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Court Orders Detention of Coptic Man Accused of Defaming Islam

by Al-Masry Al-Youm | 3 August 2012

A court in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag on Wednesday has renewed for 15 days the detention of a Coptic man accused of defaming Islam and insulting the Prophet Mohamed.

Bishoy Kamil Gergis was arrested following a complaint in which he was accused of posting opinions in Facebook that insult Islam and the prophet, state-run news agency MENA reported.
On Wednesday, the court began hearing the case amid a large Islamist presence, MENA added.
Mohamed Safwat, who filed the complaint against Gergis, told investigators last month that Gergis had sent him more than 50 photos of animals such as pigs and dogs captioned with the phrase, “Mohamed the prophet of Muslims.”
Insulting Islam and the prophet is considered a crime in Egypt under Article 98(f) of the Penal Code.
The article states: “Confinement for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years… shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever makes use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.”
Human rights activists say that this article poses a threat to freedom of expression, adding that it has been used to suppress dissident voices.
Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, a founder of the liberal Free Egyptians party, faced charges of defaming Islam after he posted pictures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing Islamic clothing on Twitter.
Renowned comedic actor Adel Imam was also brought to court on charges of “contempt of religion,” and he was convicted in February to three months in jail.
Last May, the Assiut Court of Appeals upheld a three year sentence against a 16-year-old Christian student for posting a drawing on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohamed.
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