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Egyptian blogger goes on trial for blasphemy

Defendant pleads not guilty, hearings adjourned to October 17 to afford the defence time to examine case documents

Gulf News

Cairo: A Coptic Christian on Wednesday showed up at an Egyptian court in the first hearing of his trial to face charges of blasphemy for allegedly promoting an anti-Islam video that sparked violent protests in the Muslim world.

Albert Saber, 24, appearing inside an enmeshed cage in court, denied charges that he had insulted Islam and Christianity.

Saber is accused of having set up “blasphemous” pages on social networking sites mocking the two religions and questioning the authenticity of their holy books.

Saber flashed a victory sign inside the cage while his mother burst into tears.

The prosecutor told the court that the defendant had announced his alleged atheism online and derided prophets of Islam and Christianity.

The chief judge of the court Ahmad Thabet said the trial would be adjourned to October 17 to allow the defence time to examine the case documents.

Saber was arrested more than a week ago at his home in a Cairo suburban area after neighbours complained to the police that he had uploaded on his Facebook account scenes from Innocence of Muslims, an American-made video that triggered attacks on US embassies in several Muslim countries.

Last week, an Egyptian court sentenced a Christian schoolteacher to six years in prison after convicting him of insulting Islam and slandering the Islamist President Mohammad Mursi.

Christians account for around 10 per cent of Egypt’s 82 million mostly Muslim population.

They have expressed worries about their freedom due to Islamists’ meteoric rise following a popular uprising that deposed former president Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago.