9 and 10-year-old arrested for blasphemy in Egypt

9 and 10-year-old arrested for blasphemy in Egypt

The Egypt Independent reported on Wednesday that two children, aged nine and ten, were arrested and charged with blasphemy in the Upper Egyptian city of Beni Suef after being accused of urinating on copies of the Quran.

Ibrahim Mohammad, a local sheikh, filed a complaint about the incident, stating that the children were incited to desecrate the Muslim holy books. A prosecutor ordered that the minors be transferred to a juvenile facility on Tuesday night.

Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told the Egypt Independent that 17 cases of religious blasphemy have been filed in Egypt in the wake of violent protests against the anti-Islam film The Innocence of Muslims.

On Sept. 27, an Egyptian court upheld a six-year prison sentence for Albert Saber, a Christian man accused of posting the controversial video to his Facebook page. In a speech at the United Nations on Sept. 26, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi defended Egypt’s blasphemy law, stating that "Egypt respects freedom of expression," but "one that is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed toward one specific religion or cult."

These arrests worry activists who are concerned that free speech in Egypt is being silenced by the new government, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Arabic Network of Human Rights Information expressed its outrage at the crackdowns, calling them a "general inclination by the state to silence opponents."