Sherif Gaber Abdelazim Bakr (Arabic: شريف جابر عبد العظيم بكر, romanizedŠarīf Ǧābir ʿAbd al-ʿAẓīm Bakr[4] pronounced [ʃɪˈɾiːf ˈɡæːbeɾ ʕæbdelʕɑˈzˤiːm bɑkɾ]; born 10 February 1993), is an Egyptian political activist and blogger who was arrested on October 27, 2013, for professing atheism, contempt of religion relating to activities on campus and atheist statements online.[5]

Sherif Gaber
Sherif Gaber Abdelazim Bakr

(1993-02-10) 10 February 1993 (age 31)[1][2][3]
Ismailia, Egypt
Occupation(s)YouTuber, Political activist
Known forBeing arrested in Egypt for atheist activism in the Middle East, criticising Islam, supporting LGBT rights.



Gaber has been making satirical videos that criticise religions for years.[3] By July 2019, his YouTube channel had over 410,000 subscribers, making him one of the best-known critics of religion in Egypt.[6] With titles such as "Does God exist?", "Evolution and religion are incompatible" and "Criticising religion is a human right", his videos brought him into legal troubles. The Egyptian law against blasphemy, Article 98(f) of the Penal Code, was eventually used to justify his arrest.[2]

Argument with teacher


Gaber enrolled in Suez Canal University in Ismailia, as a sociology student. He claimed to be 'one of the best students in class', but that changed when he got into a verbal argument with a psychology teacher, who has said that homosexuality is a 'sin' and gay people 'should be crucified in the middle of the street'.[7] A few months after this incident, fellow students forwarded some of his Facebook postings to the rector, who reported it to the police.[7]

Arrest and court case


At 3:00 a.m. on October 27, 2013, three armored state security cars and an army vehicle arrived at Gaber's house. A number of state security agents entered his apartment, conducted a search, and confiscated all of his property, including but not limited to his school papers and documents, books, his PC, mobile phone, and his money. After that they threw him in the car and took him to jail.[8] Gaber claimed the prison guards mistreated him and punished 'every part' of him.[7]

On December 3, 2013, the court agreed to release Gaber after paying £E7,500 (£E2,500 for the "Contempt of Religion" charge and £E5,000 for "spreading immoral values and abnormal thoughts that provoke and disturb the public peace and the national security of Egypt.") He was released the next day, but his case was ongoing.[9] He was allowed to resume his studies, but suspected the teachers deliberately made him repeatedly fail his tests.[7]

On February 16, 2015, Gaber (aged 22[7]) was found guilty and sentenced to one year in jail. He was allowed to appeal if he paid £E1,000,[10][11] but instead Gaber went into hiding.[12] By that time, the rector had quit the university, and claimed he did not recall the 'incident'.[7]

Hiding and re-arrest


Gaber's whereabouts were unknown, but Gaber was still releasing pro-science and pro-human rights videos on YouTube.[13]

On March 31, 2018, Gaber published a tweet about an imminent arrest, call for calm among his supporters and claimed he would "keep making videos when i get out.. i'll write the scripts in prison."[14][2]

On Saturday May 5, 2018, Gaber was arrested once again and imprisoned.[2] Several media associated his arrest with a large number of arrests around the time of the March 2018 reelection of president El-Sisi, including a fellow satirical video maker named Shady Abuzaid (or Shadi Abuzeid) a week after Gaber.[15]

Escape attempts

Mina Ahadi called for solidarity with Gaber on 26 July 2019 (German).

On October 1, 2018, Gaber tweeted saying that his passport was confiscated at an Egyptian airport, and that he was banned from leaving the country. He also said that there were two "different ongoing blasphemy charges" against him, and that he couldn't share more details.[16][3] As of October 12, 2018, the total number of felony charges against him, each one of them punishable up to 15 years in Egyptian prison, amounted to five "ranging from blasphemy, insulting Islam, contempt of religion, supporting homosexuality, shaking the peace of the society and 'religious extremism'".[17]

