Egypt court sentences Terry Jones and 8 others to death over prophet film

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the sentence. The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.

The low-budget “Innocence of Muslims,” parts of which were made available online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information — charges that carry the death sentence.

Maximum sentences are common in cases tried in absentia in Egypt. Capital punishment decisions are reviewed by the country’s chief religious authority, who must approve or reject the sentence. A final verdict is scheduled on Jan. 29.

The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, was among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to one year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.

Multiple calls to Youssef’s attorney in Southern California, Steve Seiden, were not returned Wednesday.

Florida-based Terry Jones, another of those sentenced, is the pastor of Dove World Outreach, a church of less than 50 members in Gainesville, Fla., not far from the University of Florida. He has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the film, as well as Morris Sadek, a conservativeCoptic Christian in the U.S. who posted the video clips on his website.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jones said the ruling “shows the true face of Islam” — one that he views as intolerant of dissent and opposed to basic freedoms of speech and religion.

“We can speak out here in America,” Jones said. “That freedom means that we criticize government leadership, religion even at times. Islam is not a religion that tolerates any type of criticism.”

In a statement sent to The Associated Press Wednesday, Sadek, who fled Egypt 10 years ago and is now a Coptic activist living in Chantilly, Virginia., denied any role in the creation, production or financing of the film.

He said the verdict “shows the world that the Muslim Brotherhood regime wants to shut up all theCoptic activists, so no one can demand Copts’ rights in Egypt.”

Coptic Christians make up most of Egypt’s Christian minority, around 10 percent of the country’s 83 million. They complain of state discrimination. Violent clashes break out occasionally over land disputes, worshipping rights and love affairs between Muslims and Christians.

The connection to the film of the other five sentenced by the court was not immediately clear. They include two who work with Sadek at a radical Coptic group in the U.S. that has called for an independent Coptic state, a priest who hosts TV programs from the U.S. and a lawyer living in Canada who has previously sued the Egyptian state over riots in 2000 that left 21 Christians dead.

In a phone interview, one of the men sentenced who works with Sadek, Fikry Zaklama, said he had nothing to do with the film and hadn’t even seen it.

“When I went to look at it (on the Internet), they told me it had been taken down,” said Zaklama, 65, a Coptic activist and retired physician who practiced in Jersey City, N.J. “I’m not interested. I’m not a clergyman. I’m a political guy.”

Nader Fawzy, a 53-year old jewelry store manager and president of an international Coptic rights organization from Toronto, Canada, said he planned to file a lawsuit against the Egyptian government in Canada for what he said was a wrongful prosecution.

He said he’s terrified of being kidnapped and spirited to Egypt. Fawzy, who came to Canada in 2002 from Sweden and lost his Egyptian citizenship in 1992, denied any involvement in the film. He said the Egyptian government has long been out to get him because of his Coptic Christian activism.

“Of course, I’m worried about this death penalty,” Fawzy said, adding that the verdict has limited his ability to travel freely. “Who will give me guarantees that the Egyptian government will not try to kidnap me, to take me to Egypt?”

The other person is a woman who converted to Christianity and is a staunch critic of Islam.

The official news agency report said that during the trial, the court reviewed a video of some defendants calling for an independent Coptic state in Egypt, and another of Jones burning the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The prosecutor asked for the maximum sentence, accusing those charged of seeking to divide Egypt and incite sedition. All the defendants, except Jones, hold Egyptian nationality, the agency added.

Some Christians and human rights groups worry that prosecutions for insulting religion, which existed to a degree under the secular-leaning regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, will increase with the ascent of Islamists to power in Egypt.


25 of Pastor Terry Jones’ Other Brilliant Ideas

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  1. #1 by Vickie Jacobs on 11/30/2012 - 9:34

    Mike Huckabee has made children’s cartoonS protraying the Arab people as bad. He had a 911 cartoon out there on this. God…..I can’t believe these people are that split brained and mad.

    Huckabee. In Leviticus 19:17…what,…………. did you never see this scripture?

    “…thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart.”………..

    Huckabee………you’ve split brained the church………you knucklehead…..birdbrain,…. hate monger…..children teacher of hate………….

    GO TO HELL!!

    Then they wonder why I left the church………..

  2. #2 by Phishing Man on 11/30/2012 - 9:34

    All religions can stand some scrutiny, they are collections of memes, most of which are unproved assertions. Islam and Christianity are meme complexes, collection of unproved memes, and since they are derived from Judaism, then they are called derivative memeplexes. Since the parent religion Judaism is faulty then the likely hood of the children being off is high, especially considering that religious memeplexes consist of thousands of memes.

