The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights condemns the convictions and sentences recently handed down in cases involving the so called “defamation and insult” of Islam.
In the most recent case (no. 350/2015), the Beni Mazar Juvenile Misdemeanor Court sentenced three Coptic students—Muler Atef Daoud, Albert Ashraf, and Bassem Amgad—to five years in prison. A fourth defendant, Clinton Magdi, was placed in a juvenile penal institution when the case was referred to trial. The students had created a video mocking certain practices of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh). In another case, the Edku Misdemeanor Court on February 23 upheld a three-year sentence issued in absentia against Mustafa Abd al-Nabi after he published some religious opinions on his personal Facebook page. The EIPR notes that these sentences are part of a vicious assault on civil liberties and violate citizens’ constitutional rights, most importantly, freedom of religion, opinion, and expression.
The EIPR has documented nine cases since the beginning of 2015 in which 12 defendants, including Copts and Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, as well as atheists, were convicted. More than 11 cases are still pending before the Public Prosecution. Some 14 defendants are charged in these cases under Articles 98(f), 160, and 161 of the Penal Code, which criminalize contempt of religion. Several of the defendants have been detained pending investigation for periods exceeding the legal limit, while others were released on bail. Still other cases are pending that involve administrative sanctions, such as work suspension and docking of wages.