An Egyptian blogger once jailed for “contempt of religion” is making waves with a video expressing support for Israel and remorse for his political views from “back when I was a dumb Muslim.”
“I … actually wanted to free Palestine back when I was a dumb Muslim,” Sharif Gaber, 22, said in a video posted last week that's racked up more than 200,000 views on YouTube.
Gaber told the Israeli website Ynet that he knew his video would be controversial — and in fact lives in hiding, fearing arrest again — but that his beliefs are more important than his personal safety.
"My body will die in the end, but ideas are forever," he told Ynet. "It's important for me that they win, even through a video. That's more important than being in jail or staying free."
In his video, titled "Why do you hate Israel," Gaber suggests the argument over who came first to the Holy Land is irrelevant and that he came to the realization that “Egypt itself is colonized” — that is, it was once a Coptic Christian country that was colonized during the seventh-century Muslim conquest.
He argued that Israelis are more competent stewards of the land and harshly compared Palestinians to mutes who wouldn’t know how to use a microphone if they found one.
“If Palestinians took the land, it would’ve been just like any Arab country,” Gaber said. “Either they’ll not use the land so well or the government will rob its people just like any Arab country.”
In the video that was interspersed with feature film clips, the blogger reviewed Israel’s achievements in agriculture, water usage, scientific research and high tech, even pulling a clip from a CBN television report on Israeli technological innovations.
By contrast, he poked fun at Egypt’s failures in the areas of education and women’s rights.
“You, Arab countries, you’re the worst at everything,” he said.
Gaber proposed that Arabs hate Israel, because they are jealous.
“All this anger and violent resentment has nothing to do with anything but envy, and deep inside that anger and hate you’d actually find great admiration of such a country,” he said.
Gaber told Ynet that his views on Islam changed the moment he saw video of a girl being stoned. Gaber has also said that he memorized the Koran in his youth but after questioning many aspects of the faith, he now describes himself as an atheist.
“I started wondering if Islam holds water — it happened one step at a time,” he said.
He was arrested in 2013 after a public argument with a professor who said homosexuals should be crucified.
He later visited the Facebook page of the Israel Defense Forces Arabic spokesman and read his blessings to Muslims for their holiday, for which he received a flood of negative feedback from Arabic readers.
"You understand? The guy is blessing them and they're cursing him. … I felt like they were sick, that something wasn't right," Gaber said.
Eventually, he reached out to Israelis themselves.
"When I started speaking with Israelis they were better than my family. I despised myself for having hated Israel without justification,” he said.