Egypt Christian activists held for 'insulting Islam'

Middle East Times 

CAIRO --  Two Coptic Christian rights activists have been arrested in Egypt for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammed on a British-based Web site, their lawyer and a judicial source said Thursday.

Security forces Wednesday arrested the Egyptian country director of the Middle East Christian Association (MECA) Adel Fawzi, 61, and the association's photographer Peter Ezzat, 35, their lawyer Naguib Guebrail said.

"They were arrested at home in Cairo and were still being held Thursday morning," said Guebrail. "We haven't been officially told why they were arrested but security sources told us they are accused of distributing religiously defamatory books that incited confrontation between Copts and Muslims," he said.

Computers, CDs, and documents were seized by security forces, the lawyer and judicial source said. The source said that the pair had been arrested for insulting Islam on the British-based United Copts Web site.

"The Egyptian public prosecutor ordered Fawzi and Ezzat arrested for publishing articles and declarations that are damaging to Islam and insulting to Prophet Mohammed on the United Copts Web site," the source said. "These arrests follow a complaint about the two people who run the site made by two lawyers who felt offended by the publication of these articles," he said.

"Police ransacked Fawzi's home and took his computer and his published book Persecuted Copts," the United Copts Web site said.

The Web site says that its aims include "exposing the injustice the Copts suffer" and "promoting constructive dialogue with the Egyptian government agencies and moderate Muslims."

Copts are estimated to form 6 to 10 percent of Egypt's 76 million people and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. They frequently complain of alleged discrimination and mistreatment at the hands of Egypt's majority Muslims, especially in cases of religious conversion.

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