We reported earlier this month that the editors of four Egyptian newspapers have been sentenced to one-year prison terms for “defaming” President Hosni Mubarak after they mentioned that he had been in ill health.
Now in the latest move to stem the rumors about the president’s continuing poor condition, today’s Gulf News reports that “rumor-mongers [in Egypt] will be flogged 80 times in compliance with Sharia law”:
Cairo: A top cleric has drawn fire from journalists for demanding that rumor-mongers be flogged 80 times in compliance with the Sharia. Mohammad Saeed Tantawi, Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar, made the suggestion during a recent function attended by President Hosni Mubarak.
Tantawi’s fatwa would have passed unnoticed had it not been made a few weeks after journalists were prosecuted on charges of publishing “false reports” about Mubarak’s health.
… “I did not have journalists on my mind when I talked about flogging people who spread false rumors,” Tantawi said in a statement. He added that he had based his fatwa on a verse from the Quran that says those who accuse women of adultery without proof should receive 80 lashes.
… Some 11 Egyptian journalists, including five chief editors, have recently been sentenced to jail, guilty of slandering senior officials in the ruling National Democratic Party.