Egypt Jails Christian Teacher for Insulting Islam
An Egyptian appeals court jailed a female Coptic Christian teacher for six months after parents of her students accused her of evangelizing and insulting Islam, her lawyer said on Monday.
Demiana Emad, a 23-year-old social studies teacher, was arrested on May 9, 2013 after the head of the parents' association of Sheikh Sultan Primary School in Luxor filed a complaint against her.
The primary school teacher had appealed after a court in the southern city of Luxor fined her 100,000 Egyptian pounds (around $13,980). The prosecution, which also appealed the original sentence, had asked for a jail sentence.
On Sunday the appeals court issued its verdict, her lawyer Badawi Abu Shanab said, adding that she can still lodge a further appeal before the appellate court.
"She has been jailed for six months. She was accused of telling students that (late Coptic pope) Shenuda III was better than the Prophet Mohammed", Abu Shanab told AFP.
However, he added that the director of the school where his client taught "testified that she didn't do anything".
Egypt's constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognized by the state – Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
According to a 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.
Al-Ahram wrote Monday that 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.