The appeal of writer Karam Saber has been postponed to 28 January by the Beba Misdemeanour Court in Beni Suef on Tuesday, after the case was referred to the Islamic Research Academy.
Saber is appealing a sentence of five years which was handed to him in absentia, for being found guilty for contempt of religion because of a book he had written.
The book, titled “Where is Allah”, is made up of several short stories and was published in 2010. A complaint was filed against Saber in 2011 at the prosecutor general’s office.
The book was analysed by both the Beni Suef diocese and an institution belonging to Al-Azhar, both of which had released similar reports denouncing the book.
After the reports were released, the case was referred to Homeland Security which backed up the reports by the religious institutions.
A group of 42 civil society organisations called for the dropping of all charges against Saber.
The signatory organisations criticised the public prosecution’s behaviour regarding the case, describing its decision to consult the diocese and Al-Azhar regarding the incrimination of a writer as an “unreasonable” act.
In addition to writing, Saber is the Director of the Land Centre for Human Rights, which provides human rights assistance to farmers.
Investigations and trials for contempt of religion have dramatically increased since 2011. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said in September that it was able to track down 63 cases of individuals tried for religious defamation since January 2011.
Last year, blogger Alber Saber was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “contempt of the Muslim and Christian religions” after prosecutors accused him of starting Facebook pages that offend both God and the Muslim and Christian religions. Saber, an open atheist, paid EGP 1,000 for bail and filed an appeal before leaving the country.
Suez Canal University student Sherif Gaber Abdel Azim is currently detained in connection to investigations pertaining to contempt of religion.