Egypt's top cleric yesterday denied in a statement that he had said a Muslim can give up his faith without punishment.
He doesn't specify what that punishment might be.
"There is a campaign by secularists to distort the image of Dr Ali Goma'a," a senior official in Al Azhar told Gulf News.
"He cannot deny punishment in this life for the apostate," said Mustafa Al Chaka of the Islamic Research Centre.
Khaybar Oasis makes an excellent comment. An excerpt:
[...] in Islamic societies, publicly expressed apostasy from Islam is considered a threat to the well-being of Muslims.
He [the Egyptian cleric] also wrote: "If the case in question is one of merely rejecting faith, then there is no worldly punishment."
Right; not merely "rejecting faith." The distinction in mainstream Islam, and apparently endorsed by Gomaa, is that the apostasy from Islam must be public, i.e., must be detected through some overt words or acts, to constitute a crime worthy of earthly punishment. So if you keep secret your apostasy, and no other person finds out about it or reports it, you won't be punished, except by Allah. Nothing new there. That is classical Islamic jurisprudence.
I think this Egyptian cleric, Ali Goma, was trying to sugarcoat the vile nature of Islamic law. Now, that his untrue comment has got too much attention, he's backpedaling.
Read this and shudder at what really happens to ex-Muslims in Egypt:
One week ago, on July 16, these same family members openly threatened to kill Al-Sayed for leaving Islam to become a Christian, after spotting her walking through a fair in Alexandria.
Local police promptly took her into “protective custody,” allegedly to prevent her physical harm at the hands of her irate Muslim relatives.
But instead of protecting her, local police and State Security Investigation (SSI) officials have subjected the threatened woman to days of severe physical and emotional torture. Her maltreatment included electrical shocks, beatings and being photographed naked.
The state of Egyptian law:
After becoming a Christian in January 2003, Al-Sayed had obtained Christian identity papers under the name of Maryan Eleya Saleeb and married a Christian man. Egyptian law does not permit anyone born a Muslim to change his or her religion, nor can a Muslim woman marry a Christian.