    For instance, say two Rabbis are being baked in the sun in the desert 2000 BC. The first dehydrated angry Rabbi says “my God is all powerful and lives in the sky” and the second scorpion bit red faced Rabbi scratches four letters in the sand replies “and this God is named YHWH and talks to me” and on it goes. Pretty soon God has been described as:

    living in the sky in a place called heaven
    all powerful
    has a name ________________
    knows everything you think (omniscient)
    talks to certain tribe members occasionally
    is going to judge you when you die
    sends disobedient humans to hell
    hell is managed by former angels of god

    the derivative religion Christianity comes along and the Judeo memeplex is respun:

    God has a new name ___________________
    He is just as powerful but is more loving than the angry father
    Will save you from the first god
    But you must still obey all the rules of the first memeplex
    walked the earth without a haircut or shoes (hippie)
    got nailed to a cross for your sins

    As a critic of the two memeplexes I point out that:

    1. no one proved any of the assertions of the first memeplex, NASA with all its powerful telescopes has not yet located heaven or the whereabouts of the omnipotent sky god.

    2. This supposed god knows your thoughts and talks to you is a well known phenomena of your subconscious mind communicating to your waking rational mind. It’s not god, it is you talking to yourself. The patriarchal Old Testament story of God telling Isaac to kill his oldest son ( can be understood in modern psychology as the internal conversation of a psychopath who averts tragedy by a heart felt emotion of love for his son before he plunges the knife.

    3. As far as judgment and hell that can be easily explained as the wishful thinking of the angry sun baked Rabbi wishing vengeance on anyone that disobeys his authoritarian rule. No proof of heaven hell or judgment has ever been found and thus if you are rational you discard those ideas as false. The probable source of the idea of angry gods comes from a faulty weather observations of thunderstorms, lightning and thunder.

    4. Christianities new spin is a bandaid on unproven and bad myth. God kills his son (similar to the psychotic story of Isaac) in order to fix his faulty creation and judgment and policy of sending all humans to hell. With the new meme, Jesus dies for you and ends the wrath of the father god on humanity, so long as you believe and obey Rabbinic law. Why is that better? Sounds awful to me, just as bloody as the first book and retains the authority of Jewish rules.

    Terry Jones is stoking anti Islamacism (and possibly a paid agent of Jews/ADL/Israel/State Department/FBI, etc.) and fear of “those mooslims”, he is a flim flam man, marketing his product with controversy, doing this because it gives him and his church much notoriety and desperately needed money as a pastor of a small insignificant backwards church.

    The joke about Baptist preacher Jones is that he is the pot calling the kettle black. Nothing in Christianity is proven so to assert the Islam is false is a faulty claim when he can not prove that his “faith” is true. In fact no “faith” can be proven because it was never assembled by a scientific process of proving the individual memes. Faith is accepting something without proof.

    How can anyone prove:

    existence of god
    heaven or afterlife
    the virgin birth
    the life of Jesus or his miracles
    judgment, hell, devils, eternal punishment
    blood sacrifice as atonement for sin?

    They haven’t and they can’t. But for some reason people still pile in the pews to listen to rabid preachers like redneck Terry Jones who spew Biblical vile at rival faiths. People love preachers like Terry Jones, he is loved by his warmongering congregation. Mohammed is the son of the devil! The Jew says he’s chosen, the Christian says he’s saved, both are asserting superiority. Exclusionism sells to those in ego consciousness.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Terry Jones says that Jesus walked with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago.

  3. #3 by bigcree1 on 12/01/2012 - 9:34

    Religious dogma, and Political prostitution go hand in hand. This guy is a disgusting low life. Just the type ‘they’ are looking for.

  4. #4 by ruby22-kate on 12/02/2012 - 9:34

    Number 2, Phishing Man: “The patriarchal Old Testament story of God telling Isaac to kill his oldest son (”

    Can someone out there who is more knowledgeable about bible please answer my questions?
    1. Was not Ishmail Abraham’s eldest son?
    2. I’ve always heard that it was Isaac that was to be sacrificed, is that true or was it Ishmael?

    I’m sure Phishing Man meant Abraham where he typed Isaac.

  5. #5 by B.A.Frémaux-Soormally on 12/02/2012 - 9:34

    #4 by ruby22-kate on December 2, 2012 – 6:15 pm

    Can someone out there who is more knowledgeable about bible please answer my questions?
    1. Was not Ishmail Abraham’s eldest son?
    2. I’ve always heard that it was Isaac that was to be sacrificed, is that true or was it Ishmael?

    Isma’il (Ishmael) was indeed the legitimate first born and eldest son of Abraham.

    Nobody was to be sacrificed unless we say that God (not the Old Testament one) enjoined human sacrifices.

    But, it is true that Hebrews and Israelites are recorded (rightly or wrongly) to have practiced human sacrifices.

    As for the dream that Abraham was said to have had about offering his ONLY SON, meaning Isma’il (Ishmael), that is, before Isaac was born, it was just a dream and he was prevented from carrying it out after reflection or by God Himself. It is a manner of speech when people of religion says God did this, God did that when in fact we are the ones who do it ourselves.

    This is why Arab Muslims, said to be descendants also of Isma’il, practice this ritual to this very day, but only as a ritual that has one main objective: to feed the poor and share with others. The word used in the Bible for this is CORBAN, In Arabic we say QURBAN.

    But, unfortunately there is much misunderstanding about this symbolic practice.

    Basheer Ahmad

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