A proposed law in Egypt would make it illegal for citizens to be atheists, even if they don’t publicly talk about it.
“The phenomenon [of atheism] is being promoted in society as freedom of belief, when this is totally wrong,” Amro Hamroush, head of the Egyptian parliament’s committee on religion, said recently.
Outlawing atheism would further marginalize non-believers in Egypt. The country’s current blasphemy law, which has been in place since 1982, states that if Egyptians “promote, through speech, writing or any other medium, extremist ideas with the aim of spreading discord,” or “belittle or disdain one of the monotheistic religions or their different sects, or … harm national unity,” they could face up to five years in prison.
According to Newsweek, Egyptian media outlets are speculating that the proposed law is a backlash to a push for more open attitudes toward LGBTQ rights and human sexuality in the country, which is about 86 percent Sunni Muslim.
If the law is passed, Egypt will become the only known country to officially outlaw atheism.