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EOHR appeals to the president of the state not to ratify the verdict against "El Quranyeen" group

Cairo: 6/3/2002

The state Security court for misdemeanors in Matarya issued a verdict in its session yesterday in the case no. 9060 of 2001 known as " El Quraneyeen". The first and the second defendants received a three years imprisonment sentence with hard labor. The other defendants received one year suspended sentence.

The security officers have arrested the defendants on 3/9/2001 and have referred them to the state security prosecution. They were charged with" exploiting religion for extremist ideas to spread riot and to contempt religion". Furthermore, they were charged with advocating modifications to the basic Islamic rules, including rules for fasting and pilgrimage.

The State Security Prosecution has referred them to the Emergency State Security court on its session on 19/11/2001 because they committed a misdemeanor due to article 98 of the penal code and the articles of the emergency law no. 162 of 1958. Finally, the court issued the above mentioned verdict yesterday.

Although of the stance of EOHR towards not to comment on the verdict of the Egyptian judiciary, EOHR believes that the legal texts that organize the freedom of belief and expression headed by the emergency law incriminate all forms of peaceful expression of opinion and belief. This right is guaranteed by the International Covenants on Human Rights and article 46 of the Egyptian constitution which state that " the State guarantees the freedom of belief and the freedom of practice of religious rites". Moreover, the provisions of the Egyptian judiciary affirm the freedom of practicing religious rites and the Cassation Court issued a verdict stating that the religious belief is a psychological matter, which shall not be investigated or examined by the judge.

EOHR also believes that the act of referring the civilians to exceptional court according to the emergency law no. 162 of 1958 is a dangerous act because it deprives people of their right to be tried by their normal judge and they are prevented from appealing before a higher court against the verdicts they receive. EOHR calls the members of the Peoples' Assembly to issue new legislation, which guarantees the freedom of expression and belief because the members of the Peoples' Assembly are the ones who are mandated to develop the democratic legislation through their work in the parliament.

EOHR appeals to the president of the state not to ratify on the above mentioned verdict against the "Qora'nyeen " as well as to intervene to stop the abuses regarding the right of expression , opinion and belief and to provide a suitable atmosphere to protect this right. In addition to EOHR calls all the national and international civil institutions and NGOs for human rights to urge the authority to the immediate release of the defendants.

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