- A renowned Egyptian poet, Abdel Moati Hegazi, has refused to pay a court fine of US $3,500 following his conviction for insulting a religious extremist, Yusuf al Badari, depicting him as an enemy of freedom of thought and expression.
His colleagues at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (Hrinfo) salute him for standing firm on his principles. They also call on all advocates of free speech in Egypt to extend solidarity to Hegazi and at the same time resist actions by the likes of Badari.
Following his refusal to pay the fine, a court in southern Cairo set aside 8 August as the date when Hegazi’s home furniture will be sold.
The renowned poet’s case is among a string of insult lawsuits brought against writers, thinkers and poets by al Badari. Ironically, the religious extremist would sometimes sue people for insulting God.
Among the victims of the extremist included Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid in 1993-94. This resulted to a court ruling that ended the marriage of Abu Zaid.
Zaid immigrated to the Netherlands after the court ruling, but writers and thinkers continue to be victims of the Sheik’s lawsuit. In fact, some of the cases are still pending in the courts.
HRinfo cries foul against the suppression of academic freedom at Egyptian education centers, specifically Azhar research institute where unjust banning of books and publications has become a norm.
While throwing its full weight behind writers, poets and thinkers who resist extremism and bigotry, HRinfo equally “denounces any method of countering words and thoughts with trials and prisons.” The group believes that words are enough tools to counter words or thoughts.
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