Egyptian journalist Fatima Naout said, in a January 30, 2016 interview on CBC TV, that Egypt's persecution of journalists and intellectuals for exercising free speech constitutes terrorism. Naout, who was later sentenced to three years' imprisonment for blasphemy for statements she had made on another occasion, said that even if Egyptian President Al-Sisi were to pardon her, she would refuse to accept it, as "I have done nothing wrong." "A nation that trembles before its columnists is heading for destruction," she said.
Following are excerpts:
Fatima Naout: This [blasphemy] law was intended to protect Christians against the growing strength of the extremist and racist Islamists. Now this law is like a noose around the neck of whom? First, the Christians, and second, the enlightened intellectuals.
I said that if the president pardoned me, I would refuse to accept it.
Interviewer: Why? He has the authority to do this as a president.
Fatima Naout: True. But I don't think
that I have done anything wrong. A pardon is given to a guilty person.
Fatima Naout: Exactly. I'm not guilty.
Fatima Naout: The state is fighting terrorists, but it is not fighting terrorism.
Interviewer: It is fighting the terrorists, but not terrorism...
Fatima Naout: That's right.
Interviewer: What is the difference?
Fatima Naout: Please explain this to me. Terrorism is an ideology. My imprisonment is terrorism. The imprisonment of Islam Behery is terrorism. The imprisonment of anyone
who writes his opinion is terrorism. The persecution of columnists constitutes terrorism. Terrorism is an ideology, not just a pistol.
A nation that trembles before its columnists
is heading for destruction. It is a weak, collapsing nation. If you intimidate the elite, the writers, they will imitate rather than write. We will become pawns moved by someone. We will become just like the Muslim Brotherhood.