Poet Fatima Naoot sentenced to 3 years in prison for contempt of religion

Poet, journalist and ex-parliamentary candidate Fatima Naoot was sentenced to three years in prison and a LE20,000 fine for contempt of religion and insulting Islam on Tuesday.

Naoot was put on trial due to remarks she made in October 2014 criticizing the ritual sacrifice of animals during Eid al-Adha. The religious holiday commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to God, according to Islamic belief, through the sacrifice of livestock, and is celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

Naoot wrote on her Facebook page that animals paid the price for Arabaham’s “holy nightmare,” referring to the Islamic belief that Abraham had a dream in which he was commanded by God to sacrifice his son to prove his faith.

“Millions of innocent creatures will be driven to the most horrible massacre committed by humans for 10 and a half centuries,” she said. “A massacre which is repeated every year because of the nightmare of a righteous man about his good son,” she wrote, according to Reuters.

Naoot responded to the court’s ruling through social media, writing sarcastically on her Facebook page, “Thank you judges of good Egypt … Thank you for the two great revolutions that put Egypt on the path to enlightenment, thank you to those who would put you on trial and accuse you of contempt of religion if you misspell the word Allah (three years and a fine for a Facebook post).”

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) released a statement in January 2015 in solidarity with Naoot, stating that the case should never have been accepted in the first place, arguing she was charged for merely expressing her opinion.

Article 98 states that insulting the Abrahamic faiths and the propagation of atheism in words, writing, or other means, is punishable by sentences of up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to LE1,000.

Egypt’s blasphemy laws have faced international criticism, with the New York-based Human Rights Watch releasing a statement in 2014 saying that blasphemy laws curtail freedom of expression, which is guaranteed in the Egyptian Constitution.

In late December, TV host and preacher Islam al-Beheiry was also sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Islam on his controversial TV show “With Islam.” Another man was sentenced to three years in prison and a LE1,000 fine for contempt of religion in January 2015 for making “anti-religious” posts on his Facebook page.

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