Teenager Gamal Abdou Massoud was sentenced to three years in jail for defaming religion
Teenager Gamal Abdou Massoud was sentenced to three years in jail for defaming religion

An Egyptian court has upheld a three-year sentence handed to a Coptic Christian teenager, who had posted a drawing on his Facebook page that mocked Islam.

Gamal Abdou Massoud, 17, of Manqabad, was found guilty of defaming religion by the Assiut Court of Appeals.

Massoud was accused of posting drawings that mocked Islam and the prophet Muhammad on his Facebook page.

Citing article 98(f) of the penal code, the court of appeal upheld the three-year sentence that had been handed down to Massoud by a juvenile court in Assiut in April.

"Confinement for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years... shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever makes use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or by any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity," the article stipulates.

Massoud was also accused of distributing the pictures to other students in the village of Manqabad, near the southern city of Assiut, provoking anger among Muslim villagers.

This allegedly sparked an anti-Christian riot, in which Muslims protesters threw petrol bombs at six houses owned by Christians, including Massoud's family home. All six houses were burnt to the ground.

The juvenile court also held Massoud responsible for inciting the riot.

The teenager denied all charges against him.

Egyptian telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris was accused of defaming religion for tweeting a picture of a bearded Mickey Mouse and a veiled Minnie Mouse in June 2011. He managed to get the case thrown out of court in March.

The comic actor Adel Imam also received a three-month jail sentence and a fine of LE1000 (£106.00) in April, when a court found him guilty of blasphemy and ridiculing Islam and its symbols in some of his movies. He, too, was absolved of all charges later that month.