Egyptian lawmaker, Amr Hamroush recently announced he's currently drafting a law that criminalizes atheism, The New Arab reported.
Hamroush, who's the head of the Egyptian parliament's religious committee, made the announcement in local daily al-Shorouq on Saturday.
In his statements, the lawmaker said atheism is a phenomenon "being promoted in society as freedom of belief when this is totally wrong".
He also added that atheists must be "criminalized and categorized as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions".
According to Hamroush, there will be no legal obstacles when it comes to implementing his soon-to-be-proposed law because existing Egyptian legislation already allows for the prosecution of atheists who express disbelief in public.
In a statement he made on TV program DMC evening, the lawmaker reiterated statements he made in the local publication, saying that the law is still in its early drafting stages.
He also explained that his legislation would not go against Egypt's constitution since it doesn't go against people's freedom of belief.
When the show's presenter interrupted him asking how his proposal guarantees people's freedom of belief when it is set to criminalize those who choose not to believe in God, he responded saying:
"I wrote an explanatory document that deals with this issue in line with the country's laws and constitution."
Egypt's highest Islamic institution green lights the draft law
According to The New Arab, the draft law that will soon be proposed by Hamroush has already been backed by al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Islamic religious institution.
In his statement on the matter, Mohamed Zaki, Head of Al-Azhar's Supreme Council for Dawah, said:
"It is necessary to enact laws that deter people from violating the natural instincts of man and punish those who have been seduced into atheism."
"The deterrent must be harsh and impeding to suit this malicious call and stop this poisonous thinking from spreading among Muslims and young people," he added.
"This entire idea goes against our country's constitution"
"They can't pass a law that goes against Egypt's global and constitutional commitment to guaranteeing freedom of belief."
News of the lawmaker's draft law continues to make the rounds online and is sparking anger among many, especially because it comes at a time when the country has been cracking down on freedom of expression.
Speaking to StepFeed, Rami, an Egyptian rights activist explained that news of the draft law is worrying to many in Egypt.
"In recent weeks, we've witnessed horrific crackdowns on the country's LGBTQ community and on freedom of expression in general. That's part of the reason why this draft law is extremely alarming at this point, we all fear that is could actually pass," he said.
"The fact that Hamroush has received backing from Egypt's most prominent and powerful Islamic institution is all the more worrying to us, because with that they're actually giving it a religious seal of approval," he added.
Even though many activists are concerned over news of law, they are still trying to be positive. When asked if he thinks such a proposal would pass under Egypt's current constitution, the activist said:
"Our constitution clearly states the every single person in Egypt is free to choose their own beliefs. Therefore, this entire proposal would be unacceptable under it and I highly doubt that it would pass."
"What Hamroush is saying is that not believing in God cannot be considered a religious belief, but it is, whether he likes it or not. You cannot force religion or belief in God on anyone, so if he plays this card in any court of law, I am positive that it will be dismissed," he added.