An Egyptian writer and philosopher is being sued for blasphemy following comments made during a May Conference in Belgium.
The law suit has been brought against theologian and author, Sayyid Al-Qemany by Egyptian lawyer, Khaled Massri who has accused the writer of breaching articles 64 and 65 of the Egyptian constitution which, ironically, cover freedom of speech.
The law suit follows Al-Qemany’s May conference in which he discussed the roots of Islamist violence and the relationship between how many Islamists view their religion and their subsequent behavior in society. Al-Qemany also noted that most violent Islamists regard themselves as “superior to others” and that they are constantly speaking of, “protecting their identity”. According to the law suit, Al-Qemany’s comments not only insulted the religion, but also “Prophet Mohamed and his companions.”
Sayyid Al-Qemany was previously granted the Egyptian State Award of Merit Prize in Social Sciences, the highest cultural award within Egypt, which a number of political parties and civil associations are now calling to be revoked, terming Al-Qemany’s possession of the award, “a crime against Muslim identity.” The critical thinker has often discussed in his books and publications new reforms to Islam. He has also received widespread support from many liberal parties and associations throughout Egypt, Tunisia and the region. However, he has also been entangled in a long standing feud with Egypt’s outlawed, Muslim Brotherhood.
Following news of Al-Qemany’s prosecution, an online campaign was launched. The campaign is called “No to Medieval court trials” and has so far garnered 2000 supporters from across the world. It also calls upon the Egyptian government to ensure the mental and physical safety of Sayyid Al-Qemany while the case remains ongoing.
Speaking to Tunisia Live, General Secretary for the Union of Imams, Fadhel Achour said that it was simply wrong to be sued for trying “to improve the beliefs of your religion.” He also emphasized the importance of “critical thinking in religion. Achour also commented that the case appeared more political than religious, noting, “muslims should always think about what they believe in and improve it.”
Nourjahen is an intern in the Tunisia Live newsroom. A graduate of the US Department of State's, Yes program, Nourjahen is fluent in English, German, Arabic and Fren