Egypt: Writer's attack on Islamic animal sacrifice causes uproar on Facebook

Egyptian columnist Fatma Naoot launched a scathing attack, in a post on her Facebook page, on the ritual slaughtering of sheep as part of the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice [Eid al-Adha], causing an uproar among her fellow citizens on the social networking site.

Naoot is a secular writer whose outspoken views against Islamists and religious-based discrimination against women and non-Muslim minorities have won her enemies in her socially conservative country.

Naoot wrote: “Yet another massacre. In a short while, millions of innocent animals will be taken to their death, in the most heinous massacre, which humans have continued to commit every year for over 10 centuries.”

“The massacre is repeated every year because of a bad dream that struck a righteous man [Abraham] and this bad dream was about his righteous son [Ishmael].

“The righteous man, his son and their God got over the bad dream but the tradition of slaughtering animals continues unabated for no reason other than that holy nightmare.”

Here’s a sample of the comments on Naoot’s post.

An angry Egyptian man published what he said were Naoot’s birthdate and other personal data like her home address, cell phone number, bank account number and email address.

He urged his Facebook friends to give a “befitting reply”to her post.

He reviled her for “describing Prophet Abraham’s vision as a righteous man’s nightmare, calling Muslims barbaric and putting Buddhism and Zoroastrianism on a par with the holy Koran”.

He went on to say: “To those who will raise the banner of freedom ofexpression in defence of her remarks, I say ‘you’d better shut up’ because her comments amount to contempt of religion.”

“When it comes to religion, no joking is permitted and there is zero tolerance of criticism. It is our silence on such matters that allows this woman and her likes to go too far in their criticism of our faith. From now on, I will deal firmly with anyone who dares insult my faith.”

A woman commented: “You see nothing wrong in calling a Prophet of the stature of Abraham a righteous man; judging by your choice of words, I’m fairly certain that you won’t stop even at calling Prophet Mohammed, the messenger of God, a righteous man. Being a vegetarian does not give you the right to openly mock and deride Muslims’ traditions.”

Another woman wrote: “You are a disgrace to Egyptian women of all faiths. May God forgive you; I advise you to return to your faith.”

In a supportive comment, a woman said: “May God help you, Fatma. You are ahead of your time.”

 An angry man wrote: “You insulted a prophet chosen and blessed by God. You despicable creature; in some countries, you would be killed for saying that.”

In response to a deluge of angry comments, Naoot posted a statement on Facebook, apologizing “for having used three terms—massacre, righteous man and nightmare—in a literary context, inadvertently offending some people”.

“I wish those people had a sense of fairness and could exercise reason when reading my post, which should be read as a literary commentary, not as a newspaper article.”

“I take pride in having read the Koran in-depth many times and in having memorised parts of it. Not only did I read the Torah and the Bible at an early age, I also studied the celestial [Abrahamic] religions and read a great deal about man-made philosophies like Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Taoism.”

“Despite being a Muslim well versed in the Koran, I pick from other philosophies (I don’t call them religious beliefs] what suits my psychological makeup. For this reason, following the Buddhist and Zoroastrian traditions, I believe it is wrong to kill living beings. Even though I don’t grasp the concept of the spilling of blood, including of animals and birds--permitted in Islam and other Abrahamic faiths--I neither deny people’s right to practice animal sacrifice nor do I challenge the sacredness of this ritual.”

“Nonetheless, I cannot observe this tradition just in the same way that some Muslim men don’t practice polygamy although it is permitted in Islam.”

Naoot dismissed accusations of apostasy and heathenism and obscenities levelled at her as the work of “semi-illiterate people” who lack knowledge of basic grammar rules and word usage.

“That is the mindset of those who want to exterminate all those who differ with them in opinion. Lying dormant inside every Arab is an ISIS mindset,”Naoot wrote.

“Every minute, I receive insulting text messages and obscene comments on Facebook and Twitter, calling me a whore, a slut and a barren woman. Those obscenities are hurled at me by the guardians of Islam, the self-proclaimed defenders of the faith.”

“The above statement is addressed, not to those with an ISIS mindset, who fill the cyberspace with screams and obscenities, but to my respectful readers who were baffled by what I had to deal with.”