Several news organizations and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information reported on Wednesday that author聽Karam Saber had been sentenced, in absentia, by a court in Beni Suef聽to five years in prison on charges of insulting religion:

1(7)The insult was allegedly made in a collection of short stories, 兀賷賳 丕賱賱賴責 –聽Where is God?聽(2010).

A suit was filed against Saber in April 2011 with the attorney general in Beni Suef,聽聽alleging that that Saber’s book聽 contains聽 statements insulting of religious beliefs. At the time,聽Saber said he’d been informed that his book would be referred to聽the Committee of Senior Scientists of Al-Azhar for context analysis to determine if it contains offensive words.

Apparently some scholar felt it did, although Saber told聽told Aswat Masriya聽that the collection of short stories is a work of literature that shall not be measured using “religious standards.” He also told AM聽that he will continue to defend his right of expression inside and outside of the court.

Saber also said that he plans to appeal the verdict and plans to present the court with a legal challenge tomorrow.

This comes with an apparent rise in blasphemy cases.