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Loving Both.

Another day, another foetus saved! Well, sort of. I mean, it did die in the end. The poor wee thing was always going to. Its heart was developing partially outside its body and there were other complications that meant it couldn’t possibly survive outside the womb. But, that’s not really the point is it? The great nation state of Ireland has enshrined in its constitution the right to life of the unborn child. It’s the obligation of us on the front lines, us legal-folk, to ensure that that right is protected, at all costs.

Of course, the costs were pretty high today. The mother didn’t fare too well either. She’d come into the hospital a few days before, complaining of abdominal pains. After an ultra-sound it was determined that the baby wasn’t likely to make it but that it had a heartbeat. Bingo! I received a call once the carrier and her husband requested an abortion. Imagine, thinking you could decide to have an abortion just like that! Not on my watch! By the time I’d arrived on the ward with my documents to explain why there was no way there would be an abortion while the child had a heartbeat, it turned out that there were some further complications. The carrier had a severe case of pre-eclampsia. She was at risk of organ damage and even a stroke. The medical staff were beside themselves. They wanted to help the carrier but knew they’d be breaking the law if they did. Still, the foetus was fighting on, and so would I.

Her husband just didn’t seem to get it. I mean, it was his baby we were protecting after-all. He kept pleading and saying things like ‘My wife is here now. She already has a life, an effect on the world. She’s part of a family!’. He was clearly hysterical or something. But, it did give me a moment for pause. What if he had a point? In our noble efforts to protect the unborn child, what if we were putting the foetus’ carrier in harms way? Maybe the carrier could be seen as more, like maybe a person? A person who lives a life. Who has an effect on the lives of others. Who is a part of this
world, a community, and maybe should have more rights than a hypothetical life, that admittedly wasn’t so hypothetical since the foetus was on borrowed time. Maybe the husband had a point when he screamed until he was red in the face that his wife should be able to do as she pleases with her body, especially to protect herself from harm.

All those thoughts flittered through my head in a matter of seconds. But then I remembered the infallible truth of the constitution. We are, I am, the soldier on the front line protecting the unborn from the deeds of the living. I had a job and I would do it. Mind you, the carrier’s children didn’t seem to understand that position either. All they seemed to do was cry. I had to leave the ward for a while and take a long coffee break in my office.

I ended up having three cups of coffee. I found myself imagining what it would be like if it was my wife in that hospital bed. Would I enforce the constitution without hesitation? I tried to imagine her getting sicker and sicker and waiting for the foetus’ heart to stop before allowing her proper treatment. I had to shake myself out of it. It wasn’t my wife, and I had a job to do. Still though…

Anyway, a long story short, it turned out the carrier had a stroke and her liver and kidneys were severely damaged. She’s in a coma at the moment. The doctors think she’ll probably have life changing brain damage, if she makes it. The foetus died shortly after her stroke, and labour was induced. It’s a sad outcome, but I did the right thing. Didn’t I? I followed the letter of the law. I protected and respected the life of the unborn. Sure, it says that we have to have equal regard for the right of the mother to life, but we both know that it’s virtually impossible to juggle both. I hope it’s a long while before I have to fight the good fight again. It doesn’t really make you feel great about yourself. Who’d want to be working with constitutional law like us legal-folk in this country, am I right!?


Constitutional Convention Fallout

Constitutional change in Ireland is imminent (Image:

On April 14th, 2013, the Irish Constitutional Convention concluded their deliberations on the issue of changing the Irish Constitution so as to recognise the rights of all citizens to have their relationships enshrined in marriage with all the rights and benefits that go with it. This, of course, is only the first step of the process and the constitutional change will now be put to the people in a referendum, so this is where the real fight starts. The convention is made up of 100 delegates, 66 randomly chosen citizens and 33 parliamentarians with an independent chairperson. Possible changes to the Irish constitution were discussed and recommendations were made to the Government (more information is available at  As a firm believer in the democratic process, yesterday was a real shot in the arm, although where you have winners you have losers and yesterday we had some real sore losers. This post is not about gloating, rather it is to serve as a warning as to the tactics of the ‘No’ camp in the coming months.

It is pretty clear how the No campaign will frame their argument in the coming months and they were quick out of the blocks yesterday. The No campaign will try to present Catholics as a bullied and persecuted section of society who are having their religious freedoms stomped all over by insidious creeping secularism, while comparisons with Soviet Russia will be made with a straight face. Let’s have  a quick look at some of the objections that emerged in the aftermath of the constitutional convention.

