Egyptian Christian convicts guilty of blasphemy
An Egyptian court has convicted a Coptic Christian teacher in guilty of blasphemy but didn't hand down a prison sentence and only imposed a fine on her. Ms.Demiana Ebeid Abdelnour who teaches social science at a primary school in Tout, Luxor, was accused of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad after several parents and pupils complained in April about one of her classes.
What is Blasphemy?
Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious God or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Some countries have laws to punish blasphemy, while others have laws that sanction those who are offended by blasphemy to effect their wrath on blasphemers. Those laws may pardon penalties or revenge for blasphemy under the labels of blasphemous libel, expression of opposition, or criticism of religion or of some religious practices, religious insult or hate speech.
Two independent investigations were conducted by the school council and the Ministry of Education cleared her of any wrongdoing but the case went ahead after lawyers representing parents of one pupil filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office. She denied the charges but was convicted on June 11 by a court in Upper Egypt. The judge fined her 100,000 Egyptian pounds.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Egypt's Christian Community was being disproportionately affected by blasphemy allegations, which can lead to fines and imprisonment.
The Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Mervyn Thomas said he was very concerned that Abdelnour had been prosecuted despite being exonerated by the school and the Ministry of Education. "She appears to be being targeted because she is a Christian. We urge the Egyptian government to respect the rights of its citizens without discrimination," Mervyn said. He added: "We will continue to stand in solidarity with Christians in the Middle East as they work to claim their equal rights as citizens in their respective countries."
Christians are being urged to pray for the church in Egypt and the Middle East on 22 June. The Middle East Day of Prayer is being hosted jointly by CSW and United Action for Egyptian Christians (UAFEC) at Holy Trinity Brompton in London.
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