On May 21, 12 Christians were given life imprisonment for their participation in an incident where two Muslims and one Christian were killed. Meanwhile, eight Muslim defendants were acquitted, prompting concern that the law was applied in a discriminatory manner. However, Middle East Concern is pleased to report that in mid-July, the Justice Ministry refused to endorse the court’s ruling. While this is good news, we need to continue to pray for the church in Egypt, especially for two young Christian men who remain in prison for “insulting Islam”.
8/3/2012 Egypt (Middle East Concern) – In June we requested prayer for a number of Christians serving jail sentences imposed in unjust circumstances.
One case concerned 12 Christians sentenced to life imprisonment on 21st May for their involvement in disturbances in which two Muslims and a Christian were killed in Abu Qurqas, Minya province, in April 2011. They were convicted of carrying weapons and murder. Eight Muslim defendants were acquitted, prompting concern that the law was applied in a discriminatory manner. Since the sentences were imposed by a State Security Court, the only appeal mechanism is to ask the ruling military council to order a re-trial.
We are pleased to report that in mid-July the ratification office of the Justice Ministry refused to endorse the court’s ruling. The office has sent a memorandum to President Mursi stating that the Minya Court ruling was tainted by error and exaggeration, and that the provisions of the law had not been applied. The memorandum requested the president to either issue a full pardon, order a retrial, or simply disregard the memo.
We regret to report that there are no further developments concerning Makrem Diab or Gamal Abdou Massoud, two Christians serving jail sentences after being convicted of “insulting Islam and its prophet.” Appeals against their convictions were rejected. Recall that Makrem was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after a colleague testified that Makrem had insulted Muhammad during a heated discussion with another teacher. Gamal (aged 17) was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after allegations that cartoons insulting Muhammad appeared on his Facebook page. Both Makrem and Gamal deny any such offensive behaviour.
We regret to report that on 27th July another Christian, Bishoy Kamel from Sohag province, was arrested on suspicion of “insulting Islam and its prophet” after cartoons insulting Muhammad and Egyptian president Mursi appeared on his Facebook page. Bishoy claims that his account was hacked into earlier in July. He has not yet been tried.
Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:
A. Makrem, Gamal, Bishoy and the 12 in Abu Qurqas, together with their families, will know the peace and presence of Jesus throughout these ordeals
B. The 12 from Abu Qurqas will either be pardoned or that a retrial will be ordered and conducted justly
C. A way will be found to challenge Makrem and Gamal’s unjust imprisonment
D. Bishoy will receive a fair trial and the truth will become clear
E. Laws and practice will be changed to grant all Egyptians greater freedom of expression
F. The law will be applied equally to all citizens
G. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.
[Middle East Concern]