Egypt’s Attorney General has decided to indict a well-known cleric who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, the Muslim messiah. Sheikh Abdullah Nasser, also known as Sheikh Mizo, has been charged with national security offenses.
An investigation was launched after a lawyer, Amru Abdelsalam, filed a complaint against him. Speaking to Al Arabiyya TV, he said that Mizo’s statement spread confusion and violated the law banning the defamation of religions.
“His proclamation that he was the messiah is a crime that was committed while exploiting religion and for the purpose of disseminating ideas that undermine Islam and sow divisions among Muslims, and also undermine Egypt’s national unity and social cohesion,” he said.
Abdelsalem said that Mizo contravened article 98 of Egypt’s penal code, which “imposes a prison sentence of six months to five years as well as a 1,000 Egyptian pounds fine (US$600) on anyone who exploits religion for the purpose of disseminating, whether orally or in writing, radical ideas that are meant to sow divisions or undermine monotheistic religions or communities of believers.”
He also suggested sending the sheikh for a psychiatric evaluation.
Despite much criticism, Sheikh Mizo remained defiant and defended his position that he is indeed the messiah.
Mizo, an unconventional Islamic cleric, is no stranger to controversy. He is remembered for saying, in opposition to a sweeping Islamic consensus, that extramarital sexual intercourse does not amount to prostitution.
Once, during a televised debate, another panelist threw his shoe at Sheikh Mizo after Mizo said that belly dancing in minimal attire is not forbidden, and that a belly dance outfit is preferable to a niqab.