- (Photo: Reuters)
Morsi Sheikh, former head of the Appellate Court and director of the Center for Justice and Democracy of Human Rights, stated that Copts in Egypt face continual threats and violence from Islamists.
He was commenting on one of the fathers of the children accusing Coptic teacher Demiana Abdel Nour of insulting Islam after the child's father threatened to kill thousands of people. Her case had been postponed, prompting the father's outburst.
"The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis do not want justice to run its course, by threatening them, and judges often succumb to the pressure," Sheikh told Mideast Christian News.
He added that there are Islamic elements in the Egyptian judiciary who let their religious views affect the cases they oversee after witnessing such occurrences over his 20-year career in various levels of the Egyptian judiciary.
The Sheikh went on to reveal that the discrimination against Copts by judges is readily clear. He said it is the corruption of the judges themselves, and not the judiciary, that is affecting the integrity of the Egyptian court.
He maintains that it is judges who let personal convictions and prior allegiances cloud their judgment rather than truthfully upholding and interpreting the law– especially regarding cases involving religious minorities such as Christians.
Sheikh pointed out that Gamaat Islamiyya, an Islamic political party in Egypt, now target Copts through lawsuits, unjustly accusing them of contempt of Islam, as in the case of Luxor's teacher Demiana Ebeid Abdel Nour.
"Islamic groups pressure the Egyptian judiciary via threats and demonstrations," he said.
He pointed to the recent high profile case involving abu-Islam where he was sentenced to four days in prison, but was released after protests and pressure from the television star's supporters. Sheikh believes that the future of the Egyptian judiciary hangs in the balance and regards fear as one of the driving forces behind the recent response to Islamists' demands.
The Sheikh also added that the state of the Egyptian judiciary could be seen once the verdict in the Luxor' teacher is reached, while he is optimistic the Sheikh does feel that an arbitrary verdict will be reached as a result of ongoing Islamist pressure.