Skip to main content

Will the U.S. Defend Constitutional Freedoms from Egyptian Threats?

Paul Marshall

Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, now condemned to eight years’ imprisonment by the Iranian government for raising funds for an orphanage, is not the only American under threat from a foreign government.

On Tuesday, the Cairo Criminal Court reaffirmed a death sentence for “insulting Islam” and “undermining national unity” for seven Coptic Egyptian Christians accused of being involved in creating the now-infamous YouTube video “The Innocence of Muslims.” This short, obscure video trailer was initially falsely implicated by the American government in the killing of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi.

Those condemned to death include Morris Sadek, a lawyer and founder of the National American Coptic Assembly, Coptic priest Father Aziz Khalil, Fikri Abdel Masih Zaklma (known as Esmat Zaklma), Nabil Adib Besada, the media coordinator of the National American Coptic Assembly, Eliyah Basile (known as Nicholas Basile Nicholas), Nahed Mahmoud Metwally (known as Fibie Abdel Masih), and Nader Farid Fawzi Nicholas. One is a resident of Australia, another is a resident of Canada, and five of them are residents of the United States. In addition, American micro-pastor Terry Jones, famous for his burning of a Koran, was sentenced to five years in prison, despite his having no connection to Egypt whatsoever.

There were many irregularities in the case. The death sentences were handed down despite the fact that, according to Egyptian law, the death penalty may be imposed only in three instances—espionage, premeditated murder, and rape. But the Egyptian constitution passed in December in a low-turnout referendum gives primacy to the principles of sharia, which has the practical effect of allowing the courts to run wild. Moreover, the trials were conducted in absentia.

However, the irregularities are a side issue. Even if the proceedings had been entirely regular under Egyptian law, the bottom line is that Egyptian courts have condemned to death people in America for exercising rights protected under the American constitution.

So far, despite the fact that even Al Jazeera has accurately publicized the case, the administration has not publicly responded to Egypt’s sentence of death on those under the U.S. government’s constitutional protection. Is the American government willing to vigorously defend the freedoms of speech, religion, and the press held by those it is sworn to protect, regardless of how unpopular their expressed views might be?

Related Articles

Why Can’t the American Media Cover the Protests in Iran?

Lee Smith

Because they have lost the ability to cover real news when it happens...

Continue Reading

President Trump's Foreign Policy in 2017

Samuel Tadros

On December 29th, Samuel Tadros appeared on Al-Hurra TV to discuss President Trump's foreign policy in his first year in office. iframe#1...

Watch Now

U.S. should aid religious minorities abroad directly, without going through the UN

Nina Shea

The Trump administration’s National Security Strategy Report unveiled this week makes it a priority to “protect religious freedom and religious minori...

Continue Reading