Egyptian television preacher charged with blasphemy against Christianity
On September 30, 2012 At 2:01 am
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Ahmed Abdallah, a Muslim television preacher in Egypt, has been charged with blasphemy against Christianity. Abdallah was videotaped tearing up and burning a Bible in a protest in Cairo earlier this month.
Abdallah told Al Jazeera that he'd do it again if Bibles were not so expensive.
"If I am convicted, it could cause further trouble. That man who burned the Holy Koran, Terry Jones, is protected in the United States; yet I, an icon of this nation, am accused of blasphemy against religion," he said.
Abdallah's case is rare in that it involves allegations of blasphemy against Christianity. Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country so blasphemy trials usually are targeted against people insulting Islam. But computer science graduate Alber Saber, 27, was arrested at his Cairo home on September 13 after neighbors accused him of uploading sections of the film "Innocence of Muslims" and making another movie mocking all religions. He is accused of blasphemy against both Islam and Christianity. His mother is too afraid to go back to their home, telling Al Jazeera that her son is a target of a witch hunt. "It's very difficult to hear these accusations against my son. Is this the change we strived for when we called for freedom and social justice?" she asked. "How can the prosecution ask me what I think about Prophet Mohammad and about my religious practices? Only God can ask me that."
The preacher's case, along with cases of blasphemy by Egypt's Christian minority, has led some to say the nation's laws need to be revised to insure the regulations are not being abused by lawmakers and prosecutors.
"These blasphemy laws are too broad," said human rights lawyer Gamal Eid. "Prosecutors can exploit them to bring charges against anyone who criticizes religion or practices freedom of expression."