The Volokh Conspiracy

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Lebanese satirist under criminal investigation for allegedly blasphemous anti-Islamic State image


Daily Star (Lebanon) reports:

A Lebanese court Monday referred the case of TV comedy producer Charbel Khalil over allegations of defaming Islam on Twitter to an appeals court ….

Judicial sources said Judge Nada Asmar briefed State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud of the content of Khalil's statement. Hammoud referred the case to Mount Lebanon Prosecutor Claude Karam with recommendations that Khalil be charged and referred to the relevant judicial authorities for trial.

There seems to be some dispute about what the image actually contained—(1) "a picture showing a bearded man and a woman naked on a bed covered by the Islamic banner," with the text under the photo reading, "Jihad Niqah (sexual jihad) under the Prophet's umbrella," or (2) "a photo showing a veiled woman wearing a short dress and sitting on a bed covered with black sheets on which the Islamic slogan 'There is no god but God and Mohammad is his Prophet' is written," with a "reference to the concept of 'sexual jihad,' which Muslim militant groups use as a religious justification for male fighters to receive sexual services in times of war." "Lebanon's Grand Mufti Abdel-Latif Derian" argued that the image constituted "defaming Islam," and "lawyer Tarek Shandab, representing 70 religious and civic figures" filed a complaint, accusing Khalil "of insulting Islam and harming national unity."

The AP has a less detailed version of the story, and reports that "Khalil on Monday told reporters that the photo he shared on Twitter meant to shine a light on the harm being done by IS militants to Islam." According to the AP story, Khalil was "let go by the investigating judge" but "[t]he case, however, was referred to an appeals court and Khalil was banned from traveling pending an investigation."