Date: June 29, 2014
By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)-- An Egyptian journalist who captured video of clashes between Muslims and Christians, is appealing the five-years prison sentence he received on charges of "inciting sectarianism", Christians and his lawyer say.
The Criminal Court of Minya issued its verdict on Monday, June 23 against Beshoy Armia, a 32-year-old Christian convert who works as a reporter for US-based Christian TV network The Road."
He was detained last December and charged with publishing false news to incite sectarian strife.
The detention has also been linked to his decision to convert from Islam to Christianity. Minority Christians comprise just 10 percent of Egypt's mainly Muslim population.
Beshoy Armia, formerly known as Mohamed Hegazy, was convicted for failing to obtain permission to film demonstrations in the Egypt's Minya governate, his defense team said.
The volatile region in central Egypt has seen anti-Christian violence following the July 2013 ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.
Armia's crime is a misdemeanor and he already has spent more than 6 months in custody -- the maximum for misdemeanors -- since his detention, according to trial observers.
"This verdict is contradictory to the law because it didn’t include paying the bail to release the accused until the appeal, as in all misdemeanor crimes,“ said his attorney, Karam Ghobrial, in published remarks.
The case comes amid reported growing pressure on Christians, and especially converts in the heavily Islamic country.
It also follows the sentencing of three Al Jazeera television journalists, who were jailed for seven years each by an Egyptian judge last week on charges of aiding a "terrorist organisation".
The three, who all denied the charge of working with the now banned Muslim Brotherhood group, included Australian Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian national Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera English.
The third defendant, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, was given an extra three years for possessing a single bullet, at the hearing attended by Western diplomats, some of whose governments summoned Egypt's ambassadors over the case.
One Dutch journalist woman and two Britons were sentenced to 10 years in absentia on the same charges of aiding a "terrorist group".