Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Is “Insulting the President” or Converting to Christianity a Crime?

by Elliott Abrams
January 23, 2013


Is “Insulting the President” a crime? How about converting to Christianity?

Both are crimes in Egypt today.

A new report by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, entitled “The Crime of Insulting the President: A Crime of an Authoritarian Regime,” tells us how many times this law has been invoked since its adoption in 1909–when the crime was “insulting the king.”

Hosni Mubarak invoked the law in only four cases in all his thirty years ruling Egypt. King Farouk, who ruled for sixteen years, invoked it only 7 times. But Mohammed Morsi, who has ruled for only 200 days, has already won the prize by invoking it in 24 cases. He has used this law to crush dissent more in 200 days than previous rulers used it in 115 years.

This is a striking example of the way in which Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are ruling Egypt, and should give pause to those who believe the Brotherhood can be won over to a belief in democracy and respect for human rights.

As to religious freedom, consider the case of Nadia Mohamed Ali. Born a Coptic Christian, she converted to Islam upon marrying a Muslim. After his death she has sought to return to Christianity. For this crime she has just received a 15-year prison sentence. The State Department response is this: “We are deeply concerned with Egyptian laws that infringe on an individual’s universal right to choose his or her religion and call upon the Egyptian government to promote and protect universal freedoms, including freedom of religion, for all its citizens.”

If the United States is acting behind the scenes to get the government of Egypt to overturn this sentence, such restrained language is understandable. If delivering that statement is all we are doing, it is very far from adequate. When Secretary Clinton visited Egypt last summer a number of Christian leaders refused to meet with her, to protest what they saw as an American tilt to the Brotherhood and  failure to help them protect their civil liberties. That statement with its “deeply concerned” language, issued while the United States proceeds with massive amounts of military and economic aid to the new Brotherhood regime, will not change the minds of regime leaders. Yesterday four new F-16s left the United States for Egypt, to be followed later this year by 200 tanks. Nadia Mohamed Ali would be forgiven for wondering how much we care about her conviction for the “crime” of converting to Christianity.


Post a Comment 10 Comments

  • Posted by David S. Most

    This is just another sample of how far over President Obama is willing to have the USA bend before Morsi! He has made his anti-Western attitudes abundantly plain. His documented virulent and Hitlerian anti-Semitism has already shown itself. And this is the leader who will be given F-16s to keep the generals happy and multi-billions in $US to keep him and the MB well funded!

    Our leaders behave like the proverbial ostrich: only in the this case it’s not the ground but an even darker place where their heads are buried!! Our willingness to blind ourselves to the MB and Hamas and Hezbollah ugly realities is truly unbelievable.

  • Posted by Hellosnackbar

    That’s why I call him Al Obama

  • Posted by Steve

    The same is true in Saudi and other Muslim countries. There is no conversion to Christianity, there is no insulting the ruler. We fully support Saudi and Kuwait and UAE and Pakistan and on and on. And the muslim people themselves support punishment for converting out of Islam – that is met with overwhelming approval by the muslims. It is they who are the problem – the people – not the leader. Our ideological enemies exist in a band stretching from Indonesia to Morocco and soon to Europe. They are called muslims. Quit blaming it on some individual. Ask Muslims in the US if they feel that conversion from Islam should be legal – should – not is. Should.

  • Posted by Michael C

    Morsi promised “Sharia, Sharia, and Sharia” in his campaign.

    The Manual of Islamic Law states (o8.0):

    “Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst.”

    The penalty is “to be killed” (o8.1).

    “There is no indemnity for killing an apostate [one who leaves Islam] ….. since it is killing someone who deserves to die.” (o8.4)

  • Posted by sherif Hedia

    I Disagree

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  • Posted by Zyad Rashed

    Thank wonderful post

  • Posted by syrian coders


  • Posted by Tourist

    “The Crime of Insulting the President: A Crime of an Authoritarian Regime,” tells us how many times this law has been invoked since its adoption in 1909–when the crime was “insulting the king.”

    I am liked this
    thank you

  • Posted by momaiz


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