Aug 23, 2021
USCIRF Calls on Egypt to Release Qur’anist Reda Abdel Rahman
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) calls for the release of prominent Qur’anist Reda Abdel Rahman, a teacher and religious minority advocate, who Egyptian authorities detained one year ago.
“USCIRF is alarmed that Egyptian security forces have once again targeted the Qur’anist Muslim community and its advocate, Abdel Rahman, through spurious arrest charges and a pre-trial detention which has stretched over a year with no signs of release,” said USCIRF Commissioner Frederick A. Davie. “This is not the first time Abdel Rahman has faced legal harassment for expressing his religious beliefs. We urge the Egyptian government to immediately release him and dismiss all charges against him due to his interpretation of Islam.”
Reda Abdel Rahman is a teacher at the al-Azhar Institute in Kafr Saqr, Sharqia Governorate as well as a notable proponent of Qur’anism, a movement within Islam which views only the Qur’an as a legitimate source of authority for Islamic doctrine and jurisprudence. Egyptian authorities, who view the Qur’anist minority as deviants from acceptable interpretations of Islam, have previously arrested and detained leading members of that community including Abdel Rahman and members of his extended family. On August 22, 2020, Egyptian State Security arrested and detained him on charges related to blasphemy and promoting Qur’anist doctrines. To date, the Qur’anist advocate remains in detention awaiting trial.
“Abdel Rahman’s arrest one year ago and continued pre-trial detention are together a salient illustration of Egypt’s need to reform its Criminal Code,” USCIRF Commissioner Tony Perkins stated. “USCIRF renews its repeated calls for Egypt to repeal laws criminalizing blasphemy. Further, we urge Egypt to alter its current detention practices and release detainees awaiting trial for charges of blasphemy.”
USCIRF discussed the case of Abdel Rahman with his cousin, Sherif Mansour, on a recent episode of the USCIRF Spotlight Podcast. USCIRF’s 2021 Annual Report acknowledged Egypt’s incremental steps in the past year toward improving religious freedom but also highlighted issues on which Egypt must take action to further improve conditions for religious minorities such as the Qur’anist community. The report called for the United States Government to encourage Egypt to repeal Article 98(f) of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes perceived insults to certain religions, and to improve in the interim its pre-trial detention procedures.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion or belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov.