Egyptian protesters during 2011 revolution
Egyptian protesters during 2011 revolutionIsrael news photo: Flash 90

An Egyptian court upheld a three-year sentence against a teenage Christian student for posting a drawing on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohamed, Egypt Independent reported.

The Assiut Court of Appeals said that it has found 16-year-old Gamal Abdu Massoud guilty of defaming religion, state-run news service MENA reported on Tuesday.

Juvenile court sentenced Massoud to three years in prision in April, after he published the ‘blasphemous’ cartoons in December of that year.

“Assiut child’s court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud … for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet,” the court said in a statement seen by Reuters.

Muslims reacted angrily to Massoud’s ‘insulting’ cartoons by attacking Christians and burning houses in the Manqabad village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population.

According to Article 98(f) of the Penal Code, “Confinement for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years… shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever makes use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.”

Human rights activists say that this article poses a threat to freedom of expression.

This year, Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, a founder of the liberal Free Egyptians political party, faced similar charges of defaming Islam after he posted pictures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse wearing Islamic attire on Twitter.

Renowned comedic actor Adel Imam was also brought to court on charges of “contempt of religion."