Three defendants referred to trial for insulting Christianity

The public prosecution referred three people Tuesday to a misdemeanor court on charges of the defamation of Christianity.

The defendants included one journalist and two people who allegedly burned the Bible. The court will start trial sessions next Sunday, according to state-run MENA news agency.

MENA reported that the prosecutor referred Ahmed Mohamed Abdallah, known as Sheikh Abu Islam, his son Islam, and journalist at privately-owned Al-Tahrir journalist Hany Mohamed Yassin Gadallah to trial on charges of insulting Christianity.

Abu Islam owns a private channel called Al-Umma and his son works as executive director of the channel.

Abu Islam and his son are accused of burning the Bible outside the US Embassy in Cairo during protests against a film produced in the US insulting Islam and Prophet Mohamed. Abu Islam also reportedly insulted Christianity in an interview with Al-Tahrir newspaper.

The prosecutor said evidence against the three defendants includes video footage that showed the Abu Islam and his son tearing and burning the Bible during protests.

Thousands demonstrated on 11 September outside the US Embassy in Cairo in reaction to the film "Innocence of Muslims." The protests were followed by smaller demonstrations  in which protesters clashed with security forces.

Amid reports that some of the figures behind the film are US-based Copts, there are concerns that the protests could turn their focus on Egypt’s Coptic minority. According to previous studies, Copts who complain of discrimination and violence constitute between six and 10 percent of Egypt’s population.

Egypt's public prosecutor issued arrest warrants Tuesday for seven Coptic Christians and Florida-based pastor Terry Jones in relation to the film.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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