Those who confidently predict that Islam will sooner or later reform and become something benign and peaceful should ponder the fate of all genuine reformers — such as Faraj Fouda.
“Slain Egyptian anti-Islamist writer Faraj Fouda remembered,” by Ramadan Al Sherbini for Gulf News, June 12:
Cairo: Twenty-one years after his killing by Muslim radicals, Faraj Fouda, an Egyptian secularist noted for anti-Islamist writings, is remembered as a thinker with a vision for a country where concerns mount over Islamists” rise to power.
“My father expected he would be killed,” said Samar, Fouda’s eldest daughter.
“At that time, he was the only one who exposed Muslim extremists and their shallow interpretation of Islam,” she told the private Egyptian TV station CBC this week.
Samar was 16 years when her father was shot. The militant Jamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group) claimed responsibility, branding Fouda as an apostate.
“My father was an Islamic thinker in the full sense of the word and wholeheartedly defended moderate Islam. I challenge his killers if they could spot a single text in his writings against Islam.”
Fouda, a university professor, triggered a massive controversy and infuriated Islamists in the late 1980s when he went public with advocacy of secularism. He suggested in his books and columns that religion and state affairs be separated, prompting clerics in Al Azhar to accuse him of blasphemy.
Two militants fired at Faraj on June 8, 1992 outside the Cairo-based Egyptian Society for Enlightenment, which he had founded. He sustained serious wounds and died hours later in hospital at the age of 47.
His killers were released last year as part of a pardon for more than 500 inmates issued by Islamist President Mohammad Mursi.
“I cannot understand the reason for this pardon,” said Samar. “The only explanation for this pardon is that the president is pleased with Faraj Fouda’s murder. It would have been better for Mursi to pardon the poor who were thrown into prison for stealing to feed themselves.”
Fouda’s daughter, a member of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, plans to re-publish his books to promote what she calls “thinking of enlightenment”.
“The biggest danger facing grandchildren of Hassan Al Banna will come from Faraj Fouda’s grandchildren.”
Al Banna is the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful Islamist group from which Mursi hails….