Egyptian TV host Mahmoud Abd Al-Halim kicked invited guest Mohammad Hashem, who is open about being an atheist, out of the studio, the former recommending that the latter see a psychiatrist.
Hashem, who was invited on the Egyptian privately-owned TV network “Alhadath Alyoum” last month, stated during a live broadcast that he was an atheist, and as he began to detail his view, the show’s anchor kicked him out.
“I’m an atheist, which means I don’t believe in the existence of God. I don’t believe in him,” Hashem said, adding that he doesn’t need religion to have moral values or to be a productive member of society.
Frightened by the statement, the host asked Hashem how he explained his existence in the universe. The guest detailed that there are several theories that attempt to explain the existence of the universe and humanity, including one that claims everything was created by a God.
But, the guest explained, there are many other theories with much more concrete evidence, like the Big Bang theory. Hashem was then cut off by his host.
Al-Halim aggressively declared that his guest’s opinions were “inappropriate” and that his behavior and “destructive ideas” were a “very bad example for the Egyptian youth.” He then directed Hashem to leave the studio.
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A former deputy sheikh of Al-Azhar, guest Mahmoud Ashour, who was also on the program, then amusingly suggested that Hashem needed psychiatric treatment, perhaps forgetting that the craft of psychiatry is rooted in identifying and modifying entrenched belief systems.
“Look dear Mohammad, you need psychiatric treatment. Many young people today suffer from mental illnesses due to material or mental circumstances,” the additional guest said.
Al-Halim agreed with the cleric and again demanded that Hashem leave the show, apologizing to viewers for bringing in a “confused, destructive” guest.
“I advise you to leave the studio and go straight to a psychiatric hospital. You shouldn’t be here,” the host said. “Please get up and leave, and I will continue the show with Dr. Mahmoud. Unfortunately, your ideas are destructive and bad for Egyptian youth.”
The crime of blasphemy exists in Egypt, and is liberally applied to a host of behaviors and beliefs in the country.
Arrests are frequently made if people are thought to have insulted or defamed Islam under the country’s strict religious laws. Lawmakers are reportedly considering passing a law that would make atheism illegal.
“[Atheism] must be criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions,” Amro Hamroush, head of Egypt’s Parliament’s committee on religion, said when he introduced the bill in late December 2017.