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Freedom, Journalism & Religion: How Safe a Mix?

July 10, 2013

By Magda Abu-Fadil

Is it safe to mix freedom, journalism and religion in today’s Arab world? Mention those three topics together and you’re likely to start a riot – or at best a heated argument.

“Your organization called for the assassination of Farag Foda,” said Lebanese journalist/activist/blogger Salim Allawzi pointing an accusing finger at Mohieddine Afifi, dean of Al Azhar University’s Faculty of Islamic Studies in Egypt.

Foda, who was shot dead in 1982 by a “jihadist” group, was a secular Egyptian university professor and human rights proponent who wrote satirical articles criticizing Islamic fundamentalism in his home country.

Al Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest authority and seat to one of the world’s oldest universities, had accused Foda of blasphemy.

One of its scholars had expressed his approval of the killing of “apostates.”

“Al Azhar doesn’t object to freedom of expression, but promoting atheism is anathema,” responded Afifi at a conference last week.

He said his institution did not have a specific policy regarding the media and did not interfere in media’s operations except when they infringed on respect for the prophets and people’s faiths.

This has been a particularly touchy issue in Egypt where the armed forces deposed president Mohamad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood one year after he was elected, and stirred up a firestorm of pro- and anti-MB sentiment. Read the rest of the story at the Huffington Post.


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