Egyptian Christian jailed for contempt of religion

Luxor, Egypt — A court convicted an Egyptian Christian to six years imprisonment for blasphemy and contempt of religion on Tuesday.

The Luxor court issued its verdict against Kerolos Ghattas, 30, after his arrest earlier this month for posting pictures deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page.

Ghattas' arrest sparked fears of sectarian conflict in his village, where unidentified assailants have hurled molotov cocktails at shops owned by Christians. Local authorities beefed up security in the village on Tuesday.

The verdict can be appealed. Egypt has witnessed a rise in the number of cases of Coptic Christians — estimated as 10 percent of the population — over the past three years.

On Monday, another Christian journalist — a convert — was sentenced to six years in prison over his coverage of recent sectarian strife.

Egypt's Christians have complained of discrimination by the nation's Muslim majority.

They have heavily invested in the anti-Islamist movement in the hope of gaining equal rights with their Muslim compatriots, and have overwhelmingly backed President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former army chief who overthrew the Islamist president last July.