Egypt: Al-Azhar Professor ‘Mahmoud Shaaban’ sentenced to 15 years in prison

A famous Azhar preacher , known for criticizing the regime of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has been given 15 years in prison for trumped up charges

The Cairo Criminal Court Thursday sentenced Egyptian A-Azhar University Professor and preacher Dr. Mahmoud Shaaban to 15 years in prison, on trumped up charges of allegedly “inciting violence, opposing the state and joining a terrorist group”, the same accusations facing regime critics from across various Egyptian political spectra.

The Egyptian authorities even accused Dr. Shaaban of “joining the Free Army” in Syria as a “terrorist organization that uses violence to achieve its goals,” as local newspapers reported, despite the fact that he recurrently denied these allegations.

Khaled Al-Masry, the lawyer assigned to defend Dr. Shaaban, stated that his was sentenced to 15 years in prison, adding: “There is no power, nor might without help from Allah,” reported Arabi21.

Also, Lawyer Khaled Al-Masry wrote on his Facebook account, ““Sheikh Mahmoud Shaaban… 15 years… There is no power, nor might (to stay away from evil) without help from Allah, the Exalted, the Great,” he said.

Sumaya Mahmoud Shaaban, daughter of Dr. Shaaban said on her Facebook page: “… My father was sentenced to fifteen years’ rigorous imprisonment … and thus he will be dismissed from his (Al Azhar) University.” He served for 25 years in university until he has become ‘Professor Doctor’, she said, adding “I swear by God, I do not know anything evil about my father, as he fears God in dealing with everyone, whether students or colleagues or others…”, she said.

Social media platforms circulated a video clip of the moment the verdict was announced against Dr. Mahmoud Shaaban.

Last September, the Egyptian authorities re-imprisoned Dr. Mahmoud Shaaban after he had been acquitted and released in connection with accusations of joining a terrorist group and inciting violence.

In September, the Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to remand Dr. Shaaban for 15 days pending investigation, accusing him of a new case.

At that time, lawyer Khaled al-Masry said that the new case against Dr. Shaaban “was filed during the period of his imprisonment,” stressing that the Azhar professor “was not aware of it, as it only appeared after his release.”

Shaaban was accordingly returned to prison about 4 days after the decision to release him, along with three people belonging to the opposition Salafist, namely Sheikh Saad Fayadh, Hisham Mashali and Ashraf Abdel Moneim, pending investigations into accusations related to incitement to violence.

In the summer of 2016, the South Cairo Criminal Court released Sheikh Mahmoud Shaaban and 13 other members of the Salafist Front after they had been accused of inciting protests in late 2014 and joining an illegal group.