Egypt: Man Gets Jail for Facebook Posts
An Egyptian man has been jailed for three years with hard labor, for insulting Islam in posts made on his personal Facebook page. The verdict has caused concern among those who hoped that the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year would lead to increased personal freedom.
The prisoner was identified by the government-linked MENA news agency as Ayman Yusef Mansur. Police tracked him down using his IP address, the agency reported.
Egyptian media did not repeat the posts that started the affair, but quoted a Cairo court as saying that Mansur “intentionally insulted the dignity of the Islamic religion” with insults “aimed at the Noble Koran, the true Islamic religion, the Prophet of Islam and his family and Muslims.”
Human rights organizations protested the sentence. Human Rights Watch called to overturn the legal provision that allowed for his conviction, arguing that the law stifles debate over the place of Islam in Egyptian life.
Mubarak’s regime was nominally secular, although the constitution recognized Islamic law (sharia) as the guide for national courts and Muslims were officially forbidden to change their religious status.
Since his ouster, there are signs that treatment of religious minorities has worsened. At the same time, Salafi Islam is on the rise, and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party may win as many as 50% of the seats in parliament.