- (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Radical Muslim blogger Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud Abdallah, also known as Abu Islam, has spoken out on his recent charges for "contempt for religion" after he ripped the pages of a New Testament Bible in mid-September in Cairo, Egypt.
Abdallah's charges, which include "contempt for the Christian religion" and are filed under the country's umbrella of anti-blasphemy laws, are the first of their kind to be investigated by government officials.
"There is no such thing as the Bible or the Torah, there is only the Quran!" Abu Islam told the Egyptian online newspaper Ahram Online in an exclusive interview regarding his charges, arguing that his actions are not illegal because in his opinion, Christianity is not a valid religion.
"All these translations of the Bible are evidence of its invalidity," Abu Islam added, noting that he chose to desecrate a New Testament, English language Christian Bible instead of an Egyptian Coptic version of the Bible so as to not offend Egyptian Christians.
Abu Islam, who is a prominent blogger and owner of the conservative Muslim television networks Umma and Mariya, tore up pages of the New Testament Bible in mid-September during protests at the Cairo U.S. Embassy over the film "Innocence of Muslims," which reportedly offended the Muslim religion and the prophet Muhammad.
In two YouTube videos filmed on the day of the Sept. 11 Cairo protest, Abu Islam is shown tearing up the Bible, burning pages of it, and then threatening to urinate on the Holy Book.
As Egyptian Union for Human Rights leader Naguib Gebrail told Ahram Online in a separate interview, there exists a double standard for "contempt for religion" court cases in Egypt.
"This is the first time that charges filed for denigrating Christianity have been investigated," Gebrail told the online news source.
"I personally have filed three complaints in the past against Abu Islam Abdullah, and none of them were ever looked into," he added.
"We strongly condemn the double standards regarding lawsuits related to contempt for religion," he concluded.
According to Egypt's anti-blasphemy laws, being found guilty of the "contempt for religion" charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Critics are questioning if the country's sudden legal defense for the Christian religion is preemptive of its release of its new constitution, which is due to premiere by the end of 2012 and possess stricter blasphemy laws.
Abu Islam's trial, which held its first hearing on Sept. 30, has reportedly been adjourned until Oct. 21.