For Immediate Release: June 13, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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The Center for Inquiry called for the immediate release and pardon of atheist blogger and video producer Sherif Gaber, who is believed to have been arrested by Egyptian authorities on or about May 2, charged along with 27 others for allegedly attempting to overthrow the Egyptian government and “spreading false news.”
Gaber, who writes and produces videos that advocate for science and freethought, was sentenced in 2013 to a year in prison for blasphemy, but managed to flee the country before being incarcerated. Gaber was once again evading arrest after authorities put out a call for his capture on March 31 of this year. It is now being reported that Gaber was detained on May 2 as part of a roundup of those accused of a conspiracy to undermine Egypt’s ruling regime and constitution.
“Sherif Gaber has committed no crime, at least none that should be recognized as a crime by any nation in the twenty-first century,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “By criticizing and satirizing religion and the political class, Sherif is exercising his basic human right to free expression. To persecute and prosecute him for such acts, the Egyptian authorities are showing why Sherif’s dissenting voice is so necessary.”
Blumner and the Center for Inquiry are signatories to a petition demanding Gaber’s release.
The defense of free expression is core to the mission of Center for Inquiry, which founded such initiatives as International Blasphemy Rights Day, as well as Secular Rescue, a program to assist secularist writers and activists to relocate to safety after being threatened with violence or criminal prosecution. CFI has supported the causes of other dissidents imprisoned for blasphemy-related crimes, including Alexander Aan in Indonesia and Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, among many others.
“The Egyptian people know that their country has the potential to be a beacon of hope, progress, and tolerance. But they must demand that their leaders reject the persecution of political dissidents and the nonreligious,” said Blumner. “This cradle of civilization must not engage in thuggery and oppression, and allow itself to stumble back to the Dark Ages. Release Sherif Gaber now.”