Friday, October 26, 2007

"Egyptian poet fears for life after 'infidel' ruling"

"Renowned Egyptian poet Ahmed al-Shahawi said he fears for his life after the Center for Islamic Research, the highest jurisprudence body at Al-Azhar, declared him an 'infidel'.

"Al-Shahawi told that he has filed a lawsuit against the Grand Imam Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, who signed the fatwa (religious edict).'Questioning my faith without listening to what I have to say is unacceptable', Al-Shahawi said.

"The poet said Egypt's National Security Bureau referred the second volume of his book Commandments on the Love of Women (Wasaya fi Eshk Al-Nesaa) to the Center 10 months after it hit the stands.

"Based on the Center's report, the book was confiscated, and all copies were withdrawn. The first volume of the book was subjected to the same treatment when released in 2003.

"Al-Shahawi's attorney, Hamdi al-Asyouti appealed to the Minister of Interior and the Grand Imam to revoke the confiscation. In his memorandum, Al-Asyouti stated that the wording of the Center's first fatwa 'sanctions shedding Al-Shahawi's blood and explicitly calls him an infidel.'

"Al-Shahawi said he did not understand why the second volume was given to the same person who wrote the apostasy report in 2003. He said he doesn't expect the court ruling to be in his favor, but he wanted to demonstrate how 'this historic religious institution' is hurling groundless allegations of apostasy and is becoming more fanatical than Islamist extremist groups.

"'How could they render me an infidel in absentia?', Al-Shahawi wondered. 'With this unprecedented lawsuit, I refuse to bow to Al-Azhar's authority. If they want to take me to court, I'll do the same to them.' The Center's General Secretariat did not comment on the matter. Al-Shahawi is planning to file another two lawsuits against two scholars at the center, Dr. Abdel-Rahman Al-Adawi and Dr. Mohamed Raafat Osman, for accusing him of apostasy and endangering his life. [...]"

Source: Al (Saudi owned, based in Dubai), October 24, 2007