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Christian teacher detained for contempt of Islam

Mina Mehanna

12 May 2013 10:32 pm

Luxor Prosecution has charged the Coptic teacher Dimyana Ebeid Abdel-Nour with contempt of Islam and preaching Christianity. She is being held in custody for 15 days pending investigations

Luxor Prosecution has charged the Coptic teacher Dimyana Ebeid Abdel-Nour with contempt of Islam and preaching Christianity. She is being held in custody for 15 days pending investigations.  
The Coptic teacher had undergone several interrogations in her school in the village of Hager al-Udaisat south of Luxor, the education directorate, and the legal department of Luxor governorate, and she was cleared from charges by all these official bodies. But one fanatic parent took matters a step further and filed a complaint to the prosecution, with the support of two other witnesses. 
Abdel-Nour was summoned to the prosecutor office for investigation. She was detained for four days after three children in her class testified against her, even though ten others testified in her favour. All the children are pupils in the fourth year in the Luxor school where Abdel-Nour works. 
Abdel-Nour went on a hunger strike in protest against the injustice of her detention.
The human rights activist Safwat Samaan condemned the detention of Abdel-Nour, branding it as a move to appease Islamists. The testimonies of the three children who testified against her, he said, did not match and were denied by the other ten other children. The detention ordered by Qena Prosecutor, he said, was a purely political decision. 
Abdel-Nour’s lawyer insists the investigation proves that she in no way disdained Islam. 
The principal of al-Sheikh Sultan Primary school where the teacher works said in his testimony that this complaint against the teacher is a result of a dispute he had with two parents known for their extreme fanaticism and the teacher is only a scapegoat. 
According to the lawyer and rights activist Naguib Gabrail, Abdel-Nour’s is the 18th case of ‘contempt of Islam’ against Christian individuals during the last two years. “Such cases open the door wide towards taking religion as a pretext for unjustly and unduly constraining freedom of expression or to settle accounts in personal disputes.” 
Several Egyptian rights movements, as well as Amnesty International, have vociferously demanded that Abdel-Nour should be released.
Watani International
12 May 2013


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