My name is Mohamed Aly, I am a member of Oxford Humanists and an Ex-Muslim atheist from Egypt. It is extremely dangerous for people like me in my country and other Muslim majority countries. Many end up attacked or in prison on trumped up blasphemy charges or worse.
I applied for asylum in April 2016 and, although they accepted that I was a genuine Ex-Muslim atheist, they advised me to go back to Egypt and “live discreetly”. This would be extremely dangerous for me and is tantamount to being against my human rights. It would be living in oppression, always afraid of being found out.
So I appealed. Now they are claiming that there is no persecution in Egypt against Ex-Muslims atheists, it is only discrimination, and my writings on social media, my blogs and my activities “don’t attack or criticise Islam as such” which is what most Egyptian atheists are imprisoned and punished for (blasphemy).
This is not true. I am critical of all religions to a certain extent. My activities online are of course there for the whole world to read.
As a humanist, I believe strongly that everyone is entitled to their beliefs, so when I criticise Islam, it is purely the religion I am talking about. Also, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea and think I am bigoted and Islamophobic. So I am “damned if I do and damned if I don’t”… If I am more prolific with my criticism then I may be penalised for that.
After my last appeal was reconsidered and then the decision to deny me asylum upheld, I am left confused and very low. I have been told my case is not unique. There are others like me, coming here for help and wanting to contribute to and integrate into this wonderful country, and being told that they are threatened, but not enough…. They have had death threats but if they keep quiet and presumably live in a cave somewhere, and never go out, they will be fine.
I know asylum is a contentious subject but it is something that we all hope would be there for us should we need it.
Don’t take my word for it – Google ‘atheism in Egypt’. The government were planning to make atheism actually illegal earlier this year and blasphemy is already a serious crime. There are many recent mainstream articles on the dangers of being an atheist in Egypt (and of course many other countries).
So I am asking you to please share my story and to please think about if this is the way you expect your Home Office to treat people who are in fear for their lives and desperate for help.
Couldn’t they say the same thing to ANY asylum seeker: “So you are in danger for your life? Well go back to your country and live discreetly. It will be fine.”
All I want to do is to enjoy my freedom, sleep safely and live a peaceful life.)