(Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Hamdi el-Assiouty, member of the defense team of Coptic teacher accused of contempt of Islam, Demiana Abdel Nour, said the charge of religious defamation has clearly increased in Egypt after the rise of Islamists.
"Those who resort to this charge do not represent Islam, but rather hurt it, because they act as if the religion needs someone to protect it," Assiouty told Mideast Christian News.
Assiouty criticized the religious discourse used by one of the prosecutors in Nour's trial when he said that he attended court because he loves the Prophet Muhammad. He described his speech as "mere rhetoric."
"We all respect religions and messengers and what happens in the courtroom had nothing to do with Islam and freedom of belief," the lawyer added. "Those Islamists know nothing but takfir and murder."
Assiouty pointed out the lawyers of the plaintiff demanded tougher punishment in a case where the judge cannot determine the extent of assault or insult.
"As a lawyer specializing in the affairs of minorities, I have found that there are only charges of contempt of Islam in Egypt," Assiouty pointed out. "While the law provides for a punishment for contempt of the three monotheistic religions, it is not practically enforced except in cases of contempt of Islam."
"The collective mind of Islamists understands that defamation charges should be only applied to Christians, who suffer from many abuses. Christianity is insulted every day and Christians tolerate others for their kind nature and do not file complaints against abusers."
The lawyer added that in the issue of religious defamation, investigators and the police focus only on what they believe supports Islam. This was evident in similar issues, such as the issues of Karim Amer, Albert Saber and Bishoy Kameel, who were sentenced to severe punishment over charges of defamation of religions.
Judge Mohamed el-Tamawi, president of the misdemeanor judicial district of Luxor [Upper Egypt], decided to delay the judgment against Coptic teacher Demiana Ebeid Abdel Nour who is accused of contempt of Islam and preaching Christianity to fourth grade pupils.