Last Tuesday 1 August, the secular conference of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) launched its first campaign to expose how laws of disdain of religion are used by authorities in the region as repressive tools against free thinkers, writers, and creative men and women.
The conference was held online. Participating were the administrators of Facebook pages in the MENA region that call for secular States. Among them were the pages: Egypt’s seculars; Egyptian Secular Party, Secular figures; Dr Khaled Muntassser; Voice of Secularism Beskhai; Syrian seculars; secular movement in Jordan; and secular movement in Sudan. These pages call for secularism and shed light on the many victims of repressive laws, including public figures such as film star Adel Imam and writer Fatima Naoot, as well as victims of these laws such as the Minya children who were charged with disdain of Islam in 2015 and were each handed 5-year prison sentences in August 2016; in September 2016 they were granted religious asylum in Switzerland.
The conference statement said: “The aim of these [religious disdain] disgraceful laws is to terrorise thinkers and creative persons so that the nations of the Middle East would remain imprisoned in the culture of the Middle Ages.” The statement called on liberals to unite against those who wish to maintain the repressive laws, and to exert all possible efforts to bring these laws down.
The secular conference is a coordination movement between secular entities in MENA, with the aim of working together to rid the region of religious-based discrimination and sectarianism, and base societies on equality and citizenship concepts.
7 August 2017