Four Teenagers and a Teacher Arrested For “insulting Islam” After Making Videotape Mocking ISIS

video_clip_253x338Egypt continues to descend toward a Sharia-based system with a new prosecution of four teenagers accused of “insulting Islam.”  The insult came in a video that the boys shot while on a trip with their teacher Gad Younan, 42 – a film that mocked ISIS.  While the boys were accused of insulting Islam, the brief video only showed them mocking ISIS beheadings.  One of the boys apparently mumbled an Islam prayer as part of the execution and that was enough to cause riots and demands for their executions.  The four teens and teacher are from the ancient Coptic community, a community targeted by Muslim extremists for harassment and killings.

The boys are aged 14 and 15 years old. They could be sent to jail for up to five years by the government. A rumor spread that they had thrown down a copy of the Koran, causing riots — a scene reminiscent of the killing of a woman in Afghanistan. It turns out to be untrue by the Egyptian government still wants to send the boys and their teacher to jail for their exercise of free speech against ISIS — thereby proving yet again that the foes of ISIS display some of the same abusive orthodoxy and intolerance.

The 32-second clip ironically mocked the strict orthodoxy of ISIS only to have their own government round them up for such religiously laden punishment. Article 98(f) of the Egyptian Penal Code criminalizes a series of faith-related comments, including “insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it.”

While ISIS purports to adhere to Islam, it is not clear whether the prosecutors in Egypt had that part of the Penal Code in mind when they accused the youths of blasphemy. Egypt’s continued crackdown of anti-religious speech is part of its long-standing blasphemy abuses. For many years, I have been writing about the threat of an international blasphemy standard and the continuing rollback on free speech in the West. For recent columns, click here and here and here.

Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.

The crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and Egypt show again how unwise this effort by the Obama Administration was from the start. The Administration has given credibility to these efforts to curb anti-religious speech. Whatever desire it had to “moderate” such actions by cooperating on an international standard has proven, as many of us predicted, an utter failure. There can be no compromise between free speech and blasphemy. These nations stand against the most basic right of all men and women to speak freely and worship (or not worship) as their values dictate.

Notably, this film followed mourning in the community of these boys after a Libyan affiliate of ISIS recently announced the murder of 21 Christians. Some 20 of the murdered Christians were Copts and came from the boys’ home governorate of Al Minya.

After the false rumor spread, Muslims stoned the homes of Christians and destroyed the business of one of the boys. Frightened parents turned the boys over to the police. Public meetings were held where Christians were forced to condemn the boys and ban Younan from the village. A judge then denied bail to the boys to allow them to take their final exams.

50 thoughts on “Four Teenagers and a Teacher Arrested For “insulting Islam” After Making Videotape Mocking ISIS”

  1. Paul

    Hitler manipulated his way into power riding promises in a time of chaos. Germany had been crushed and he promised the world. After that the connection between Germany and Hitler was forged through fear, mindless patriotism, and force. At this point the similarities to ISIS and Hitler’s wartime Germany are more clear.

    If Germany continued to be a source of racism instead of evolving through this to the country it is today then one could compare it to the negative aspects of Islam, even ISIS. If most Muslims were unrelenting in their desire to annihilate all non believers then Islam would be ISIS. As it is this is not the case. Islam is not ISIS. Germans are not Nazis. Just as in the past all Americans were not racists. Keeping quiet is not necessarily condoning and condoning is not necessarily supporting. It does take a few to speak out against what is wrong but for Copts to do it in the Middle East, is not going to do any good. It will simply get innocent people killed. They may be cheered on by readers of blogs but that is all.

    The first step is to separate the thuggery of ISIS from the religion of Islam. When ISIS is seen as nothing but thuggery it will be easier to wipe out. As long as it is afforded any connections to Islam it will retain some credibility.

  2. Nick

    You stretched well beyond the breaking point there. My statement that if one was a Copt in an Islamic nation one should not be doing any speaking out against anything Islamic is a statement based on common sense. It justifies nothing other than common sense. That you stretch it to include the Jews in Nazi Germany has no basis. There is no parallel. The Jew’s in Hitler’s Germany could not leave and none of them would have been stupid enough to speak out against the Nazis once the dye had been cast. With the state of affairs in Islamic nations where fanatics are slaughtering those even suspected of non belief for a Copt to express like this is simply foolhardy.

