Luxor court fines Coptic teacher LE100,000 for “blasphemy”

Luxor Misdemeanor Court on Tuesday fined a female Coptic teacher LE100,000 for allegedly insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohamed.

Parents of students at Naga Sheikh Sultan Elementary School had earlier accused 23-year-old educator Damiana Ebeid Abdel Nour of insulting the Prophet and preaching Christianity to their children.

The verdict was delivered amid tight security outside the court where crowds of Islamists chanted slogans claiming the ruling had not gone far enough.

During the session, plaintiff lawyers told the court Abdel Nour should be prosecuted for expressing “extremist” ideas, and also demanded the Education Minister Ibrahim Ghoneim be included in the case.

Rafla Zekry, human rights committee head at Luxor’s Lawyers Syndicate, told state-run newspaper al-Ahram that the teacher was not present at the session.

Last month, Amnesty International called for Abdel Nour's release and condemned her detention by authorities.

“It is outrageous that a teacher finds herself behind bars for teaching a class. If she made some professional mistake, or deviated from the school curriculum, an internal review should have sufficed,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

The lawsuit against Abdel Nour was filed in April by the parents of 3 school students. They accused the teacher of insulting Islam and preaching Christianity while teaching a lesson on religion.

Several blasphemy charges have been posed against cultural and media figures since President Mohamed Morsy and his Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, came to power last year.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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