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Monday, September 24, 2012

Atheist arrested, Christians threatened in Egypt

Ah, the sweet smell of spring:
[Alber] Saber was originally arrested over claims that he published the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” on Facebook, but when it emerged that there was no evidence to support the claim, he was later charged on the basis of an atheist video that he had made.

Two days after protests and clashes between security forces and protesters broke out over the film near the US Embassy on 11 September, neighbors of Saber claimed that he shared the anti-Islam YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” on his Facebook account, which led an angry mob to storm Saber’s house in Marg district, kicking out Saber and his mother.

Kariman Meseha, Saber’s mother, told journalists attending a press conference at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression yesterday that she called the police to protect her son, but once police arrived, it was Saber who was arrested, not those who attacked his home.

“Police forces told me that he would be taken to the police station to protect him from the angry mob, and that I could come by the police station the next day to receive him,” Meseha said, adding that the next day, she discovered that he was arrested on blasphemy charges.

AFTE lawyer Ahmed Ezzat said police incited the prisoners against Saber, claiming that he was an atheist and insulted the Prophet Mohamed; one of the prisoners injured him in the neck with a razor blade.

“If the blade was sharper, it would have killed Alber,” Ezzat said.

Ezzat said investigation records stated that residents of Saber’s area filed a complaint accusing him of sharing the blasphemous content. Yet the records do not state clearly who had filed the complaints, which is a violation of laws that oblige someone filing a complaint to reveal their identity.

“The records also did not specifically point out what kind of blasphemous content Saber shared,” Ezzat said, adding that prosecution accused him of religious blasphemy after finding a movie on a CD of Saber, including some comparative religion material, as well as criticisms of both Islamic and Coptic religious leaders and institutions.
And at the same time:
Christian residents of Egyptian border towns Rafah and Al-Arish have so far refused to leave the city, as a local church had advised, after they received leaflets containing messages threatening to blow up their property if they do not leave within 48 hours.

Rev. Gabriel Habib, priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Michael in Al-Arish, said Christian residents had refused to leave temporarily to avoid fulfilling the extremists’ goal of forcing them out of their city.

Habib added that some Christians told him, “Even if we die, we are not better than the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their homeland and religion,” adding that they will stay with their Muslim neighbors.

Seven Christian families saw leaflets posted on the walls of their shops or homes, commanding them to leave within 48 hours or else have their property destroyed.
Habib said, “The church of Rafah was destroyed during the January revolution [of 2011] and has not been renovated yet.” He added that “prayers have stopped there, because of the security situation in the Sinai.”
"Because of the security situation"? Does that mean that mosques have also closed in the same area? Must be. He couldn't mean "because our Muslim neighbors might kill us if we decided to publicly pray."

Remember when the Western media was convinced that the Egyptian revolution was being led by jeans-wearing Google employees dedicated to freedom of expression? Good times.

(h/t Ian)