    You leave all credibility behind when you pull in complicity to your rebuttal. There is nothing remotely resembling complicity in my point.

  3. Isaac, Keeping w/ the Germany/Hitler ISIS/Islam analogy. Your telling Coptics and we bad Americans to not “step on toes” would be akin to telling Jews they were complicit w/ their being annihilated by stepping on Hitler’s toes and not leaving Europe when he told them to leave.

  4. randyjet:

    “She needs to run more contests like this in Texas. It is like putting out a feeder for deer before deer season opens. Many folks in Texas have concealed carry guns, and if the cops don’t kill the nuts, the rest of the citizens will.”

    Yeah, Texans don’t helplessly put up with mass murderers. That story about how Texas citizens pinned down that sniper on the clock tower comes to mind.

  5. Isaac:

    “ISIS is not Islam.”

    Let me explain, Isaac. Islam can be interpreted as a peaceful religion compatible with coexisting with other religions, as happens every day in Dearborn, MI, and elsewhere in the US. It can also be interpreted in a range of extremist ways. Those extremists would tell you with utmost sincerity that they are true Muslims, their fight is in the name of Islam, and their actions have everything to do with Islam. In the Middle East, Sharia Law would be considered on the extremist scale to us here in the US, because the penalty for apostasy, insulting the Prophet, desecrating the Koran, questioning or criticizing the practice of Islam or Sharia Law, being gay, or adultery is death. Sharia Law has some differences in how it is practiced around the region, for example the number of lashes given for certain crimes, but the punishment for the above crimes is typically death. My own father witnessed the beheading of two gay men in Chop Chop Square in Saudi Arabia, an act which we would find extremist. In addition to the above death sentences, other religions are not protected in the Middle East, and non-Muslims are frequently in danger for no other reason than their faith. Again, most of us would find this extremist. ISIS and Boko Haram are even more extremist on this scale, as they engage in outright warfare and seek to topple the regimes as not being extremist enough in their view. Egypt’s response to these teenagers criticizing ISIS should illustrate where it stands on extremism.

    So a moderate Islam living here in America would not recognize ISIS’s behavior as speaking for Muslims, because they have never lived like that. But their relatives who moved here to escape that know very well what it’s like to live under extremist rule.

    Although most people here in the US would view any government or society that killed gays, burned women for the mere accusation of destroying a Koran, and imprisoned people for free speech, there is not much we can do about another country’s laws other than voice our outrage, sneak in glimpses to its citizens of how the rest of the world lives via the Internet, and withdraw our financial support. But when that wildness pushes at its boundaries, such as ISIS does, then it is a threat to the rest of the world.

    We frequently see the Crusades cited as examples of Christian violence. And yet, the Crusades were fought to stem the tide of the Muslim Expansion. That’s why we have all that lovely Moorish architecture in Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere. Muslims put Europe to the sword after it swept through the Middle East, which had previously been predominantly Christian in many areas. Imagine that, a Christian Middle East. Many Christians were murdered and enslaved under this Muslim Expansion, and Christian slavery existed long after the last Crusade. If it had not been stopped, all of Europe would have fallen, and we would all live under Sharia Law now. But extremists like ISIS and Boko Haram are trying for another Muslim Expansion. They should be stopped in their tracks and a lid slammed on this violence.

  6. Oh, look, here is Po right on cue telling us this is really the US’s fault. Soon he will proclaim how advanced women’s rights are under Sharia Law, these actions in the name of extremist Islam have nothing to do with Islam, and that this entire article and thread are Islamophobic. And please don’t look into how the Arab Spring turned extremist and a Dutch female reporter was gang raped during the Egyptian protests.

    Soon others will jump in with the “Christians are just as bad” non sequitur.

    “Extremist Islam Apologists For Dummies.”

  7. Nick

    Somewhat the opposite, Churchill. Chamberlain connected the Nazis with Germany. He gave Hitler the credibility of the elected leader of a people, not the thug that orchestrated the process, that he was. Churchill pegged Hitler for what he was, early on. ISIS is not Islam and the Nazis were not Germany. ISIS can manipulate Islam through fear and threats of chaos, just as the Nazis manipulated Germany through fear and threats of chaos coupled with promises of Elysium. So it has been with thugs and thuggery since the beginning of time. No great nation has not used mindless and absolute patriotism or religion to further thuggery. Or: god is on my side, my country right or wrong, white man’s burden, love it or leave it, this way or the highway, etc.

