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SilencedHow Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide$
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Paul Marshall and Nina Shea

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812264.001.0001

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(p.61) 4 Egypt

Paul Marshall

Nina Shea

Oxford University Press

The government uses laws against insulting a heavenly religion or “creating sectarian strife” to repress political dissent and prevent heterodoxy. The reformist Muslim intelligentsia, and the Christian community and other minorities are particularly repressed. Quranists – a religious reform movement– have been sentenced for “insulting religion due to unorthodox Islamic beliefs and practices,” including arguing against the death penalty for apostasy. The late Muslim reformer Abu-Zayd was declared an apostate by Egypt's highest court, and fled Egypt before his marriage was compulsorily dissolved by the courts. The state-funded Al Azhar University has issued a fatwa against the Baha’is, calling on the state to “annihilate” them, called for the punishment of Muslims who convert to Christianity, and taken the lead in banning books by reformers. Legal and extra-legal charges of insulting Islam can also lead to terrorist or mob attacks. In 2005, reports that a play in a Coptic church in Alexandria had “insulted Islam,” resulting in a 5,000-strong mob attack on eight churches, with four killed and 90 injured. The late Naguib Mahfouz, the only Arab winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, was stabbed and partially paralyzed by an extremist who thought his novels insulted Islam.

Keywords:   Copts, Christians, Baha’is, Quranist, Al Azhar, Naguib Mahfouz, Abu Zayd, creating sectarian strife, heavenly religion

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