In late January 2019, Gaber made an online appeal to aid him financially in order to escape from Egypt with a new nationality, such as that of Dominica, after being stopped at the airport when travelling to Malaysia in 2018. He obtained a few thousand dollars shortly after launching the crowdfunding campaign.[18][19] However, the action was not progressing according to plan, and on 11 July Gaber made an emotional appeal on Twitter, saying that he had almost lost all hope and was "on the verge of committing suicide" if no help came soon. Mina Ahadi of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims called for solidarity with Gaber, and pleaded with the German government to commence negotiations to get him to Germany or elsewhere in Europe.[6] The U.S. Embassy in Egypt reported in December 2019 that he had not been detained as of that date.[20] Gaber has shared on social media that he is "banned from leaving Egypt indefinitely", and on January 21, 2021, posted on Twitter that he is "going to productively spend the time left to my freedom but most importantly on myself. Please be patient. Things will be different for the better."[21]

Kacem El Ghazzali highlighted Gaber's case before the UNHRC in a plea for the abolition of blasphemy laws.[22]

Renewed conviction


In May 2024, an Egyptian Misdemeanor Court in Ismailia ruled to imprison Gaber for five years, accusing him of publishing videos that disdain the Islamic religion and incite atheism.[1][23]

YouTube Videos


Is ISIS Islamic?


In the video, Gaber expresses annoyance with the phrase "Daesh [ISIS] does not represent Islam" commonly heard in Egypt, and expressed also by Al-Azhar,[24] the leading center of Sunni Islam in Egypt and the middle east.

He claimed that the history of Islam is filled with violence and in any Islamic country, there will always be organized groups like ISIS, or people committing crimes in the style of ISIS. Adding that most people are ignorant about the real history of Islam, that directly after the death of the Islamic prophet Mohamed, began the Muslim conquest of India. The conquest, he cites, is recorded as the bloodiest conquest in history.[25] The total number of people that died because of the crusaders, he said, is 1.7 million, while he cites the total number of people who died because of the Muslim conquest of India alone is estimated around 60 to 80 million people,[26] out of originally a population of 400 million people. However, such numbers have been questioned and critiqued as to how historically accurate they are.[27] Gaber blames the Muslims intent to spread Islam in a country, with only Buddhists and Hindus, was the reason that they committed mass murder, destruction of their holy places, mass rape and enslavement of the women and children. This history, Gaber continues shall never be taught in the schools [his intention is schools in Egypt and other middle eastern Muslim countries].

Gaber argues that Daesh [ISIS] are not extremist, they are well-read and well-educated about the Islamic religion, its history, and they are trying to repeat this history today. Gaber also challenges the Muslim viewer asking if they are upset about Daesh's beheadings of Christians, why they are not also upset about the Islamic prophet Mohammed's beheadings of 700 Jewish people.[28] Critics of Gaber object that this number appears to be reported by Ibn Ishaq, who wasn't a contemporary of the Prophet nor his companions, with either weak or no chain of transmission at all.[29], but we don't have any writings from Muhammad's contemporaries and whole Islam is based on the later texts.

The story about the Jewish village which Gaber talks about is from a 1992 book called السيرة النبوية في ضوء المصادر الأصلية in Arabic (literally "The prophetic biography in the light of the original sources"), which has been translated under the title A Biography of the Prophet of Islam.[30] It is a widely used source in many Muslim websites. In the book, it talks about how the prophet and his companions attacked and corned a Jewish village of Banu Qurayzah into surrender after they had acted treacherously. The Jewish village after surrender asked what would the prophet judge them. A Muslim ally of this village told them death, and then the book claims he asked god for forgiveness, probably because he felt guilt about the decision. The prophet Mohammed ordered that they be murdered, their money to be taken as bounty, except the children who have not yet hit puberty, they are to be taken as slaves. They gathered all the men and women and pubescent children and slit their throats and threw them in a big pit. The books claims only 400 where killed, but cites in footnotes that it is not sure exactly the number, it could be up to 900. The book claims the only survivors of this genocide were 3 because they claimed they are Muslims, two more because the companions of the prophet protected them from murder, maybe more survived, but not more than one family. The prophet is quoted in the book as saying "I have done as God commanded". The prepubescent children, the book continues, who were spared death, were sold as slaves in order for the prophet and his companions to buy more weapons and horses.[28]


