Court upholds prison sentence of Islamic show host Islam al-Beheiry

Sunday 11-10-2015 11:22 AM
Court upholds prison sentence of Islamic show host Islam al-Beheiry

Television show host Islam al-Beheiry. Photo from Al Shorouk


CAIRO, Oct 11 (Aswat Masriya) - A misdemeanours court upheld a five-year prison term previously handed down to controversial religious researcher Islam al-Beheiry for contempt of religion, dismissing his appeal on Saturday.

The show host was sentenced in absentia to five years with labour last May.

Beheiry stirred controversy with his show especially after Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's foremost religious institution, accused him of broadcasting ideas that strike at the "the fundamentals of religion." 

Yet, Beheiry, who describes himself as an Islamic researcher, said that he is contributing towards renewing Egypt's religious discourse and protecting the country's Islamic heritage from extremist interpretations.

Those found guilty of contempt for religion face between six months to five years in prison and a fine worth EGP 500 to 1,000.

Citing two articles in Egyptian law, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said in January 2014 that "simply ... anyone could be presented to court" for publishing an article, images or any material on any of the divine religions if the opinion expressed is different from that of the ruling faction.    

The legal organisation added that there are no "objective criteria to define" when the published material is considered in contempt and when it is considered just an opinion.

Beheiry faces two other court cases, including one filed before the Administrative Court by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar.

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