“CSW welcomes the news of Mr. Abdel Rahman’s release, but notes with concern that he is still facing serious and excessive charges for exercising his right to the freedoms of expression and religion or belief,” Mr. Mervyn said.
He added, “We call for all the charges against him to be dropped, and for the release of all others in detention who are facing similar charges.”
The CSW official appealed to the Egyptian authorities to amend all legislation restricting freedom of religion or belief, including the country’s Article 98 (f) of the Penal Code, which he said criminalizes insulting religion, and is “open to misuse against religious minorities.”
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 described 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.
According to the CSW report, Mansour was arrested several times before emigrating to the US, where he currently lives.
While everyone else was released a few days after the arrest in 2020, Mr. Abdel Rahman was held incommunicado for 44 days, and had his detention extended on multiple occasions.
His family has also reported that his health deteriorated, and that family members have had difficulty obtaining permits to visit him.
CSW leadership has reported that Mr. Abdel 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 reported last year, adding in reference to Mr. Rahman, “His last published post was in 2015.”