Eygpt: Exiled Christian Teacher Awaits 'Blasphemy' Appeal

Friday, May 9, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

CAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News)-- One year after Islamists in upper Egypt accused her of committing blasphemy in front of a class of Muslim students, a Coptic Christian teacher fled to France where she remains in exile, according to Morning Star News.

Demyana Abd Al-Nour, a social studies teacher at the Sheikh Sultan Primary School in Al-Edisat, fled the country before she was formally charged with violating Article 98f of the Egyptian Criminal Code. Her flight appeared to be justified after the court refused to allow witnesses to testify to her innocence. Not surprisingly, she was convicted and fined 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($14,270U US), a penalty well beyond her means to pay.

Remaining incognito as her appeal winds through the serpentine Egyptian legal system, Al-Nour is awaiting the outcome of the proceedings, according to Safwat Samaan, chairman of "Nation Without Borders," a human rights group in Luxor. Samaan said Al-Nour is preparing to become a refugee if her case isn't dismissed.

"She has been in France since the case started. If she is sentenced, she will apply for a political asylum."

Al-Nour's nightmare began last year when several parents and teachers accused her of blaspheming Islam and its prophet. Their accusations stemmed from a lesson about Egyptian history and ancient religion even though it was part of the official school curriculum.

Accusations against Al-Nour have been contradictory, said Samaan. Documents in the case have been forged and children in her class were supposedly pressured by adults into lying about what happened.

Three students claimed that Al-Nour had either spoken against Muhammad, or made rude gestures about him, but their testimonies didn't agree with one another; the rest of Al-Nour's students said she never even mentioned Muhammad in her lesson.

Samaan said that when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, it wanted to hurt anyone in Egypt who wasn't Islamic enough for them, especially Christians.

"It all came down to their hatred against anyone who didn’t agree with them," he said.

Indeed, the charges against Al-Nour came at a time of widespread hostility towards all Christians from Muslims armed with bogus accusations of blasphemy. Many accusations were made by Muslim Brotherhood members, and once the charges were filed, alleged offenders were often convicted despite a lack of evidence.