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Christian teacher sentenced to prison in Egypt for insulting Islam

June 16, 2014

An Egyptian criminal court has sentenced a Coptic Christian school teacher to six months in prison after being charged with insulting Islam, overturning earlier charges that only enforced a fine.

The 23-year-old social studies teacher, Demiana Emad, was arrested in May, 2013, and accused of insulting Islam after the head of the parent’s association of Sheikh Sultan Primary School in Upper Egypt filed a complaint accusing her of blasphemy.

Two months after her arrest, Emad was charged with EGP 100,000 fine. After filing an appeal last year, the Egyptian court sentenced Emad to six months in prison on Sunday.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) released a report last year stating that Emad did not insult Islam, she only “presented a comparison between religions in ancient, middle and modern ages as mentioned in the curriculum.”

The report stated that during investigations, the majority of Emad’s students denied such accusations and also warned that such cases are becoming “a tool to oppress minorities.”

A similar case occurred in 2011 in which Karam Saber, an Egyptian author, was sentenced to five years in prison on the charges of insulting religion in a collection of short stories he wrote called “Where is God?”

Saber was accused of insulting religion after a group of plaintiffs filed a complaint against him, but the case was only referred to court in 2013.

Saber told Aswat Masriya in a phone call last year that his short stories should not be measured using “religious standards.”

Such cases have been present in ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, which was used then to crack down on opposing political activists. The incidents, however, increased under the rule of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Last September, the EIPR released another report stating that since the revolution of January 25, 2011 until the end of 2012, 63 Muslim and Christian citizens were charges with insulting religion.

Egypt’s penal code, article 98, states that anyone charged with insulting religion can face up to six years in prison.

Comments (15)

  1. Bystanding Witness says:

    I just wish that Pres Sissi will have the foresight and the courage to do away with this law and that Egypt will see true freedom of speech.

    What I understand from the article is that she COMPARED religions – where’s the insult? What kind of a weak religion and insecure followers would that be anyway who can not accept even just a comparison?

    Other than that I propose to start respecting Sura 109 which is abundantly clear! Stop this witch hunt – don’t we have truly important problems to solve?

    FREE Demiana Emad now!

  2. Abdelaaty says:

    Does anyone know what she actually said?

    1. Minymina says:

      “Personal Rights (EIPR) released a report last year stating that Emad did not insult Islam, she only presented a comparison between religions in ancient, middle and modern ages as mentioned in the curriculum.”

      “The report stated that during investigations, the majority of Emad’s students denied such accusations and also warned that such cases are becoming a tool to oppress minorities.”

      Just more religious nut jobs on another witch hunt. This religious crap needs to stop. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Most of all, a teacher teaching a subject thats part of the curriculum shouldn’t be punished.

    2. Abdelaaty says:

      Thanks Minymina.

    3. AgnosticEgyptian says:

      Does it matter? Even if she did “insult Islam”, she should not be prosecuted for it, freedom of speech, or is Egypt not a democracy anymore?

    4. Abdelaaty says:

      I don’t agree on the prosecution the slightest.
      But yes it does matter, if she DID insult a religion no matter what, she would be teaching her students disrespecting others’ beliefs, which is not acceptable, no matter what her religion is/which side she’s taking.

    5. Minymina says:

      But people should be allowed to discuss things reasonably without being punished for it. Theres nothing wrong with discussing sensitive issues such as religion, race and rape.

      I in no way support insulating other religions but as mentioned in the article, she was just following the curriculum.

      As an egyptian who grew up in europe, I think this law is just stupid because it oppresses peoples beliefs and thoughts and doesn’t allow them to share their opinion. People who could be saying one thing and be labeled as racists by sinstve nut jobs.

      Just look at the US for example who use hate laws as a way to separate blacks and whites. If a black individual in the US gets killed by a white guy, it is automatically considered a racist crime even due race has nothing to do with it. These kind of laws are dangerous as they only divide people in society.

      By enforcing such laws, we are teaching kids that it’s ok to jail someone just for being different. A student who doesn’t like a teacher can easily say that he/she insulted their religion.

      If the parents suing the teacher have a problem with the curriculum then they should take it up with the department of education. Rather than punish this poor woman for doing her job just like every other teacher in the country.

    6. Guest says:

      I was discussing this with a friend earlier and we had same opinion on how such situation should be handled!

      I really doubt punishing her at all is acceptable in Islam.

    7. Osama says:

      There are several Muslims who have also been imprisoned for insulting Christianity. This should be what democracy is. Just because it’s a secular state does not give anyone a right to insult someone else’s religion (not speaking about this case, just the law in general).

    8. Minymina says:

      Although I agree with not insulting peoples religion, however I think freedom of speech is more important. People should be allowed to express their thoughts without getting arrested.

      As mentioned in the article, she compared ancient and modern religions as part of the curriculum. She didn’t insult anyone.

      Egyptians need to learn to discuss things reasonably without punishment. It is only then that we can focus on the more important things.

    9. Abdl says:

      Who gets to decide what’s an “insult”? For every single sentence you, Osama, have uttered in your lifetime, there is someone on this planet who would have felt “insulted” by it. Your way of reasoning is simply not compatible with democracy. Definitely not what democracy “should be”.

    10. maliurj says:

      So Abdl your assignment for the day is to go to the USA and sit in a cinema then exercise your right to freedom of speech by shouting, “Fire!”…without there being any fire; then report the outcome to us! You will be apprehended before you can say the word…freedom!