Imprisoned Egyptian Christian Journalist Awaits Impending Appeal Verdict on 28 December
An Egyptian Christian journalist who was given a five-year prison sentence and fined for allegedly causing "sectarian strife" as he reported on the persecution of Christians in Egypt, is set to hear the verdict of his appeal hearing on 28 December in the city of Minya.
While working on a documentary that investigates Islamist attacks on Egyptian Christians, Bishoy Boulous Armia (32) was arrested on 4 December 2013 and convicted of "disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information" at the Minya Criminal Court on 18 June this year. On the date of the appeal hearing, 20 July, the court ordered his release after his lawyer filed a complaint that the prisoner had not been set bail in accordance with the judicial code. But on the very next day, Bishoy was re-arrested to face charges of "insulting Islam" that had been filed against him in 2009, and was transferred to Tora Prison in Cairo. No trial date has yet been set for these accusations.
According to Mr Boulous' lawyer, Karam Ghobrial, Bishoy was "detained inside the execution chamber in violation of the law" on 1 December even though this is reserved for prisoners on death row. After threatening to starve himself to death if not removed, Bishoy was later transferred back to Tora Prison.
Mr Boulous, whose name was Mohammed Hegazy, and his wife Karina, converted to Christianity in 1998. Following their conversion, the family received death threats, including from their own parents. Their lawyer was also threatened, causing him to resign from the case. In 2001, Bishoy Boulous was arrested and tortured for three days.
In 2007, he further enraged authorities when he filed a lawsuit attempting to change the religious affiliation on his identity papers because his wife was pregnant. Converts to Christianity are never allowed to change their religion on their identity papers, and Egyptian law dictates that the religious affiliation of a baby matches the religion of its father. The registered affiliation determines which churches and religious classes an individual may attend. Not allowed to change the religious affiliation on their ID cards, it is difficult for Christian converts from Islam to attend church meetings as Egyptian police will often check the identity papers of those going to high-profile church events, especially over the Christmas period.
Friends of Mr Boulous claim that the real reason why he has been arrested is because of his conversion to Christianity which became public after his attempts to change his religion on his identity papers.
originally posted at Barnabas Aid
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