A lawyer representing three Christian students says his clients are facing charges of insulting Islam and will stand trial this week after appearing in a video mocking Muslim prayers. The Lawyer, Maher Naguib, from the southern city of Minya, told The Associated Press on Monday that the students, all in high school, will stand trial on Thursday.
In addition, the students’ teacher, who is also a Coptic Christian, was tried separately over the same charges. He fled the town and was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment in absentia last year. Naguib said he will appeal that conviction. The government says that the students appeared in a video pretending to pray and reciting Quranic verses. Christians make up only about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
Sources say that due to the upswing in radical Islamic activity over the last year, Egypt has seen a surge in blasphemy charges against non-Muslims. Opinions are split as to whether the increased number of charges are a result of and increase in the actual number of offences or if the mood of the citizenry is such that they are not as liberal as they were just 16 months ago. At that time, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed to modernize religious discourse in an attempt to modernize the Islamic religion in the country.
Since that time, the country has seen affiliates of ISIS and other extremist Islamic groups try to put a strangle hold on the tourist sector of the economy and physical attacks by terrorists on government forces have been on a steady rise.
©2016 R. L. Grimes