The trial of Kirollos Shawki, a Christian man from a village near Luxor accused of contempt of religion, has been postponed until 24 June.
Shawki was arrested by police after local residents complained that that he “liked” a social media page entitled “the knights of Christ”, according to Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
Ibrahim reported that the defence lawyer called for the case to be thrown out on the basis of lack of tangible evidence.
Ibrahim told Daily News Egypt that in the week leading up to Tuesday’s trial date, tensions were high between Muslims and Christians in the village of Armant.
He said a short period of calm was broken on Monday when reports came from families that a carpenter’s workshop and a tok-tok belonging to Christians were set ablaze by “unidentified assailants”.
The Free Egyptians Party said in a statement on 30 May that its leaders in the region were able to broker a truce to avoid any violence. Ibrahim said that there had been calls to attack Shawki and his family ahead of the first session of the trial.
Ibrahim said he believes the charge of contempt of religion often suppresses freedom of expression. He added that the quick response to such accusations by the prosecution and police force leads to some people using it as a means of targeting an opponent.