Bible burning was not insulting to Egyptian Christians: Abu-Islam

Sarah El-Rashidi, Sunday 14 Oct 2012

Radical preacher Abu-Islam, on trial for burning a Bible at a protest outside the US embassy, defends his act in an exclusive interview with Ahram Online

Abu Islam
Muslim cleric Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Islam, speaks to media as he arrives at court for the opening session of his trial in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Islamist preacher Abu-Islam Ahmed Abdullah arrived with his supporters at a court in Nasr City on Sunday to face charges of burning a Bible during protests outside the US embassy in September.

The trial had been adjourned on 30 September until Sunday and was adjourned again until 21 October.

Abu-Islam, who is the president of two Egyptian satellite channels – the Umma and Mariya – which he maintains are culturally orientated, defended his radical views in an interview with Ahram Online.

"There is no such thing as the Bible or the Torah, there is only the Quran!" Abu-Islam said when asked why he said his act of burning the Bible was not an insult to Egypt's Christians

He asserted that he had set fire to an English-language Bible, rather than an Arabic version approved by the Coptic Church, out of respect for Egypt's Coptic Christians.

"All these translations of the Bible are evidence of its invalidity!" he said.

During a demonstration against an anti-Islam film in front of the US embassy in Cairo on 11 September, the Muslim cleric tore and burned copies of the Bible. Before leaving the demonstration, he told the crowd that next time he would get his grandson to urinate on it.

Abu-Islam's case is the first time charges filed for denigrating Christianity have been investigated, Egyptian Union for Human Rights leader Naguib Gebrail said, and it is a breakthrough because other cases filed against him have not been properly addressed.

In contrast, Coptic Christians charged with defaming Islam are immediately brought to justice, Gebrail asserted. 

Abu-Islam stated his admiration for the Salafist Nour Party and the Muslim Brotherhood.

"They both have their strengths. The Nour Party is ideologically strong, strictly adhering by Sharia law, while the Muslim Brotherhood is sound in terms of organisation and structure," he stated.  

They should combine their different strengths, he said.

Both groups have an equally strong following, he asserted, and their ongoing success will be dependent on their use of the media, especially television.

Maintaining their public services will be an important factor in preserving their support bases, he added.

Abu-Islam dismissed the possibility of secular and liberal groups triumphing in the future.

"Secular groups have no voice and do not stand a chance as they lag far behind the ideological and organisational strength of the Islamists," he said.  

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