Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Arab Spring and the coming crisis of faith

One Gallup poll has declared Egypt the most religious country in the world. But there are good reasons why Egypt may be joining the US, Canada, and Europe in the rapid rise of its non-believers.

Egyptian atheists joke at how the media collectively referred to them as Christian when they helped form human chains to protect Muslims praying in Tahrir Square. They call themselves the “non-percent” in reference to official state records that deny they even exist. Blasphemy laws and social stigmatization have discouraged many of Egypt’s non-believers from ‘coming out’; and have led one Gallup poll to declare Egypt the most religious country in the world .

This may be changing, however, with many activists in the region openly proclaiming their lack of faith. Ironically, the biggest threat to religion may result from the tempestuous rise of political Islam in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The Turkish President predicted as much during a recent visit to Tunisia , when he warned, “If a political party that comes out in the name of Islam fails, it will defame and humiliate the religion itself”.

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