The Old Cairo Misdemeanour Court handed Saturday a five year prison sentence to TV presenter Islam El-Behiry for blasphemy.
A lawyer filed a lawsuit against El-Behiry, saying he led a campaign through his TV show to attack Muslim scholars and Islamic teachings’ textbooks.
El-Behiry has been hosting a programme that questions the teachings of Salafi preachers. In many of his episodes, he provides clips of famous and much respected Salafi preachers, and criticises their religious arguments.
The independent researcher also calls for disregarding ancient interpretations of the Qur’an and preaches individual understanding of the text.
Interpretations by prominent Muslim scholars dating back to the Middle Ages are considered manifestos to ultraconservative Salafi groups.
The Old Cairo Misdemeanour Court argued that El-Behiry has violated articles of the penal code, which sentences whoever insults or undermines Abrahamic religions to a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Egypt’s most prominent Sunni institution and the highest government-controlled religious institution, Al-Azhar, had filed a complaint against El-Behiry, accusing him of “deliberately aiming to make people question their beliefs”.
Al-Azhar stated that it is concerned with the “vicious attacks by some media personnel against the basic values and heritage of Islam”.