One of the leading lights for the No campaign will be David Quinn. Mr Quinn is the founder and head of the Iona Institute, a conservative Catholic lobby group, and a regular columnist on religious affairs for the Irish Independent.

David Quinn@DavQuinn 20h

BTW, if the delegates were randomly chosen, how did a husband and wife end up on it? #ccven

Now if David Quinn had a problem with the make-up of delegates perhaps the beginning of the process would have been the time to raise his objection, not when his motion has been defeated. Perhaps he smells a conspiracy?

David Quinn@DavQuinn 14h

In social debates the dice are always loaded in favour of the ‘liberal’ point of view. They were even more heavily loaded at #ccven

So the convention favoured ‘liberal’ points of view; surely Quinn’s participation in the process can be construed as tacit approval of said process. Here we see the No campaign laying the ground-work for the portrayal of those who are against equality of marriage for all as being a persecuted body in Ireland, fighting against an unjust conspiracy which is systemically enshrined. One reason why the process may have appeared loaded in favour of the Yes campaign is because people of a ‘Liberal’ persuasion have been traditionally more open to progress and development of society. Those who are arguing from a Catholic (I am not suggesting that the No side is 100 per cent Catholic, merely that this is David Quinn and Iona Institute’s default position) position are arguing from a comprehensive doctrine, that is to say that they have a version of the truth and of how things should be done that is enshrined in doctrine and not open to debate.

David Quinn@DavQuinn 14h

One delegate at the #ccven spoke to me about the bullying attitude displayed towards her for not favouring marriage redefinition.

Now, I cannot speak as to this delegate’s experience but the time to bring this issue to light is during the process itself. These conventions serve to enrich our democratic process and nobody should feel bullied expressing a view in this forum. People are chosen randomly to best represent the country we live in at this moment. This is not an exercise in propaganda; rather it is an attempt to create a more inclusive and participatory democracy. Any attempt at bullying is the very antithesis of the convention’s intention:

‘The Convention operates in an inclusive and open manner with its documents and deliberations available on-line and formal plenary sessions streamed live on the web.’ (

The previous sentence was taken directly from the convention’s website. Any accusations of bullying or intimidation should be easily cleared up by the very structures of the convention. Offence can be very easily taken with such an emotive issue but that is not necessarily to say offence was intended to be given. The failure to raise this issue during the process once again smacks of the No campaign setting up a narrative to paint themselves as victims in this process.

David Quinn@DavQuinn 20h

Press release from The Iona Institute: Refusal of Convention to protect religious freedom of deep concern  #ccven

Here we have it folks: the failure to protect religious freedoms. How anybody can claim religious freedom, in particular Catholic religious freedom, is not protected by the Irish state with a straight face is beyond me. The Irish constitution goes out of its way to protect religious freedom, especially those of the Catholic faith. I would be interested to know where David Quinn and Iona draw the line with religious freedoms. Would he be in favour of say, a Muslim who adheres to Sharia Law and wishes to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) on his daughter therefore exercising his religious freedom within the boundaries of this state? I would hate to put words in his mouth but I can imagine Mr Quinn would not be in favour of that. People should be and are free to practice their religion in Ireland so long as it does not impinge on the rights of Irish citizens regardless of their race, colour, sexual orientation or creed. FGM is horrific as it impinges on the physical integrity of our most helpless of citizens: children. Equality of marriage for homosexuals may be an affront to Catholic sensibilities but it does not stop Catholics from living a full life and despite some of the lies Iona are happy too spread it has no detrimental affect on children of these unions either.

This is sure to be an emotive campaign and what the Yes camp needs to concentrate on is the mobilisation of those sympathetic to their cause. If you are not registered to vote, get registered and encourage as many people as possible to do the same. This is merely the first blow in the fight for equality for marriage.

On the run with Sanal Edamaruku

Yesterday evening I attended a talk, jointly hosted by the Humanist Atheist Society of the National University of Ireland, Galway and Atheist Ireland, from the fairly well known Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku. Mr Edamaruku is an academic and is the president of the unfortunately named Indian Rationalist Association (I.R.A). However, levity aside, Mr Edamaruku faces the unwelcome prospect of persecution in his home country of India. In spite of this, he spoke calmly and deliberately of his predicament.

