Two men referred to state security for distributing Bibles at Cairo Book Fair

Manar Ammar
2 Min Read

CAIRO: Egyptian state security police arrested two Christian men on Sunday at the Cairo International Book Fair for distributing Bibles to passersby, Naguib Gobrael, lawyer and head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organizations (EUHRO) told Daily News Egypt.

Mina Adel Shawky and Essam Kedees Nassif from Dayrout, in the Upper Egypt governorate of Assiut were arrested and charged with preaching, which is not an offense according to Egyptian law.

The men purchased several copies of the Holy Bible and started distributing it before a bystander spotted them and informed security officials.

Gobrael said that both men were referred to state security in Dayrout.

“It’s a book fair and there are Christian bookshops and outlets that sell the Bible among other religious books, where is the harm? Gobrael asked.

“The fact that the men were giving away books is not a crime, he said. “If they were Muslim, the consequences would be different and so would the treatment.

Others argue that there are hidden reasons behind the arrest.

“I believe that it is a precautionary procedure from state security, Ahmed Samih, director of the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, told Daily News Egypt.

“The state carries out arrests like that in order to keep an eye on Coptic activists. Preaching, evangelization and missionary work is considered a serious security issue and they intent to maintain control over it to avoid sectarian violence, Samih added.

Although the Egyptian penal code does not criminalize preaching, some who attempt it, whether Muslim or Christian, may face detention or interrogation. Moreover, human rights activists are angered by the existence of an anti-missionary unit affiliated to the state security apparatus.

“How can you have something like that in Egypt when the constitution protects freedom of religion? Gobrael asked.

News of the arrests have rippled through online forums on Coptic websites and blogs, with many expressing anger over what they deemed “one more brick added to the hatred wall.

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