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06/27/2022 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – In September, a Christian man in Egypt may be condemned to five years in prison for activity on social media and material stored on his phone. The Misdemeanors Court of Appeal in the Economic Court of Egypt is set to release the verdict in his case during its September 12 session. This decision will either reaffirm or overturn the previous sentence received by the Christian—five years in prison for “contempt of religion.” Specifically, a lower court found him guilty in January of “exploiting religion to promote extremist ideas; contempt for the Islamic religion; and transgression against the values of the Egyptian family.”

Lawyers from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), who have been arguing the Christian’s case in court, pressed the absurdity of the charges against him. They pointed out that the acts in question consisted of private material and social media conversations; to commit the accused’s alleged crimes, one must do so publicly and with intent. The Christian’s lawyers also argued against the legitimacy of his sentence, considering the illegal procedures used by authorities in during his arrest, searches, investigations, and interrogation. Further flaws in the prosecution’s case include reliance on unverified evidence material.

The court’s decision on September 12 will come with heavy personal and public ramifications. On the personal front, the Christian man’s family will be badly impacted by a guilty verdict. Already, while the Christian man has been caught up in this senseless legal battle, his father has been suffering, badly in need of support from his working-age son. On the public front, a guilty decision would open the door for further misuse of the law to target Christians throughout Egypt and violate their rights to freedom of belief and expression. With the arguments on both sides having been fully laid before the court, observers can only wait and watch.

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