He is currently in exile for his “provocation” of the Catholic church in Bombay, whereby through the act of explaining a so-called miracle involving sub-standard plumbing and a statue of Jesus, he incurred the wrath of a number of high-ranking bishops, not least “His Eminence” Oswald Gracias . As a consequence, the church has contrived to have Mr Edamaruku imprisoned  for his contravention of laws regarding blasphemy – laws which, no less, date back to the 19th century. The very real threat of three years in prison – and worse –  forced Sanal to flee his native country and he has sought refuge in Europe. He was abruptly cut off, indefinitely, from those dearest to him, while attending to the business of a lecture trail overseas. Nevertheless, despite the potential dangers he faces, he has vowed to return to India, saying, rather confidently, that he is on a “mission” against the prevalence of such archaic laws and other such superstitious practices. “The problem we have in India is that we have the 14th and 21st century coexisting,” he said.

His “mission” is what brought him to Ireland. While seeking support against ludicrous legislation in his own case, Edamaruku has simulataneously called on the Irish people to rid themselves of their own law against blasphemy, which prohibits the utterance or publication of “grossly abusive or insulting [material] in relation to matters held sacred by any religion”, which causes “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”. As Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland noted, in closing, at the event, such a law strongly appears to “incentivize outrage”. Furthermore, Mr Edamaruku stressed that the Irish law against blasphemy was increasingly being used as a precedent on which to lay the foundation of an argument for a much more far-reaching law against blasphemy. Such a prospect is simply terrifying.

If the people of Ireland truly value human rights and equality, then it is imperative that they resolutely reject their most stringent and archaic laws, and lend their support to the plight of those who, like Sanal Edamaruku, are suffering their outrageous consequence.

The Dangers of Blasphemy Laws

The issue of blasphemy has been in the news a great deal lately; not only because of the poorly made Innocence of Muslims video and the subsequent reaction, but also due to efforts to install international blasphemy laws. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been pushing for international blasphemy laws since 1998. Blasphemy is a serious crime in most Islamic nations but their jurisdiction is obviously limited to their national borders, so international laws are the only possible route to force other nations to adhere to Islamic sensibilities.  2011 was the first year the issue was not raised, however, after the fracas over the Innocence of Muslims video, the OIC  has vowed to pursue the issue again. UN Secretary-General said limits should be put on speech when it is used to ‘provoke or humiliate’.

To this end, I decided to write an article on blasphemy, however, after two weeks and several drafts I was nowhere near completion. I was not happy with any of the arguments I proffered.  There are several different avenues which the contentious issue can be approached. None, I felt, were quite adequate. For instance, blasphemy at its basic element is thought crime: not holding the same opinion, if any, as your peers about a certain god. It means you must comply with whatever prevalent religion you happen to be born into, it must not and cannot be challenged. Not only is your personal expression suppressed but so is any exploration of differing opinions. Nations which have blasphemy laws also ban books and movies wholesale to prevent their citizens from receiving information which doesn’t abide with prevailing opinion.  Blasphemy is the only law in which thought can be a crime. I can think of the worst atrocities of mankind, and even firmly believe they should be carried out, but unless I actually do them, the worst the legal system can do is give me a rather stern warning or maybe some short jail time; but nothing like the punishment which is issued for blasphemy. If it is not clear enough, picture this: A person can run around screaming that they want to rape and kill children by the hundreds and receive a far less punishment (if any) than somebody who simply and honestly proclaims god doesn’t exist.

Would it also not be the case that even religious people could be charged for blasphemy by simply following their own religion e.g. a person who believes Jesus is the one true god is inferring that Mohammed is a false prophet, which is blasphemous according to Islam. Switch the roles and you have the same scenario. This would lead to a situation where religious minorities will be constantly persecuted and harassed by a religious majority, this can already be witnessed in the more religiously controlled nations such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Now, proponents of blasphemy laws will say in a rather underhanded ingratiating manner that the blasphemy laws are there to protect religious people from provocative and humiliating insults to their faith. However, who becomes the arbiter of what is and isn’t insulting? Surely this is wholly subjective and what is offensive to one may not be offensive to others, not to the mention – so what if you are offended, deal with it, people don’t give offence, people take offence. It is totally up to the recipient of the information on whether they decide to find it offensive or not. However, that does not mean you do not have a right to be offended, of course you do, but you do not have a right to punish those who offend you; otherwise we would all be in prison at some point.

