Poet Fatima Naoot was sentenced today to three years in prison and a 20,000LE fine, found guilty of “contempt of religion”:
Naoot was charged not for her poetry, but for a Facebook post from October 2014. That’s when she described the Eid Al-Adha’s tradition of slaughtering sheep as the “greatest massacre committed by human beings.”
During questioning, Naoot, a former candidate for parliament, denied that her aim was to insult Islam. Naoot argued instead, Ahram Online reported, “that humans justified their lust for killing and enjoying the smell of cooking game by attempting to bestow a divine meaning to their actions.”
Naoot was convicted under Article 98, which states: “Whomever exploits religion in order to promote extremist ideologies by word of mouth, in writing or in any other manner, with a view to stirring up sedition, disparaging, or contempt of any divine religion or its adherents, or prejudicing national unity, shall be punished with imprisonment between six months and five years, or the payment of a fine of at least EGP 500.”
“I’m not sad about the sentencing as I don’t care about going to jail. I’m sad that the efforts of reformists have been wasted,” Naoot said, according to Middle East Online.
The conviction comes just two weeks before a retrial for novelist Ahmed Naji and editor Tarek al-Taher, charged with offending public morals.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information issued a statement today asserting that “the recent surge in the prosecution of opinion makers comes in conjunction with a fierce security campaign launched by security bodies against freedom of opinion and expression, with the aim of narrowing the overall climate of freedom of opinion and expression. Such a matter, in turn, makes Egypt one of the most Arab countries that show hostility to freedom of expression as well as press freedom, especially that about 59 journalists have remained in prison so far.”
Naoot has published several poetry collections, translated anthologies from English into Arabic, and a book of criticism.
Poetry by Fatima Naoot:
From Poetry International, translated by Kees Nijland:
From PNR, translated by Robert Minhinnick: