Egypt’s influential Maspero Youth Union – a Coptic Christian youth organization – has announced it is to demonstrate against a recent spat of rulings that have jailed Christians in the country for allegedly “insulting” Islam and illegal construction of churches.
The group told Bikyamasr.com on Sunday morning that they will take to the front of the general prosecutor’s office at the Supreme Court building to demand Priest Makarious Boulos be freed.
Boulos was given a 6-month prison sentence on charges he violated construction regulations in the country, but the Maspero Youth Union says this is a double-standard that must not persist as Egypt’s transition to civilian rule takes place.
According to the court ruling, the church was a few meters higher than the Egyptian government permitted.
It comes less than two weeks after Egypt jailed a Christian man for 6 years on charges of showing contempt of religion and insulting the Prophet Mohamed.
The court, in the southern Egyptian province of Assiut, said that Makram Diab, a school employee, had made offensive remarks against Islam’s prophet, according to the report.
The remarks infuriated Diab’s Muslim colleagues, who went on strike until he was arrested and prosecuted.
The sentencing comes after a Cairo court earlier this week dismissed a lawsuit against the Christian business tycoon, Naguib Sawiris, who was accused of insulting Islam by tweeting images of Mickey Mouse with a beard and his counterpart Minnie wearing a veil.
Recent parliamentary elections have produced a strong showing for Islamists in Egypt, sparking concerns over freedom among liberals and Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the country’s 80 million population.
The ruling has left the Coptic community angered over what a number of Christian activists told Bikyamasr.com was an “attempt to create divisions” between Muslims and Christians in the country.
Noha, a political studies student at Cairo University and activist who regularly participates in demonstrations for Coptic rights, argued that the government is “continuing the policy of Mubarak by jailing and even putting these people in front of a court. It is unacceptable for a country where we hoped for free speech.”
The Christian community has struggled to figure out the direction of transitional Egypt in the post-uprising atmosphere.
In October, a pro-Coptic rights march ended in a bloodbath after the armed forces opened fire on the thousands of protesters and run them over with armored vehicles, leaving at least 27 dead.
The ruling military junta said a “third-party” was responsible for opening fire, leaving many Christians questioning if they would receive justice after decades of animosity towards their minority community.