Three Coptic Christian teenagers have been sentenced to five years imprisonment in Egypt for 'contempt of Islam' after mimicking an Islamic State (Isis) beheading video. A fourth teenager was sent to a juvenile detention centre for an undetermined period after a video emerged of them reciting Muslim prayers.
The four, Mueller Atef, Albert Ashraf, Bassem Amgad and Clinton Magdy (who received juvenile custody) were all from the central Egyptian province of Minya. Their sentencing follows the jailing of the boys teacher, Gad Youssef Younan, who was convicted for shooting the clip and sentenced to three years imprisonment in January.
Defence lawyer Maher Naguib told Minya's Juvenile Misdemeanour Court that they had not intended to insult Islam in the video, but were mocking infamous beheading videos carried out by Daesh (Isis) militants. The boys were all aged between 15 and 17 when the video was shot in 2015.
The charges against the four started with a legal complaint filed by Muslim residents of Nasiriyah village in Minya. They claimed that a Coptic teacher and his students insulted Islam by making the video during a trip organised by the Evangelical church.
According to reports the video features one of the teens kneeling and reciting Muslim prayers while the other boys stand around him laughing at the scene. The four have not yet been arrested and Naguib said he planned to appeal the judgement. "They have been sentenced for contempt of Islam and inciting sectarian strife," Naguib told AFP. "The judge didn't show any mercy. He handed down the maximum punishment."
The minority Coptic Christian church makes up roughly 10% of Egypt's population of 90 million. Courts have recently convicted several individuals, from both the Muslim and Christian community for insulting Islam.
In January secular writer Fatima Naoot was found guilty of insulting Islam and was sentenced to three years in prison along with a fine of 2,000 Egyptian pounds ($255, £179). The former parliamentary candidate, in a post on her Facebook account described Eid Al-Adha's tradition of slaughtering sheep as the "greatest massacre committed by human beings".