By Federica Ibrahim
A Minya misdemeanor court on Monday sentenced journalist Bishoy Armiato 5 years imprisonment and a fine of EGP 500 for inciting sectarian strife.
Bishoy Armia, born Mohamed Hegazy El-Sayed, was also charged with “depicting Christians as suffering from sectarian oppression” and for “reporting misinformation” to US-based television channel Al Tariq (The Road).
According to Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Armia was arrested after covering two sectarian incidents between Christians and Muslims in two villages in Al-Minya.
Armia converted from Islam to Christianity in 2008, and requested to have his conversion reflected on his national identification card after changing his name.
Ibrahim questioned the fairness of the trial and whether the police officers responsible for the investigation and the officials assigned to issue the verdict would be able “to focus on the facts and the charges against him, without considering his background.”
Ibrahim said that while Copts are not singled out, there exists a general climate of repression against personal freedoms – as was succinctly demonstrated in the al-Jazeera trial on Monday.