By: Alexandra Kinias —
Defamation of religion is a phenomenon that is practiced in societies where religious extremism is rooted. In such societies, zealots condemn, prosecute and kill those who speak out against their faith, while giving themselves the license to do and say the exact same against other religions.
With the rise of Islamists to power, Egypt is aggressively following in the footsteps of countries that have been labeled amongst the worse in human rights, freedom of expression and religion. The detention of 24-years old Coptic school teacher Demiana Abdelnour on May 8th is another reminder to where the country is heading. Abdelnour was arrested following complaints by the parents of three of her students at the primary school where she taught. The parents claimed that the social sciences teacher insulted religion and the Prophet Muhammad by saying that the late Pope Shenouda III performed more miracles than the Prophet. They also alleged that she placed her hand on her stomach to convey nausea when mentioning the Prophet. The accusations were entirely based on the testimony of the three students, all under the age of ten. Abdelnour denied all such allegations. And according to the school administration and the confessions of ten other students there was no truth to any of those allegations. 
The incident of Abdelnour is just another in the long strand of events that target the Coptic minorities and affirms that the religious intolerance is steadily increasing. It is only predictable that this phenomenon that has started growing roots in the society will eventually become a trait in the absence of the supervision of civil institutions. The ruling party is keeping closed eyes on the exploitation of the Copts, to threaten and control them. What more can prove that they are being targeted by the government than seeing the police forces standing aside while the Pope’s headquarters was attacked by angry rioters? This incident was the first attack on the seat of Christianity in Egypt in more than 1,400 years. 
Amnesty International has called for the release of Abdelnour. “On numerous occasions, Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities not to prosecute individuals based on blasphemy laws, which criminalize criticism of or insult religious beliefs,” read a statement issued by the international organization. 
Unfortunately, there is a discrimination factor in cases of defaming religion because the majority of people accused are Coptic Christians, Bahá’ís or atheists and as labeled by Abdelnour’s lawyer; it is a one way street cases. 
Meanwhile Abdelnour was being held in custody based on testimonies of three 10-years old school children, the owner of the evangelical Islamic channel, Al-Omma TV, Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah, known as Abu Islam, and his son Islam, were also accused for the chargers of “insulting the Christian faith”. Abu Islam and his son tore up and set on fire a copy of the Bible during protests outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo against a US-made film mocking the Prophet Mohammed. None-the-less, both father and son were arrested, released on bail, but not convicted. The reason for his arrest might have been for the international media to affirm that the government doesn’t tolerate blasphemy from either side. But he was immediately released on bail and back to his show with intense aggression against the the Christians and the church. 
His television show is the media where the notorious Abu Islam, (father of Islam) spreads his venom. He openly refers to Christens as infidels, feverishly insults the church, Jesus and Mary. His blasphemy is available on youtube for the world to watch.    In the spam of years, he was questioned a couple of times by the authorities only to return back with more aggression, disrespect and profanity against the Copts and Christianity. Abu Islam is still on TV squirting his venom to his viewers and fueling the sectarian tension. 
The madness in his eyes and malignancy of his soul, the aggression in his voice and the hatred and intolerance in his words are alarming. But he is not alone. There are tens of Sheikhs like Abu Islam all over the television screens. The business is thriving.
With the high level of illiteracy in Egypt, the hegemony of the unqualified religious Sheikhs is causing the already decaying society to collapse. They preach intolerance through their malicious dialogue in mosques, schools, television, and anywhere they have an audience. They spread racism, fear, abuse, violence and ignorance. Their words are falling on suppressed psychologies where they give them false feelings of power and a delusion of supremacy as being God’s chosen.
It is quite an intriguing psychological relationship between these predators and their victims. Religion is becoming a lucrative business. And the louder and more obnoxious these preachers are, the bigger contracts they get. The malignant control over the masses give them wealth, power and prestige. They manipulate their victims and control them like puppets. Suppressed in their own societies and feeling inferior, the Sheikhs throw them baits that give them a sense of superiority in an illusionary realm. They are promised a better life and are brainwashed to believe that following the rigorous doctrine of Islam would automatically transcend them into the vicinity of the powerful. It is not merely the fear of the other or the insecurities to defend their faith that create these chaotic behaviors. These dialogues also resonate more with the suppressed and abused who find in violence and abuse of the other a relief to their own maladies.
Abdel Nour will not be the last case of blasphemy Egypt will witness in the near future. And with no action taken to punish these Sheikhs or reform their dialogue, we should bid adieu to the country that was once a safe haven to all religions. A country that may leave its mark in the twenty first century by reverting back to medieval times.
* After going on a hunger strike, Abdel Nour was released on L.E. 20,000 bail. This amount is twenty times higher than what others have paid for similar chargers, except for Abu Islam’s. “This bail price is completely arbitrary. When you are forced to pay this much money it is not procedure, it is punishment.” Her lawyer said. 
 Abu Islam insults Jesus – youtube
 Abu Islam insults Mary – you tube