A well-known Islamic scholar sentenced to three years in prison for "insulting Islam"

A well-known Islamic scholar sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting Islam”

On Thursday, a court in Algiers sentenced a well-known Algerian Islamic scholar, Said Gabelkheir, to three years in prison, for: Riad Karamdi / French Press Agency

A particularly heavy sentence. This Thursday, court Sidi M’hamed to me
Algeria The famous Islamic scholar Saeed Jabelkheir was sentenced to three years in prison. The 53-year-old scholar of Sufism was tried for “insulting principles.”
Islam ».

“There is no evidence. The file is empty. We expected acquittal,” said one of the lawyers, Moamen Shady, who denounced the existence of a technical defect, and said he was “shocked” by the severity of the punishment.

“The struggle for freedom of conscience is non-negotiable.”

Doubted out CourtSaeed Jabelkheir, who was also surprised by the weight of the ruling, said he would appeal and go to the cassation if necessary. However, it was not placed under a filing order.

“We have the misfortune to do research in Algeria. But it is a struggle that must continue for freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion and expression.” Said Jabelkheir, a specialist in the field of freedom of opinion, insisted that “the struggle for freedom of conscience is not negotiable.” MysticismMystical and esoteric current of Islam. Graduated in Islamic Sciences, he is the author of two popular books dealing with religion.

The world of Islam criticized the marriage of minors

He was tried for “insulting the doctrine and principles of Islam” by a university colleague, a computer teacher in Sidi Bel Abbes (northwest) supported by seven lawyers, and risked imprisonment for up to five years. Said Gabelkheir is particularly accused of writing that sheep sacrifice – an Islamic tradition – existed before the advent of Islam, and he criticized certain practices such as marriage of girls under the age of puberty in some Islamic societies.

Algerian law punishes with imprisonment from three to five years and / or a fine “whoever offends the Messenger or degrades the belief or teachings of Islam, whether by writing, drawing, advertising, or any other means.” The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights condemned in a press release entitled “Excessive Drift” of “the criminalization of ideas, debate and academic research guaranteed by the constitution.”

The accused is “by persons who do not have competence in matters of religion.”

During his trial on April 1, the scholar of Islam defended himself for “undermining Islam”, the state religion in Algeria, asserting that he had only participated in “academic reflections” and was accused “by people who had no competence in matters.” debt In a recent interview, he estimated that “a very great effort has been made to new thinking about the foundational texts of Islam is necessary because the traditional readings no longer meet the expectations, needs and questions of modern man.”

Saeed Jabelkheir explained that “the Wahhabis (who claim to be part of a strict Islamic current) want to impose on Muslims their reading of the texts as the ultimate truth, and this is unless I stop challenging it through my writings,” who was already at the center of many disputes with the clerics. Those with a fundamentalist vision of Islam.

Support from many Algerian colleagues and politicians

His lawyers argued in court that the complaint against him was inadmissible because it came from individuals, not from the public prosecutor. The defense also warned against “opening a breach” with this trial, which would turn the courts into a “space for religious debates.” A warning shared by the Lebanese Association for the Defense of Human Rights, “refuses to replace the university’s halls with courtrooms, and for courts to turn into inspection courts,” according to its vice president, Saeed Al-Salhi.

From the outset of the case, Said Gabelkheir had the support of many Algerian colleagues and politicians. But his trial split. Proponents of the case believe that this is a discussion of ideas and that the researcher should be able to express his opinion on issues that fall within his competence. On the contrary, his critics accuse him of destroying verses from the Qur’an and the Five Pillars of Islam, such as the “Hajj,” which is the pilgrimage to Mecca.

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