Zaman arrest Ozan Kose/ Stringer via getty images

Smaad en ontwikkeling in de Arabische wereld

AMMAN – Nu het gewelddadige racisme en de burgeroorlogen van het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika in het middelpunt van de belangstelling staan, krijgen de verwrongen rechtssystemen van de regio weinig aandacht. Maar problematische wetten die smaad strafbaar stellen, waardoor de politieke en economische onderdrukking wordt gefaciliteerd, ondermijnen de ontwikkeling en verwoesten levens.

De regering van Egypte maakt wellicht het vaakst misbruik van wetten tegen smaad en godslastering om afwijkende meningen te onderdrukken. De Egyptische autoriteiten gebruiken in het bijzonder op zeer brutale wijze Artikel 98(f) uit het Egyptisch wetboek van strafrecht – dat burgers verbiedt een “hemelse religie” te belasteren, op te roepen tot sektarische strijd, of de Islam te beledigen – om leden van religieuze minderheidsgroeperingen, vooral Christenen, te vervolgen en gevangen te zetten. Al wat hiervoor nodig is, is een vage claim dat hun activiteiten de “harmonie van de gemeenschap” bedreigen.

Bovendien kreeg de schrijver Ahmed Naji onlangs een gevangenisstraf van twee jaar opgelegd wegens het schenden van de “publieke zedigheid” door een seksueel expliciete passage uit zijn roman te publiceren. Dit kwam een maand nadat auteur Fatma Naoot in beroep ging tegen de gevangenisstraf van drie jaar die zij kreeg toen een Facebook-post, waarin zij het slachten van dieren voor een islamitisch feest bekritiseerde, leidde tot een veroordeling wegens “minachting voor de Islam”. De lijst gaat maar door.

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