A student from Ismailia was given a one year prison sentence by a court Monday for contempt of religion relating to activities on campus and atheist statements online.
Sherif Gaber, 22, was studying at Suez Canal University in 2013, when teaching staff and fellow students reported him via a petition to the institution’s President. They said he had made posts supporting atheism on Facebook, and suspected him of being behind a page called ‘The Atheists’.
Subsequently, the university’s then-president Mohamed A. Mohamedein personally filed a legal complaint against the student to the local prosecution on the grounds of contempt of religion. Monday’s verdict on the case allows Gaber to avoid the prison sentence on a bail of EGP 1,000. However, a retrial that could increase the sentence to over two years is due to take place in the coming weeks.
Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Gaber said how he was a “good student… top of his class”, but that his run-in with the university began after he challenged a science teacher. This arose over the teacher calling homosexuality a sin, and for homosexuals to “be crucified in the middle of the streets”.
According to Gaber, a lecturer from the university proceeded to print posts from
Gaber’s Facebook page that questioned religion. In front of a class, the lecturer declared that he would submit them as evidence to the University’s president and the prosecutor general.
Gaber said that nothing happened for a few months, and then on 27 October 2013 he was arrested from his home at 3am.