In Egypt, Religious Intolerance and Anti-Semitism Prevail

June 2, 2015 | Oren Kessler
About the author: Oren Kessler is a Tel Aviv-based journalist. He was previously deputy director for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and is currently writing a book about the 1936-39 Palestinian revolt.

Despite President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s public denunciations of radical Islamism and calls for religious reform, Egypt remains as religiously repressive as ever. Conversion from Islam is a crime; religions besides Sunni Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are illegal. And although fewer than ten Jews still live in Egypt, the country is rife with anti-Semitism, as Oren Kessler writes:

[S]lander of the Jewish faith and its adherents is a fixture of contemporary Egyptian life. Anecdotal and statistical evidence puts Egypt in the running for the world’s most anti-Semitic nation: with 98 percent of the public expressing unfavorable opinions of Jews, it exceeds even the accomplished records of its Arab neighbors.

The story of Egyptian anti-Semitism is a long one, but today, Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are mainstays of Cairo book kiosks and foreign journalists are beaten and sexually assaulted on imaginary charges of being Jewish. Mainstream, otherwise liberal actors appear in grotesque anti-Semitic entertainment, and Sisi’s election nearly a year ago has done nothing to slow the flow of anti-Jewish calumnies on public and private television.

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