April 8, 2012
In a show of partiality to Muslims who go unprosecuted for like offenses against Christianity, a juvenile court in Egypt last week sentenced a Coptic Christian teenager to three years in prison for allegedly insulting Islam, Compass Direct News reports. The court claimed Gamal Abdou Massoud, 17, posted cartoons on his Facebook account in December mocking Islam and its prophet, Muhammad, and that he distributed the pictures to other students -- charges which Massoud denies. After the incident came to light, Muslims in Massoud's village rioted, fire-bombing his home and burning down at least five other Christian-owned homes. Massoud was held responsible for inciting the riots, which forced his family to leave the village, but no one responsible for burning the homes has been charged. The sentencing was considered significant not only because it violated the free speech clauses of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- of which Egypt is a signatory -- but also showed another area where justice is executed unequally between Muslims and Christians. When Muslim public figures violate Egyptian laws related to insulting Christianity, the laws are often ignored, Coptic Christians say. But when Christians are accused of violating the same laws against Islam, even a minor is usually punished to the full extent of the law.