Two young men in al-Sharqia sentenced to one-year imprisonment for promoting ideas belonging to Shi'ism
On Saturday 27 June , the State Security Misdemeanor Court in Mashtoul al-Souk in Sharqia Governorate, in Case No. 154/2019, sentenced Mustafa al-Ramli and Mahmoud Youssef to one year in prison, for allegedly promoting ideas belonging to Shi'ism. The security forces arrested the defendants on May 16, 2019 and they were kept hidden in an unknown location until they were presented to the Mashtoul al-Souk Prosecution on July 20, 2019, and the prosecution ordered that they be detained pending trial and renewed their remand since then.
The arrest report, filed on July 19, 2019, stated that the security forces found in their homes, books on the Shi'a sect and “prayer soil” that Shi’ites use to prostrate (when praying), according to the Shi’ite doctrine. The National Security Investigation report attributed to the accused, participating in establishing a group in violation of the provisions of the law, to spread Shi’ism. During investigations, the two defendants denied having established any group. Mustafa al-Ramli told his lawyer that he did not know the second suspect and only met him in custody, while waiting for trial.
The court did not allow the lawyers to obtain the case file and only allowed them to see it quickly, and the case documents did not include any specific publications published by the defendants that would qualify as promoting Shiite doctrine, while the accusation articles included article 98 (f) of the Penal Code known as “contempt of religions” that punishes "promoting extremist ideas that ridicule divinely-revealed religions."
EIPR Lawyers argued that the accusations were false and that article 98 (f) of the penal code was unconstitutional.
This ruling is one of many rulings on charges related to belonging to Shi’ism and promoting its ideas, preceded by the ruling of the Cairo Criminal Court in May 2019 against Alaa Obaid, an Azhari teacher residing in Mansoura, with a 15-year prison sentence and a fine of 500,000 EGP on charges of communicating with foreign bodies and receiving money from them, establishing a website and printing books that promote Shi’ism, including a book written by the accused titled “The Virtues of the People of the House (Prophet Muhammad’s Household) in the Qur’an and the Sunnah,” according to the merits of the criminal court ruling.
In 2016, EIPR published an analytical report entitled "Restricted Diversity in the Religion of the State: The Religious Freedom of the Shia Egyptians". It recommended that the state take urgent measures in the short term and start a process of radical reform of official religious policies in order to guarantee freedom of religion, belief and religious diversity.
This ruling is also one of a series of rulings punishing freedom of religious expression, the most recent of which, a week ago on Sunday, June 21, 2020, where an Appeals Misdemeanor Court of Alexandria upheld the sentence of imprisonment of the activist and blogger Anas Hassan for a period of three years and a fine of 300,000 EGP, for "insulting religion" and “misuse of social media” and moderating the “Egyptian Atheists” Facebook page.