A 21-year-old Egyptian student has been sentenced to three years in jail for insulting Islam after he announced on Facebook that he is an atheist, his lawyer said Sunday.
Karim al-Banna’s own father testified against him, alleging his son was “embracing extremist ideas against Islam.” He was jailed by a court in the Nile Delta province of Baheira on Saturday, the Agence France-Presse reported.
“He was handed down a three-year prison sentence, and if he pays a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($140), the sentence can be suspended until a verdict is issued by an appeals court,” Banna’s lawyer, Abdel Nabi, said.
An appeal is scheduled for March 9.
Banna said his neighbors had been harassing him after finding out in a local newspaper that he was an atheist. He went to his local police station in November to file a complaint, but was arrested for insulting Islam after revealing his beliefs, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told AFP after following Banna’s case.
Egypt’s constitution outlaws insults against the three recognized monotheist religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism — AFP reported.