Egyptian Christian Teacher Accused of 'Defaming Islam' Goes on Hunger Strike


Date:  2013-05-12

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LUXOR, EGYPT (ANS) -- The latest victim in the series of defamation of Islam accusations against Christians is a Coptic school teacher, 24-year-old Ms. Demiana Ebeid Abdelnour, who teaches social science at a primary school in Tout, Luxor.

Demiana Ebeid Abdelnour who is on hunger strike

According to Mary Abdelmassih of the Assyrian International News Agency (, Demiana went on hunger strike two days after Luxor prosecution detained her on May 8 for "defamation of Islam." Parents of three school children had accused her of defamation of Islam and insulting Mohammad.

Yesterday (Saturday, May 11), prosecution extended her detention for a further 15 days. It was reported that she was not allowed to be transferred to hospital from prison based on the report of the prison physician. The teacher's union in Luxor said that all investigations confirmed the innocence of Demiana, and that they have assembled a team of lawyers to defend her.

Abdelmassih said that on April 8, 2012 Demiana gave a lesson at Shaikh Sultan school, one of the three schools she was mandated to give lessons in, on the religious life at the time of the pharaohs and polytheism, and how Pharaoh Akhenaten adopted monotheism. This lesson touched on the three main religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- according to the curriculum. Present during the class session was the subject inspector who left 10 minutes before the end of the session.

"Two days later she was advised that her mandate to give lessons at Shaikh Sultan school was cancelled and she has to return to her original school. She was told that the reason was that three students accused her of defamation of religion," Abdelmassih stated.

"Demiana was questioned by three committees, in addition the school director. She was accused of comparing the former Coptic Pope, Shenouda, to Mohammad, as well as putting her hand on her neck or her stomach every time she mentioned Muhammad. She denied all allegations and was absolved by all committees."

But, Abdelmassih said, the local ministry of educations still suspended and stopped her from teaching pending further investigation.

"A witch hunt started against her with parents of children from that school asking for her dismissal," said Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub. "Some parents hired lawyers and presented a complaint to prosecution, accusing her of defamation of Islam and proselytizing, based on allegations of three children who were less than ten years old."

On May 10 Amnesty International issued a statement saying that it was "outrageous that a teacher finds herself behind bars for teaching a class." They added that she must be released immediately and the "spurious charges" should be dropped against her.

Coptic activist Mark Ebeid asked, "Why is defamation of religion a one-way street, only for the benefit of the Muslims, while Christianity is defamed every day?"

He added that Shaikh Abu Islam, who tore and burned the Holy Bible, has not been detained.

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