“I have to keep my mouth shut when it comes to any criticism or satire about religion,” said atheist Amr Mohammed. “If I wish to make a remark about religion or practice of religion regarding my own beliefs, I keep it to myself.”

Dar al-Ifta, a government wing that issues religious edicts, released a survey in December claiming Egypt was home to exactly 866 atheists — a number deemed “a dangerous development.” Days later, a Cairo coffeehouse described as an atheists’ cafe was closed, media reported.

Since 2011, at least 27 of the more than 40 defendants tried on charges of defamation have been convicted in court, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“There have been increasing attacks on citizens with minority views and others who tried to express an opinion on controversial religious issues,” the organization said in a report in August.