Egyptian thinker jailed for saying Islam spread by conquest

Octogenarian Egyptian thinker jailed for saying Islam spread by conquest
2 min read
19 November, 2021
Ahmed Abdo Maher, an Islamic thinker, writer and high-profile lawyer, was found guilty of 'contempt of Islam, stirring up sectarian strife and posing a threat to the national unity'.
The verdict against Ahmed Abdo Maher is final and cannot be appealed before a higher court. [Getty]

An Egyptian court sentenced an 80-year-old-intellectual earlier this week to five years in prison over his remarks on the early Islamic conquests, according to local news reports.

Ahmed Abdo Maher, an Islamic thinker, writer and high-profile lawyer, was found guilty by an emergency state security court of “contempt of Islam, stirring up sectarian strife and posing a threat to the national unity,” the reports added. 

Maher claimed in many of his speeches, writings, and TV appearances, that the early Islamic conquests were “military invasions”, and called on Egypt's top Islamic institution - Al-Azhar - to apologise on behalf of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions who led the raids.

According to Maher, those “invasions aimed to enslave women rather than spread Islam” around the world.

Maher further disputed Islamic scholars' beliefs about the possibility of the dead being tormented in their graves due to sins.

Earlier in May 2020, lawyer Samir Sabry had filed a complaint against Maher before the prosecutor general, accusing him of contempt of Islam among other related accusations.

Maher was interrogated several times and later referred to trial in October 2021. This week’s verdict is final and cannot be appealed before a higher court.

Based on article 98 of the Egyptian penal code, “whoever exploits religion in order to promote extremist ideology by word of mouth, in writing or in any other manner, with a view to stirring up sedition, or in contempt of any divine religion or its adherents, or undermining national unity shall be punished with prison terms of between six months and five years or a fine of at least 500 Egyptian pounds [about $31]."

Several other intellectuals, writers, and public figures have stood trial or received verdicts over the past few decades for their views under the infamous anti-blasphemy law.