Egyptian TV presenter Islam al-Beheiry has been sentenced to five years in prison with labour for contempt of religion. al-Beheiry presented With Islam , a religious talk show that debated such topics as punishment for apostasy, early
marriage and the teachings of the religious character Muhammad.
Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's foremost religious institution, filed accusations against Beheiry that included propagating extremist ideology, insulting Islamic scholars, attempting to
destabilize national peace and broadcasting ideas that affect the fundamentals of religion .
On 30 May, an Egyptian misdemeanours court sentenced al-Beheiry in absentia to five years in jail with labour for contempt of religion .
Today's charges against yet another comedian for defaming religion are part of an alarming new escalation of politically-motivated judicial harassment and arrests, Amnesty International has said.
In the latest arrest, stand-up comedian Ali
Qandil was interrogated at the public prosecutor's office on charges of defamation of religion on Bassem Youssef's satirical television show. Qandil denied insulting Islam, emphasizing that he poked fun at the exploitation of religion, rather than
the religion itself. He was released on bail.
In a mounting crackdown on freedom of expression, up to 33 people have been targeted within the last two weeks, with arrests and charges.
Some have been charged with what seem to be politically
motivated or trumped-up criminal charges. Others are charged with insulting the President or defamation of religion for actions that should not be criminalized as they merely amount to the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression.
Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:
We are seeing arrests and charges for literally nothing more than cracking a few jokes. This is a truly alarming sign of the government's increasing intolerance of any criticism whatsoever.
There is no sign of this campaign of judicial harassment coming to an end. The government is seriously redoubling its efforts to stamp out freedom of expression.
Dooa Eladl is an Egyptian cartoonist who calls herself a Muslim anarchist. Her work appears in the prominent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm She has become one of Egypt's best-known, and bravest, political cartoonists.
An Egyptian court has sentenced TV preacher Abdullah Badr to one year in prison and set the bail at 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($3240) for defaming prominent Egyptian actress Elham Shaheen, Egyptian's daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
Badr, a preacher
at Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque, accused Shaheen of committing indecent acts in her movies and wearing seductive clothes that incite immorality. He criticized the actress during his TV show on the Egyptian El-Hafez channel, saying that Elham Shaheen is
cursed and she will never enter heaven .
In response, Shaheen filed a lawsuit against Badr and the channel's head Atef Abdel Rashed, accusing them of incitement, spreading chaos, disturbing public security and committing blasphemy.
recent months, several public figures have filed lawsuits against religious preachers accusing them of defamation.
the administrative court rejects an appeal on Saturday by Sheikh Abdullah Badr and Atef Abdel-Rashid, the owner Al-Hafez religious channel, against a
ruling on 12 January that barred Badr's programme Fi Al-Mizan for 30 days.
A Debate over artistic freedom of expression in Egypt has involved Egyptian movie star Elhaam Shaheen.
Known to take on roles that push cultural taboos, Shaheen fears that she and other artists are in for worsening trouble from the country's new
Islamic government. She said in a recent interview:
I feel this is a big war between all the artists and writers and Islamists. This is not just against women, it is against all artists.
conservative Salafi TV personality Sheikh Abdullah Badr, who has blasted actors before over what he describes as blasphemous behavior, called the actress's film performances as on-air adultery and recommended the arts be subjected to religious
censorship. Badr ludicrously claimed that Shaheen's type of acting was sinful and would bar her entry to heaven in the afterlife.
Muslim preachers have also been excoriating the pop love songs of legendary Egyptian musicians Om Kalthoum and Abdel
Halim Imam. Islamist lawyers with ties to political parties also charged comedian Adel Iman and several other filmmakers and screenwriters with blasphemy against Islam earlier this year for roles in films that are at least 10 years old. Comedian Iman was
eventually handed down a sentence of three months of jail time plus a fine before his appeal was granted in September. Similar court cases were thrown out by judges in April.
Shaheen is now fighting back against religious oppression. As an open
critic of the Muslim Brotherhood, Shaheen says she is being subjected to politicized attacks. She plans to take Badr and conservative television station El-Hafez to court over the derogatory comments against Egypt's entertainment sector.
the Sept. 17-22 Luxor Egyptian and European Film Festival she led an impassioned panel of her peers on censorship and freedom of expression. Shaheen was joined by famous Egyptian writer Baha Taher, as well as director and screenwriter Daoud Abdel Sayed
and actors Amr Waked, Khaled Abounaga and Laila Elwi.
