Farag Foda (Egyptian Arabic: فرج فوده, IPA: [ˈfɑɾɑɡ ˈfoːdæ] or [-ˈfuːdæ]; 1946 – 8 June 1992), sometimes spelled as Faraj Fawda, was a prominent Egyptian professor, writer, columnist, and human rights activist.
Based in Cairo, Foda was noted for his critical articles and trenchant satires about Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt. In many newspaper articles, he pointed out weak points in Islamist ideology. Foda felt that he was defending Islam against its distortion by Islamists. Shortly before he was assassinated, he had mocked an ongoing dispute among ulamas about sex in paradise. That discussion had ensued after Egypt's most popular preacher, Abd al-Hamid Kishk, had told "his audience that Muslims who entered paradise would enjoy eternal erections and the company of young boys draped in earrings and necklaces."
On 8 June 1992, Foda, after leaving his office, was shot dead by two Islamic fundamentalists. His son and other bystanders were seriously wounded in the attack. The jihadist group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya claimed responsibility.
Before his death, Farag Foda had been accused of blasphemy by Al-Azhar. The Al-Azhar ulamas had thereby adopted a previous fatwā by Sheikh al-Azhar, Jadd al-Haqq, accusing Foda and other secularist writers of being "enemies of Islam". Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya explicitly referred to the Al-Azhar fatwā when claiming responsibility. An Al-Azhar scholar, Mohammed al-Ghazali, later asserted as a witness before the court that it was not wrong to kill an apostate. Al-Ghazali said: "The killing of Farag Foda was in fact the implementation of the punishment against an apostate which the imam (the Islamic leader in Egypt) has failed to implement." 8 of the 13 Islamists accused in the murder were subsequently acquitted.
One of those involved in Foda's murder, Abu El'Ela Abdrabu (Abu Al-'Ela Abd Rabbo), was released from prison in 2012 under Mohamed Morsi's government having served his sentence. In an interview which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on June 14, 2013 (as translated by MEMRI), Abdrabu defended Foda's murder, stating that "The punishment for an apostate is death, even if he repents" and that "...[if] the ruler does not implement the shari'a, any of the citizens is entitled to carry out Allah's punishment." Abdrabu also stated that "Farag Foda is dead, and will receive his just desserts in the Hereafter." When asked about the feelings of Foda's children, Abdrabu accused the interviewer of using "venomous methods" against him, and then stated "let me ask you if you were not harmed by someone who cursed the Prophet and his wives? What gives you greater pain and sorrow? If you say that it is Farag Foda, then you should reexamine your faith."
Foda's eldest daughter has rebutted the claims about her father's alleged apostasy, stating: "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."
Farag Foda has written 12 books in Arabic:
- The Absent Truth
- Discussion on Sharia
- The Harbinger
- Were is Sectarianism Going?
- Before The Fall – 1st Print 1985. 2nd Print 1995
- Discussion on Secularism – 1st Print 1993. 2nd Print 2005
- The Warning – 1st Print 1989. 2nd Print 2005
- The Played With – 1st Print 1985. 2nd Print 2004
- To Be or Not to Be – 1st Print 1988. 2nd Print 2004
- Pleasure Marriage – 1st Print 1990. 2nd Print 2004
- The Game
- So the words will not be in the air
Notes and references
- "DOCUMENT - EGYPT: HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY ARMED GROUPS". amnesty.org. Amnesty International. September 1998. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Miller, Judith (1997). God Has Ninety-Nine Names: Reporting From a Militant Middle East. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone. pp. 25–26. Lay summary – New York Times.
- Soage, Ana Belén (2007). "Faraj Fawda, or the Cost of Freedom of Expression". Middle East Review of International Affairs 11 (2): 26–33.
- de Waal, Alex (2004). Islamism and Its Enemies in the Horn of Africa. C. Hurst & Co. p. 60.
- Bar, Shmuel (2008). Warrant for Terror: The Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty to Jihad. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 16, footnote 8.
- Darwish, Nonie (2008). Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law. Thomas Nelson. p. 144.
- Brown, Nathan J. (1997). The Rule of Law in the Arab World: Courts in Egypt and the Gulf. Cambridge University Press. p. 99.
- Egyptian Islamist Justifies His Assassination of Secularist Intellectual Farag Foda in 1992, MEMRITV.org, Clip No. 3926 (transcript), 14 June 2013 (video clip available here)
- Al Sherbini, Ramadan (12 June 2013). "Slain Egyptian anti-Islamist writer Faraj Fouda remembered". Gulf News.
- Ana Belén Soage (2007). "Faraj Fawda, or the Cost of Freedom of Expression". Middle East Review of International Affairs 11 (2): 26–33.