TV host Islam Behery likely to be on list of prisoners to receive presidential pardon within days

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Nov 2016

Islam Behery
Photo: Islam Behery Facebook account

A member of a committee tasked with reviewing the cases of youth imprisoned for non-violent "politically related crimes" said that TV host Islam Behery will most likely be included on a list of detainees who could win presidential pardon within days.

"There is a big possibility, more than 90 percent, that Islam Behery will be included in the list," National Council for Human Rights member Mohamed Abdel Aziz said on Monday during a telephone interview on CBC television channel.

Abdel Aziz said the committee has presented the president with its first list of names, including 83 who received final sentences following convictions of illegal protesting or in cases concerning freedom of expression. He expects that some pardons will be issued "within days at the latest."

Behery, a researcher on Islamic heritage who hosted a TV show that discussed religious texts, is serving a one-year jail term handed to him in March after he was convicted of contempt of religion and "defaming religious symbols."

Behery is known for questioning the credibility of some of the sources of Prophet Muhammad's sayings, a prime source of Islamic jurisprudence, while discussing religious texts on his show.

During a youth conference late last month, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi hinted at possible pardons for youth imprisoned without conviction and said a committee would be formed to review the cases of young people held in pretrial detention.

Earlier this week, Egypt's presidency announced that the committee will expand its scope to include prisoners who have received final verdicts in crimes involving protest, publishing and freedom of expression.

Abdel Aziz said the five-member committee is drawing up a second list that will be sent to the presidency soon.

For those currently facing trial Abdel Aziz said the committee is considering working on a law of "general amnesty" to be submitted to parliament. Such a law would drop all charges and sentencing against the accused and would require the approval of 51 percent of parliament members, he added.

The president also promised to amend a controversial protest law under which hundreds of young people have been jailed and which rights groups have condemned as unconstitutional.  


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