Thursday, December 3, 2020

Egypt cracks down on blasphemy in wave of arrests

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Nov 20, 2020 In the previous few days, a number of arrest warrants have been issued for Egyptian Christians accused of insulting Islam. A younger Muslim man was additionally detained for mocking the hosts of the Cairo-based Holy Quran Radio Station. These circumstances have sparked a debate about blasphemy and renewed calls to abolish the crime from Egyptian legislation.  On Nov. 11, the Supreme State Security Prosecution investigated two Christians — Ayman Rida Hanna and Mounir Masaad Hanna — and referred them to felony court docket on the grounds of mocking Islam and insulting faith. Amr al-Qadi, one among a workforce of attorneys for the 2 defendants, instructed Al-Monitor concerning the case. He stated, “The security forces arrested them in June 2019 after they appeared in a video discussing prayer in Islam.” He added, “The two men remained in pre-trial detention until the prosecution [charged them] despite our repeated calls to release them.” In one other incident, a Christian trainer and a Muslim lady had been arrested Nov. 11 within the coastal Ismailia governorate over feedback on Facebook posts that safety forces described as “insult and contempt of religion.”  The subsequent day, Nov. 12, the general public prosecution ordered the arrest of the trainer, recognized as Youssef Hani, and the lady, who goes by the identify Sandosa on Facebook, on fees of blasphemy.  In a Nov. 14 assertion to Al-Monitor, Makarios Lahzy, director of the Minority and Religious Groups division of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, stated, “The lawyers appealed the detention order and their appeal was accepted. A decision to release them on bail was issued, and investigation in the case will continue until their trial.” Lahzy added, “I was among the lawyers who volunteered to defend the Christian man and the Muslim girl. … We asked for the charges to be dropped, as the charges they are facing are unconstitutional.” Article 98 (F) of the Criminal Code of Egypt penalizes “ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it.” Lahzy stated the article is unconstitutional, explaining, “It does not clearly and expressly define contempt of or defamation and leaves the notion loose and unreliable.” Youssef and Sandosa had been simply two of many who had been detained just lately and charged with insulting faith. Young Muslim comedian Mohammad Ashraf was just lately detailed for mocking the hosts of the Holy Quran Radio Station throughout his stand-up comedy present. On Nov. 13, the general public prosecution arrested Ashraf on fees of “insulting Islam and threatening Egyptian family values and insulting the hosts of the radio station, in addition to publishing content that threatens social peace and security and vilifies the station.” A rights activist who works on such circumstances instructed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity, “The Egyptian authorities have recently been expanding their detention or prosecution of citizens on charges of blasphemy.” He added, “We are currently working on a bill to amend the blasphemy article in an effort to stop the imprisonment of citizens based on comments or sarcastic videos, because this violates freedom of expression. After completing this amendment, we will submit it to the parties concerned and the Supreme Constitutional Court for review.”

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