Misdemeanor Judge Orders Release of Shi’ite Suspects on LE10,000 Bail Each

Press Release

27 October 2010

The Marg misdemeanor court yesterday ordered the release on bail of five Shi’ites charged with showing contempt for religion; bail was set at LE10,000 for each suspect. State Security Investigations (SSI) had arrested several Shi’ites of various nationalities more than 35 days ago, after which the Supreme State Security Prosecutor charged them with showing contempt for the Sunni confession and other charges related to their sectarian affiliation. The five suspects were brought before a summary judge for a remand hearing, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said today.

The EIPR also expressed its extremely dismay at the high sum required for bail, which may in effect make the release order meaningless. According to information obtained by the EIPR, none of the five suspects were able to meet bail and they were all returned to Tora Prison.

“Our primary demand is that all the suspects be released without insuperable conditions and that all charges against them be dropped since they violate the Constitution and international human rights law, both of which uphold freedom of religion and belief for all,” said Hossam Bahgat, Executive Director of the EIPR. “It’s absurd to make a person who belongs to one religious confession answer for the fact that he doesn’t belong to a different confession. These religious-based charges and investigations represent an ongoing assault on personal liberties, particularly since these charges, like others used to punish certain ideas and beliefs, are based on a statute that violates provisions of the Egyptian Constitution itself,” he added.

The EIPR also demanded an end to violations of citizens’ religious freedoms by the security apparatus, particularly the SSI, and the abolition of Article 98(f) of the Penal Code on the defamation of religion.