Shaheen described attacks on Egyptian artists including herself as barbaric and a signal that Egypt is moving backward culturally. She said she was glad she could push back with the
support of the Egyptian film community and fans from around the Arab region.
Hany Fawzy, the well-known screenwriter, has also attracted religious censure over his script for Baheb Es-Sinema (I Love the Movies) about a Coptic Christian
family. Fawzy added that he has about five scripts ready for production, but he hasn't been able to find producers willing to take a chance. There is a risk. We are fearful about the future, the rules and the Islamic direction [the country is taking].
But we have to continue. It's our career and our work, he said.
President Mohammed Morsy, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who took office in June, has sought to allay fears. In September, he met with a group of film industry members at the
Presidential Palace to show his concern for protecting the arts. He has also condemned Badr's verbal attacks on Shaheen.
An Egyptian court has upheld a conviction against one of the Arab world's most famous comedians, sentencing him to jail for offending Islam in some of his most popular films.
Adel Imam was sentenced to three months in jail and fined around $170
for insulting Islam in roles he played in movies such as The Terrorist , in which he acted the role of a wanted terrorist who found refuge with a middle class, moderate family, and the film Terrorism and Kabab.
The actor was also
found guilty for his 2007 role in Morgan Ahmed Morgan , in which Imam played a corrupt businessman who tries to buy a university diploma. The film included a scene parodying bearded Muslim men wearing traditional Islamic clothing.
Author Alaa al-Aswany, whose best-seller
The Yacoubian Building was turned into a film costarring Imam, said the court ruling sets Egypt back to the darkness of the Middle Ages.
A Cairo misdemeanour court dismissed on Thursday a complaint against Egyptian comedy actor Adel Imam and other artists for insulting religion,
days after another one sentenced him to jail on the same charge.
The court told the Islamist lawyer who brought the complaint that he had no standing to bring charges against the five artists, who include authors and directors, judicial sources
On Tuesday, another court upheld a three-month prison sentence for Imam, one of the region's most famous actors, after a February conviction in absentia.
Imam, who has acted in several movies critical of violent Islamist radicals,
told told AFP on Tuesday he would appeal the verdict and remains free on bail.
An Egyptian appeals court has quashed the conviction of the Arab world's most famous comic actor, Adel Imam, on a charge of insulting Islam in his films and plays, rejecting a case brought by a lawyer with Islamist affiliations.
Imam, 72, has
frequently poked fun at figures of authority and politicians of all stripes, making him the target of several court actions during a four-decade career. His more serious films dealt with the rise of Islamist militancy.
A judge found Imam guilty in
February. The court overturned that verdict.
One of the Arab world's best known Egyptian actors has been sentenced to three months in jail for supposedly offending Islam.
The judge confirmed that veteran actor Adel Imam was convicted in absentia of insulting the religion. The judge
said Imam can appeal.
The state-run Ahram Online English website reported that he was found guilty for defaming Islam in a 2007 movie in which he plays a corrupt businessman who tries to buy a university diploma. The film, Morgan Ahmed
Morgan , included a scene with bearded Muslim men wearing traditional Islamic robes. Other reports said the court objected to his use of Islamic symbols in the film and others he has appeared in.
The Arab world's
most revered comedian faces potential jail time for a series of supposedly blasphemous films --- released two decades ago.
In February, a case was filed against Imam by Arsan Mansour, a lawyer accusing the actor of consistently slandering Islam
--- as well as several of its symbols, such as the jilbab and, in all seriousness, the beard --- in his films Al-Irhab wal-Kabab ( Terrorism and Kebab ), Al-Irhabi ( The Terrorist ) and, breaking with tradition, Teyour al-Zalam
( Birds of Darkness ). The films were released in 1992, 1994 and 1995, respectively.
While the three films did generate some controversy upon their original release, this delayed legal reaction is being seen by most as having little to
do with any alleged onscreen blasphemy, and more to do with the changes sweeping the nation.
Gamal Eid, the human rights lawyer spearheading Imam's defense team said:
The real problem is the precedent this case
has already set, as well as its implications. Over the past two months, three major film and television productions have been shut down for supposedly violating Sharia. Cases similar to the one against Imam have also targeted acclaimed filmmakers like
Sherif Arafa, Wahid Hamed --- both of whom can be counted among Imam's frequent collaborators --- and several others. These are only a few of the latest higher-profile incidents.
As Eid puts it, They're coming out of the
woodwork now --- all these self-righteous characters with cloudy intentions and misguided beliefs.