Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression

Coptic teacher “Demiana Abdelnour” A new victim of blasphemy cases

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The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) expresses its solidarity with citizen Demiana Abdelnour, who was accused of defamation of religion and whose imprisonment was extended to a further 15 days pending investigation in case no. 810/2013 Luxor/administrative. The association calls upon the prosecution to release her and discard the complaint filed against her in that regard as well as protect her from any threats she may face.

 

Demiana Abdelnour who works as a teacher at El Sheikh Sultan primary school in Tod village, El Adasat, Luxor was arrested when one of the student’s parents filed a complaint against her accusing her of defamation of Islam during her teaching of social studies, upon which the school administration carried out an internal investigation by asking several pupils most of whom denied the charges against her. Demiana informed AFTE lawyer that all she did was present a comparison between religions in ancient, middle and recent times, and according to the provisions of the school curriculum.

 

The public prosecution Decided to arrest DemianaAbdelnour on the 4th of May 2013. she was questioned on the 8th of May and the prosecution decided to detain her for 4 days pending investigations. She was summoned again in front of a magistrate to look into renewal of her detention on the 11th of May and her detention was extended to a further 15 days.

 

AFTE demanded that protection for people accused of such charges in view of the threats they receive which amount to forceful prevention of their lawyers from standing in their defense in court, as was the case with Demiana’s lawyers during the renewal session. Lawyers of the complainants physically attacked her lawyers at the end of the session.

 

AFTE also calls upon legislative authorities to urgently cancel penal code provisions that open the door for such accusations, which have become a serious threat to freedom of expression, especially those cases of defamation of religion are on a continuous rise. AFTE also holds the public prosecutor responsible for the consequences of such cases which are maliciously motivated.

 

AFTE draws public attention that monitoring of such cases over the few previous months indicates a clear religious discrimination against those targeted by those accusations, most of which belong to religious minorities.

 

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