By AL ARABIYA
A prominent Egyptian preacher, Safwat Hegazi, criticizes Syrian pro-regime protesters for chanting slogans that he says deify President Bashar al-Assad. Hegazi called upon the protesters to repent or be considered apostates.
“What pro-Assad Syrians say about him is beyond no doubt blasphemous because they make a god out of him,” Hegazi said in a phone interview.
Hegazi cited the example of slogans he labeled “unacceptable” in Islam or in any other monotheistic religion, such as “God is in the heavens and Bashar is on earth” and “Angels can defect, but army officers don’t.”
“If those who chanted such slogans are Muslims then they have left Islam by doing so, and if they are not Muslims then they have to be tried for deriding religion. In all cases, I don’t think either Christianity or Judaism would accept that.”
The same, he added, applies to statements like the one made by Syrian actor Hassan Hassan in a phone interview with a satellite channel.
“The Baath Party is my religion and Bashar is my god,” the actor said, according to Hegazi.
When asked about the circumstances under which Syrians who say these statements could be absolved of sin, Hegazi said that none of the possible excuses apply to those people.
“They can be forgiven if they are ignorant, but this is not the case here, since they are all intellectuals and well-educated and they know very well what they are saying,” he said.
They could be acquitted, he explained, if they made their statements while being tortured or placed under extreme pressure.
Hegazi said that Syrians who create an idol of their president should retract their blasphemous statements and repent immediately.
“Repentance should happen at the same place in which the blasphemy was committed and in front of the same people,” he stressed.
Repentant Syrians, he added, should also recite the following Islamic proclamations: there is no god but God and that Mohamed is the prophet of God.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)