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  • » 09/19/2012, 00.00

    EGYPT

    As Coptic teacher is jailed for insulting President Morsi, the Arab Spring enters its twilight



    Bishoy Kamel gets two years in prison for posting a Muhammad cartoon on Facebook, and three for insulting President Morsi. Not since the king's era did anyone get such punishment. Moderate Muslims are now wondering if the authorities would defend Christian symbols as forcefully as they do Muslim ones.

    Cairo (AsiaNews) - Christians and moderate Muslims are concerned and shocked by the six-year sentence inflicted on Bishoy Kamel, a Christian teacher who posted online satirical cartoons on Islam on 30 July, and allegedly insulted Egypt's president. In front of the courthouse where the trial was held, hundreds of Salafists gathered ready to lynch the offender. Sources close to Kamel's family say that he was beaten in prison. The sentence was passed yesterday, but Kamel's lawyers have already appealed for a retrial by a less biased court.

    Nagui Damian, a young Catholic Coptic activist, and a leader in the Jasmine Revolution, told AsiaNews that the sentence has shaken Christians and Muslims, who are afraid of some peculiar positions taken by the president. The last time someone got three years in jail for insulting the head of state, King Farouk was still in power. He was overthrown in 1952.

    Nagui Damian said that many Muslims protested and wrote letter to newspapers and online forums, saying that six years in prison for posting cartoons offensive to Islam and insulting President Mohammed Morsi was too much.

    During his 30 years of power, even Mubarak was more indulgent. In 2007, a young blogger, Kareem Amer, got only one year for insulting the president.

    Other cases involving insults to Islam or the president were settled with fines or a few months in jail.

    In the recent wave of anti-American demonstrations caused by the blasphemous Muhammad tape, some Muslim journalists have asked whether the same punishment would have been inflicted on someone who insulted the symbols of other religions, like Christianity.

    For the moment, police arrested another activist, Albert Saber, who posted the blasphemous movie trailer online.

    According to Nagui Damian, religious minorities and moderate Muslims must speak out to stop Islamists from influencing international organisations and hijack the Jasmine Revolution.

    "All Coptic religious authorities have criticised the offensive acts against the Islamic religion. For every Egyptian, Christian or Muslim, insulting religion is a shameful act that must be punished, but there must be impartiality. For this reason, it makes no sense to ask the United Nations to adopt a law on Islamophobia as some Muslim leaders have suggested. The Egyptian state and the International community must defend all religions, not one in particular."

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    See also

    04/01/2013 EGYPT
    Al-Azhar rejects Salafist threats, extends Christmas greetings to Orthodox Copts
    Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam al-Azhar, makes the announcement during a meeting with Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II. Coptic community prepares for Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.

    13/03/2013 EGYPT - LIBYA
    Benghazi, Coptic Christians denounce torture and attempts to convert them to Islam
    44 of the 48 Christian vendors arrested in the market of Benghazi in February on charges of proselytizing have returned home. The Salafis forced them to say the prayer of conversion to Islam and spit on the images of Pope Shenouda III. Four of them are still in the hands of the Libyan police.

    08/05/2011 EGYPT - ISLAM
    At least 9 dead and two churches burned near Cairo
    Clashes at the church of St. Mina in north-east of the capital. Church of the Virgin Mary and the Al Azra burnt. Hundreds injured. The Salafists have accused the Coptic Church of holding women who have converted to Islam prisoners.

    07/05/2012 EGYPT
    Soldiers and ordinary citizens together against Muslim extremists
    After last Friday's clashes, calm prevails in front of Egypt's Defence Ministry building. Hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups defy the curfew and demonstrate. Catholic Church spokesman fears a new escalation of violence ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.

    02/05/2012 EGYPT
    Clashes between demonstrators, soldiers and hooligans leave 11 dead, 50 wounded
    Unknown people attacked this morning a sit-in involving Salafists and members of pro-democracy movements in front of Egypt's Defence Ministry in Cairo. When the military moved in to quell the unrest, deploying armoured vehicles and firing tear gas, mayhem followed. Egypt's 23 May presidential is now in jeopardy.



    Editor's choices

    VATICAN
    Pope: together with the faithful in China on 24 May to celebrate Our Lady of Sheshan



    During the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis speaks about the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, instituted by Benedict XVI. Chinese Catholics must make a “personal contribution to communion among believers and to harmony in the whole society." AsiaNews Symposium on the Church in China is set for this week. Francis appeals for peace in the Central African Republic, and for loving “one another following the example of the Lord”. For him, “Sometimes conflicts, pride, envy, and divisions leave a blotch on the beautiful face of the Church.” Five new cardinals will be named, including a bishop from Laos.


    VATICAN-CHINA
    May 24, 2017: 'China, the Cross is Red', AsiaNews Symposium

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The event will be held to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. A title with many meanings: the Cross is red from the blood of the martyrs; From attempts to suffocate the faith with state control; Bceause of the contribution of hope that Christianity gives to a population tired of materialism and consumerism that is seeking new moral criteria. The theme is also about the great and unexpected religious rebirth in the country. Guests to include: Card. Pietro Parolin, Msgr. Savio Hon, the sociologist of religions Richard Madsen, the testimonies of Chinese priests and laity.


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