USCIRF Commissioner Sharon Kleinbaum Advocates for Egyptian Reda Abdel Rahman through Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project

Washington, DC – U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Sharon Kleinbaum today announced her adoption of Reda Abdel Rahman through USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience (RPOC) Project. Abdel Rahman, a member of Egypt’s Qur’anist Muslim community, has been in state custody since August 2020.

“Abdel Rahman is being held simply for being a member of Egypt’s Qur’anist community and peacefully expressing his religious beliefs. Not only has he been unjustly detained on unsubstantiated terrorism allegations, but prison authorities have also mistreated Abdel Rahman, denying him vitally necessary medical care,” said USCIRF Commissioner Kleinbaum. “Authorities should stop harassing the Qur’anist community and immediately release Abdel Rahman so he can receive proper medical care.”

Qur’anists in Egypt are a Muslim minority that view the Qur’an as the only legitimate source of authority for religious rulings and reject the authenticity and authority of the Hadith, the sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, and his companions. These beliefs, which Egyptian authorities view as a deviation from mainstream Sunni Muslim interpretations, have made Qur’anists a longstanding and repeated target of Egyptian officials.

Egyptian security forces detained Abdel Rahman and several of his family members in August 2020, questioning him about his religious beliefs and his relationship with his uncle, Qur’anist scholar and former USCIRF fellow Dr. Ahmed Sobhy Mansour. Egyptian authorities released Abdel Rahman’s relatives after a few days, but Abdel Rahman remained forcibly disappeared for more than 40 days. In October 2020, he appeared in front of state prosecution and was falsely accused of joining ISIS and promoting religious extremism. He is currently being held in pre-trial detention, which the court continues to renew in multiple, successive 45-day increments.

“USCIRF commends the Egyptian government’s recent release of Christians Patrick Zaki and Ramy Kamel, but other religious prisoners of conscience such as Reda Abdel Rahman remain in prison. Egypt should continue on this path by releasing Abdel Rahman and dropping all charges,” USCIRF Commissioner Kleinbaum added.

The cousin of Reda Abdel Rahman, Sherif Mansour, joined us on an episode of the USCIRF Spotlight podcast to highlight the case of Abdel Rahman. In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF continued to recommend that the U.S. Department of State place Egypt on its Special Watch List for engaging in severe violations of international religious freedom. USCIRF’s November 2021 Egypt Country Update notes Egypt’s incremental steps toward improving religious freedom but also highlights the need to improve conditions for religious minorities, which in addition to members of the Qur’anist community include Coptic Christians, Shi’a Muslims, Baha’is, Jehovah’s Witnesses, non-theists, and Jews.

USCIRF Commissioners advocate for the release of individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief through the RPOC project.

SOURCE United States Commission on International Religious Freedom