By Deena Wahba
Luxor’s Misdemeanour Court on Tuesday ordered that a teacher convicted of contempt of religion pay a fine of EGP100, 000, in a verdict handed down by presiding Judge Mohamed El-Tamawi.
Demiana Abdel Nour, a 24-year-old social studies teacher in Luxor, was summoned by the public prosecutor on 8 May after parents of three students at Sheikh Sultan Primary School filed complaints claiming that Abdel Nour insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad by saying that the late Pope Shenouda III performed more miracles than the Prophet. They added that she placed her hand on her stomach to convey nausea when mentioning the Prophet.
However, according to Ahmed Ezzat, a lawyer at the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression’s (AFTE) legal unit and a member of Abdel Nour’s defence team, a large number of students denied that any such attacks on religion had taken place.
Despite this, Ezzat was unsurprised by the outcome. “The verdict was expected, as the accused in cases related to contempt of religion are always found guilty,” he said. “I’ve never seen a case that was found otherwise.”
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has previously criticised the surge of attacks on freedom of speech as well as the rising number of cases filed against individuals accused of contempt of religion. EIPR stated that in June alone, three cases of insulting religion were filed and one of the accused, Murad Sa’ad, was sentenced to a year in jail and hard labour in Assiut.