Sarah El Deeb of the Huffington Post reports, “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.”
Deeb states, “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.” However, Islamists tend to carry out these of kinds of sentences on foreign soil.
Notable examples happened after the cartoons of Mohammed were published in the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten.
Numerous violent plots related to the cartoons have been discovered in the years since the main protests took place in early 2006. These have primarily targeted editor Fleming Rose, cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the property or employees of Jyllands-Posten or other newspapers that had printed the cartoons, or representatives of the Danish state. Westergaard particularly has been the subject of several attacks or planned attacks and now lives under special police protection. On New Year’s Day 2010 police had to shoot a would be assassin in his home.
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 conservative Coptic 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.”
Some are concerned that the imprisonment of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the video, is a sign that freedom of speech is being limited by the Obama administration in order to appease Islamists. Some have called Nakoula a “political prisoner“. Pastor Jones had nothing to do with the creation of the video.
Sentencing Americans to death by Egyptian courts is problematic and not to be taken lightly.