    You can say that Great Britain policed the world for centuries or simply plundered the world for centuries. Every great nation out there plundering needs a police force. The problem with this is that eventually great nations, after slaughtering millions and decimating to no end, evolve out of the criminality of their nature. The Civil War and the ongoing attempts for equality among the races in America is a perfect example. However, those that were subjugated take a lot longer to forget. The boot retains no mark from the throat. It is the throat that retains the mark of the boot. This is evident here in the US as well as in the Middle East.

    Hopefully, time will dilute the stains. However the progressive peoples of the world must still lead by calling a spade a spade or a thug a thug. Giving credibility to Islam through any activities of thugs like ISIS is no different than the West giving credibility to Germany through Hitler. Same mistake, only different costumes. The progressive evolution of religion is to be not only manifested by its adherents but accepted by the world within which it exists. It’s not for Islam to proclaim its values. It’s for me to accept them. Otherwise it could be simple thuggery. This has been the case with Christianity, the perfect existing paradigm of a religion believed in freely without forcing others to believe in it. A backwards place, the Middle East, one must look back to understand it.

    1. issac – since the German military took an oath of obedience directly to Hitler Germany and the Nazis were the same.

  8. Fallacious post through and through! Turley keeps trying to link Egypt, the government, with Egypt, the religious establishment/populace.
    Once again, Egypt is a dictatorship, aided and abetted in this by the US. Their leader got power through a coup that removed an elected president.
    Al Sisi controls Egypt, its government,, its courts, its parliament…everything!
    So to say that Egypt is gearing towards a shariah based system of law is lazy at best, dishonest likely.

  9. Holmes

    Islam having anything to do with ISIS is the real question. Any fool off the street can claim to have something to do with a religion. In this there is no definitive answer, just as with any religion, including Christianity. Does that idiot Terry Jones have anything to do with Christianity or does Christianity have anything to do with the idiot Terry Jones?

    For me it is for me to say, not the Pope, some Imam, or anybody else. The leaders of these religions can’t put their finger on the true meaning of what they spout, so, I will. It’s all about passion for life and acceptance of all that is good. Any body that disagrees with me better watch out.

    If the Western nations and any other nation that is progressive enough would simply stop connecting the madness that is ISIS with Islam then perhaps the first step would be taken in wiping this plague out. Mad people have used religion and desperation to garner power throughout history. This is no different and deserves no support from the second most believed set of fairy tales in the world.

    On top of that if I were a Copt anywhere in that area of the world, I certainly would not be stepping anywhere near the toes of Islam, ISIS, or anything with a rag on its head.

  10. This is akin to the MSM saying a rape victim “deserved it” by wearing a short skirt.

  11. I have to agree w/ randyjet. However, the MSM thinks Geller is wrong for having the temerity to use her 1st Amendment rights. There was no outrage w/ the Piss Christ by the MSM. Of course, there were no foaming fanatics looking to kill the artist either. This is where po might appear. I hope not.

  12. She needs to run more contests like this in Texas. It is like putting out a feeder for deer before deer season opens. Many folks in Texas have concealed carry guns, and if the cops don’t kill the nuts, the rest of the citizens will.

  13. “Four Teenagers and a Teacher Arrested For “insulting Islam” After Making Videotape Mocking ISIS

    1. This could easily be a headline in the Daily Mail. Though we’re not far behind Egypt, either:

    2. WaPo, the NYTimes and the Associated Press blamed the free speech advocates having an event featuring irreverent depictions of the prophet Muhammad in Garland, Tex.

    Here’s the Tweet:
    The Associated Press ✔@AP
    Pamela Geller says she has no regrets about Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that ended in 2 deaths

    And WaPo:
    “Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas

    As some wag put it:
    “Cartoons are extreme, murders are moderate.“

  14. On a related matter: It is interesting that the (US) government is concerned about home-grown ISIS terror activity as the Patriot Act is due to expire. Difficult to distinguish between fear-mongering hype and legitimate concern. I suppose either would facilitate our acceptance of the surveillance state, whether it serves to protect us or not.

  15. I am getting tired of these. Their country, their rules. I don’t like it, but I am not moving there either.

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