On May 5, another Coptic Christian was convicted of blaspheming against Islam, or, more technically, for “ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion” in violation of Article 98 (f) of the Egyptian Penal Code.
A judge in Daqahliya, Egypt, sentenced Michael Munir Beshay to one year imprisonment and a fine of one thousand Egyptian pounds.
Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher on religious freedom for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, has the story:
In November 2014, the young man posted a video clip from a program on the satellite network, al-Qahera wal-Nas. In it, Mohamed Abdullah Nasr, known to the public as Sheikh Mezo, was discussing the Hadith on the “suckling of adults.”
For several months, the video went unnoticed until in February 2015, when dozens of Muslim villagers from Damian, in the Daqahliya governorate, demonstrated in front of his house. They called for Beshay to be charged with contempt of religion, and set fire to his motorcycle.
As reported here back in February, security forces arrested the Copt. His fiancé was also detained and held for two days for questioning.
Beshay’s case is only one of several concerning Christians accused of, and punished for, insulting Islam:
- Last month, Gad Yunan, a Coptic Christian teacher, and some of his Coptic students, were arrested on the charge of insulting Islam. Their crime was to have made a 30-second video on Yunan’s iphone mocking the Islamic State — which Egypt’s Muslims and authorities apparently equate with mocking Islam, even as Muslims in the West insist ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam.
- Last year Kerolos Shouky Attallah, a young Coptic Christian man accused of blaspheming Islam for simply “liking” an Arabic-language Facebook page administered by an anonymous group of Christian converts, was sentenced to six years in prison. The Copt did not make any comments on the site, share any of the postings or upload anything to it, and removed his name from the page once he realized that it might offend Muslims. In the hours preceding the sentencing, a rioting mob burned down several Christian-owned shops. He remains in hiding.
- Christian convert Bishoy Armia Boulos continues to languish in prison under charges of blasphemy related to his conversion, or “apostasy” from Islam.
As International Christian Concern puts it: “Despite steps taken by the Sisi-led government to bring about greater tolerance and reforms, the [May 5] conviction of Beshay is just another of many recent incidents highlighting the continued persecution of the country’s Christian minority.”