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No legal basis to 'anti-Islam' charges for Coptic boys: rights defender

Egyptian Coalition on Children's Rights denounces detention of two Christian children accused of ripping up Quran, calls for revision of children's rights in Egypt's upcoming constitution

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Oct 2012
Egyptian Coalition on Children's Rights logo
Views: 1380
Views: 1380

The Egyptian Coalition on Children's Rights (ECCR) issued a statement Thursday strongly condemning the arrest of two Coptic Christian children, aged just nine and ten, for "insulting religion" in the upper Egyptian governorate of Beni Suef.

The two boys, Nabil Nagy Rizk, 10, and Mina Nady Farag, 9, from Ezbet Marco village, were detained on Tuesday at the Beni Suef juvenile centre, after local village Iman Ibrahim Mohamed Ali accused them of tearing up pages of the Quran.

The attorney-general subsequently discharged the boys on Thursday but failed to acquit them, telling Ahram Online that a condition of the release was that their parents sign documents promising the boys will return for further questioning.

The rights group statement warned against actions which escalated religious tensions in Egypt and in particular "using children as part of the conflict to ignite sectarian strife."

ECCR General Secretary Hani Helal told Ahram Online that the case had no legal basis.

"The trial is null and void given that the accusations against the children have not been proven," Helal explained, adding that Beni Suef court itself should face legal action for carrying out the order to detain the boys.

ECCR went to the general-prosecutor's office earlier on Thursday to demand their release, particularly as no official state body is overseeing the children's current legal predicament.

Consequently, Helal confirmed, the ECCR legal unit is working on the case. Mina Nady Farag's family has agreed to allow the organisation to represent them. 

"These events highlight the need to revise children's rights in the upcoming constitution and to protect their rights as enshrined in international treaties that Egypt is signatory to."

Helal further stressed that it is crucial that religious groups and figures stop igniting the issue by calling for further penalties.

 "Such an incident, the attempt to ignite sectarian strife, is creating a state of fear for Egypt's minors and also for the country at large," he stated.

Helal warned that while authorities have released statements condemning recent incidents of discrimination against Coptic Christians, the perpetrators have yet to be penalised.

The events in Beni Suef come after a wave of similar arrests across Egypt.

Earlier this month in Sohag, a Copt school teacher, Bishoy Kamel, was sentenced to six years in prison for posting cartoons deemed defamatory to Islam and Prophet Mohammed on social-networking site Facebook, as well as for insulting President Mohamed Morsi and his family.  

This followed the arrest of a Coptic man, 25-year-old Albert Saber, on 13 September, who was charged with insulting religion for allegedly posting the controversial anti-Islam short film, Innocence of Muslims, also on his Facebook page.

Saber, who was referred to Marg Misdemeanor Court, is still in detention awaiting trial.

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06-10-2012 10:26am
To ALL: STOP igniting sectarian violence
By now, one is sick to death hearing about the ignorance of Islam's tolerance to other religions and the serious damage this can cause to a civil society. I agree fully with comments from Ibram below, and people in Egypt need to choose between tolerance and prosperity to all or intolerence, poverty and wasting time in sectarian fighting. Yes, RELIGION IS A PRIVATE MATTER, and if one wants to mix religion with politics, then one first needs to respect people of other religions and do not impose ones views on them. No Egypt without Copts side by side with Muslims so better to live together in peace and build a prosperous future for our children.
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04-10-2012 07:24pm
What A Disgrace, what happened tomy beloved egypt
What has happened to egypt? It has gone from bad to disastorous. The Islamists have taken over this wonderful country. At this rate,the people will regret they unseated Mubarak. This is not democracy, this is a radical theocracy. The brotherhood need to take control and remind the salafists, THIS IS NOT Saudi Arabia, This is EGYPT THE MOTHER OF THE WORLD. Stop dividing and start uniting. STOP destroying and start Building What happened to the spirit of Tahrir square??? It is depressing to see my homeland torn apart by extremists. Morsy, Take control, Rule with an iron fist, unite the people. RELIGION IS A PRIVATE MATTER, not a toy to be used and abused by radical todivide this once great nation. The reputation and image of egypt is going down the toilet. PLEASE STOP the absurdity. think before you act. Show the world ISLAM is tolerant, Show the world ISLAM doesnot care about the actions of the foolish. Show the world that words, films, cartoons do not effect Is
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07-10-2012 02:00pm
they were elected
The Islamists have been elected by the people, and they will be elected again and again and again. They didn't usurp power.

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