The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) denounces in the strongest terms the public prosecution decision of Albert Saber Ayyad’s imprisonment, impending further investigation, based on the charges of “religion contempt”; after recording a video in which he criticized a number of religions’ teachings and instructions.
Albert Ayyad was arrested last Thursday’s evening, when crowds of citizens gathered in front of his house in El Marg neighborhood, in Eastern Cairo. The masses were chanting and repeating provocative slogans inciting his murder, after claiming that he had contempt religions through his personal social networks accounts. As a result, his mother called the police seeking protection from the masses in case they decide to storm into their house and cause them any harm. However, according to the mother, the police forces came to arrest her son, taking him to El Marg police station, after confiscating his personal computer and a number of CDs.
At the police station, an officer incited a number of prisoners to attack Ayyad. Eventually, someone antagonized him and attacked him causing an incise wound in his neck using a sharp blade, which had been proven during the investigation carried out by the Public Prosecution.
These violence incitement acts did not only impair Ayyad, but on Friday morning, his mother was forced to leave her house in the neighborhood after a number of citizens threatened of killing her and burning her house.
AFTE believes that holding a criminal investigation and imprisoning a citizen and forcing his parents to leave their place of living, only because he freely expressed his opinions, is in fact an alarming signal of the state’s opposing stand against freedom of expression, in particular, with minorities and vulnerable groups, as the Copts.
In addition, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression emphasizes the danger of ignoring the violence incitement practiced by a number of religious TV channels, against Copts, after the crisis of the American film that criticizes Islam; and at the same time, imprisoning a citizen belonging to a Christian family after expressing his opinions. These acts only indicate a great degree of injustice and power abuse against religious minorities.
AFTE believes, that expressing one’s opinions, even if they were shocking and unfamiliar to the majority of the society, should never lead to his imprisonment or to his family dislodgment, as is the case with Albert’s family. Such abusive measures are the attributes of only non-democratic and authoritarian states; and they should end immediately for preserving and maintaining the rule of law which protects human rights and holds accountable those who violate them.
Finally, AFTE holds the state bodies in concern, responsible and accountable for protecting Albert Ayyad and his family, from any danger or harm that could reach them, as a result of the violence incitement carried out against them. It also demands his immediate release and urges the omission of legislative provisions that criminalizes the criticism of religions.