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ICC Note: Mohammed Hegazy became a Christian at the age of 16, and then in 2007 he tried to publicly change his identity card to no longer be listed as a Muslim, and to take the name Bishoy Armia Boulous. His case went public and he was eventually accused of blasphemy against Islam. Earlier this year he was arrested on new charges and the old case of blasphemy was reopened. He is awaiting trial this week, the judge has made it clear that the real motive for his arrest was his conversion to Christianity.
11/12/2014 Egypt (World Watch Monitor) A jailed Egyptian Muslim convert to Christianity is scheduled Sunday, Nov. 16 to appeal his conviction on a misdemeanor — if he can get to the courtroom.
But according to his lawyer, prison and security police officials have not confirmed they will permit Mohammed Hegazy to travel from Cairo’s Tora Prison to the court hearing in Upper Egypt’s Minya governate.
“If my client is not present in the court in person,” attorney Karam Ghobrial told World Watch Monitor, Hegazy’s conviction – and the accompanying five-year prison sentence — will be confirmed by default.
Hegazy had been arrested for filming sectarian demonstrations without permission in Minya in December last year. After he spent six months in detention, a local court convicted Hegazy on June 18 of the misdemeanor charges and sentenced him to five years in prison and a 500 LE (US$70) fine.
“The investigation in Minya against Hegazy produced nothing,” Ghobrial told World Watch Monitor. “There is no proof,” he said, of the district attorney’s accusation that Hegazy was involved in “activity that could damage the public interests of the state,” or that he had circulated “rumors and false statements” that disturbed public security.
But noting that the judge had waved the Quran at the defendant three times during the June court hearing, the lawyer said it was clear that he saw the case “from a religious point of view.”
“The stigma of his conversion was the motive for his arrest,” Ghobrial said.
Under Egyptian legal procedures, Hegazy should have been ordered to pay bail once the verdict was announced, and then be released pending his appeal hearing. He had already served the maximum six-month detention allowed for misdemeanor suspects, after which only those found guilty of adultery or theft can be kept in custody.