In Brotherhood’s Egypt, blasphemy charges against Christians surge ahead

Kristen Chick, The Christian Science Monitor, May 22

A blasphemy trial against a Christian teacher in this Egyptian city renowned for its Pharaonic monuments is among a wave of cases that have Egyptian Christians worried they can be jailed for insulting Islam on the flimsiest of evidence.

Dozens of lawyers crowded a small, hot courtroom yesterday, eager to participate in the case against Dimyana Abdel Nour, a primary school teacher from a village near Luxor. Three students accused her of insulting Islam while teaching a social studies class last month. Such blasphemy cases have become much more frequent since the 2011 uprising that brought Islamists to power in Egypt.

Ms. Abdel Nour is now in hiding, and did not attend the court hearing. Her lawyers and local activists say the case is unjust, and local Christians are watching the proceedings with worry. They say the Islamists’ rise to power, including the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, has encouraged extremists to discriminate against¬†Egyptian Christians, known as Copts, who make up around 10 percent of the population.

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