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Appeal court fines prominent poet for insulting religious extremist

(HRinfo/IFEX) - HRinfo salutes Abdel Moati Hegazi, a prominent Egyptian poet, for his refusal to pay a L.E 20,000 (approx US$ 3,500) fine brought against him by an appeal court in Cairo, after he was charged with insulting Yusuf al Badri, an extremist infamous for his enmity towards freedom of thought and expression. HRinfo calls for advocates of freedom of opinion and expression and enlightenment in Egypt to extend their solidarity to Hegazi and to stand collectively against the extremist positions taken by this sheikh and his likes.

The Southern Cairo court stipulated 8 August 2007 as the date for selling Hegazi's home furniture in order to put into effect the court ruling, after Hegazi refused to pay the money, preferring his home furniture be sold.

This ruling, in an insult lawsuit brought forward by al Badri in 2003, is the latest in a series of lawsuits by al Badri against various writers, thinker and poets, sometimes in the form of a "hesba" (insult to God) case, and on other occasions as an insult case.

Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid was among the victims of sheikh al Badri in the famous case of 1993-1994, which resulted in a court ruling divorcing Abu Zaid from his wife. While Abu Zaid immigrated to the Netherlands after the court ruling, writers and thinkers continue to be brought before the court; many of those cases are raised by the sheikh. Other cases brought by the sheikh against other writers, thinkers and poets are still in court.

Many books and publications are caught between the Azhar research institute, which makes a habit of unjustly banning books and publications, on the one hand, and extremist sheikhs and lawyers who seek fame by raising such cases, on the other hand - a situation that exemplifies the abuse of law in Egypt.

HRinfo extends solidarity to Hegazi and other writers and thinkers who refuse to yield to calls of extremism and bigotry in Egypt. It also denounces the method of countering words and thoughts with trials and prisons instead of countering them with other words and thoughts.

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