The Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, a religious institution of the Egyptian government, answers a series of questions for Newsweek on human rights. In regards to apostasy, he states:
...Religious belief and practice is a personal matter, and society only intervenes when that personal matter becomes public and threatens the well-being of its members. In some cases, this sin of the individual may also represent a greater break with the commonly held values of a society in an attempt to undermine its foundations or even attack its citizenry. Depending on the circumstances, this may reach the level of a crime of sedition against one’s society. Penalizing this sedition may be at odds with some conceptions of freedom that would go so far as to ensure people the freedom to destroy the society in which they live. This is a freedom that we do not allow since preservation of the society takes precedence over personal freedoms.
Such argumentation is used in a slightly different way by many of the region's dictatorial regimes, who use lines like: "We respect civil rights except when an action threatens 'the public order.'" It's a slippery slope, as any action by a freethinker or human rights activist becomes a "break with the commonly held values of a society." And if a person makes a "break," then he or she must be broken.