Author Fatima Naoot appealed a Tuesday court verdict sentencing her to three years in prison over charges of religious contempt. Her defence lawyer, Sherif Adeeb, clarified in TV statements that she paid EGP 20,000 to be released on bail.
“I am not sad that I would go to prison for three years over a Facebook post,” Naoot wrote in comments following the verdict on her personal social media account. “Prison does not terrify me as long as I have my bunch of books and my space to get inspired, meditate, create, and write,” Naoot said.
The writer and former parliamentary candidate received wide support from intellectuals, TV hosts, and defenders of freedom of speech such as former Culture Minister Gaber Asfour, famous presenter Mofeed Fawzy, reputable Islamic professor Amna Nosseir, film director Khaled Youssef, and others.
Naoot was given plenty of space to defend her situation and views on local satellite TV channels and stated that she had received “uncountable” phone calls from people expressing solidarity with her.
Speaking to one channel Tuesday evening, Naoot recalled the “infamous” Facebook post that brought her to trial. “I criticised the inhumanity of treating sheep sacrificed during the Islamic religious occasion of Eid El-Adha after watching two very disturbing videos related to the event,” she said.
Naoot said that sacrifice rituals as stated by religious teachings called for the fair treatment of animals, preventing their torture, and even banned the slaughter of one animal in front of another. According to Naoot, the slaughter of sheep does not follow these religious proscriptions and practices tend to be abusive of animals.
Meanwhile the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) independently managed by Hafez Abu Seada, a member of the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), issued a statement in solidarity with Naoot.
“We are concerned about the dangerous implications in Naoot’s case, which pose direct threats to freedoms of opinion, expression, thought, and human rights […] Despite constitutional guarantees for the protection of those freedoms, the Penal Code still contains imprisonment articles used to punish journalists and intellectuals,” EOHR said.