Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Action Item: Academic Detained for Challenging Mainstream Religious Views

An appeal by Amnesty International:

“I demand his release,” said Um Saleh, wife of Mitwalli Ibrahim Mitwalli Saleh. Speaking to AI in July 2005, she explained how her husband had been on hunger strike since June in protest against his continued detention in Wadi El-Natroun prison about 100 km northwest of Cairo. “Mitwalli was not seen by any doctor although he is diabetic and is suffering from high blood pressure,” she said. “For 20 days the prison authorities did not inform the Public Prosecutor about his hunger strike.” His health deteriorated so rapidly that he was transferred to the prison hospital. He is now held at the Al-Wadi al-Gadid prison in southern Egypt.

Mitwalli Ibrahim Mitwalli Saleh, father of three, was arrested on 18 May 2003 at his home in Giza by State Security Intelligence officers following the discovery of his unpublished religious study. The study challenges Islamic scholarly views on apostasy and marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. With degrees in Islamic law and Arabic language, Mitwalli Ibrahim Mitwalli Saleh used the disciplines of linguistics and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) to refute two opinions common among mainstream Muslim scholars: that it is a religious duty to kill “apostates” who reject Islam, and that a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man.

Two months after his arrest he was charged with “contempt of the Islamic religion”, a criminal offence under Egypt’s Penal Code carrying a prison sentence of six months to five years.

On 29 October 2003 the prosecution decided to drop the charges and release Mitwalli Ibrahim Mitwalli Saleh. However, the Interior Ministry placed him under administrative detention. Since then, the (Emergency) Supreme State Security Court has ruled seven times in his favour, ordering his release, but none of these decisions has been implemented.

Please write, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mitwalli Ibrahim Mitwalli Saleh, who is detained solely on account of his religious beliefs.

Send appeals to:
General Habib Ibrahim El Adly
Minister of the Interior
Ministry of the Interior
Al-Sheikh Rihan Street
Bab al-Louk
Fax: +20 2 579 2031.
Email: moi@idsc.gov.eg or moi2@idsc.gov.eg or moi1@idsc.gov.eg


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