Egyptian man sentenced to 3 years in jail for blasphemy

October 24, 2011

As you might recall, in late August I wrote that Egyptian police had arrested 23-year-old Ayman Yusef Mansur for "insulting Islam" in postings on his Facebook wall. Last week, the case came to an unfortunate close when a court convicted and sentenced Mansur to three years in prison, with hard labor, according to the news outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The AFP reported via the Middle Eastern News Agency (MENA) that Mansur was found guilty because he "intentionally insulted the dignity of the Islamic religion and attacked it with insults and ridicule on Facebook." MENA did not disclose what he allegedly said, but Mansur's postings apparently "aimed at the Noble Koran, the true Islamic religion, the Prophet of Islam and his family and Muslims, in a scurrilous manner."

Egypt's blasphemy law is often used to silence religious minorities (think Shiite Muslims and Christians), religious dissidents, and secularists. For instance, in 2007 an atheist blogger received a four-year prison term for insulting the Muslim prophet and former president Hosni Mubarak. 

Egyptian lawmakers will decide on a new constitution after this winter's election, but the blasphemy provision will likely remain in place. Strongly Islamic candidates, who would leave in place previous language stating that Islam is the country's main source of legislation, are expected to perform well in the election. Even if secular candidates win a fair share of seats, the topic is considered by most too controversial for secularists to openly challenge. 

It's worth noting that the UN Human Rights Committee recently condemned blasphemy laws and other restrictions on freedom of belief and expression as inconsistent with existing international law.

One can only hope Egyptians were listening.

 

 

Comments:

#1 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Saturday October 29, 2011 at 3:33pm

Michael,

Thanks for reporting on this case. As I’m sure you are aware, in some Islamic countries, the penalty is death. Indeed, nowhere in the Islamic world is criticism of Islam tolerated. Meanwhile, Islam is free to criticize everyone else.

Do you think that this Islamic intolerance is somewhat equivalent to the growing intolerance we are seeing in this country?

#2 Daniel Mann (Guest) on Saturday October 29, 2011 at 3:34pm

Oh darn! My link -

#3 Organon on Monday October 31, 2011 at 8:26pm

Daniel, is the intolerance (in the USA, I assume) intolerance from Muslims towards others or from Christians towards non-believers?

Thanks

#4 gray1 on Thursday November 03, 2011 at 8:15am

When in Rome…
Welcome Arab Spring?

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