Cairo: An Egyptian appeals court on Thursday sentenced prominent liberal writer Fatima Naoot to a suspended six-month jail term, reducing an earlier ruling of three years in prison against her for defaming Islam.
Thursday’s verdict was issued by the Cairo Misdemeanour Court in response to an appeal filed by Naoot against the three-year jail term handed down to her by a lower court in January.
“I wished to get acquitted, but God’s will has prevailed,” the 52-year-old writer said on Thursday following the ruling.
“I adore the soil of this country and will not leave it for a second,” Naoot told private newspaper Al Masry Al Youm in which she writes a weekly column.
Last month, she returned to Egypt after staying abroad for more than six months.
The case is related to a 2014 controversial tweet by Naoot criticising Islam’s annual ritual of sacrificing animals during the festival of Eid Al Adha.
Naoot, a Muslim architect-turned-writer, has repeatedly said she did not mean to defame Islam in the post.
Since the charges were filed against Naoot in late 2014, rights advocates have voiced worries about free expression in Egypt.
Thursday’s ruling comes a week after Muslim researcher Islam Al Behery was released from prison following a presidential pardon. Last year, a court sentenced Al Behery to one year in jail after convicting him of defaming Islam in a television programme.
Al Behery had questioned the credibility of some widely accepted sources of the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) sayings, a major reference to Islamic jurisprudence.