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Egyptian academic accused of ‘glorifying Satan’ after teaching Milton’s Paradise Lost

Posted: August 22, 2017 at 2:12 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

An Egyptian university has accused one of its professors of “glorifying Satan” after she taught John Milton’s Paradise Lost to students in her English literature class.

Dr Mona Prince, a lecturer at Suez University, was suspended in February for teaching the epic 17th-century poem, which describes how the Devil tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The university launched an investigation and in its published findings this week it accused the 47-year-old academic of spreading “destructive ideas” to students.

In a long statement the university accused her of “attributing oppression to the person of God, the Just King; for calling for the glorifiying of Satan; for calling for destroying and rejecting that which is sacred in favour of the authority of the human mind in determining its own fate/destiny”.

They also said she challenged the “Egyptian public order, which is based on Islamic shari’a and on the law, in an anarchic call disguised as a comparative literature textual analysis”.

The university said it was giving its findings to local prosecutors in eastern Egypt, who might charge Dr Prince with insulting Islam – a crime that can lead to imprisonment.

“It reminds me of the women accused of being witches in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. I feel like I should be burned now,” Dr Prince told The Telegraph.

Paradise Lost is beautiful, it’s a masterpiece, and I tried to compare it with Arabic literature so it would feel closer to my students. I asked them to read about the image of God and the image of Satan as presented in literary work,” she said.

“We weren’t talking about religion, I made this clear to the students, we don’t discuss religion in the classroom, we are talking about the representation of religious figures in literary works.”

She asked students to compare Paradise Lost to The Last Words of Spartacus, a poem by the Egyptian Amal Dunqul, which also deals with Satan.

Dr Prince said students did not complain when she first taught the course and only filed grievances after being encouraged to do so by her conservative academics at the university.

She said she had been a victim of a coordinated campaign designed to drive her out of the university. In April, a local journalist published a video of her belly dancing and pictures of her drinking beer and wearing a bikini.

The video and photographs were met with scorn by the university. Officials accused her of failing to show “the behaviour and good conduct of a university professor”.

Dr Prince said she had faced discrimination from conservative male academics since she joined the university in 1999.

The university said it had docked a quarter of her salary since she was suspended but Dr Prince said they in fact taken three-quarters of her pay, making it difficult to live at a time of soaring inflation in Egypt.

Her case has been divisive in Egypt, a country of 90 million people and the most populous state in the Middle East.

“Is this a teacher for our young people? It is better for her stay home, she is a source of degradation and abuse,” wrote one man, Mahmoud al-Saman, on Facebook.

Another man, Mohammed Nabil al-Masri, wrote in support of the academic. “Allah is with you, we are living in the society of the Islamic State.”

Dr Prince is due to appear before a disciplinary hearing on August 28, where she will face questions about the allegations against her.



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