Islamists Press Blasphemy Cases in Egypt
“Blasphemy complaints have been lodged across the society, against poor teachers in villages, a deputy prime minister, Egypt’s richest man, and some of its most prominent writers and journalists. A firebrand Muslim preacher who tore up a Bible at a protest was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His son received eight years on similar charges.
“Contempt of religion, any religion, is a crime, not a form of expression,” said Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, a lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has not been instrumental in filing the cases but does not oppose them. “Is setting fire to the Bible freedom of expression? Is insulting religion freedom of expression?” He attributed the rise in cases to abuse of the “unprecedented freedom of expression” since the revolution.
“The increase in blasphemy lawsuits reflects how profoundly the old order has been upset since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Under Mr. Mubarak, the security services often dealt with Islamists and other dissidents outside of the courts. Blasphemy prosecutions were rare and usually aimed at prominent intellectuals.”