Egypt jails Christian students for insulting Islam

Snapshot from the students' video (facebook)

Snapshot from the students’ video (facebook)

Four Coptic Christian school students, ages 15 and 16, have been sentenced on Thursday 25th February by a Minya court to five years in jail on charges of contempt of religion.

Minya’s Juvenile Misdemeanor Court sentenced Mueller Atef, Albert Ashraf, and Bassem Amgad to five years in jail, and Clinton Magdy to juvenile custody for five years. Those verdicts can still be appealed.

According to Al-Ahram, the case against the four boys stems back to a legal complaint filed in 2015 by some Muslim residents in Nasiriyah village in Minya which accused a Coptic teacher and five of his students of insulting Islam.

The court convicted four of the five boys on the contempt of religion charges based on a video clip shot of them by their teacher in February 2015 during a trip organised by the Evangelical church.

In the video, the boys are seen mocking members of the Islamic State group beheading an individual after the militants finish Islamic prayers. One teenager can be seen kneeling on the ground and reciting Muslim prayers while others stand behind him, laughing.

 

On 30 January 2016, the boys’ teacher, Gad Youssef Younan, was concicted of contempt of religion for shooting the clip, and sentenced to three years in jail.

Egypt’s constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognised by the state, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Copts, who comprise up to 10 percent of the country’s 90-million population, are the Middle East’s largest religious minority. They have long suffered sectarian violence including attacks on churches.

In 2014, a Coptic Christian teacher was jailed for six months after parents of her students accused her of evangelising and of insulting Islam.

In a separate case the same year, a Coptic man was sentenced to six years for insulting Islam, after posting a picture of Mohammed on his Facebook page with an insulting comment.

Thursday’s judgement comes a month after female writer Fatima Naoot was jailed for three years for insulting Islam after she criticised the slaughter of animals during a major religious festival.

And in December, an Egyptian court jailed controversial Muslim scholar Islam al-Behairy for one year for remarks he made on his television programme, in which he called for reforms in “traditional Islamic discourse”.

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