Political activist Alber Saber could face up to five years in prison

Ahmed Aboulenein
4 Min Read

Prosecutor General Mahmoud Abdel Meguid referred political activist Alber Saber to the misdemeanour court on charges of contempt of the Islamic and Christian Religions on Monday. He is accused of insulting divinity and doubting Islam and Christianity.

Saber’s trial is set to start on 26 September after the prosecutor Sherif Shaarawy’s investigation found that he “insulted Islam and Christianity” through “words, actions and extremist ideas” as well as creating Facebook pages dedicated to insulting religions and spreading atheism.

Contempt of religion carries a minimum sentence of six months in prison and a maximum of five years.

The official investigation accused Saber of “denying the existence of god” and “refuted the validity of Quranic and Biblical verses.”

Ahmed Ezzat, Saber’s lawyer and a member of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, said “He is just a citizen who is thinking differently and expressing his opinion, contempt of religion means physically attacking someone based on their religion or preventing them from practising it, Alber did not do that.” Ezzat was speaking on 17 September after his client’s detention was renewed.

He added at the time that he was not sure Saber would receive a fair trial since the prosecutor investigating him, or the judge who will oversee his trial, could be religious.

Saber was initially arrested after residents of his neighbourhood in Ezbet El-Nakhl accused him of posting the offensive Innocence of Muslims video on his Facebook account.

The prosecution found no evidence of him posting it but later went back to his house and seized his possessions, which included a laptop, a flash memory disk and some CDs.

Residents of Saber’s neighbourhood surrounded his house on 13 September and threatened to break in and kill him or set fire to a nearby church. When Saber’s mother called the police it was he who was arrested, at which point it was revealed the mob gathered around his house had coordinated with the police from the start.

Saber’s history of posting videos calling for greater critical thinking regarding religion is what incited the neighbourhood against him.

An anti-Saber Facebook page posted a YouTube video showing a police officer carrying Saber from his apartment with a large crowd cheering and chanting “God is great.”

Amir Taky, coordinator of the Free Alber campaign, confirmed the video was authentic.

Saber’s mother, Kariman Saber, was forced to leave her house after she was threatened with murder and with having her house burned down following her son’s arrest. According to Taky, she has not been able to return home since.

Taky had also received death threats over Facebook and Twitter for his role in spreading awareness on Saber’s case.

Saber is a political activist who participated in the 25 January revolution and was the coordinator of street action and protests for the National Association for Change led by Mohamed El-Baradei, which Saber cofounded in 2010.

Taky said Saber was being persecuted for his well known anti Muslim Brotherhood views.

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Ahmed Aboul Enein is an Egyptian journalist who hates writing about himself in the third person. Follow him on Twitter @aaboulenein