Egyptian Blogger Faces Blasphemy Charges Over Alleged Internet Posting of Anti-Islam Film
Alber Saber, an Egyptian man from a Coptic Christian family, is facing major penalties after he allegedly shared the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” on the Internet. Saber is being put on trial for blasphemy (i.e. “insulting religions”) as a result of his purported actions, with supporters calling the government’s move against the man into question.
The 27-year-old’s legal problems began after his neighbors accused him of defaming Islam and of being an atheist. The situation became so grave that his family was forced from their home and his mother received death threats. Inevitably, Saber was sentenced to 15 days in jail and, in the end, he may end up facing much steeper penalties.
According to The Washington Post, on September 12, an angry mob came to Saber’s home, as neighbors tried to knock the door down and make their way into the apartment. Kariman Ghali, the man’s mother, claims that the crowd was “damning” the family to hell and threatening its members lives. Ghali, a Christian, could hear the crowd calling for her to be burned and lambasting followers of Jesus Christ.
A video captures some of the chaos that unfolded outside of the home, as the crowd cheered and Saber was taken away by authorities:
According to UPI, individuals standing by Saber claim that, while he’s being punished for merely sharing the clip, Khaled Abdel Allah, a Salafist television presenter who showed the very same video to the masses, isn’t being held accountable. Critics claim that Allah’s showing of the film is what brought mass attention to the film on satellite television.
Saber’s attorney is arguing that the government has no proof that his client is connected to the video. On Wednesday, Saber appeared before a court in Egypt where arguments were held against him. The Post has more about the details and implications of the case, specifically when it comes to free-speech implications:
The arrest points to stark differences in law and attitude regarding freedom of expression, especially as applied to religion, in the Middle East and the United States.
His lawyers deny Saber had anything to do with the video, although they concede he did engage in ruminations about the meaning of religion on social media sites.
Showing contempt toward what Egyptian statutes call the “heavenly” religions — Christianity, Islam, Judaism — is punishable by up to five years in Egypt.
President Barack Obama’s address to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday highlights this continued difference when it comes to free-speech rights in the Middle East when compared to America.
Activists have claimed that Saber is an atheist, a factor that could also come into play, specifically considering allegations that he posted the anti-Islam video in an effort to insult the faith. He can be seen asking, “How do I know who the true God is?,” on a separate clip posted on Facebook. In it, he also explained his confusion surrounding the differences between Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
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