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Volokh Conspiracy

Egyptian poet Fatima Naoot on trial, for post criticizing Islamic mass animal slaughter ritual


Gulf News (Ramadan Al Sherbini) reports:

An Egyptian court on Wednesday started the trial of well-known writer Fatima Naoot on charges of insulting Islam, in a case that has raised concerns about freedom of expression in the country….

In October, Naoot, who is a novelist and a poet, posted a tweet, criticising Islam's annual ritual of sacrificing animals during the major Muslim festival of Eid Al Adha.

In response to a lawsuit filed by an Islamist lawyer, prosecutors charged Naoot with insulting Islam and deriding an Islamic ritual, accusations that Naoot has denied.

A Cairo Post article (Nourhan Magdi) from several weeks ago adds more details, though it suggests the item was a Facebook post rather than a tweet:

Naoot wrote a Facebook post in October in which she expressed her disagreement with the traditional practice of slaughtering animals during the Islamic Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) and described it as the "biggest massacre."

She wrote that she would not take part in this "massacre that is committed by humans for 10 and half centuries and which they continue to repeat with a smile." She added that the practice started because of a "nightmare by a good man regarding his son," referring to the willingness of biblical figure Abraham to sacrifice his son when ordered by God in a vision to do so.

Facing scrutiny over her opinion, Naoot posted a clarification on her Facebook page saying her statements were meant to be taken wrong by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. "I respect all divine religions, non-divine ones and everyone who searches for the divine, but I do not respect those who trade in the name of religion," Naoot told The Cairo Post Sunday.

Furthermore, she said she believed those who filed the lawsuit against her are "Brotherhood [members] who took an interest in me beginning in 2005 after I started tracking their flaws."

Reuters has a similar account.

Legal proceedings are apparently scheduled to resume Feb. 25. Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.