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Egypt court orders ban on 'anti-Islam' broadcast

Al-Azhar institution called for the ban on the show presented by a controversial reformer [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 October, 2017

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Egypt's al-Azhar University, viewed as the Sunni Muslim world's leading Islamic institution, has banned the broadcast of an 'anti-Islam' TV show hosted by controversial intellectual reformer Islam Behairy.

An Egyptian court ruled on Sunday that a television programme deemed contrary to Islamic law should not be broadcast, following a request from the country's highest institution of Sunni Islam.

Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb of al-Azhar had demanded that the authorities ban With Islam presented by controversial intellectual reformer Islam Behairy and aired by private channel al-Qahera Wel Nass.

Al-Azhar accuses Behairy of "regularly attacking Islamic law".

Although al-Azhar advocates tolerance and moderate Islam in conferences, it also routinely asks for programmes and shows in which secular Egyptians criticise current Islamic practices or heritage to be banned.

Behairy has infuriated al-Azhar's traditional clergy in the past and used his television programme to air calls for the removal of what he described as "extremist material" in texts of religious interpretation and heritage.

He served a year in prison for "insulting religion" before being released in late 2016 under a presidential pardon.

Behairy can still appeal against the ban on his broadcasts.

Egypt's constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognised by the state - Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Al-Azhar, critics allege, has not done enough to counter Islamist extremism. A rift between the institution and members of the Egyptian political establishment has also developed since Sisi took power.  

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