Court issues reduced suspended prison sentence for Egyptian writer Fatima Naoot

Ahram Online , Thursday 24 Nov 2016

The writer had been sentenced earlier this year to three years in prison and fined EGP 20,000 after being found guilty of contempt of religion

Fatima naoot
Writer Fatima Naoot (Photo: Courtesy of Fatima Naoot Facebook page)

An appeal court reduced on Thursday a three-year prison sentence for Egyptian writer Fatima Naoot to a six-month suspended sentence, Al-Ahram Arabic website reported. 

Naoot was sentenced in January to three years in prison and fined EGP 20,000  after being found guilty of contempt of religion.

The case dates back to legal complaints filed against Naoot late last year after she described Eid Al-Adha's tradition of slaughtering sheep as the "greatest massacre committed by human beings" on her Facebook page.

Naoot, an outspoken secular figure, admitted writing the Facebook post but denied that her aim was to insult Islam.

Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most important religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year.

TV host Islam Behery was released from prison this month by a presidential pardon as he served a one year sentence - reduced from a five-year sentence - also for contempt of religion.

Behery, an Islamic studies researcher, was charged and convicted for questioning the credibility of some sources of Prophet Muhammad's sayings, a prime source of Islamic jurisprudence, on his TV show.

The law that criminalises contempt of religion, added in 1982 to the penal code, stipulates prison sentences of six months to five years and fines of EGP 500 to EGP 1000.

Application of the law significantly rose under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), 2011-2012, and that of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, 2012-2013.

A report issued by the Egyptian Initiative on Personal Rights in September 2013 revealed that since the 25 January 2011 revolution until the end of 2012, a total of 63 citizens -- both Muslims and Christians -- were charged with contempt of religion.

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