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EGYPT: Fatwa issued against secular author

July 26, 2009 |  1:30 pm


The Egyptian Islamic Legislation Authority has declared writer and researcher Sayed Kemny a criminal and an infidel, saying he doubts and has repudiated Islam.

The fatwa, which comes nearly a month after the author was granted Egypt's 2009 State Incentive Prize in sociology, was issued last week in a response to a letter sent to the Islamic Legislation Authority inquiring about the religious consequences for someone who denounces Islam in his books.

The authority found that Kemny's writings violated Egyptian law and made him an infidel.  The authority added that the writer never should have been awarded the Incentive Prize.

"Our muftis are fully aware of the ongoing saga around Al Kemny and the prize. We already know the writer's documented opinions and the fatwa was issued in consistence with our knowledge of the current conflict and Al Kemny himself," Sheikh Gamal Kotb, head of the authority's Fatwa Committee told Al Dustour newspaper.

Kemny has long been known for his secular views, as well as his strong calls for abandoning Islamic law (Sharia) as a basis for the country's legislation. While religious pundits hailed the authority's fatwa, moderate observers opposed the unprecedented attack. The Islamic Legislation Authority has never before issued a fatwa stating that a particular writer is a criminal and infidel.

Many Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, criticized Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian cultural minister, for awarding Kemny the prize, as they believed that someone who disrespected Islam and doubted its teachings in his writings should never have received such an honor. Hosny is head of the Higher Council for Culture, whose members annually select Incentive Prize winners.

 -- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. Credit: BBC