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Bishoy Kameel Kamel Garas
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Christian prisoner Bishoy Kameel Kamel Garas is scheduled to appeal his blasphemy charges in Egypt's highest court on September 12th. The allegations were initially brought to Bishoy's attention on July 28th, 2012, when the 27-year-old was a primary school English teacher in the city of Tima. Some of Bishoy's friends expressed their disapproval of the comments he had allegedly posted on a social media site, prompting him to check his Facebook page. After Bishoy discovered a fake account -- including his name, photo, and some personal details -- he explained the situation on his real Facebook page and reported the matter to the Internet police.

When summoned to the police station the next day for what Bishoy presumed to be the onset of an investigation, he was met by Sheikh Mohammed Safwat Tammam who filed a complaint against him. The Salafist Sunni cleric claimed the accused had insulted his sister on Facebook, as well as President Morsi (who was later officially ousted in 2013 by Egypt's armed forces), and the Islamic religion. Although the chief detective at the station believed Bishoy, the cleric refused to withdraw the charges. An assigned prosecutor, who had met with the accused schoolteacher the next day, likewise believed Bishoy. Yet the case was placed on remand to appease the crowd of angry Muslim protestors.

While two of Bishoy's friends uncovered the creator of the false Facebook page, and even provided police with an audio recording of their confrontation with him, the imposter was never investigated. On September 18th, 2012, Judge Mohammed Abu Saif of Tima Misdemeanor Court sentenced Bishoy to six years in prison. In a July 25th hearing, Bishoy's lawyer secured an appeal for him, citing that his client's jail term had surpassed the three-year maximum sentence for consecutive misdemeanor offenses.

Throughout the longstanding ordeal, members of the Garas family have faced threats and violence from local militants. "Many angry, fanatical Muslims gathered in front of our home and wanted to expel us from the city," Bishoy's father testifies. "But our Muslim neighbours and moderate Muslims intervened and confronted them. We then hid in a relative's home for a short period, until the situation calmed." According to Bishoy's mother, these threats included vows to kidnap their three daughters. To learn more about the challenges facing believers in Egypt, click here.

While we can be grateful that Bishoy has been granted an upcoming appeal hearing, please pray that this accused prisoner and his family will be spared from fear of future threat and harm. As they await the outcome of the hearing, may they experience the assurance of God's abiding presence and the "peace that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Ask the Lord to help them forgive those who have wrongfully victimized them, knowing that His justice will ultimately prevail. In the interim, pray that God will wisely guide Bishoy's lawyer throughout the legal proceedings, which we trust will lead to a favourable verdict. As in the case of Bishoy, may all of our Egyptian brothers and sisters display the light of Christ, even in the face of false accusations and possible imprisonment.