Blasphemy Charges Becoming New Weapon Against Egyptian Christians

Religion Today

Blasphemy Charges Becoming New Weapon Against Egyptian Christians


According to a new study, blasphemy and evangelizing accusations are disproportionately used against members of Egypt's Christian minority -- particularly those working in education, Christianity Today reports. A study to be released at the end of this month by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) found that 41 percent of blasphemy cases taken to court from Jan. 25, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2012, were filed against Christians, who make up only about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 83 million people. Ishak Ibrahim of the EIPR said people are targeting Christians using the nation's blasphemy statues as a weapon. The total of 36 blasphemy cases involved 63 people, and the country's Sunni Muslim majority, which makes up almost 90 percent of Egypt's population, were charged in 59 percent of the cases. Ibrahim noted that approximately 30 percent of the blasphemy cases were filed against someone in an education environment. Ibrahim also expects to see an increase in charges against Christians, as Egypt's new constitution employs vague language that could prohibit evangelism, though evangelism is not specifically illegal. At the same time, the new constitution more explicitly criminalizes criticism of Islam. Along with the disproportionate number of Christians charged with blasphemy, sentences are harsher for Christians compared with those handed to Muslims, EIPR noted. The study notes that the sentences are also unusually harsh in relation to the nature of the offenses.

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