Preacher Islam Beheiry’s 1-year sentence upheld for insulting Islam

Cairo misdemeanor court upheld a one-year sentence handed to preacher and researcher Islam al-Beheiry for insulting Islam, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Tuesday.

In December, the court reduced the five-year sentence originally given to Beheiry, which was issued in May, after Al-Azhar and a group of lawyers filed two lawsuits against him amid mounting controversy over his TV show With Islam, aired on the privately-owned channel Al-Qahera wal Nas.

Beheiry’s lawyer Gamil Saeed explained his client had requested a different judge to the one who issued the initial verdict. Saeed also filed the appeal against Beheiry’s sentence, as he was earlier acquitted on similar charges from the same court.

The preacher has been serving his sentence in Tora Prison since it was issued in December.

Beheiry has provoked debate since his first show aired in July 2013, reportedly propagating views that counter the core beliefs of Al-Azhar, the region’s official Islamic authority.

Beheiry asserted, for example, that the Quran should not be read literally, but rather interpreted according to the times in which followers live. He has also cast doubt on sayings that most Islamic scholars have attributed to the Prophet and hold sacred, as well as questioning women’s rights in Islam, and the belief that those who insult the Prophet should be killed.

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