An 18-year-old Coptic student from the village of Mayana in Ahnasia, Beni Sweif, some 100km south of Cairo, has been detained by the police following some 300 claims against him by the village Muslims for deriding Islam. The teenager, Maher Fayez Habib, had posted material criticising Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, and Muslims on his Facebook page.
Hoping to avert consequent attacks against the village Copts, the village Muslim and Coptic elders held an unofficial gathering Saturday 16 May at the Ahnasia police station. Participating were the heads of the local security authorities as well as local politicians. The Copts apologised for the insult to Islam, and it was decided that the Habib family should leave the village temporarily till matters calm down and justice is served.
According to Ishaq Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a rights group, cases of deriding Islam have risen drastically following the Arab Spring uprising in January 2011. Defendants do not usually get fair trials since the penal code is not well-defined on such charges, Ibrahim says, and also because the fundamentalists terrorise the judges and the courts.
Lawyers admit that accusing Christians of religious contempt on the basis of weak evidence has become commonplace, revealing a serious flaw in Egyptian society and exhibiting a flagrant breach of international law and international human rights treaties.
17 May 2015