Thursday, February 28, 2008

Egyptian Author Threatened with Death

A female Egyptian scholar recently published a book on the sex life of the Prophet Muhammed. You can probably guess what happened next, but, just in case, Radio Netherlands has a good overview:

Egyptian writer Bisnat Rashad has become the target of a fatwa and death threats after publishing her book "Sex in the Life of the Prophet Mohammed". Rashad wants to debunk the myth of Mohammed's extraordinary sexual powers, which she considers offensive to the Prophet and a bad example for Muslims.

Rashad, who calls herself a devout Muslim, faced harsh criticism from elders on a religious satellite television channel. They issued a fatwa declaring her an infidel and calling on the faithful to spill her blood, even if she were to recant her position. Rashad told Al Arabiya news channel that elders see her book as "a severe insult to the Prophet Mohammed and his wives". She claims to have received serious threats.


Al Azhar, the highest-ranking religious body in Sunni Islam, has called on the Egyptian authorities to ban the book and prosecute its author. Sheik Ali Abdel Baki, Secretary General of the Islamic Studies Council of Al Azhar, said that the book misrepresents the Prophet's sex life.

(Emphasis added-DD)

Sadly, both death threats and book banning are common forms of censorship in Egypt. The tragic case of Farag Foda is merely one example of the former. As far as the latter, the Christian Science Monitor reported on September 22, 2004 that Al Azhar typically asks the Egyptian government to ban 10-15 "blasphemous" books per year. Such requests are usually, but not always, granted.


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