Egyptian MP Proposes Bill to Repeal ‘Unconstitutional’ Law Criminalizing ‘Contempt of Religion’

Egyptian MP Proposes Bill to Repeal ‘Unconstitutional’ Law Criminalizing ‘Contempt of Religion’

egypt parliament

An Egyptian parliament member introduced a bill to repeal an article of the penal code related to the charge of “contempt of religion,” for which several public figures were handed down prison sentences in recent months.

Lawmaker Mona Mounir said Article 98 of the penal code contradicts the constitution’s articles on freedom of belief and freedom of thought and opinion.

Article 98 punishes, by no less than six months and up to five years in prison, those who “exploit religion in promoting or favoring verbally or in writing or by any other means any extremist ideologies with the aim of provoking sedition, disparaging or contempt of one of the divine religions or any sects belonging to it or harming national unity or social peace.”

Several people have been handed down prison sentences in high profile cases for “contempt of religion”, including Egyptian journalist and writer Fatma Naoot and religious researcher and TV host Islam al-Beheiry.

Beheiry was sentenced to one year, down from five before he appealed the verdict. He stirred controversy with his show “With Islam” especially after al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s foremost religious institution, accused him of broadcasting ideas that strike at the “the fundamentals of religion.”

Naoot, on the other hand, was brought to court and sentenced to three years in prison and fined EGP 20,000 (around USD 2,553) last January for “contempt of Islam”.

She had made comments in October 2014 criticizing the Islamic ritual of sacrificing animals on the day of Eid al-Adha in a post she wrote on Facebook. During the religious holiday, Eid al-Adha, Muslims slaughter cattle in a symbol of sacrifice. Naoot described the act as an annual “massacre”.

More recently, three Coptic Christian students were sentenced to five years in prison for “contempt of religion,” over a 30-second video in which they were filmed imitating a Muslim prayer.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights’ researcher Ishak Ibrahim told Aswat Masriya, in previous statements, that the law regulating contempt of religion constitutes a violation of the freedoms of minorities and freedom of expression.

Article 64 of the Egyptian constitution states that “freedom of belief is absolute,” while Article 65 “guarantees” freedom of thought and opinion.

This content is from: Aswat Masriya

Riham Saeed Sentenced to Prison for Airing Private Photographs of a Sexual Harassment Victim
Egypt to Announce Nominee to Succeed Al-Araby as Arab League Chief 'Within Days'

Subscribe to our newsletter


Aswat Masriya is a Thomson Reuters Foundation-sponsored website that covers Egypt's transition to democracy.

More in News

Hepatitis C clinic in Menoufia does research on the causes and treatment of Type 4 Hepatitis C. Credit: Diocese of Egypt

Egypt Makes Progress in Curing Hepatitis C by Reducing Drug Price: WHO

Aswat MasriyaOctober 27, 2016
Photo: UIPM World

Egypt Lands 36 Medals at Modern Pentathlon Championships

Egyptian StreetsOctober 27, 2016
Egypt's President Sisi smiles as young volunteers take a "selfie" with him during the closing session of Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh 15 March 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt Retreats 52 Spots in Global Youth Development Index

Egyptian StreetsOctober 26, 2016
egypt israel border

Israeli Teen Killed by Gunfire Along Egypt’s Border

Egyptian StreetsOctober 26, 2016
iskandarani alexandrani

Detained Egyptian Nominated for Reporters Without Borders Journalism Prize

Aya NaderOctober 26, 2016
REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt’s Military Likely to Reduce its Role in Egyptian Economy Within 3 Years: PM Ismail

Egyptian StreetsOctober 25, 2016
Photo: Youm7

Egypt’s Interior Ministry Warns Against Schemes to ‘Incite Chaos’ Ahead of Planned Protests

Egyptian StreetsOctober 25, 2016

Egypt’s First National Youth Conference Launched

Egyptian StreetsOctober 25, 2016
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2016 ES Media UG. All Rights Reserved.