Egypt court upholds TV host Islam al-Beheiry's one-year sentence for contempt of religion

Sunday 31-07-2016 02:05 PM

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

CAIRO, July 31 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's Court of Cassation upheld on Sunday a one-year prison sentence handed to TV show host Islam al-Beheiry over charges of contempt of religion.

In December, a court accepted Beheiry's appeal and reduced his prison term to one year from a five-year sentence. The court however on Monday rejected another appeal submitted by Beheiry's lawyer.

A group of lawyers filed a lawsuit against Beheiry after his show "With Islam" stirred controversy, with Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's foremost religious institution, accusing him of broadcasting ideas that affect "the fundamentals of religion." 

Yet, Beheiry, who describes himself as an Islamic researcher, said that he is contributing towards renewing religious discourse and "preventing Islamic heritage from being a reason for extremism".  

Being in contempt of religion is punishable by between six months and five years in prison and a fine worth 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds.

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 is no "objective criterion to define" when the published material is considered in contempt and when it is considered just an opinion.

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