Separating myths from reality: Egypt’s heated religious debates


Last week, the privately owned Egyptian satellite channel Al-Qaherah wal Nas decided to pull the controversial talk show “With Islam” at Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh’s request. The show’s host, Islam al-Beheiry, is a controversial figure in Egypt because of his candid views and biting criticism of what he describes as the unchallenged Islamic heritage passed on since medieval times, which is still used to justify many regressive practices. The channel announced the show’s withdrawal after Al-Azhar filed a lawsuit demanding its cancellation.

The decision also followed the airing of a long, heated TV debate between Islam Beheiry and two mainstream Islamic scholars (one from al-Azhar) on another TV channel (CBC TV), in which various contentious issues regarding Islamic theology were discussed for the first time on such a forum. The debate ended without any common ground being reached between the two sides, and left many in the audience baffled and frustrated.

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