Lifestyle & Belief

Egypt issues arrest warrant for pastor Terry Jones, 7 others over anti-Islam movie


Egyptians protest at the American Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012 against a film deemed offensive to Islam that may have been supported by Coptic Christians abroad.



Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the arrest of eight people who allegedly helped to make and distribute the anti-Islam movie that sparked protests in Egypt and several other Muslim countries, the Associated Press reported.

They include the man believed to have produced the film, Nassoula Basseley Nakoula, and the US pastor who helped promote it, Terry Jones.

The six others are described as Egyptian Coptic Christians, five of them men and one a woman.

According to the BBC, they are wanted on charges of what the Egyptian prosecutor general called "insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the Prophet and inciting sectarian strife."

The charges carry the death penalty.

More from GlobalPost: Full coverage of the movie controversy

The prosecutor's office said it would notify Interpol and US authorities of the warrants, suggesting that it may seek to extradite the suspects – all of whom are understood to live outside Egypt – for trial.

The AP's Sarah El Deeb sees the case as "largely symbolic," however, a move designed more to absorb Egyptians' anger than result in a conviction.

It is a criminal offense in Egypt to denigrate religion. Just today, the AP has the story of a Coptic Christian who was sentenced to six years in jail for posting drawings on Facebook deemed an affront to the Prophet Muhammad, and for comments said to insult President Mohamed Morsi.

According to Egyptian news site Ahram Online, conservative Islamists are pushing to include a clause outlawing blasphemy in the country's new constitution, which liberals fear could restrict freedom of speech and expression.

More from GlobalPost: Calm returns to Cairo – now what?