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Egypt

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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