The Misdemeanour Court of Misr Al-Qadima announced that it would hear on Monday the first appeal session petitioning for Islam El-Beheiry’s release.
El-Beheiry was charged with contempt of religion and was sentenced to five years in prison but was released on bail of EGP 50,000 pending the issuance of the final verdict.
The sentence raised concerns from local rights groups. The Arab Network for Freedom of Thought and Expression (ANHRI) previously demanded his acquittal.
“Insulting religion is a vague charge that violates the freedom of speech,” the ANHRI said in a public statement.
The charges against El-Beheiry stem from a programme he hosted where he questioned the teachings of Salafi preachers. In many of his episodes, he provided video clips of famous and respected Salafi preachers and criticised their religious arguments. His programme was suspended after several warnings from Al-Azhar and a number of media officials.
El-Beheiry’s programme, which was broadcast on Al-Qahera Wal Nas satellite channel for two years, received criticism from conservative preachers and clerics at the government-affiliated institution Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments.