Middle East

Trial in absentia of US Copts opens in Egypt

An Egyptian Salafist man holds an anti-Coptic Christian banner outside a courthouse in Cairo October 14, 2012. REUTERS Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW RELIGION)

CAIRO: The trial in absentia of seven US-based Egyptian Copts and a US pastor opened on Sunday, in which the defendants are accused of involvement in an anti-Islam film that sparked violent clashes worldwide.

The defendants -- seven Copts and Florida pastor Terry Jones who is said to have promoted the film -- are based in the United States, according to the official MENA news agency.

The prosecution said the accused had "abused religion to propagate extremist ideas with the aim of inciting sectarianism, insulting the Islamic religion, harming national unity and social peace."

The Cairo criminal court after a brief hearing adjourned the trial to November 25.

The film, believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christian Americans, last month sparked furious protests outside US embassies and other American symbols in at least 20 countries, including Egypt.

The crude low-budget production mocks Islam and portrays the Prophet Mohammed as immoral and violent, while touching on themes of homosexuality and paedophilia.

Several cast members say they were duped into acting in the amateurish film, which has been linked to a non-profit group called Media for Christ, and was apparently produced by a convicted fraudster.





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