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After Ahmed Maher was imprisoned, widespread condemnation and calls for Sisi to intervene | Politics and Economy | In-depth analysis with a broader perspective from DW | DW

Once again, controversy is being raised in Egypt regarding the issue of what is described as “contempt for religions” stipulated in the Egyptian Penal Code, and the method of employing it, which many claimed to be a “Trojan horse” used against freedom of thought or to search for fame, with a 5-year prison sentence issued right Lawyer and activist Ahmed Abdo Maher Charged with “contempt of religion,” according to this controversial article.

The Nuzha Misdemeanors State Security Emergency Court had ruled against Maher – which varies Egyptian media In his title of sufficiency as a lawyer or advisor, or given him the title of “thinker” – after a lawsuit brought by controversial lawyer Samir Sabry, who alleged that Maher “contempt for the Islamic religion” and stirred up “sectarian strife”. Maher describes himself as “a cassation lawyer, legal advisor and Islamic thinker”.

Egyptian media reported that the ruling came against the background of Maher’s book, entitled “The Misguidance of the Nation with the Jurisprudence of the Imams – Towards the Enlightenment of Our Islamic Jurisprudence”, a book that sparked controversy in Egypt.

In the wake of this ruling, many activists in Egypt quickly condemned the ruling, expressing their astonishment at the issuance of such a ruling shortly after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi affirmed that Egypt embraces freedom of thought, creativity and expression..

Three years in prison for thieves and five for thinkers?

As for Maher’s lawyer, he confirmed in statements to the Egyptian newspaper “Al-Shorouk” that the Public Prosecution investigated his client and accused him of “violating social peace and inciting sedition in his book, Misleading the Nation with the Jurisprudence of the Imams” and “insulting the Islamic religion.” However, he noted that the ruling is not final..

He said that Mahir He is in his office and carries out his work normally, and the judgment will not become final – allowing his arrest – only after ratification by the President of the Republic or his representative, in accordance with the Emergency Law.”

Despite this, the independent Mada Masr website stated that “the judicial ruling issued by an exceptional court is irrevocable, despite the end of the state of emergency and the return of cases to appear before their natural judge.”.”

As for the activist Ahmed Abdo Maher himself, he condemned the verdict against him in a tweet on Twitter, saying that “the prison sentences are not a disgrace, but the shame may lie in what those sentences were based on.” And he asked in another tweet, “Is the premium that we set laws to punish thieves with three years in prison, while we punish intellectuals with five years in prison?“.

condemnations and solidarity

The ruling sparked a campaign of solidarity on social media by prominent personalities and media professionals, while some tried to justify the ruling against Ahmed Abdo Maher..

The Egyptian researcher and writer Youssef Zidan – who was previously accused of “contempt of religion” – considered the ruling “shocking”, although he disagrees with some of Maher’s ideas, he says..

He also joined the campaign of condemnations by the Egyptian media, Ibrahim Issa, who questioned on his television program on the private “Cairo and the People” channel, the reason for the State Security Court’s consideration of Ahmed Abdo Maher’s case.

The convictions did not stop at celebrities, but many social media pioneers joined them, as some considered the verdict a “disgrace” and an attempt to confiscate “freedom of thought.”“.

Appeal to Sisi to intervene

In the face of the ruling, some appealed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to intervene in the case and not to ratify the ruling.

Before the ruling was issued, he posted on the communication sites a video clip of Ahmed Maher appealing to the Egyptian president to intervene, saying that he “implemented Sisi’s words when he tried to purify jurisprudence, not doctrine or Sharia,” he said.

His call for the closure and reform of Al-Azhar

Ahmed Maher was known for his severe criticism of Al-Azhar and even accused the curricula taught in it Al-Azhar institutes It “incites extremism”, and it was previously mentioned in Previous interview with DW Arabic “Al-Azhar is not ashamed to study in its books and curricula its bloodiness / demolishing churches, killing the apostate, killing the one who neglected prayer, killing prisoners, and taking captives. Al-Azhar is studying and ISIS is implementing,” according to Maher’s expression in the interview with DWArabic.

Maher put forward his own vision for “reforming Al-Azhar”, which is first summed up in “closing Al-Azhar for ten years, at least, so that we can make a difference between this weak jurisprudential and intellectual generation, and the new generation that will present Islam to the world.”“.

Despite the campaign to defend Ahmed Maher, some voices came out to defend the ruling, most notably the controversial Islamic preacher Abdullah Rushdi, who expressed his hope that the ruling would be a “sermon for some of them.”“.

Plaintiff – Looking for fame?

The case of Ahmed Abdo Maher cannot be mentioned without mentioning the lawyer who filed the case against him, Samir Sabry, who was nicknamed in the Egyptian media as “the celebrity lawyer” because of the large number of lawsuits he filed against intellectuals, artists and politicians in Egypt over the years..

Lawyer Samir Sabry admitted in a television interview last year that he had submitted “complaints to the Attorney General against artists, politicians and businessmen, amounting to 3,212 communications.”“.

Among the most prominent personalities who filed lawsuits against Hisham Geneina – the former head of the Central Auditing Organization – and Lieutenant-General Sami Anan – the former chief of staff of the armed forces war – and the artist Mohamed Ramadan, it even came to file lawsuits against influencers on the social networking site or what they are called “girls.” tik tok“.

Among the most prominent lawsuits filed by Samir Sabry were those that demanded that the name of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak be removed from the streets, squares and even subway stations, in the wake of the January 26 revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime in 2011..

However, many criticize Sabri, accusing him of trying to file lawsuits only to “create controversy” and wanting to “search for fame”, despite his denials..

Controversial Article – Trojan Horse

In conjunction with the mention of the controversial lawyer Samir Sabry, who filed the lawsuit against Maher, the legal article under which the ruling was issued, which some see as a “Trojan horse”, must be mentioned, while others demanded its abolition.

Article 98, paragraph 2 of the Penal Code stipulates that “a penalty of imprisonment for a period of no less than 6 months and not exceeding 5 years, or a fine of no less than 500 pounds and not exceeding 1000 pounds, shall be imposed on anyone who exploits the debt in promoting or advocating verbally, in writing, or by any means.” other extremist ideas, with the intent of provoking sedition, disrespecting one of the heavenly religions or the sects affiliated to it, or harming national unity.”

In this regard, Egyptian personalities and even former members of the Egyptian Parliament demanded the abolition of this article as “contrary to the international human rights covenants ratified by Egypt as well as the freedom of belief and expression.”“.

has been published The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – A leading human rights NGO in Egypt – 2016 a memorandum confirming the unconstitutionality of the article dating back to the era of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Among the most recent figures to be sentenced to prison terms under this article is Islamic scholar Islam Beheiri, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2015 for contempt of Islam, while the sentence was reduced for a year to be issued a presidential pardon later.

Other figures accused of “defaming religions” include journalist writer Fatima Naoot, Islamic thinker Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, writer Nawal El Saadawi, and artists, most notably director Inas Al Degheidy.

Mohamed Farhan

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