Insulting Islam cases before courts Tuesday
Egyptian Columnist Fatma Naoot (R) and TV anchorman Islam Beheiry (L)

CAIRO: Egyptian Columnist Fatma Naoot will receive a sentence Tuesday over accusations of “insulting religion,” after she criticized Islamic slaughtering of animals in Eid al-Adha.

In a 2014 Facebook post, Naoot described the ritual as “the biggest massacre.” In an interview with The Cairo Post, she clarified the metaphor was not meant to mock the Islamic rite, and that discussing the issue is not a violation to Islamic Law, adding that “it is strange to be tried for Facebook posts.”

Meanwhile, a misdemeanor court in Cairo will consider an appeal by TV anchorman Islam Beheiry over the same charge of insulting religion against his one-year prison sentence, according to Youm7.

Beheiry has been criticized over his questioning of credibility of sources of Hadith (Prophet Mohammad’s sayings,) the second basic reference for Islamic teachings after the Quran, during his show “With Islam.”

He was initially sentenced to five years in prison, after a citizen motioned a lawsuit accusing the presenter of blasphemy but the verdict was commuted to one year.

The court is set to hold the first appeal hearing after the judges were changed per Beheiry’s request.

Similar cases have made the cut to the court, with social media posts used as evidence.

A 2013 report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights cited 36 contempt cases filed between 2011 and 2012, considering the figure a challenge to freedom of expression, religion and belief.

Sending such cases to courts was not only condemned by rights groups, but some Islamic scholars from Al-Azhar Institute, the most prestigious moderate source of Islam, objected such a way of addressing different thoughts.

“I am against ambushing people. In Naoot’s case and in others like hers, the scholar’s role is to teach and correct mistaken thoughts by argument and proof—not by trials—if the thought is proven mistaken,” Professor at Faculty of Islamic and Arabic StudiesAhmed Kreema said.  “This is Islam’s approach and this is how the Prophet Mohamed wisely dealt with similar cases.”

Additional reporting by Ahmed Ismail.

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