Egypt
Egypt's High Court in downtown Cairo on January 01, 2015.Getty Images

An Egyptian student has been sentenced to three years in jail over a Facebook post where he proclaimed that he is an atheist and insulted Islam, his lawyer said on Sunday (11 January).

An Egyptian court in the Nile Delta province of Baheira jailed the 21-year-old, Karim al-Banna, on Saturday (10 January) after his own father testified against him.

Speaking to AFP News, al-Banna's lawyer, Ahmed Abdel Nabi said an appeal will be heard on 9 March.

"He was handed down a three-year prison sentence, and if he pays a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds (£661) the sentence can be suspended until a verdict is issued by an appeals court," said Nabi.

Al-Banna's father testified against his son saying "[he] was embracing extremist ideas against Islam."

Al-Banna had been facing neighbourhood harassment ever since his name had appeared in a local daily under a list of atheists, said a researcher on religion and beliefs at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Upon approaching the police to file a harassment complaint, al-Banna was arrested and accused of insulting Islam.

He has been in police custody since November.

Sentencing over blasphemy is common in Egypt, where authorities have even set up workshops to counter atheism, reported France24 News.

Activist and writer Karam Saber was sentenced to five years in jail last June for writing a book that allegedly promoted atheism in the country.

Saber came under fire after publishing a collection of short stories titled "Where Is God?"

Shortly after the stories were published, several citizens from Beni Sueif filed a legal complaint against him alleging his work promotes atheism.