04 June 2015

'Faith security': a dangerous concept

A new and dangerous term is being deployed in Egypt to legitimise the suppression of debates about religion: "faith security".

The phrase was used this week by al-Azhar's Dean of Sciences in connection with the trial of TV presenter Islam El-Beheiry who has been sentenced to five years' jail on blasphemy charges.

The court case followed a complaint from al-Azhar, Egypt's supreme religious authority, that his discussion programme broadcast on a private TV channel made people "question what is certain [sic] in religion".

In the same way that security demands are often cited to justify restrictions on people's freedom, al-Azhar is now invoking them specifically to stifle the questioning of religious belief. Most Arab states already have measures in place to protect Islam – Algeria, for instance, has a long-standing law against "shaking the faith" of Muslims – but al-Azhar's efforts to treat the protection of belief as a security matter are particularly insidious. [al-bab.com] Read more