Dr. Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, a prominent Egyptian scholar once accused of apostasy for his contemporary interpretation of Islam, has died on July 5, 2010. He was 66. Officials at the Cairo hospital where Abu Zeid had been receiving treatment for the past two weeks said he died Monday from a brain infection.
Calling him her hero, Mona ElTahawy reposted an article she wrote about him and his strife in 1996:
An Egyptian court on Monday threw its weight behind Islamists by upholding a ruling that a happily married university professor must divorce his wife because he was found to have renounced Islam.
A human rights group, saying it feared for the life of Arabic professor Nasr Abu Zeid, urged President Hosni Mubarak to overturn the “unjust” decision by Cairo’s Court of Cassation.
The court rejected Abu Zeid’s appeal against a ruling ordering his separation from fellow academic Ibtihal Younis.
Abu Zeid and Younis moved to the Netherlands earlier this year to take up teaching posts. The Court of Cassation is the last stop for appeals in Egypt and court sources say if the couple ever return to Cairo they will have to separate.
Abu Zeid has argued he is still a Moslem and has accused mainstream Islamic clerics of quoting the Koran out of context and of making even simple factual errors. Younis has criticised the fundamentalists for treating her like a child by interfering in her private affairs.
Moftah quoted correspondent Hend Adel and wondered:
Voice of Egypt lamented Dr. Abu Zeid's sudden death:
لم أجد كلام أفضل من ما قاله مينا زكري علي تويتر:
مات من رفض السلطة المطلقة للنصوص ورفض تغييب العقل…. مات من آثر انتهاج التفكير في زمن التكفير… مات من فرقوا بينه وبين زوجته بسبب أفكاره،.. مات من طفشوه الكلاب من البلد… مات نصر حامد أبو زيد
He who rejected the notion of the absoluteness of the scripts and the opium of the minds has died! He who gave in to his mind at a time when everyone gave up their minds has died! He who was separated from his wife over his ideas has died! He was was forced into exile has died! Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid has died!
Desert Cat wrote a post titled An enlightened page is torn:
قتلوا بجهلهم فرج فودة فصفق لهم اعوانهم من الجهلاء وكانت اسلحة المثقفين هى القلم فظنوا انه سلاح الضعف فنصبوا من انفسهم أمراء إفتاء ورجال إدعاء وقضاة حكم بالتكفير والقتل .. اعتدوا على نجيب محفوظ فكانت الحق أقوى منهم .. حتى اليوم يحاولون جاهدون قتل أى إبداع فى مهده فتصدى لهم نصر حامد ابو زيد بثقافته ورجاحة عقله .. الأن فقط أتسائل لماذا كل من نحبهم يرحلون وكل من يسعون لتقدم ورقى هذا الوطن يذهبون ؟ هل كتب عليكى يا بلادى ان تحيى دائماً وسط جهلاء لا يفكرون ولا يتدبرون ؟ يمثلون ادوار بهلاونية فى العلن وفى الخفاء للشيطان حلفاء
When I read his words, I cannot help but wish that Egyptians had half his brain. He is a man of true genius and creativity. He endured the hardships imposed on him by ignorant delusional creatures who assumed guardianship over the world. I truly wonder who gave them the right to judge literary work when they are far from knowledgeable! In a time when darkness prevailed, they feared his enlightened mind; they accused him of atheism, and separated him from his wife.
With their ignorance they killed Farag Fouda, assaulted Naguib Mahfouz, and exiled Dr. Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid – they are all dead now! I wonder why the enlightened leaves are the ones that fall! My beloved country is destined to be the home of ignorant parasites who entertain us with mediocre clownish performances of virtue when we all know that they are the true allies of the devil.
Dr. Sherif Hafez wrote for Middle East Youth saying: