Several prominent figures have expressed public solidarity with four Coptic students who were convicted of defamation and insulting Islam, condemning the judicial ruling against the boys and their teacher.
Luka Rady pastor of Mar Johanna church in Assiut issued a letter to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi calling on him to rescind the “injustice on the children and their teacher”.
“We trust you, first as a human, then as a just president, to end this injustice. All they did was mock ISIS, a group that wants to kill Egyptians and all of humanity,” the letter read.
The Coptic high school students—Muller Atef, Bassem Amgad, Alber Ashraf, and Clinton Magdy—from Minya governorate, were sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison by the Minya Juvenile Court on charges of “mocking Islamic prayer rituals” and publishing a video “which disrupts public order”. The boys’ teacher Jad Youssef was sentenced to three years in prison in the same court proceedings.
The cleric’s appeal is the only response from an official in the Orthodox Coptic church after its spokesman Poulos Halim asserted on Saturday that the church would not comment on this case or on any other cases, refuting statements from a clergyman in Sohag Walaan Al-Komos who reportedly said, on behalf of the church in Sohag, that the minors “got what they deserved”.
Several civil rights NGOs and political parties have also condemned the verdict, calling it shocking.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said the sentence, among other similar cases, “violates citizens’ constitutional rights, and most importantly, their freedom of religion, opinion, and expression.”