American pastor Terry Jones and seven Coptic Christians have been given the death penalty by an Egyptian court over their part in the anti-Islam film released on the Internet in September which prompted violent protests in a number of Muslim countries.
The Egyptian high court found the defendants guilty of insulting and publicly ridiculing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, harming national unity and spreading false information. These so-called offenses are, according to Egyptian law, deserving of capital punishment – except in this case the defendants were all tried in absentia.
Jones, of course, famously lives and preaches in Gainesville, Florida, while the seven Coptic Christians who were also tried by the court, including Egyptian-American Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who is currently serving a one-year-jail term in Los Angeles, were similarly tried in their absence.
The 13-minute low-budget video they were convicted for, which was produced privately in California, denigrated the Prophet Muhammad. Protests over the video brought several deaths and numerous casualties.
“The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet,” Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman is quoted as saying.
Jones has wasted no time in commenting in typical, derisive fashion. Reports ABC:
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.”
Jones, whose media-hungry antics include his burning of a Koran, footage of which featured in the trial, will in December release another anti-Islam film entitled The Innocent Prophet which claims to shed light on the “dangers” of Islam from an ex-Muslim’s point of view.
Jones also plans to hold a “Burn Obama Day.” Under the title “He doesn’t get a free pass because he’s black: BURN OBAMA DAY, January 19th, 2013 4pm” Jones says the reason for the protest is:
[We protest] in disgust, in civil disobedience, in anger, in hope, in prayer, that the Untied States of America will wake up. We protest in proclamation: I did not vote for him. He must be impeached, removed, because he is a liar, a deceiver, a murderer, he is anti-American, anti-Christ. … America is in dire straights. We are facing economic collapse. We murder, through abortion, thousands of children a day. We promote the perverted LGBT agenda. We appease and support the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islam.
While Pastor Jones continues his one man burning crusade, he might consider that while America affirms his right to freedom of speech, Egypt’s 10% who are Christian do not live in a country that gives its people an unfettered right to protest, criticize, ridicule and demean a religion. The Christian minority already faces mistreatment and discrimination, and through his incitement, Pastor Jones may be about to make life for them even harder.
It is also worth pointing out that, with the growing fear of Islamists being put in positions of high authority in Egypt being realized, the potential for suffering will not be symbolic, and Christian citizens’ persecution as a result of Jones’ new film, and the potential international incident this may cause, will not be “in absentia.” Unlike Jones, they will not have America to hide behind.
Image credit: multimediaimpre.