Egypt jails Christian student to three years in jail for insulting Islam

April 4, 2012

(An Egyptian Copt watches a celebration of the Feast of Assumption in Dronka village, outside Assiut, 400 km (310 miles) south of Cairo August 21, 2008. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh )

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence.

Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population and the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda.

“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.

The cartoons, published by Massoud in December, prompted some Muslims to attack Christians. Several Christian houses were burned and several Christians were injured in the violence.

Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai said the jail sentence was the maximum penalty under Egyptian law for such a crime.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s 80 million population, have long had a difficult relationship with Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim majority.

Tension between Muslims and Christians has simmered for years but has got worse since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Christians have become increasingly worried by a surge in attacks on churches, which they blame on hardline Islamists, though experts say local disputes are often also to blame.

— by Ahmed Tolba and Mohamed Abdellah in Cairo
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Umm, it seems to me he was jailed for inciting a riot, NOT for insulting Islam. The riot developed because people felt he had insulted Islam. Be careful with how you depict the truth.

You may incite violence

Posted by Pumpkinhead | Report as abusive

As absurd as this may be, he’s lucky. There are places, a lot of them, where he would have been tortured to death for less than that. Freedom of speech is not a natural right – it has to be aspired to and then earned. Most Egyptians, sadly, haven’t.

Posted by rbanffy | Report as abusive

The old regime in Egypt was far better in my opinion. Egypt is now an enemy of the West having become an Islamist state.

Sadly freedom of speech only exists in Christian lands. Perhaps we need to send Australian troops back into Egypt as was done in 1919 to settle the situation back then?

Posted by F22Ross | Report as abusive

Funny…I didn’t see anything in the news report about the Muslims being arrested for attacking and injuring Christians or for burning their houses. Until that happens, Islam is an empty, double-talking religion. They’ve shown themselves to carry a blatant double-standard in this regard. I have no respect for Islam OR for those who practice that archaic, barbaric, fundamentally flawed religion, or for the governments who allow such faithless souls to continue their practices.

Posted by popsk | Report as abusive

If freedom of religion means anything it means the unfettered right to express contempt for all religious doctrines and personages.

That means that if I want to say the Pope is a absolute fraud, I have that right. If an atheist tells me that my Savior Jesus Christ was a bastard and is rotting in the grave, I have no recourse against him whatsoever. Likewise, if I tell a Muslim that Mohammad was a pedophile and a madman, he has no recourse against me other than to think I am wrong.

That is freedom of religion American style and the whole Muslim world rejects it which is why Islam and Americanism can never peacefully co-exist.

Posted by MarkOsgatharp | Report as abusive

It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN this happens in America. And here’s the irony: The same people that cry the loudest in favor of unqualified acceptance of Muslims (and against any hint of so-called Islamaphobia) will be the most shocked when Muslims begin persecuting other groups liberals have fought so long to support (women and gays).

Posted by RichDonaldson | Report as abusive

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, arab spring is in the air!

Posted by michinrepose | Report as abusive

Maybe we should jail muslims for insulting Christianity.

Posted by racinemike | Report as abusive

Seems bizarre to me that cartoons “prompted” Muslims to riot and injure people. Anger, hatred, and intolerance prompted them. The cartoon merely presented ideas.

Posted by Tonycrac | Report as abusive

If the muslims can jail Christians for speaking about islam than muslims should be jailed for against islim!

Posted by racinemike | Report as abusive

I think Gamal Abdou Massoud is not a Christian, at least measuring from his attitude, and what he has done is not a freedom of expression at all. It’s called insulting others, and it is not nice. Sad for the those who reacted bluntly and therefore violated their religion for plundering the innocent Christians.

Posted by bintangputera | Report as abusive

ISlamis like oil will never mix with water. Time to isolate all muslims from free world.
Deport all muslim ,separate muslim from others and make new world order for better and secured living for all.

Posted by Converts | Report as abusive

I wonder if they jailed the Muslims who burnt down churches and Christians. I wonder if they arrested the Muslims who assaulted Christians…..I bet not. We should not be trying to appease this religion. We should challenge it, even when religious leaders condemn (lie) these actions but never lobby Muslim governments to review these situations. These Muslim groups will never admit what wrong Muslims commit, but they will always be running after people who “offend“ Muslims. I remember when CAIR filed a lawsuit against a french news paper for publishing Muhammad pictures, but that same day 31 hindu`s were burnt alive in Bangladesh, 2 Palestinian families were killed by Islamists in Gaza and a Muslim was hung for converting to Christianity in Pakistan. They gave absolutely no response to these actions, but filed a law suit against a cartoonist…….Hypocrites.

Posted by Secularist1 | Report as abusive

He didn’t “incite a riot”. He wrote his opinion and OTHER PEOPLE who are religious fanatics took it to heart and got all uppity. If you want to blame someone, blame the idiots so blinded by their religious dogma that they think it’s fine to treaty the rest of humanity like trash. I’m sick of people enforcing their own stereotypes and then crying about how people “misjudge” them.

Posted by scashworth | Report as abusive

Youth, education and pop music will eventually overcome the political domination by religious zealots. Link TV offers programs containing pop music concerts from Muslim countries. The music is great and those young people have no interest in Sharia.

It takes time, though. After 50 years of rock music, the curse of Christian fundamentalism in America is slowly, but surely fading away.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive

You go to prison for a cartoon but nothing happens if you burn down a church and attack people for religious views. Nice society.

Posted by buf1987 | Report as abusive

When will western leaders speak out for what is right?

Posted by TimGF | Report as abusive