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Egypt's media regulator issues warning to controversial show discussing Islam

The warning follows a complaint from Al-Azhar that the show has attacked the fundamentals of Islam

Mariam Rizk , Monday 6 Apr 2015
Islam El-Beheiry
Islam El-Beheiry (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Egypt's state media regulator has warned the broadcaster of a controversial show discussing Islam that it should revise the show's content, its head told Ahram Online on Monday.

The debate over the programme, called With Islam and presented by Islam El-Beheiry on private satellite TV channel El-Qahera Wal-Nas, started last week when Al-Azhar, the country's leading Sunni Islam institute, filed an official complaint with the Free Media Zone, the state department in charge of managing cable TV channel contracts.

Effat Abdel-Azim, the head of the Free Media Zone, confirmed receiving the complaint, along with CDs allegedly proving that El-Beheiry had insulted the fundamentals of Islam.

The Free Media Zone's board of directors decided to warn TNTV, the broadcaster that owns the channel hosting El-Beheiry's show.

"According to the regulations, if there is another violation after this warning, the board of directors has to reconvene to stop the show," Abdel-Azim said. "The final step is to withdraw the company's broadcasting license."

In its complaint, Al-Azhar promoted itself as being "the only reference to Islamic affairs as stated by the constitution", and accused El-Beheiry of deliberately "raising doubts over what is firmly known in religion."

"The show is a clear incitement to sedition, defamation of religion… and misleads the nation's youth," a statement from Al-Azhar alleged.

El-Beheiry's show has previously tackled several controversial issues in Islam, including punishment for apostasy, the debate on early marriage, and different interpretations of the Hadith, the sayings and teachings of Islam's Prophet Muhammed.

On Sunday, El-Beheiry said that the state's media regulator did not call him in for an explanation, nor show him the video clips in which he allegedly attacks Islam and religious figures.

"I challenge anyone to find a single word where I insult God or the Prophet, his companions, or even Bukhari and Muslem [two Sunni Islam scholars who have written collections of the Prophet's Hadith]," El-Beheiry said.

He told a news show on CBC, another private television channel, that he had "willingly" requested a three-day vacation to take a rest from the recent pressures.

Returning from the brief vacation, during Sunday's episode of his show, El-Beheiry described Al-Azhar's statement as a "mistake", and vowed to end his show if they could prove that he had "stepped on the sacred".

"What are the fundamentals of religion to you?" he asked, seemingly addressing his critics. "[Islamic] heritage includes farces. Even if these were 'fundamentals', I would be okay with attacking them."

"This is not my farewell speech," he said defiantly. "I'm stronger than they could ever imagine."

On Thursday, two independent lawyers filed a complaint with the prosecutor-general, accusing El-Beheiry of contempt of religion, insulting the Prophet's companions and the Sunnah, the teachings and practices of Islam's Prophet.

On Saturday, El-Qahera Wal-Nas, the same channel that hosts El-Beheiry's show, held a debate between him and a representative from Al-Azhar.

On several occasions, Al-Azhar has criticised works of literature and films for "attacking the fundamentals of religion", and sought to ban them from being published or screened.

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Pharaoh
07-04-2015 10:18pm
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freedom of speech
Muslims are free to criticize Islamic law as they please since it was laid down for them. Islam is not a burden on muslims, it was made for muslims to live their life. If we cancel this criticism then there will be Islam without muslims and muslims without Islam. If the scholars cannot respond in the beautiful manner Saad al Helaly has responded then they are not true scholars. Be grateful that there can be religious liberty in Egypt. Unlike in the western world where we need to be blind, deaf and dumb not to offend our religious liberties.
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neil
07-04-2015 02:11pm
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constitution
When the Constitution states that Al Azhar is the reference to Islamic law, it clearly means that it is referred to by the government when it drafts laws.
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Ahmad
09-04-2015 10:27pm
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that was the old one
that was the old constitution this one doesn't care to name a reference so Al Azhar doesn't have this kind of power
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Taz
07-04-2015 12:17am
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A cowardly act from Al-Azhar
I have been watching diligently Islam El-Beheiry and can attest that he never defamed Islam. Au contraire, if anything he erased my doubts towards islam that were aroused by the nuisance of the likes of Ibn Tamyymiha, Bakhari, Moslem and others. No doubts that many of those so called islamic scholars'teaching defy logic, incite violence, and encourage sectarianism, not to mention the ones that are plainly absurd and ridiculous . Al-Azhar wants to muzzle voices of dissent and that's a shame. The damage has been done and I will never have faith in Al-Azhar or their scholars once again. As for Egypt, god helps us all, because censorship and suppression of opinions still alive and well and we will never move one step ahead without joining the civilized world in recognizing the right of individuals to express themselves freely.
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Hijazi
07-04-2015 10:16am
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Attacking Fanous Ulema, where will it lead?
This a deliberate effort by pagan Shiites that is aimed at spreading atheism and polytheism among Muslims.
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Nagi Abdelhamid
06-04-2015 09:24pm
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Discussing Islam
The Moslem must talk and discuss Islam, Al Azhar leadership should not stop the people analizing and talking about Islam. As too many Moslem behaviour caused misunderstanding about peaceful Islam. The action of some Moslem in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Nigeria and Egypt make the world believe that Islam is violence religion, therefore must be opened and talk about. Moslem have to start show the world what Islam is about, make some films about the leadership after the prophet and the world know that Islam gave Europe the civilisation, they are enjoying now. I do remember when I was young man living in Egypt, we had films about Khaled Ben Walid and Amr Ben Al as. Moslem countries ought to make films about Abou Bakr, Omer Ben Al khatab, Osman Ben a fan and Ali Abou Taleb. There is no desrespect or insult to Islam for showing great leadership Islam had. Azhar should start becoming tolerance and open minded not stubborn, and Azhar don't owe Islam, it is for every one.
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Hasan Ayyoub
07-04-2015 10:14am
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If Criticizing the Sissi gang is red line, the same shouls apply to rewligion
You can not insult Islam when you shake at the thought of protesting the mueder of Egyptians by the man you were cheering.
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