An Egyptian journalist's statement sparked outrage among Egypt's hardline Islamists, accusing the journalist of committing "contempt of Islam." Ibrahim Issa, an outspoken critic against Muslim groups, claimed on Friday, February 18, that the Prophet Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem never happened.
Issa claimed that scholars have been debating the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, arguing that some say it never happened. He also accused Muslim preachers who only review texts that affirm those claims as Salafists.
The public prosecutor's office of Egypt launched an investigation against Issa and his alleged campaign against Islam.
During a broadcast on a private television channel, Issa claimed that the "Israa and Miraj" never happened. Muslims consider Israa and Miraj or the Miraculous Night Journey as "the miracle second only to the revelation of the Qur'an."
Issa dismissed it as a "completely delusional story." He then claimed that preachers who only cite literature that support the purported evening excursion and ignore sources that dispute it are subscribers to Salafists' views.
Dar Al-Ifta, Egypt's Islamic advisory and governmental body and considered the highest theological authority, released a statement disputing Issa's claims. According to Dar Al-Ifta, Muhammad's night journey "undoubtedly occurred and cannot be denied in any manner."
In recent years, cases of blasphemy accusations have significantly increased in Egypt. Last month, the Cairo Economic Court ordered a Coptic Christian to five years in prison for an alleged "contempt for Islam."
According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), blasphemy cases have steadily increased since 2011.
Since Issa's alleged contemptuous comments were made via television, Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulation will also launch legal action against Issa for possible violations.