In a move that is being seen as largely symbolic, an Egyptian court sentenced to death in absentia 7 Coptic Christians and US pastor Terry Jones, famous for burning the Koran in Florida that sparked violent demonstrations in Afghanistan killing 10 people and injuring 78 others, linked to an anti-Muslim film that sparked riots across the Muslim world. The sentence is seen as symbolic because all of the convicted persons involved live outside of Egypt in the US and are unlikely to ever be in the country to face the sentence.
The New York Daily News adds that maximum sentences tried in absentia are common in Egypt, and that a religious authority must review the sentence before final sentencing on January 29, 2013. US pastor Terry Jones was defiant in the face of the sentencing.
Jones told The Associated Press that the ruling “shows the true face of Islam” — one that he views as intolerant of dissent and opposed to basic freedoms of speech and religion.
“We can speak out here in America,” Jones said Wednesday. “That freedom means that we criticize government leadership, religion even at times. Islam is not a religion that tolerates any type of criticism.”