AFRICA/EGYPT - Sectarian assaults after the arrest of a Copt accused of offenses against the Prophet Mohammad

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Posted on: 07/15/18
Minya - A young Coptic Egyptian was arrested in the village of Menbal, in the province of Minya, on charges of having shared some videos considered offensive against Prophet Mohammad on social media. The arrest had been organized by local police forces, perhaps with the intention of calming down the tension and to avoid uncontrolled reactions by groups of Islamist mobs present in the area. But the measure was not enough to ensure calm: after the arrest, the houses of Christian families in the village were attacked by gangs who wanted all the Christians of the village to "pay the price" of the alleged offenses of the young Copt toward the Prophet.
In 2016 five Copt students were sentenced to five years in prison, accused of offending the Islamic religion by publishing in the Spring of 2015 a video-clip lasting a few seconds in which the boys mimed a throat slitting scene of a Muslim in prayer. In September of that same year the five students were expatriated to Switzerland, where they applied for asylum. In the meantime, in June 2016 the Egyptian government had rejected the proposals to cancel the law that punishes blasphemy, a penal provision also used in recent times to set up trials and impose penalties on controversial cases, which have divided national public opinion.


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