The country’s top cleric has been charged with blasphemy for allegedly insulting Islam, a move that would make him the first cleric to be tried for blasphemy in the country’s history.
A court in the eastern city of Damietta sentenced cleric Ibrahim El-Sayed to a three-year jail term on Wednesday for allegedly mocking the Prophet Muhammad during a sermon last month.
The court found El-sayed guilty of “blasphemy against Islam” for allegedly criticizing the prophet during a March 26 sermon in which he said the religion “has its own prophets.”
The cleric’s lawyers said he will appeal the verdict.
A top judge in Egypt said the ruling was politically motivated and called on authorities to bring the cleric to justice.
The judge, Adel Abdul Hamid, said in a statement that he will order the cleric’s immediate release and return to his home country.
The ruling marks the first time that a cleric has faced charges for blasphemy.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, the largest Muslim-majority country in the Middle East, is one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
In 2017, authorities cracked down on an outspoken cleric who has called for an end to discrimination against Christians in the predominantly Shiite country.