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The New Arab

Egypt atheist YouTuber faces possible jail time for videos critical of Islam

Egyptian authorities have recently stepped up measures to counter atheism [Facebook]

Date of publication: 12 April, 2018

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An Egyptian atheism advocate could face up to five years in prison for "insulting Islam" after lawyers filed a lawsuit against him over his videos published on YouTube.

An Egyptian atheism advocate could face up to five years in prison for "insulting Islam" after lawyers filed a lawsuit against him over his videos published on YouTube.

A group of lawyers filed a complaint with Egypt's public prosecutor late last month against popular YouTuber Sherif Gaber, accusing him of "contempt of religion", local media reported.

The lawyers accused Gaber of "insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed" in videos he has published online that criticise religion.

Gaber said this week that he was considering fleeing the country to avoid jail time.

"Staying here is extremely dangerous for me and I don't want to live my life in fear anymore. I've spent many years of my life fearing the knocking on the door," he said in a statement.

Gaber, who has over 140 thousand subscribers on YouTube, was sentenced to a year in jail in 2015 promoting atheism on a Facebook page.

The 25-year-old has caused controversy with the subject of his videos, which often harshly condemn Islamic beliefs and rituals.

Egypt's constitution outlaws insults against the three recognised monotheist religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Authorities have recently stepped up measures to counter atheism, which is frowned upon by the majority of the country's conservative society.

Last year, lawmakers announced plans to criminalise disbelief in God amid a growing moral panic in the country over homosexuality and sexually-suggestive media.

Several high profile figures have been jailed under the controversial "contempt of religion" laws in recent years.

In 2016, author Fatima Naoot was sentenced to three years in jail after she criticised the slaughter of cattle and sheep for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

TV host Islam al-Behery served one year in prison - reduced from a five-year sentence - also for contempt of religion.

Behery, an Islamic researcher, was charged and convicted for questioning the credibility of some sources of Prophet Muhammad's Hadiths (sayings) - the prime reference for Islamic teaching after the Quran.

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