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Coptic Christians Convicted for Contempt of Islam

  • VOA News

A court in southern Egypt has convicted four Coptic Christian teenagers for contempt of Islam, an Egyptian lawyer said Thursday.

Three of the teenagers received sentences of five years in prison. The sentence for the fourth defendant - who is under the age of 18 - was not announced but he has been referred to a juvenile facility for an indefinite period of detention.

Maher Naguib, the lawyer for the teenagers, called the ruling "unbelievable" and said his clients should have been punished with a fine.

The teenagers appeared in a video in which one student is seen enacting Muslim prayers while the others stand near him, laughing. Naguib said the teenagers did not intend to insult Islam when they filmed the video on a mobile phone in January 2015 but were instead mocking Islamic State beheadings.

The four defendants have not yet been arrested and did not appear in court for the ruling. Naguib plans to appeal the judgement.

Last week, a military court in Cairo sentenced a 3-year-old Egyptian Muslim toddler to life in prison for killing three people and sabotaging public and private property during a political demonstration in January 2014. Authorities now say it was a case of a mistaken identity.

The Washington Post said the conviction of the child highlighted the government broad, ongoing crackdown on dissenters.