Authorities in Egypt have arrested as many as five Coptic Christian youths after a Muslim mob accused them of blasphemy. The mob alleged that the minors had appeared in a video that apparently mocked Islam, but in actuality, only mocked the terror group Islamic State, which has said on several occasions that it will eventually wipe out Christianity, Judaism and dissenting Muslims off the earth.
Before the children were arrested, the police took into custody a Coptic teacher and held him for four days. Yet, the mob demanded that the children be arrested by throwing rocks at their homes in an attempt to coerce their parents into surrendering them to concerned authorities.
“The case of the five arrested in Minya and charged with blasphemy represents yet another case of how Egypt continues to bend to the weight of extremist ideology,” explained Todd Daniels, the Middle East regional manager for International Christian Concern.
“A video – not even shared publicly – that mocked ISIS, a group that openly beheaded twenty Egyptian citizens, has already put these five in prison and may lead to lengthy prison sentences. Despite progress in terms of rhetoric from President, Egypt has pervasive persecution that continues to occur not only on the societal level but also in the judiciary.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi was the first leader ever in the country to visit St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo and attend Christmas Eve.
“It’s important for the world to see this scene, which reflects true Egyptian unity, and to confirm that we’re all Egyptians, first and foremost,” he claimed at the time. “We truly love each other without discrimination, because this is the Egyptian truth.”
However, blasphemy laws in the country continue to exist, with Article 98 stating the punishment that is expected to be met out to any person found guilty of the crime.
“Confinement for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years, or a fine of not less than five hundred pounds and not exceeding one thousands pounds shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever make use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.”
In October 2012, Egyptian officials imprisoned two Coptic boys aged 9 years and 10 years for allegedly desecrating a Koran. In April 2013, video footage revealed how police officers stood by and watched a Muslim mob attack a group of Coptics, who had attended church to mourn the death of fellow Coptics who had been killed by religious extremists. In August 2013, assailants attacked another Coptic church, leaving it completely destroyed. In April 2014, a mob of radical Muslims attacked a young Coptic woman inside her car, eventually beating her and stabbing her to death. These are only some of the many incidents where Coptics have been subjected to horrifying treatment under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Not to forget, Islamic State has targeted Coptics as well. In February of this year, the terrorist group marched as many as 21 Coptics to a beach in Libya and beheaded them. This brutality led to Muslims and Christians coming together in order to protest against Islamic State’s radical conduct.
Reportedly, a group of Muslims launched a project that aims at building a new Coptic Christian Church north of Cairo. Additionally, Coptic Orthodox Bishop Benyamin started a fundraiser to build a church dedicated to Mother Mary. He urged his parishioners to ask people from near and far to make donations to the cause. Islamic leaders in the region also asked Muslims to make donations to the same cause, upon receiving information about Benyamin’s initiative.
“Christians have responded by sorrowfully calling out to God, and Muslims have shown love and care towards them,” said Ramen Atallah of Bible Society Egypt.
Photo Credits: Asian News