Egyptian Islamic thinker sentenced to five years over blasphemy to stand re-trial
Egyptian Islamic thinker Ahmed Abdo Maher, sentenced earlier in November last year to five years in prison over blasphemy among other charges, has been granted a re-trial next week before a new court, his lawyer Naguib Gabriel told The New Arab.
Maher, also a high-profile lawyer, was found guilty by a Cairo emergency state security court of slandering Islam, stirring up sectarian strife and posing a threat to national unity.
“The verdict was flawed… as the entity supposed to be tasked with interrogating Maher is the state security prosecution. Yet he was questioned by the public prosecution instead,” said lawyer Gabriel.
Even though the verdicts of state security courts cannot be appealed, Gabriel contested the ruling before “the military ruler (i.e. a specific Egyptian judicial post)’s office”, which granted Maher a re-trial.
The initial verdict has not been executed yet, meaning that Maher is still free.
Maher is believed to have been targeted for his book Edlal El-Umma bi Fiqh El-Aema' (How the Imams' Jurisprudence Is Leading the [Islamic] Nation Astray), published in 2017.
In the book in question, Maher refutes earlier teachings by Islamic scholars, especially imam Mohammad Al-Bukhari from the 9th century AD, revered by Muslims across the world as a distinguished scholar of hadith (the sayings of Muslim Prophet Muhammad).
“Most of the text of the verdict's reasoning quoted the book, which proves he is punished for it. What is so surprising is that the book is still sold in Egypt by a government-affiliated cultural entity and it has never been banned by the authorities since its publication in 2017,” Gabriel argued.
Several other intellectuals, writers, and public figures have stood trial or received verdicts under the blasphemy law since it was introduced in 1981.
The first re-trial session of Maher is set to be held on February 7.