So the above rather condensed arguments, while perfectly valid, did not feel sufficient to drive home the dangers that blasphemy laws represent. Because the arguments for and against blasphemy rarely represent how these laws are enforced in reality, so I feel highlighting the actual application of blasphemy laws as the best argument against them, all of which have occurred within this year alone:

A Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, was arrested for desecrating pages of the Qur’an. Rimsha’s age is reported to be between 11-14, and there are also reports that suffers from a mental illness giving her a lower mental age. Rimsha was found with pages of the Qur’an in her bag, and despite her young age she was imprisoned for three weeks in a maximum security prison. A cleric was eventually arrested after a witness saw him plant the pages in her bag. However, she has been to an undisclosed location and may have to live under armed guard for the rest of her life as many people who were found innocent have been murdered afterwards.

Another Christian, Ryan Stanton 16, was arrested for forwarding a blasphemous text message. Ryan lives in a company compound in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Pakistan. The contents of the message are unknown, Ryan himself claims he forwarded the message without reading it. The next day his house was ransacked and its contents set on fire. Ryan was arrested for his own protection but he has also been charged with blasphemy, a crime which carries the death penalty. So here you have two children committing two completely innocuous actions yet their lives are at risk. However blasphemy laws are not merely limited to Islamic nations.

A 27 year old was arrested in Greece for having a Facebook page which mocked a dead Monk who had a cult following. Elder Paisios died in 1994 at the age of 70, he had garnered a following due to his alleged possession of prophetic powers. The Facebook page was named Elder Pastitsios, pastitsios being a pasta dish with beef. The profile picture had an image of Elder Paisios with the pasta slobbered over his face. After receive hundreds of complaints the page was shut down and its creator arrested for blasphemy. The punishment for blasphemy in Greece is up to two years in prison.

Sanal Edamaruku, head of the Indian Rationalist Association, exposed a ‘miracle’ of a dripping Jesus statue and was accused of blasphemy. A statue in Mumbai began to miraculously drip water, it became a pilgrimage site and people gathered and prayed and collected the ‘holy’ water. Sanal flew in to inspect this supposed miracle and quickly revealed the truth. Within minutes Sanal identified a nearby drain which was feeding statue water by means of capillary action. This infuriated the Catholic Bishops who were present and they filed complaints in several Police stations in the hopes of getting Sanal arrested for blasphemy. Sanal has now fled India and is in exile in Finland until these ludicrous charge are dropped.

Buddhist villages in Bangladesh were attacked and burned because a Facebook image containing a burnt Qur’an was posted. Angry crowds attacked and set fire to temples and homes as the village occupants were forced to flee in terror. The houses themselves were looted for any valuables before being set alight. The violence spread to nearby villages where Hindu temples were also targeted. The man who was blamed for the image is in protective custody.

So blasphemy laws allegedly protect people from insulting and disparaging remarks about their faith and religion. However, what we see in reality is the sensibilities of imaginary gods and the faith of people is prioritised over the safety and well-being of actual people: A 14 year old girl’s life is at risk because of a piece of paper she was carrying, a 16 year old boy’s life is threatened because of a text message he forwarded, a Greek man may face jail time because of a Facebook page he set up, Sanal Edamaruku is in exile because he discovered the real reason a statue dripped water, and the reason wasn’t to the liking of Catholic bishop, and homes and temples of Buddhists were attacked and burnt because of an image uploaded onto Facebook. In most nations the above actions by the ‘offenders’ are vanilla and do not warrant any attention, but thanks to blasphemy laws these people deserve punishment, severe punishment. Nothing can be more ridiculous. If somebody says something mean, it does not permit you to reciprocate in a violent manner. However, Blasphemy laws legitimise this kind of mentality. Blasphemy laws permit barbaric actions against people who have done no harm to anyone. Blasphemy laws silence people by intimidation. Blasphemy laws are used to subjugate minority religions. Worst of all, Blasphemy laws prioritise rights of opinion over the rights of humans.


Peter Ferguson is a classicist at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a member of  Atheist Ireland and the Humanist Association of Ireland. Read more of Peter’s work at his website:

The Bells the Bells!!

I am a pretty lucky guy. Not that I want to start this post by alienating a portion of the readership or rub my good fortune in their faces. Rather it is a statement of fact. I am in a strong relationship with a wonderful woman who happens to be my best friend. It is only a matter of time and a not inconsiderable financial injection before we give what one of my closest friends calls ‘a day out’ that special occasion when we bring our nearest and dearest from our family and friends together to celebrate our commitment to each other.

Now in times gone by in Ireland this was a lot more of a straightforward process. Our practically mono-cultural society meant that it was a safe bet that your betrothed was of the same religious background. So then it was just a matter of getting married in her local church with the parish priest, or the priest in the family carrying out the ceremony and then on to the ‘afters’ at a local hotel. Job done off you go now and make some babies. Please don’t take my description of this tradition as me dismissing or denigrating the special nature of these ceremonies. I have myself been to many of these ceremonies and would not allow my own lack of religious beliefs stop me from appreciating and participating especially when it comes to the union of two of my friends. I must say that having recently attended both types of ceremonies I much prefer ceremonies that place the couple and the celebration of their love at the centre of day rather than a deity and their responsibility to perpetuate a rigid and dogmatic view of marriage. Rather I am highlighting the relative straight forwardness as juxtaposition to the myriad of thoughts, traditions, beliefs and non-beliefs that we in Ireland face now as a multi cultural nation with traditional religious establishments and traditions on the wane.

Anyone familiar with the content of this blog will know that three atheists administer it. So there are my colours pinned to the mast. My partner on the other hand believes in some greater power and, while she is not enamoured with the Catholic Church, she is a lover of iconography and tradition and had always seen herself getting married in the traditional Catholic ceremony. Early on in the relationship I dug my heels in on my opposition to a Catholic ceremony should I be lucky enough to have my proposal accepted. ( I realise I’ll have to give on something big later, but we’ll cross that bridge yadaa yadaa yadaa) The subsequent revelations about not just abuse but also of the cover up which was perpetrated by the Catholic Church meant that a lot of the persuading that I would have had to do was done for me by the very institution I opposed. Now I know that our choices will be met with resistance from both sides of our families but hell if they don’t like our choices then they don’t have to come. It will be their loss because we know how to throw a party.

These non-traditional ceremonies are very much on the rise. In today’s Guardian there is an article which highlights the rise of Humanist ceremonies in Scotland. Now over 1 in 2 ceremonies are non-religious, with half of those not taking place in registrar’s office. Here in Ireland legislation is slowly moving forward thanks to the presence of Labour in government and in particular Ivana Bacik.

The changing of mind sets and traditions is a slow and arduous process, but it is happening. People are now more open to other beliefs and non-beliefs. Society will not fall apart due to the ebbing of influence from former power structures rather structures will replace them based around a philosophy and morality learned through combining reason with human experience rather than dogma.

Blasphemy and the Impotence of Deities.

Hamza Kashgari awaits his fate at the hands of blood thirsty zealots.

In February of this year Hamza Kashgari was one of the first people in the Muslim world to be held accountable for ‘blasphemous’ tweets. Only a few months later Alex Aan was arrested for tweets deemed blasphemous also.

Kashgari wisely promptly fled Saudi Arabia only to be detained in Malaysia by authorities and deported back to the embrace of the blood thirsty Saudi authorities. There he faces the prospect of execution for his tweets. So, what were these tweets that were so offensive that death is the only reasonable retribution?

  • On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.
  • On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.
  • On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.

Clearly unreasonable and vulgar stuff! The most obvious questions that spring to mind are these. Suppose Mohammed was a prophet and not a charlatan and that Allah exists and is all powerful, then is Mohammed really that insecure about what one random person tweets in a virtual realm and is Allah so impotent that he needs people to carry out his ‘justice’ for him? Why are the authorities and many followers of Islam calling for the death penalty? Do they not think Kashgari will be sufficiently punished by Allah in this life or the next? Why do they empower themselves with the responsibility of carrying out the gruesome task of murder? – which is what we’re really talking about here.

Obviously one might think that it is the writings from the Qur’an that inform the overzealous decision making process here. You would be wrong. In fact it was the meek and weak mortal humans who decided the punishment for blasphemy. Again, over ruling the supposed all powerful Allah’s ability to enforce justice as he sees fit. Here is a nice brief history of laws that punish blasphemy from a follower of Islam.

