Christian teacher convicted of blasphemy in Egypt
An Egyptian court has found a Coptic Christian teacher in Egypt guilty of blasphemy.
Demiana Abdel-Nour was accused of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad after several parents and pupils complained in April about one of her classes.
Two independent investigations conducted by the school council and the Ministry of Education cleared her of any wrongdoing but the case went ahead after lawyers representing parents of one pupil filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports.
Abdel-Nour denied the charges but was convicted of blasphemy on 11 June by a court in Upper Egypt.
Instead of handing her a custodial sentence, the judge fined her 100,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately £9,000).
CSW said Egypt's Christian community was being "disproportionately" affected by blasphemy allegations, which can lead to fines and imprisonment.
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CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said he was very concerned that Abdel-Nour had been prosecuted despite being exonerated by the school and the Ministry of Education.
"She appears to be being targeted because she is a Christian. We urge the Egyptian government to respect the rights of its citizens without discrimination," he said.
Christians are being urged to pray for the church in Egypt and the Middle East on 22 June. The Middle East Day of Prayer is being hosted jointly by CSW and United Action for Egyptian Christians (UAFEC) at Holy Trinity Brompton in London.
Thomas added: "We will continue to stand in solidarity with Christians in the Middle East as they work to claim their equal rights as citizens in their respective countries."