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Egyptian Court Convicts Four Teens for Mocking Muslim Prayers

  • VOA News

FILE - An Egyptian man in Cairo holds a poster with Arabic that reads "Muslims and Copts are in the same tragedy" during a protest against the slaying of Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya by militants associated with the Islamic State group.

FILE - An Egyptian man in Cairo holds a poster with Arabic that reads "Muslims and Copts are in the same tragedy" during a protest against the slaying of Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya by militants associated with the Islamic State group.

A court in Egypt has convicted four Coptic teenagers for contempt of Islam after they appeared in a short video mocking Muslim prayers.

The mobile phone video, which went viral in April 2015, was filmed after the beheading of dozens of Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State group in Libya last year.

A court in southern Minya province on Thursday gave five-year jail terms to three of the teens and referred a fourth one to a juvenile facility for an indefinite period.

In the 30-second video, the teens pretended to perform Muslim prayers, with one reciting Quranic verses and two others standing behind him while laughing. One waved his hand under a second's neck in a sign of beheading.

The teenagers’ lawyer Maher Naquib said the ruling was “unbelievable”, adding that the boys were minors and the court should have just punished them with a fine.

Naquib said the teenagers were tried in absentia and remain free pending an appeal.

"My son was sentenced to five years for laughing. Is that possible? What kind of justice is this?"” Iman Girgis, a mother of one of the convicted boys, told the Associated Press.

Christians make up approximately 10 percent of Egypt's population. They strongly supported the army chief-turned-president, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who led the military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

Egypt has long been accused by human rights organizations of systematic abuse of human rights, including unfair trials of political opposition and minority groups.

Last week, a military court sentenced a toddler, Ahmed Mansour Sharara, to life in prison and convicted him of killing three people, carrying guns and firebombs, blocking a road with burning tires and trying to damage government buildings, the New York Times reported.

After an uproar over the conviction, the Egyptian military said that it was a case of mistaken identity.

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