Egypt's Al-Azhar to submit draft law criminalising hate speech

Ahram Online , Wednesday 21 Jun 2017

El-Tayeb, Sisi
Egypt’s Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb shakes hand with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during Laylat El-Qadr celebration on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (Photo Courtesy of Spokesman of Egyptian Presidency)

The Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb announced on Wednesday that Al-Azhar – the world's oldest Sunni institute of Islamic learning – will submit a draft law to parliament criminalising hate speech, particularly against any religious beliefs.

During an event at Al-Azhar attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to celebrate Laylat El-Qadr on Wednesday, El-Tayeb said that Al-Azhar is submitting this draft law upon the president's request as a way to combat ideologies “that do not represent Islam.”

Al-Azhar said that this law aims to criminalise “incitement to hatred” and “violent crimes committed in the name of religion,” and should help promote tolerance.

The proposed law also prohibits “any act of discrimination between citizens,” and states that educational and media bodies should commit to “spreading a culture of brotherhood and tolerance and the respect of the religious doctrine of the other.”

The Egyptian president said in a speech at the event that amending religious discourse is key to defeating terrorism and extremism.

Following the April suicide bombings targeting churches in Alexandria and Tanta, which killed 46 people and injured dozens, El-Sisi formed the Supreme Council to Combat Terrorism and Extremism, which is tasked with combating terrorism in accordance with a national strategy to fight the phenomenon.

The Egyptian president has repeatedly called for purging religious discourse of extremist ideologies.

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