The Minya Misdemeanour Court decided on Monday to release Nazeer Ishaq Ahmed Abdel Hafez, who was accused, along with others, in an incident of sectarian violence in May.
The defendant’s lawyer, Ismail Sayed, said that he is also required to pay a EGP 10,000 fine.
The incident began when a rumour about an alleged affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman sparked tensions in Al-Karam village in Minya, leading to threats against the man who subsequently left the village. One day later, a group estimated at more than 200 people looted and torched at least seven homes belonging to Coptic families, according to the archbishop’s statement.
The man’s 70-year-old mother was forced out of her home by an angry mob, dragged in the street, beaten, and had her clothes ripped off, according to a statement by the archbishop.
Following the incident, police arrested five people including Abdel Hafez over the incident.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi instructed respective authorities to hold accountable those who are responsible for the incident.
Similarly, violent clashes broke out recently in Minya between Muslims and Christians in the village of Koum Al-Loufy, after a resident circulated a rumour that a new church would be built in the village.
Several religious entities and non-governmental organisations condemned the incident and demanded that the government seriously confront such cases as well as augment its efforts to discuss in parliament the bill regarding the building of churches as soon as possible.