An Egyptian court confirms a prison term for a former TV host who was convicted of “defaming religious symbols” and Muslim scholars after he called for removal of what he called extremist material in texts of religious interpretation and heritage.
A court of appeals reduces Islam Behery’s prison term to one year from a five-year sentence issued by the initial court. Behery’s lawyer, Gamil Said, tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that he plans to challenge the verdict, which was issued Monday night.
Behery, a researcher on Islamic heritage, had hosted a TV program on a private channel discussing religious texts and he was a vocal advocate for religious reforms. He argued often that some texts of interpretation by historic Islamic scholars — including ones upheld and revered by Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent seat of Sunni scholarship — contain passages that promote extremism. He said such texts need to be reviewed and that in some cases, passages from historic texts need to be discarded.
His comments, as well as criticisms of Al-Azhar, raised heavy controversy, and individuals filed complaints to the state prosecutors, who pursued the charges against him. The station took his show off the air in April.