An Egyptian court has set 8 March to hear an appeal by Islamic researcher Mohamed Abdallah Nasr, also known as Sheikh Mizo, who was sentenced on Sunday to five years in prison on charges of contempt of religion.
A lawsuit was filed against the researcher after he made a post on his Facebook account claiming to be the Mahdi, a prophesied redeemer who, according to some Islamic interpretations, will rule the world and rid it of evil before the Day of Judgement.
Sheikh Mizo was also accused of questioning the Hadith – the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings.
Mizo has said that he merely claimed to be the Mahdi to show that Islamic scholars cannot prove otherwise through scientific methods.
Contempt of religion is punishable by prison according to Egyptian law.
The 1982 law stipulates a prison sentence of six months to five years for anyone who promotes through speech, writing, or any other medium ideas aimed at spreading discord or harming national unity through denigrating one of the Abrahamic religions or their various sects.
In November 2016, Islamic researcher Islam El-Beheiry was released from prison by a presidential pardon after serving one year for contempt of religion.
El-Beheiry stirred controversy after he questioned the credibility of some the sources of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings.
He repeatedly argued that he only aims to contribute to the renewal of religious discourse in order to protect the “soul of Islamic theology” from dangers presented by ultra-conservative jihadist interpretations.