Christian jailed for blasphemy acquitted, released after three years

Blasphemy
Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Originally published in Christian Today

An Egyptian Coptic Christian who was imprisoned for defamation of Islam before being proved innocent, has said he thanks God for his time in jail.

“I spent three years and two months in prison,” Bishoy Kameel Garas told International Christian Concern (ICC).

“But I thank God for everything.”

Garas was proven innocent after serving more than half his six year sentence for defamation of Islam.

He was jailed in September 2012 for charges related to Facebook posts by a fake account opened in his name.

His offences included offending Islam, the then-President Mohamed Morsi, and a Muslim sheikh’s sister.

Cairo’s senior court ruled against the prison sentence on July 25, 2015, but Garas remained in prison until October 9, due to “intransigence by the prosecution, and prison authorities dragging their feet”, his lawyer Magdy Farouk told World Watch Monitor.

Ruled innocent
It was not until five months later, March 13, that the higher court ruled him innocent.

“[My imprisonment] was the will of God, and we have to accept God’s will,” Garas told ICC.

“Our view is limited but God’s [view] is unlimited.”

His mother, Sana, described living “in a state of fear and terror” during her son’s imprisonment.

“Our lives were in danger every day,” she said.

“We thank God so much for standing with Bishoy, protecting him, and acquitting him,” she told ICC.

There have been nine cases of “defamation of religion” filed in Egyptian courts since January 2015, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. Twelve people have been convicted and 12 more cases are pending.

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