Egyptian Coptic Alber Saber posted a link to the "blasphemous" film The Innocence of Muslims, and a mob formed outside his house threatening his death. He was sentenced to three years in prison for blasphemy and brutalized in prison.
Kariman Masiha (mother)
Alber Saber is an Egyptian atheist from a Coptic Christian family. Though he was, of course, raised Christian, he gradually came to the conclusion after years of reading that no religion was correct and that there was no God. Thus, later, as a student of comparative religions, he developed a reputation among his peers for being critical and skeptical of faith. Even before his legal troubles, this subjected him to harassment, often violent, from Islamists.
This harassment escalated in September 2012 when he was accused of sharing a controversial film online which denigrated Islam. On this assumption, a mob surrounded Saber’s house and threatened to burn it down. He and his mother called the police, but as a result, Alber himself was investigated, as the posting of such a video would be blasphemous. They found no evidence for that accusation, but in investigating Alber, they found grounds to charge him with “defamation of Islam and Christianity”; Alber, they had found, had been posting other irreligious content online.
"I did not want to leave. If it were up to me I would stay and defend myself even if I were to be executed, but many people were suffering because of me and had already suffered enough." - Alber Saber on his self-imposed exile from Egypt
After being sentenced on his charges in December 2012, Alber says he was subject to mistreatment, both verbal and physical, while in prison. One officer “cursed” Alber and his mother before telling prisoners he was guilty of insulting Christianity and Islam, which prompted one prisoner to cut Alber’s throat with a razor blade. One month later, Alber was released from prison as he waited for the appeal to his sentence to be heard, and he took this opportunity to flee Egypt for the safety of himself and his loved ones.
Despite the ordeal Alber underwent, he does not regret expressing the vocally secular and irreligious opinions that got him arrested. He remains a strong advocate for freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and a secular Egyptian government.
Egypt has a general blasphemy law that prohibits disparaging “the heavenly religions.” While the law ostensibly targets no religion in particular, in practice it is usually used against religious minorities and those who blaspheme Islam. Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority has particularly borne a disproportionate weight of blasphemy prosecutions. In addition to the relatively aggressive efforts of Egyptian authorities to prosecute such cases, blasphemers and atheists must also contend with social pressure, coercion, and the risk of vigilante violence.