The Court of Cassation has cancelled the six-year prison sentence handed to Makarem Diyab Saïd a 49-year-old teacher from the town of Abnoub in Assiut, Upper Egypt, by a lower court in February 2012 for contempt of Islam and insulting the Prophet Muhammad. The court reduced the prison sentence to two years; Saïd has already spent a year and eight months in prison.
In a judicial system notorious for extended periods of trial—cases may drag on for years on end—Makarem Diyab Saïd, was sentenced in 2012, within a single day from being questioned by the prosecution, to six years in prison for disdaining Islam. The maximum sentence stipulated by the law for disdaining religions is a three-year imprisonment.
Hady Saïd, Makarem’s brother, had at the time told Watani that Makarem was deputy headmaster to a preparatory school in the village of Deir al-Gabarawi where he had been teaching for some 25 years and had an excellent performance and conduct assessment. “A few weeks before the incident,” Mr Saïd said, “a new teacher, a Salafi, came to work at the school. As so frequently happens in Egypt, he got to talking religion with my brother who at one point asked him: ‘Did the Prophet Muhammad have 40 wives?’ The Salafi appeared not happy about that, but the matter passed anyway.
“A few days later,” Saïd said, “my brother was arrested and, for four days, we knew nothing about him. Then we were stunned to learn he was being taken to the Abnoub Misdemeanours Court just one day after he had been questioned by the prosecution. In what must be the quickest sentence pronounced in modern Egyptian judicial history, my brother was the same day sentenced to six years in prison for disdaining Islam and the Prophet.”
2 October 2013