Egyptian authorities sent Mohamed Fahmy to Wadi al-Natrun Prison on Tuesday to serve a one-year sentence for insulting the Prophet’s companions and spreading the Shia doctrine.
A court of appeal issued the verdict against Fahmy Thursday after he appealed the first ruling, which sentenced him to three years and fined him LE100,000.
His lawyer, Youssef Qandil, threatened to escalate the issue internationally and submit a complaint to the United Nations, describing the verdict as “personal” and “fabricated.”
The residents of Fahmy's village in Kafr al-Zayat said the Muslim Brotherhood group tried to talk him out of his doctrine by arranging meetings for him with Al-Azhar University professors that usually ended in fights, which prompted the group to warn the young villagers of following his thoughts.
The story began a year ago, when local residents kicked Fahmy out of the mosque and filed a complaint against him with the police, accusing him of inciting sectarian strife.
Anti-Shia rhetoric is prevalent in Egypt, especially among Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi movement.
Shia community leaders complained of persecution under former President Hosni Mubarak. Al-Taher al-Hashiemy, the secretary general of the Hashemeya Sufi order and one of the founders of the Sufi-led Egyptian Tahrir Party, once said that Shias abstained from performing their rituals to avoid detention by the now-dissolved State Security Investigation Services.
In December, security forces shut down Cairo's Hussein Mosque, apparently fearing that non-Shia citizens would react angrily to Egyptian Shias celebrating Ashura, an annual event that marks the death of the Prophet's grandson Imam Hussein.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm