Coptic activists, led by the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) are today planning a demonstration in front of the High Court in central Cairo to protest against what they see as an unjust, non-justifiably harsh sentence by the Minya Criminal Court. Simultaneously, said MYU member Andrawus Eweida, other protests will be held in the towns of Alexandria, Assiut, Minya, and Suez.
The court ruling in question had sentenced 12 Copts to life imprisonment while it acquitted eight Muslims who had been prosecuted for the same charges.
Eweida called upon Muslim Egyptians to join the Copts in today’s protest to announce their rejection of injustice, and to take a stand against what he described as “court sentences based on religious identity”.
The Criminal Court of Minya in Upper Egypt had yesterday sentenced 12 Copts to life imprisonment for their part in a fight which took place in the town of Abu-Qurqas in April 2011 and which left three Muslims dead, and several Copts’ houses and cattle sheds looted and burnt.
Alaa’ Rushdy, Yacoub Fadl, Abdullah Mikhail Abdullah, Adel Abdullah Mikhail, Fanous Nady Ibrahim, Magdy Nady Ibrahim, Gamal Fouad Hanna, Eid Ibrahim Fanous, Safwat Kamel Habib Ghattas, Eid Abdullah Mikhail, Magdy Abdullah Mikhail, and Saeed Waheed Deif were all sentenced. The court acquitted the eight Muslim men who had been charged in the same case: Ahmed Mustafa Rabie, Taher Atef Taher, Khaled Ibrahim Mohamed, Ahmed Badr Ahmed, Ramadan Abdel-Azim Mohamed, Reda Sayed Ahemd, Ismail Mamdouh Mahmoud, and Ikrami Abdullah Mohamed.
The April 2011 fight in Abu-Qurqas village in Minya had erupted over a speed bump which the Coptic lawyer, Alaa’ Rushdy, had constructed in front of his house in order to slow down traffic. The defendants, the 12 Copts and eight Muslims, had all been charged with mobbing, premeditated murder, threatening public peace, sectarian sedition, arson, and using unlicensed arms to threaten security and public order.
The MYU had last evening issued a statement in which it said that the several recent court rulings which indicted innocent Copts and exonerated Muslim offenders has made it impossible to commit to the policy of refraining from comment on court rulings. The only two crimes in which Muslims were sentenced for murder of Copts were the cases of Nag Hammadi where seven were shot as they left church following Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (6 January) in 2010, and that of Dairout in which a Muslim policeman man shot at six Copts on a train, killing one of them and wounding the others. In some 160 cases of attacks against Copts during the past decades, no-one was indicted.
“No sound reason,” the statement said, “can condone the notion that defending oneself, one’s family, honour, and property, is a crime which warrants life imprisonment.”
For its part, the Alliance of Egypt’s Copts announced it will contest the ruling.
22 May 2012