Salem Abdel-Galeel, television show host and a former deputy minister at the Ministry of Religious Endowments, is set to face trial for contempt of religion after describing Christians as non-believers.
Abdel-Galeel, who has since been booted from Mehwar television channel where he hosted a religious television show, is accused of being in contempt of religion, threatening public peace, and inciting violence against Christians.
On his show earlier this week, Abdel-Galeel claimed Christians had corrupted beliefs and were non-believers. The statements were roundly condemned by both Mehwar and religious officials. Some have even accused Abdel-Galeel of being a Muslim Brotherhood member and sympathizer. The Muslim Brotherhood was banned and labelled a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government following the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
The Ministry of Religious Endowments, where Abdel-Geleel once worked, said that Abdel-Geleel would be banned from giving religious sermons at mosques in Egypt. The Ministry added that the ban may be lifted if Abdel-Geleel issues an apology.
While Abdel-Galeel attempted to explain his claims in a statement, he only apologized for “offending” Christians and did not appear to back down from his statements.
The lawsuit against Abdel-Galeel comes amid criticism of Islamic officials in Egypt by the media. The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has routinely called for a revolution in religious discourse to tackle extremism and religious ignorance.