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Egypt jails prominent writer for insulting Islam

Fatima Naoot was sentenced for criticising the slaughter of animals during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha
Egyptian writer Fatima Naoot was found guilty of insulting Islam (AFP)

A prominent Egyptian writer was reportedly sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for blasphemy after criticising the slaughter of animals during a Muslim festival.

Fatima Naoot, a poet and former parliamentary candidate, is the second public figure in Egypt to receive a jail term in less than a month for charges related to blasphemy. She was also fined $2,550.

Naoot's sentence was set to begin immediately, but she can appeal her sentence from behind prison bars which her lawyer said she planned to do.

A judicial official said that Naoot was sentenced for insulting Islam after she criticised animal slaughter during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which she described in a Facebook post as the "greatest massacre committed by human beings".

The holiday honours the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his young first-born son, Ismail, as an act of submission to God’s command, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead.

"[It's] a yearly massacre because a good man once had a nightmare about his good son, and although the nightmare has passed for the good man and his son, the [sheep] pay their lives as a price for that sacred nightmare," Naoot also reportedly wrote in an article in the daily El-Masry El-Youm.

During questioning in court, Naoot, an outspoken secular figure, reportedly admitted that she wrote the Facebook post, but denied that her aim was to insult Islam. Naoot argued that humans justified their lust for killing and enjoying the smell of cooking game by attempting to bestow a divine meaning to their actions.

"I'm not sad about the sentencing as I don't care about going to jail. I'm sad that the efforts of reformists have been wasted," Naoot told AFP.

In December, an Egyptian court sentenced controversial Muslim scholar Islam al-Behairy to five years in prison on charges of insulting Islam for remarks on his television programme in which he called for reforms in "traditional Islamic discourse".

The sentence was later reduced to one year in jail after Behairy appealed.

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