Blasphemy Charges Still Shackle Egyptian Convert
by Morning Star News
at Baptist Press
"An appeals judge ruled Dec. 28 that Bishoy Armia Boulous, known as Mohammed Hegazy until his conversion in 1998, was not guilty on a charge of spreading information meant to "cause harm or damage to the public interest" and not guilty on the related charge of spreading false news "bound to weaken" Egypt's prestige or harm the "country's national interests."
"Boulous, however, was found guilty of an unidentified charge and sentenced to one year in prison. The specific article of Egypt's Criminal Code that Boulous allegedly violated -- possibly inciting sectarian strife -- was not revealed, but according to the law the judge must do so in sentencing documents to be issued later this month.
"Because Boulous, now in his early 30s, spent more than a year in prison waiting for his appeal to be heard, he should have been released at the conclusion of the Dec. 28 hearing but instead was held without an opportunity to post bail stemming from blasphemy charges filed against him in 2009 by two Islamist lawyers.
"Attorneys believe the state, in effect, is punishing Boulous for his conversion by holding him past the charges' statutory limit and doing so without any possibility of bail..."