Laws to punish blasphemy are inventions of the human mind – whatever about gods and demons there is no doubt or room for debate on this one – and as such have no need for existence other than to control what people say. This is a very transparent attempt to ensure that no one openly questions religious dogma. When one considers that the Republic of Ireland – republic indeed – passed an anti-blasphemy law only a few short years ago (July 2009) it really strikes the reasonable mind like a sledgehammer. Granted the death penalty is not on the table as a punishment and rather a monetary fine is instead (€25,000 no less) it is a poor reflection on a Western state that has long enough been scandalised by organised religion and its demands. What are the supporters of these laws afraid of? Well, I think that is obvious when considering the clear hypocrisy of humans thinking they need to interfere in the affairs of their deity when they claim he is all knowing, all powerful and has a plan for each and everyone of us.

What is arguably most concerning about Kashgari’s predicament – outside of what has been outlined above – is that there are accusations that Interpol allowed Saudi authorities to use their red notice system to detain and arrest him. Interpol reject the accusations. I truly hope that they are not involved in the perpetuation of barbarism otherwise no one will ever truly be safe to take refuge from a dangerous and, in this case, murderous regime. This story like many others has been under reported since its initial breaking point back in February but Kashgari is still waiting to find out his future for his heinous crimes. As I type he awaits the outcome of not only facing blasphemy charges but charges of apostasy which is certain to lead to death if found guilty. Please follow this link and add your name to the petition for his release. It is unlikely to have any real impact but in the event that it may sway someone, somewhere in a position of influence it is worth the expenditure of a few seconds of your time.

Democracy or Theocracy: What Does Egypt’s Future Hold?

The election of Egypt’s first freely elected President has not brought the relief or sense of closure many hoped for after nearly a year and half of uncertainty. Many questions are left unanswered and Egypt’s future is still quite fragile and tentative. The citizens of Egypt fought to overthrow an autocracy but are now on the precipice between a democracy and a theocracy. Morsi, Egypt’s President-elect was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation which resists western influence and seeks to enforce Sharia law. So how can the citizens of Egypt overthrow an autocracy in an effort to attain liberty only to have the freedom limiting laws of Sharia imposed upon them?

Well Egyptian citizens were not seeking freedom when they revolted. Western media simply romanticized the Egyptians’ motives and portrayed our idealised notion of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ as their motivation.  Those revolting were more concerned with economic and social issues, such as high unemployment, corruption, and inflation. Of course free elections and democracy were a part of the revolt but it was the former that occupied the thoughts of the voters and it was for these reasons that Morsi was elected. His Muslim Brotherhood background is not important to most voters providing the economy gets fixed. Another reason he was elected is due to the fact that he is the lesser of two evils. His election rival, Shafik, was Prime Minister under Mubarak so his campaign was tainted by this association. The fear of Sharia was also allayed by the military. During the transitional period the military, The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), commandeered many Presidential powers. The state budget, the legislature, and the promulgation of the constitution are now all under the control of SCAF. Many still fear Sharia may grip the nation, especially given Morsi’s comments, ‘the Qu’ran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal’, which is almost identical to the Brotherhood’s creed. This statement, however, was blown out of proportion by the media due its Brotherhood implications and our interpretation of ‘jihad’. Firstly, jihad is merely a struggle for a cause which the Egypt revolt was and secondly the mention of the Qu’ran and Mohammad could just be a nationalistic affirmation; a statement that Egypt will no longer be under the control of the West, which Mubarak was.

I find it difficult to believe that Morsi will continue with strong links to the Brotherhood. Egypt is still quite volatile and has a high Christian population (10%) and a developed middle class which will not accept Sharia. The most important factor, however, is the military. They are notoriously against the Brotherhood and hold all the power. Morsi is only the President-elect and there is every chance that there will be another election in nine months. So it is my prediction that Morsi will distance himself from the Brotherhood over the next nine months and cosy up with the military in an attempt to remain President or the military will call another election in nine months and a stronger candidate with no links to Mubarak will oppose Morsi. Either way, although some Islamic laws may be enacted, I do not think Sharia will be implemented because to stay in power the Brotherhood has to contend with the Christians, the middle class, and most importantly the military. A bigger issue will be if the Military fail to surrender their powers back to the President and Parliament, which will plant Egypt back into the realm of revolution.

Peter Ferguson is a classicist at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a member of  Atheist Ireland and the Humanist Association of Ireland. Read more of Peter’s work at his website: