On November 3, Egyptian atheist human rights activist Ahmed Harqan appeared on a talk show on Al-Assema TV, where he faced off against TV host and actress Rania Mahmoud Yassin, who introduced the topic by saying that "unfortunately" the phenomenon exists in Egypt in the form of 866 atheists. Yassin is the daughter of well-known actor Mahmoud Yassine. After some time of wrangling, Harqan got up to leave. "Fine, leave. Go away. We don't want any atheists or infidels here anyway," was Yassin's parting shot.
Following are excerpts:
Actress and TV host Rania Mahmoud Yassin: Atheism is not a new phenomenon, but unfortunately, it exists in our society. We shall discuss it today. We shall present two opposing ideas. The truth is that this phenomenon has begun spreading like wildfire. Unfortunately, it exists in Egypt. By now, we have 866 atheists, and they have a significant presence in the social media.
Ahmed Harqan: I would like to object to the term "unfortunately," which was used twice. A TV host must not say "unfortunately"…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: You should address this to me, not to Sharif. Of course I say "unfortunately." When we have in our society people who are against our religion, I must say "unfortunately." I am not going to look into the camera, and say to these people: "Bravo for being atheists." I'm sorry. Don't comment on what I say. State your opinion, and that's it. It's none of your business what the TV hosts say.
Ahmed Harqan: You are an actress, and the daughter of a great actor…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: You can state your opinion…
Ahmed Harqan: Let me complete…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: With your permission…You just state your opinion and don't comment on what the TV hosts say…
Ahmed Harqan: No, I will say whatever I want.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: We TV hosts can say whatever we want. I will say whatever I want too. Why can you say whatever you want and I can't?
Ahmed Harqan: Either I'll say what I want or I'm out of here.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: Go ahead and say what you want, but don't comment on what I say. This is a debate. He will present his opinion, and you will present yours. We are not a party to the debate. You won't comment on what we say, and vice versa.
Ahmed Harqan: By saying "unfortunately" three times you made yourself a party to the debate. Instead of talking to the common people and teaching them, you stoop to the simplistic level of the fundamentalists. You're acting like ISIS.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: No, that's not fundamentalism. I'm not ISIS. Don't accuse me of harboring an ISIS ideology. No, sir. When you talk like that, you are the one using the ISIS method or imposing your opinion.
Ahmed Harqan: There are ISIS members who…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: There are ideological ISIS members who wear the masks of atheism, unbelief, and denial of everything. That means that you are also an ISIS member.
Ahmed Harqan: Me?!
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: Of course. You are an ISIS member of another kind.
Ahmed Harqan: So that means that Sweden is ruled by ISIS. Sweden, the entire population of which is atheist, is like ISIS.
I don't believe in all these things.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: Allah is the one and only [true God].
Ahmed Harqan: For me these are mere superstitions.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: You see this as a superstition…
Ahmed Harqan: Of course. That's what I'm saying. I don't believe in all these things. If you ask me why I believe, I can tell you why I believe in this, that, or the other, but the answer to the question why I don't believe is a general answer: All the different religions that claim that there is an almighty God constitute ideas without any evidence. These are scientific theories for which no evidence has been provided.
Male TV host: What is your proof that…
Ahmed Harqan: No evidence is necessary to prove lack of belief.
Male TV host: What proof do you have that God doesn't exist?
Ahmed Harqan: And what proof do you have that Superman doesn't exist?
If you cannot prove scientifically that [Muhammad] ever existed, how can you build a complete belief on this?
Male TV host: How can we believe in the books of history, in general?
Ahmed Harqan: The truth of every historical text that has survived to our times is relative.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: You say that Muhammad didn't exist, and so the Quran doesn't exist. Answer him.
Ahmed Harqan: I haven't finished yet. This is unacceptable. We have a time limit…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: I'm responsible for what I say here… We are in charge of this show. With your permission…
Ahmed Harqan: I'm going to leave…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: Either your respect the debate and its moderator or not…
Ahmed Harqan: No, I'm leaving.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: You are the only one talking. Ayman must get a chance to respond. We have the right to run the show whichever way we want. When you mention one point, he has the right to respond.
Harqan gets up to leave and starts removing his microphone
Ahmed Harqan: Okay, thank you very much…
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: Fine, leave. Go away. We don't want any atheists or infidels here anyway.
Ahmed Harqan: So why did you invite me? Shame on you.
Rania Mahmoud Yassin: We present an idea so that people may learn a lesson from it. Yes, so that people can learn a lesson from atheism, heresy, and all those disgraceful phenomena in society. Disgraceful ideas! You don't want anyone to answer you or moderate the show…