A controversial media presenter has been handed a five year sentence for blasphemy, after being critical of Islamic scholars on his show.
The Old Cairo Misdemeanor Court gave its ruling on Saturday for Islam Beheiry, a presenter on the satellite channel Al-Kahera Wal Nas in a lawsuit filed by a citizen accusing him of blasphemy.
Beheiry’s show was mainly focused on challenging the credibility of the narrators of Prophet Mohamed’s “Hadiths” (quoted sayings), most specifically Imam al-Bukhari (AD 810-870), an unquestionably-trusted scholar in the field of hadith narration.
His show was suspended in April following a request by al-Azhar, the Arab World’s top religious academy.
Commenting on the sentence late Saturday, Beheiry, in a phone-in with the satellite channel Dream said his ideas “are not blasphemy, but rather the exposure of people who enjoy no sanctity”.
Beheiry revealed he is facing 48 lawsuits, most notably one by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, adding that he has confidence in the judicial system
“I am ready to go to court and change the issue into an intellectual cause. I have confidence the imams’ literature contain treasures that will prove me innocent of blasphemy,” Beheiry stated.
Egypt has seen numerous litigations over blasphemy in recent years, decried by religious freedoms' advocates.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm