In the wake of the ISIS’s Palm Sunday bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most revered institution, not only refused to denounce the terrorist organization as “un-Islamic,” but repeated its implausible boast of being a bulwark against extremism in the Muslim-Arab world, and accused those calling for religious reform of treason.
One such “traitor” was Egyptian TV presenter Islam Behery, a British-educated writer and Sunni Muslim who had been exposing the roots of violence within Islamic tradition itself, until he was forced off the air after protests by Al-Azhar in 2015.
According to Behery, who was later convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to a year in prison, the tradition in question
“has very little good amid a multitude of evil, least of which is the insistence by all the four schools of Sunni Islam that Christians can be killed with impunity [as] a Muslim life is ‘superior’ to that of a non-Muslim.” (Kol Youm show, ON TV with Amr Adib, 25 April).
On his television program, “With Islam,” Behery had called for an overhaul of the millennia-old compilation of hadiths [sayings and deeds] of Muhammad, and proposed the reconstruction of Islam, to separate it from its onerous legacy cemented in the 9th century.
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