Cairo Shutters Cafe Charged With Serving Satan-Worshipping Atheists

Nicknamed the "atheists' cafe," police say there was evidence of devil worship at the shop. Twitter users are now mocking Cairo authorities, asking when the war on vampires begins.

Cairo by night
Cairo by night
Mada Masr

CAIRO — Security forces have raided and closed what they described as an "atheists’ café" in the Abdeen neighborhood of downtown Cairo.

The café has also been described as a den for "Satan worshippers." The closure spurred a reaction on social networking sites, with the hashtag "atheistscafé" trending nationwide.

The mainstream media portal Sada al-Balad reported that the coffee shop had been raided and demolished Sunday. But Gamal Mohie, chief of the Abdeen Municipality, says that it was actually raided last month and that it wasn't destroyed.

"There was no demolition involved, only confiscation of the coffee shop's property," he says. "This was all done in accordance with the law and legal procedures. The only person arrested during the raid was the owner, "as his coffee shop was unauthorized, unlicensed, and also because drugs were found inside."

The café had originally been licensed as an import/export and trade office, Mohie says. "There was no sign reading "atheists’ café" outside, as nobody would put up such a public announcement. However, it was popularly known as a place for Satan worship, rituals and dances. There were also satanic drawings at the entrance."

Why atheists might be worshiping Satan in a coffee shop is unclear. Atheism denies the existence of both God and Satan, and heaven and hell.

The municipal official says the "atheists’ café" was located at 61, Falaki Street in downtown Cairo and that is was raided "following noise complaints from local residents. It was later shuttered and sealed off with red wax."

In response to the news published in the Sada al-Balad portal, social networking sites were flooded with satirical comments regarding the actions of the authorities against perceived atheism.

One Twitter user commented that in light of this incident, "authorities might storm the Café of Vampires very soon."

Another Twitter quipped, "Religion has been introduced to Falaki Street during the reign of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi." Another wrote, "The ruling regime has proven to be a bunch of comedians … even funnier than the Brotherhood."

Scores of other users criticized the effectiveness of closing coffee shops as part of the state's attempt to eliminate atheism in Egypt.

Citing an alleged survey, religious authorities announced Wednesday that Egypt has 866 atheists, a figure that has been widely dismissed as baseless.

Some religious authorities announced outreach programs to eradicate atheism nationwide. This year, Muslim and Christian clerics, along with police forces, established committees and launched campaigns to rid the country of atheism.

Egyptian law doesn't criminalize atheism, but Article 98(f) of the penal code stipulates that individuals found guilty by a court of law of defaming, insulting or ridiculing the heavenly (Abrahamic) religions are to be issued prison sentences ranging from six months to five years, and/or fines of 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($40-$70).

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Chinese Students Now Required To Learn To Think Like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.

Children from Congtai Elementary School, Handan City, Hebei Province

Maximilian Kalkhof

BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.

Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."

Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!

Communist curriculum replaces global subjects

This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.

Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?

The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

photo of books about Xi-Jinping on a shelf at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Books about Xi-Jinping at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/ZUMA

— Photo:

Targeting pop culture

The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.

What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.

A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.

Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.

Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.

"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."

Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.

Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.

From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."

Die Welt
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