Sayyid Al-Qemany is an Egyptian writer and intellectual whose work emphasises the importance of secular critical thinking. He believes, for instance, that the Koran should be subject to scholarly study as a historical document.
In 2009 he received Egypt’s highest cultural award, the State Award of Merit Prize for achievement in the field of the social sciences - a decision which didn't go down too well with the Muslim establishment:
Former Egyptian mufti Nasr Farid Wasilo called the decision to award Al-Qimni the prize "a crime against Egypt's Muslim identity." The Islamic association Jabhat 'Ulama Al-Azhar stated that Al-Qimni "has openly blasphemed in a manner that does not lend itself to [any other] interpretation." The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya also attacked Sayyed Al-Qimni. Dar Al-Ifta, Egypt's official fatwa-issuing body, headed by Chief Mufti Dr. 'Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa stating in part:
"The Muslims [believe] unanimously that whoever curses the Prophet or slanders Islam removes himself from the fold of Islam and [from the community] of Muslims, and deserves punishment in this world and torment in the world to come... The statements [from Al-Qimni's writings] quoted by the [individual] who requested the fatwa are heretical, regardless of who wrote them; they remove their author from the fold of Islam... and [also] constitute a crime according to Article 98 of [Egypt's] penal code. If these depraved, loathsome, and invalid statements were indeed made by a specific individual, then this individual should be convicted rather than awarded a prize, and punished to the full extent of the law..."
Shiekh Youssef Al Badri accused him of "deconstructing Islam using eloquent sugar-coated attacks [...] more fatal than Salman Rushdie".
And so on.
Here he is delivering some home truths on Egyptian culture and Islamic stagnation:
"[Islamic] heritage froze a thousand years ago, in the fourth century of Islam. Since then it has not moved forward, has not evolved, and has not renewed itself. Religion still constitutes the main source for the thinking of the regular citizen...
"Just imagine a religion that a thousand years ago stopped adding anything, stopped changing, stopped renewing itself. Therefore the way Muslims think is at complete odds with our times, because they think according to the logic of a thousand years ago. Mankind has evolved and the sciences have progressed in a way that no one could have anticipated. The Muslims find it impossible to grasp and understand this great progress. [...]
"Al-Azhar refused to accuse ISIS of heresy for a very simple reason. If it had done so, ISIS would have said: "Everything we know we learned from you"....
"It is the source of terrorism. Al-Azhar is the enemy of all that is modern."
Al-Azhar is renowned as "Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university".