CAIRO (TheBlaze/AP) -- Following what many dubbed an epic battle for additional freedoms, free speech has been dealt a devastating blow in Egypt today. A court in the southern part of the country has sentenced a Coptic Christian teacher to six years in prison for posting on his Facebook page drawings that it ruled insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad and comments deemed an affront to the country's president.
The state news agency said the court decision Tuesday in Sohag province also finds Beshoi el-Behiri guilty of insulting the plaintiff. The court case predates the public anger that was triggered by an amateur movie produced by a Copt living in the United States that ridicules Muhammad as a womanizer, child molester and buffoon.
But sensitivities over the film have clearly hiked the tension around the court. The agency said scores of Islamists protesting outside the courtroom denounced the sentence as meager. El-Behiri had denied the charges, filed late July.
This is the latest development to come out of Egypt, a nation that many have feared would go down a dangerous path of increased Islamist control. In the wake of the film furor, it seems that the free-speech situation, at least in the short term, is quickly devolving. Earlier today TheBlaze reported that Egypt’s general prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant for the anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones.
As TheBlaze's Erica Ritz reported, in recent days, the American faith leader has come under scrutiny for being a key supporter of the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video that is being blamed, at least in part, for riots across the Muslim world.