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Islam El Beheiry Sentenced to One Year in Prison on Charges of Blasphemy

Prominent TV host and Islamic researcher Islam Beheiry is sentenced to one year in prison by an Egyptian court of appeals.

Egyptian Islamic researcher and TV host Islam El Beheiry was sentenced to one year in prison by a court of appeals over charges of ‘contempt of religion and defaming religious symbols’ on Monday night, The Associated Press reports. The court reduced the five-year sentence that had been meted out to Beheiry in May.

The sentence comes after months of controversy and speculation over Beheiry’s progressive interpretations of Islamic heritage, which he voiced on his TV show Ma3 Islam (With Islam). Beheiry often criticised centuries-old interpretations of Islamic texts, which are upheld by Al-Azhar, and called for religious reforms. The show was cancelled in April after a number of complaints had been filed against him.  

Beheiry’s lawyer, Gamil Said, plans to challenge the verdict. "The Holy Quran itself calls for logical thought," the lawyer said. "It is not prohibited for any person to discuss the scholars' opinions because it is not possible for an opinion that was stated 700 or 800 years ago on a specific issue to be implemented on an issue after all these years," argues Said.