Cairo: An Egyptian television station has sacked a prominent Muslim cleric after he called Christians followers of a “corrupt creed”, triggering outrage among the country’s Christian minority.
Private Al Mehwar television on Thursday said it had terminated its contract with Salem Abdul Galil, an ex-undersecretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and expressed apology to Christians.
“What Abdul Galil said about the creed of brothers Christians does not at all express the message of Al Mehwar TV that has since its launch in 2002 advocated freedom of expression but without hurting others’ feelings,” the station said in a statement.
Abdul Galil hosted a popular a religious programme on Al Mehwar for more than a year.
He shrugged off the contract termination and stood by his view on Christianity.
“The issue of ending my contract is up to the owner of the channel that I can see an excuse for his decision,” Abdul Galil said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
His controversial view on Christianity was made in his interpretation of verses from the Quran on the TV show “Muslims Ask”.
“The Islamic ruling that the creed of non-Muslims is corrupt does not mean that their lives or money are not protected. Freedom of beliefs is enshrined in Islam,” he added. “I only apologise for hurting feelings [of Christians].”
In reaction, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, in charge of mosques in Egypt, barred Abdul Galil from giving sermons.
Some lawyers said they would file a lawsuit against Abdul Galil accusing him of defaming Christianity.
The controversy comes amid increasing attacks by militant Islamists against Egyptian Christians.
Last month, 46 people were killed in suicide attacks on two churches, prompting Egypt to declare a state of emergency for three months.
Christians account for around 10 per cent of Egypt’s mostly Muslim 93 million population.