Activist and writer Karam Saber has been sentenced to five years – the maximum sentence – in jail in Egypt for writing a book considered by the authorities as promoting atheism in the country.
When the author published "Where Is God?" -- a collection of short stories about poor farmers in Egypt -- in 2011, some citizens from Beni Sueif filed a legal complaint alleging the work promoted atheism and contradicted religious precepts.
Hamdy Al-Assiuti, one of the members of Saber's defence team, said the court disregarded the evidence submitted by Saber's lawyers.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Egyptian government to revoke the sentence and repeal laws violating freedom of expression.
"Rather than prosecuting Karam Saber for giving voice to poor farmers, authorities should bring Egypt's laws into harmony with its new constitution and international obligations" said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. "Freedom of expression is at the heart of a tolerant, democratic society."
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