June 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Couple Won’t Follow Court Order To Divorce Husband’s Writing Prompted Unusual Ruling

Associated Press

The husband and wife who have been ordered to divorce because of the man’s writings about Islam said Thursday they will stay together.

In an unprecedented ruling, an appeals court said Wednesday that articles by Nasr Abu Zeid, a professor of Arabic literature, amounted to apostasy - renunciation of his Muslim faith - meaning he could no longer be married to a Muslim woman.

The court’s judgment was immediately attacked by liberal lawyers and human rights activists.

“This judgment is a threat to all thinkers and liberals in Egypt,” said Saeed Ashmawi, a writer and former judge who himself has been threatened by Muslim radicals.

The ruling came amid a 3-year-old campaign of violence by militants trying to impose Islamic law on Egypt.

The couple vowed to defy the verdict. “We will be together no matter what,” his wife, Ibtihal Younis, said on Thursday.

Friends said Abu Zeid feared for his life because a Muslim cleric said the ruling meant he should be executed under Islamic law. In 1992, a well-known writer was murdered after a cleric called him an apostate.

Abu Zeid, who says he considers himself a good Muslim, has defended his writing as linguistic analysis.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights condemned the ruling for giving a “green light” for assassination.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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