Egypt refuses to repeal its blasphemy law

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Efforts to repeal Egypt's blasphemy law are being opposed by its own administration.

According to Morning Star News, Egypt's Ministry of Justice has opposed repealing Article 98F, which criminalizes any expression "for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity." The charge carries a sentence of six months to five years in prison and a fine from 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$55 to US$110).

Members of Egypt's parliament have tried to remove Article 98F from the country's constitution on the grounds it gives too much leeway to judges who issue harsh punishments to non-Muslim defendants. And rights activists claim that 98F is a violation of the country's constitutional provisions for freedom of religion and expression. It is often wielded as a weapon by Egypt's Islamic majority against the nation's vulnerable religious minorities, notably Coptic Christians.

Egyptian Chancellor Ayman Rafah even said that his country's blasphemy law is a form of jihad.

"It has become a sword to be used against certain people. For example, if you hate your work partner, you can share something on their Facebook and this can be used as evidence of blasphemy to get rid of the person. If you want to get rid of your neighbor, you find a way to accuse them of blasphemy...."

Most Egyptians found guilty of blasphemy opt to flee the country rather than be imprisoned in a country where their lives would be in imminent danger.