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Egyptian Christian Teacher Sentenced for 'Insulting Islam'

Demiana Emad (Photo: Al-Ahram).
A Coptic Christian school teacher has been sentenced to six months in prison on charges of insulting Islam.

Demiana Emad, a 23-year-old social studies teacher, was arrested on 9 May 2013 after the head of the parents' association of Sheikh Sultan Primary School in Luxor filed a complaint accusing her of insulting Islam.

In June 2013, Emad was sentenced to pay a LE100,000 fine. Sunday's jail sentence was ordered by the court in response to an appeal filed by the defendant on last year's fine.

According to a year-old report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Emad didn't insult Islam, only "presented a comparison between religions in ancient, middle and modern ages as mentioned in the curriculum".

The report, which warned of similar cases becoming "a tool to oppress minorities", added that during investigations the majority of Emad's students denied that she had insulted Islam in her class.

Charges of insulting religion go back to the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, widely used then as a pretext to crack down on political activists. However, occurrences of the charge significantly rose under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from power last July.

A report issued by the EIPR last September revealed that since the 25 January 2011 revolution until the end of 2012, a total of 63 citizens, both Muslims and Christians, were charged with insulting religion.

Article 98 of Egypt's penal code says anyone convicted of offending religion in any form can face up to six years in prison.


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