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Christian HR Group Condemns Detention of Egyptian Quranic Blogger Who Challenged Extremism

Credit: CSW

The leadership of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling for the release of an Islamic blogger in Egypt whose Quranic content challenged religious extremist narratives in the country.

CSW officials have reported that Reda Abdel Rahman was arrested on 22 August 2020 in relation to articles he published in his blog, ‘Justice, Freedom and Peace.’

In the Friday, October 15 report, the Christian human rights foundation called for the release of the Quranic blogger whose detention was renewed for 45 days on September 29.

In the report, CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas also calls upon authorities in the North Eastern African country to also release other people who have been arrested for putting into practice their religious beliefs.

“CSW urges the Egyptian authorities to release Mr. Abdel Rahman and all those who are detained and face excessive charges simply for practicing their religion or belief, or exercising their right to freedom of expression, in a peaceable manner,” Mr. Mervyn says.

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He adds, “We also call on the Egyptian authorities to amend all legislation restricting freedom of religion or belief, including Article 98 (f) of the Penal Code, which criminalizes insulting religion, and is open to misuse against religious minorities.”

CSW leadership has reported that Mr. Rahman has been arrested and interrogated on several previous occasions in relation to articles he published in his blog, “Justice, Freedom and Peace.”

“In his articles, Mr. Rahman challenged the extremist narratives underpinning the ideology of Political Islam Movements, arguing that their use to justify sectarian violence contradicted the Quran,” the leadership of CSW has reported, adding in reference to Mr. Rahman, “His last published post was in 2015.”

According to the Christian organization that advocates for religious freedom, Mr. Rahman was arrested in 2020 together with a number of family members of the renowned Quranic thinker and former lecturer at Al-Azhar University, Professor Ahmed Sobhy Mansour. 

CSW leadership describes professor Mansour as a prominent Quranic thinker who was sacked from his job at Al-Azhar University in 1985 for expressing differing views from the traditional Sunni schools adopted by Al-Azhar.

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The professor, the Christian foundation reports, was arrested several times before emigrating to the U.S., where he currently lives.

While everyone else was released a few days later, Mr. Rahman was held incommunicado for 44 days during which he reportedly suffered mistreatment.

He was eventually charged with “membership of ISIS”, CSW leadership reports, adding that an investigation is pending in the Quranic blogger’s case.

CSW officials have reported that the Egyptian blogger’s family has expressed concern about the conditions in the police station at Kafr Saqr in Al-Sharqiya governorate where he is being held.

“They report that Mr. Abdel Rahman’s health has deteriorated, he has lost weight, and they have had difficulty obtaining permits to visit him,” CSW leadership reports in reference to the Egyptian blogger’s family members.

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The members of his family, CSW leadership further reports, “have also raised concerns about the spread of COVID-19 inside the detention centre.”