The Luxor Misdemeanours Court has condemned the Coptic teacher Demiana Abdel-Nour, charged with contempt of Islam, to a fine of EGP100,000. Abdel-Nour had been accused by hardline Islamists in the Luxor village of Naj al-Sheikh Sultan in Luxor of having made a gesture disdainful of Islam
The Luxor Misdemeanours Court has condemned the Coptic teacher Demiana Abdel-Nour, charged with contempt of Islam, to a fine of EGP100,000. Abdel-Nour had been accused by hardline Islamists in the Luxor village of Naj al-Sheikh Sultan in Luxor of having made a gesture disdainful of Islam, and to have said that she regarded the late Pope Shenouda III to be better than the Prophet Muhammad.
Abdel-Nour denied the charges, as did her supervisors at the school she works in and the majority of the pupils in her class. Only the parents of three pupils made the claim against her.
The sentence has been widely criticised by Copts, who regard it as an appeasement of radical Islamists, especially given that the court refused to summon the defence witnesses for testimony. Abdel-Nour’s lawyers said they would appeal the case.
Abdel-Nour comes form a family with very limited means, the fine sum of EGO100,000 for them is a fortune impossible to attain. Her bail of EGP10,000 was paid by money borrowed from one of Luxor’s wealthy Copts.
The human rights activist Safwat Samaan of the NGO Watan Bila Hudoud (Homeland Without Barriers) said the ruling against Abdel-Nour marked the most recent case in the unending series of treading on the rights of Copts to appease hardline Islamists. He said the refusal of the court to listen to the witnesses whose testimony would have proved Abdel-Nour’s innocence: the school principle, the director of the educational directorate the school is affiliated to, and the head of the board of trustees of the school; was evidence of the systematic discrimination against Copts. The Islamists in Luxor made a show of force every time the court was in session, by mobilising huge numbers of them inside and outside the courthouse to call for the defence of Islam.
The testimony of the school principle Mustafa Mekki can be found at:
“The charge used to tyrannise Copts: Disdain of Islam”
11 June 2013