“Egyptian Christians have requested prayer for two Christians serving jail sentences after being convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad,” Middle East Concern reports.
4/20/2012 Egypt (Middle East Concern) – Egyptian Christians have requested further prayer for two Christians serving jail sentences after being convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad.
On 29th February Makrem Diab was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by a court in Assiut for allegedly insulting Muhammad. The case was initiated by a colleague filing a complaint after a heated discussion between Makrem and another teacher. An appeal was submitted. On 16th March a large mob prevented Makrem’s lawyers from entering the court for an appeal hearing. The hearing was rescheduled for 5th April, and the judge upheld the six year sentence. The lawyers are preparing an appeal to a higher court.
On 4th April Gamal Abdou Massoud (aged 17) was convicted of inciting strife and insulting Muhammad, for which he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was sentenced for posting cartoons on Facebook deemed offensive to Muslims and distributing them to friends at school in Assiut province. He denies posting the cartoons, but the allegations in December 2011 led to violent protests in neighbouring villages that lasted for two days. Several Christian homes were burned and several Christians were injured during the protests. An appeal has been submitted and a hearing is scheduled for 7th May.
In both cases, the laws they were convicted under have been on the statute book for many years but were rarely applied during the Mubarak era. The stricter application of these laws in recent months reflects a hardening attitude towards freedom of expression in some parts of Egypt.
Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:
1. Makrem and Gamal will be acquitted
2. They and their families will know the presence and peace of Jesus throughout these ordeals
3. Laws and practice will be changed to grant all Egyptians greater freedom of expression
4. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.