Abdel Galil - Press Photo
CAIRO – 12 May 2017: A Muslim cleric finds himself in dire straits after being brought to trial over charges of contempt of Christianity and apostatizing the Christians.
The 6 October Court of Misdemeanor set June 24 as the trial date of cleric Salem Abdel Galil, former Deputy Minister of Endowment, over charges of contempt of Christianity, as per a law case filed by lawyer Najib Gabriel on Thursday.
In his program Muslims Inquire on El-Mehwar channel on May 10, Abdel Galil said that Christians should be treated humanely, but the doctrine they believe is “corrupt…and not righteous.”
Immediately, the Minister of Endowment Mukhtar Gomaa opened an inquiry into Abdel Galil’s remarks, and issued a statement to ban him from mounting the pulpits of the ministry-owned mosques nationwide on Thursday.
The Islamic Research Complex held a meeting to comment on Abdel Galil’s remarks, saying that the sheikh expressed his personal opinion and does not represent Al-Azhar.
“Al-Azhar is keen on righteousness, friendship and brotherhood with our Coptic brothers as it is ordered by the Holy Quran; it calls on speakers in the religious affairs not to be as tools exploited for inciting strife,” the statement read.
Abdel-Galil released on Thursday a statement to apologize to the Christians, saying what has been uttered from him was an interpretation of a Quran verse. He added that the meaning in the Quranic verse does not indicate an apostate.
Mehwar channel announced that it has cancelled its contract with Abdel-Galil, offering an apology to the Christians; it will contract with another Sheikh for the same program.
In 2015, a Salafist cleric, his nickname Abu Islam, had been handed a sentence of 5 years in prison over charges of contempt of religion after burning the Bible outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo during 2012 protests. He was also sentenced to 11 years in prison in another trial over insulting Christian women in his T.V. program in 2013, however, the sentence was commuted to five years.
Last week, Al-Azhar University President Ahmed Hosni was dismissed from his duties over charging T.V. Anchor Islam Beheiry with apostasy.
According to the Egyptian Criminal Code, the contempt of religion is punishable by 6 months to 5 years in prison.