  1. ^ a b "بعد حكم حبسه 5 سنوات.. من هو اليوتيوبر شريف جابر المُدان بازدراء الإسلام والتحريض على الإلحاد؟" (in Arabic). Al-Masry Al-Youm. May 26, 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d HuffPost Maroc (May 7, 2018). "Le blogueur Sherif Gaber arrêté en Égypte pour "apologie de l'athéisme"". Huffington Post (in French). Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Marije van Beek (June 29, 2019). "Wordt de Arabische wereld minder religieus?". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  4. ^ "القبض على خاروق جامعي يدعو إلى الإلحاد في العريش". Archived from the original on April 17, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Sherif Gaber, Egyptian Student, Sentenced To Prison For Atheist Facebook Posts". February 19, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Sherif Gaber: "Ich bin kurz davor, Selbstmord zu begehen"". Humanistischer Pressedienst (in German). Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands. July 26, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Leon van Wijk (February 19, 2015). "Egypte sluit opnieuw atheïstische student op". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  8. ^ "Full details in the case of Sharif Jaber - التفاصل الكاملة في قضية شريف جابر | ALBER SABER ألبير صابر". Archived from the original on October 3, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  9. ^ "جنح ثالث الإسماعيلية تؤجل نظر قضية الطالب "شريف جابر" المتهم بازدراء الأديان لجلسة 8 يونيو | مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير". April 27, 2014. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  10. ^ "الحبس سنة لطالب جامعي ملحد لإدانته بازدراء الإسلام على "فيس بوك" :: بوابة الشروق :: نسخة الموبايل". Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  11. ^ "حكم جديد يجرم الحق في حرية التعبير .. حبس الطالب شريف جابر سنة وكفالة ألف جنيه للتعبير عن رأيه | مؤسسة حرية الفكر والتعبير". February 18, 2015. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Nader, Emir (May 30, 2015). "'I live to face things, not run from them': Political repression and asylum in Egypt". Middle East Eye. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  13. ^ Mehta, Hemant (July 15, 2015). "Egyptian Atheist, Sentenced to Prison but Hiding from Police, is Now Releasing Pro-Science YouTube Videos". Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  14. ^ @SherifGaber (March 31, 2018). "As expected. today some muslim lawyers reported me to the attorney general because of my videos. i'll probably get…" (Tweet). Retrieved March 31, 2018 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Egypt's Sisi sworn in for second term in office". Aljazeera English. June 2, 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  16. ^ @Mr_SherifGaber (October 1, 2018). "Sherif Gaber's tweet".
  17. ^ @Mr_SherifGaber (October 12, 2018). "Sherif Gaber's tweet".
  18. ^ "Ägyptischer Blogger sammelt Geld, um sein Land verlassen zu können". Spiegel Online (in German). January 30, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  19. ^ AP (January 30, 2019). "Atheist blogger appeals for funds to help him 'Escape Egypt'". News24. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  20. ^ "2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Egypt". U.S. Embassy in Egypt. November 15, 2020. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  21. ^ Sherif Gaber on Twitter, January 21, 2021
  22. ^ "Abolish "blasphemy" laws worldwide! - Humanists renew call at UN". Humanists International. October 3, 2019.
  23. ^ "بعد فيديوهات على يوتيوب.. السجن لمدون مصري بتهمة ازدراء الإسلام" (in Arabic). Alhurra. May 26, 2024.
  24. ^ "Head of Egypt's al-Azhar condemns ISIS 'barbarity'". December 3, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  25. ^ Durant, Will (1935). The Story of Civilization: Our oriental heritage. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 459. ISBN 978-1567310238.
  26. ^ Lal, K. S. (1973). "Growth of Muslim population in medieval India (A.D. 1000-1800)". Research Publications in Social Sciences. vii: 272 – via Cambridge.
  27. ^ "Muslims Killed 80 million Hindus - Materia Islamica".
  28. ^ a b رزق الله أحمد, مهدي (1992). السيرة النبوية في ضوء المصادر الأصلية - دراسة تحليلية. Riyadh: مركز الملك فيصل للبحوث والدراسات الإسلامية. pp. 460, 461, 462.
  29. ^ Ahmad, Barakat. Muhammad and the Jews: A Re-examination. Page 82