Writer and parliamentary candidate Fatma Naoot was charged with contempt of religion and sentenced to three years in prison, along with a fine of 20,000 EGP. The verdict was released on Tuesday 26 and is effective immediately.

Naoot still has the right to an appeal, however, she would have to do so while incarcerated.

In October, during the Islamic Eid al Adha, she wrote a post on her Facebook account describing the slaughtering of sheep as a massacre. She further expressed her disapproval in an article published in Al Masry el Yom that same month.

Her lawyer, Sherif Adeeb, made a statement to Daily News Egypt clarifying that he will be filing an appeal and expressed his surprise at the situation. During questioning, Naoot stated that she was expressing her personal opinion with no intention of contempt, and provided evidence to prove that to the court.

Naoot is the second public figure to be charged with contempt of religion in less than a month. According to Ahram Online, television (TV) show host Islam Behery was sentenced to one year behind bars after expressing his controversial understanding of Islam on December 29.

Both actions were considered criminal under the penal law of 1982 which states, “Whomever exploits religion in order to promote extremist ideologies by word of mouth, in writing or in any other manner, with a view to stirring up sedition, disparaging, or contempt of any divine religion or its adherents, or prejudicing national unity, shall be punished with imprisonment between six months and five years, or the payment of a fine of at least EGP 500.”

Naoot was running as an independent candidate in the 2015 parliamentary elections and has published over 19 books.

Photo Source: Poetry Foundation