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Egyptian Cleric sentenced for Burning Bible

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Cairo: A hardline Muslim cleric received an 11-year suspended sentence for tearing up and burning a Bible. Cairo’s Nasr City court sentenced Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Islam, and his son for eight years over the same incident, the Middle East News Agency reported. The two were ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($700). The ruling can be appealed. Abdullah ripped up a Bible and burnt it during a rally by ultra conservative Muslims in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, protesting an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. It was a rare prosecution over attacks on faiths other than Islam. According to Egyptian law, showing contempt towards Christianity, Islam and Judaism known as “heavenly” religions is a crime. Lawyers and rights groups complain, the definition of contempt of religion is vague and has been used most often against critics of Islam. Blasphemy charges were not uncommon in Egypt under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, but there has been a surge in such cases in recent months. The trend is widely seen as a reflection of the growing power and confidence of Islamists, after election victories by the Muslim Brotherhood. Writers, activists and a television comedian have recently been charged with blasphemy, but Christians seem to be the favorite target of Islamist prosecutors. Abdullah’s case brought a rare sentence against a Muslim cleric.