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Saber sentenced to three years for blasphemy

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Egyptian activist to spend three years in prison for questioning religion and role of clerics

Alber Saber's mother, left, and supporters arrive for a hearing in his court case (File photo) Mohamed Omar

Alber Saber’s mother, left, and supporters arrive for a hearing in his court case (File photo, Mohamed Omar)

Al-Marg Misdemeanour Court sentenced activist Alber Saber to three years in prison for “contempt of the Muslim and Christian religions,” on Wednesday.

“Three years for what? There is nothing on him. This is an unjust ruling, they have nothing against the boy,” said Kariman Meseeha, Saber’s mother, who was in tears after the verdict was announced.

The court also set bail at EGP 1,000 and Saber’s lawyers said they would appeal the verdict. He was supposed to be released Wednesday but was sent back to prison due to a clerical error.

“As the lawyers were paying his bail, the court just ordered him back to prison. Obviously the clerk made a mistake and the judge didn’t notice it,” said Ahmed Ezzat, member of Saber’s defence team and of the legal division of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.

He added that since next Saturday is a public holiday due to the scheduled referendum on the constitution, it is unlikely Saber will be released before Sunday. His lawyers are set to start the appeal process Thursday, and a court date is expected after three or four weeks, time which Saber would spend outside of prison.

Saber is accused of contempt of religion for making a video a year ago, in which he asked people to think for themselves and not follow religious authority figures.

He was initially arrested after a mob gathered outside his building and threatened to break into his house. Meseeha, called the police for protection but they arrested Saber instead.

The prosecution initially accused him of spreading the film The Innocence of Muslims on his Facebook account but this accusation was later proven false. The charges were later changed to spreading extremist views through social media.

Saber was attacked in Al-Marg police station following his initial arrest. Inmates cut his throat with a razor blade after police officer Mina Shenouda told them Saber had insulted religion.

Meseeha was forced to leave her home after her son’s arrest. Threats were made against her, to the extent that her house and a nearby church would be burned.

“I expected this verdict. The police and prosecution were very biased against Alber from the start,” said Mohamed Farouk Saad, another lawyer on Saber’s defence team and member of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information.

Saber is a political activist who participated in the 25 January Revolution and was the coordinator of street action and protests for the National Association for Change, led by Mohamed ElBaradei, of which Saber was a founding member of in 2010.

His friends suspect his opposition to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood is related to his arrest and ill-treatment.

“My son has lost the years of his youth, he will come out of prison at 30 years old! He wasted a year dodging State Security, another on the revolution and now they want to lock him up for three more? If this is what the revolution brings I don’t want it,” said Meseeha.

About the author

Ahmed Aboulenein

News Reporter

Ahmed Aboul Enein is an Egyptian journalist who hates writing about himself in the third person. Follow him on Twitter @aaboulenein

  • Gary Albiss

    What do you get when you combine stupidity and cruelty with cowardice?
    Religion, of course!


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