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ICC Note: Three Christians have been sentenced to jail on charge of blasphemy and disturbing the peace. Kerolos, a 29 year old Egyptian, was imprisoned for liking a Christian Facebook page that seen as offensive to Muslims. Demiana, a school teacher in Egypt, was sentenced for insulting Islam during a lesson at school. Others in Egypt have been accused of converting to Christianity.

07/02/14 Egypt (Barnabas Aid) – Three Egyptian Christians have been sentenced to jail in separate cases: two charged under Egypt’s “blasphemy” law, the other accused of “disturbing the peace” by broadcasting information related to anti-Christian violence.

The two blasphemy cases involve Kerolos Shouky Attallah (29), who was said to have defamed Islam by “liking” a Facebook page deemed offensive by Muslims, and Demiana Ebeid Abdelnour (25), a school teacher who was accused of insulting Islam during a lesson.

Kerolos was sentenced to six years in prison on 24 June, having been found guilty of two offences under the Egyptian Penal Code, Article 98F, defaming a divinely revealed religion, and Article 176, inciting sectarian violence. He will appeal against the verdict.

He was accused after clicking the “like” button on a Facebook page run by a group of converts from Islam to Christianity, the Knights of the Cross. The page features posts about Christian and Islamic teachings and is intended to encourage Arabic-speaking converts from Islam in their faith. Kerolos did not add any content to the page or interact with posts by others.

Local Muslims in Kerolos’ home village of El-Mahameed near Luxor took offence and launched an attack on his house and torched other Christian-owned property.

Demiana’s case was an appeal against her original sentence − a fine of 100,000 Egyptian Pounds (US$14,000; £8,000) − issued last June. The judge on 15 June replaced the fine with a jail term of six months.

She is currently in exile, and the ruling effectively means that she will never be able to return to Egypt, separating her from her family, who cannot afford to leave the country. Demiana will now apply for political asylum, most likely in France.

The social science teacher from Luxor was arrested in May 2013 following a complaint from parents that she had defamed Islam during a school lesson. The majority of Demiana’s students denied that she had insulted Islam in her class, and an internal school investigation found her innocent. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said she had only “presented a comparison between religions in ancient, middle and modern ages as mentioned in the curriculum”.

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