In an interview with the Egyptian ON TV channel, screenwriter and film producer Mohamed El Adl criticized the recent arrests of liberal scholars in Egypt on blasphemy charges. El Adl said that the Islamic movement is stronger than President Al-Sisi and that despite the president’s repeated statements about the necessity to reform the religious discourse, Egypt is on its way to becoming a religious state. The interview aired on February 22, 2016
Following are excerpts
Mohamed El Adl: The fundamentalists and the Salafis are ruling [Egypt]. We try to trump them by saying: Don't worry, we are even more [religious] than you. no advanced country puts a man on trial for a book that he wrote – not even a semi-advanced or a quarter-advanced country. No one should be placed on trial for an idea that he articulated. When Galileo was placed on trial, it was for an idea, and 100 years later, it turned out that he was right. No one should be placed on trial for his ideas.
Is it conceivable that in a country in which the president talks about reforming the religious discourse, a man like Islam Al-Buhairi is sent to prison? If so, what does "reforming the religious discourse" mean? Does it mean that we should accept it as is, or that we should discuss it? We are on our way to becoming a country that is less than… We are not a civilized country, let me say this loud and clear…
Interviewer: We trample over civilization.
Mohamed El Adl: We trample over it and over the law violently. A country that disregards the law and the constitution is not a real country. I'm still saying that we are on our way to becoming a religious state.
Interviewer: Is this how you see it?
Mohamed El Adl: Yes, of course.
Interviewer: Will the president, who has talked time and again about the need to adapt the religious discourse to reality, to renew it, to develop it, to change it, and to make it more logical… Will he confront the religious state? Isn't this the same person who was the defense minister in 2013, and who supported the Egyptian people's decision on June 30, July 7, and so on? Isn't he the right man to stop the emergence of a reactionary religious state?
Mohamed El Adl: It's clear that the [Islamic] movement is stronger than him.
Mr. President, pay more attention to the people. Take it from me. Goodbye.