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The New Arab

Egypt lawmaker moves to criminalise atheism amid moral panic

The proposed law comes amid a growing moral panic in the North African country [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 December, 2017

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An Egyptian lawmaker has announced plans to criminalise disbelief in God as voices grow louder in the country for punishing atheists.

An Egyptian lawmaker has announced plans to criminalise disbelief in God amid growing moral panic in the country.

Amr Hamroush, the head of parliament's religious committee, made the announcement in local daily al-Shorouq on Saturday.

"The phenomenon is being promoted in society as freedom of belief when this is totally wrong," Hamroush said.

"It must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions," he said.

He added that there were no legal obstacles to implementing the proposal into law, which already can prosecute atheists for expressing their disbelief in public.

The move to criminalise disbelief in God has received backing from al-Azhar - the country's highest Islamic religious institution.

"It is necessary to enact laws that deter people from violating the natural instincts of man and punish those who have been seduced into atheism," said Mohamed Zaki, the head of al-Azhar's supreme council for dawah.

"The deterrent must be harsh and impeding to suit this malicious call and stop this poisonous thinking from spreading among Muslims and young people," Zaki.

The proposed law comes amid a growing moral panic in the North African country homosexuality and sexually-suggestive media.

Parliamentarians last month proposed a law to criminalise homosexuality following a crackdown on gays that has seen 31 people arrested.

The arrests were in response to fans of Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila flying the LGBT flag during an open-air concert in Cairo on 22 September.

Also last month, authorities arrested a pop singer after appearing in lingerie in a highly suggestive and raunchy music video.

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