Several news organizations and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information reported on Wednesday that author Karam Saber had been sentenced, in absentia, by a court in Beni Suef to five years in prison on charges of insulting religion:
A suit was filed against Saber in April 2011 with the attorney general in Beni Suef, alleging that that Saber’s book contains statements insulting of religious beliefs. At the time, Saber said he’d been informed that his book would be referred to 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 told Aswat Masriya that the collection of short stories is a work of literature that shall not be measured using “religious standards.” He also told AM 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.