Al-Jazeera Journalist on Trial in Egypt Makes Supposedly Offensive Remark against Muslims, Denied Bail

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | April 1, 2014 1:26 PM EST

One of the three journalists who were captured as suspected terrorists in Egypt gave a rather bizarre reason in his defence to prove that he was not a terrorist. The Canadian-Egyptian journalist said that he could not be a terrorist since he consumed alcohol.

REUTERS/Al Youm Al Saabi Newsp
Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian national, stands in a metal cage during his trial in a court in Cairo March 24, 2014. Fahmy is one of several Al Jazeera journalists Egypt put on trial on charges of aiding members of a "terrorist organisation", in a case that human rights groups say shows the authorities are trampling on freedom of expression.

Mohammed Fahmy is one of the three journalists from Al-Jazeera to be on trial. The other two consist of another Canadian-Egyptian Baher Mohammad and Australian Peter Greste. The trial, which has already been criticised heavily on the international level, started on February 20. The Al-Jazeera journalists are among 20 people who are accused of terrorism-related offences. The Egyptian authorities accuse them of providing a helping hand to the Muslim Brotherhood which the Egyptian government has declared as a terrorist organisation. The journalists, on the other hand, insist that they were just doing their job.

Mr Fahmy, along with Mr Greste and Mr Mohammad, was asked to address the judge directly and place his request. He argued that he could not be a terrorist as he consumed alcohol. He asked the judge if the latter had seen any terrorist drink alcohol. Mr Fahmy might not have realised that his argument turned out to be offensive to the community he himself belongs to. While The Guardian quoted Mr Fahmy "as is", most other major media outlets including the BBC and the ABC added the word "Muslim" in Mr Fahmy's sentence to make it sound less offensive.

Mr Fahmy must have meant to ask the judge if he saw any Muslim terrorist drink alcohol. A Muslim is not allowed to consume alcohol, according to Islam. Mr Fahmy, who is a Muslim himself, omitted "Muslim" in his question to the judge and ended up meaning that every terrorist was a Muslim. Even though Mr Fahmy called himself a liberal who consumed alcohol and lived abroad for long, one may wonder how he would justify such a racist remark against the Muslim community around the world.

While none of the Al-Jazeera journalists was allowed bail or release, they have already spent almost 100 days in custody. The United Nations, The European Union, the White House and the Australian government have already demanded the release of the journalists.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Al Youm Al Saabi Newsp / )
Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian national, stands in a metal cage during his trial in a court in Cairo March 24, 2014. Fahmy is one of several Al Jazeera journalists Egypt put on trial on charges of aiding members of a "terrorist organisation", in a case that human rights groups say shows the authorities are trampling on freedom of expression.
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