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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Egyptian 'infidel' case dismissed
Nawal el-Saadawi and her husband Sharif Hatata
Dr el-Saadawi must still fight a criminal libel case
An Egyptian court has dismissed an attempt to have an Egyptian feminist writer forcibly divorced from her husband.

Muslim lawyer Nabih el-Wahsh, who brought the case, alleged that outspoken novelist Nawal el-Saadawi had committed apostasy - renunciation of Islam - in a newspaper interview in March.

A victory for free thought and expression

Dr el-Saadawi
Under Islamic law, an apostate cannot be married to a Muslim.

But the Cairo Family Affairs Tribunal ruled that no individual had the right to bring such a case.

Dr el-Saadawi, 70, told the Associated Press news agency that the court's ruling was "a victory for free thought and expression".

She said she and her husband of 37 years, Egyptian intellectual Sharif Hatata, had "survived this ordeal through...resistance, firmness and refusal to yield to the mentality of the dark ages".

'Quoted out of context'

Mr el-Wahsh brought the action after Dr el-Saadawi was quoted by an Egyptian weekly newspaper Al-Midan as saying that the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca was "a vestige of a pagan practice" and that Muslim inheritance laws which favour males should be abolished.

Dr el-Saadawi's lawyers told the court that the writer's comments had been taken out of context.

The newspaper, for its part, has filed a criminal libel case against Dr el-Saadawi, for alleging that her statements had not been reported accurately.

An earlier attempt by Mr el-Wahsh to have Dr el-Saadawi charged with insulting Islam was rejected by the Egyptian prosecutor general in April this year.

Mr el-Wahsh told the Associated Press that he intended to challenge the court's verdict, although under Egyptian law the ruling cannot be appealed.

The BBC's Heba Saleh
"The nightmare is now over"
See also:

09 Jul 01 | Middle East
Egypt apostasy trial adjourned
09 Jul 01 | Middle East
Court to hear Egypt apostasy case
24 Apr 01 | Middle East
Egyptian writer faces apostasy trial
18 May 00 | Middle East
Egypt blasphemy row deepens
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