noteworthy perhaps that the university has not called its rhetoric expert to order over his call for mob justice. I kinda doubt that this is covered by academic freedom and might just constitute a form of academic misconduct conducive to bringing the institution where he works into disrepute. It's a firing offense elsewhere. But hey, perhaps I am assuming too much here.

Welcome to Egypt 2.0, where this sort of stuff can be propagated on various national TV channels without any critical comment from government officials. Calls from the German government's human rights czar upon the Egyptian government to distance itself from this call for mob justice remain until now unanswered.

Abdel-Samad has since gone underground, knowing that there are now folks out there to get him, in the name of Islam.


  1. dwight sangsterJune 11, 2013

    Wow, and this is after the Egyptian "spring", these countries have a far way to go..

  2. AnonymousJuly 03, 2013

    thanks for share........


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