Egypt: Innocence of Muslims filmmaker sentenced to death


A screengrab from "Innocence of Muslims" YouTube trailer.



Egypt has sentenced to death Mark Basseley Yousseff, the filmmaker behind the controversial documentary "Innocence of Muslims."

The court, which also convicted in absentia six Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American Pastor, charged the eight men with "insulting the Islamic religion" and "using religion to promote extremist ideas," which are all punishable by the death sentence, the Hollywood Reporter said.

According to the Associated Press, the convictions are seen as mostly symbolic, as most of the defendants are all outside Egypt and will most likely never face the verdict.

In Egypt, cases tried in absentia often carry the maximum sentence. For this case, the court reviewed a video of some defendants calling for an independent Coptic state in Egypt, as well as a video of Florida Pastor Terry Jones burning the Quran. All of the defendants, excluding Jones, held Egyptian nationality.

The case also holds implications for prosecutions to come; according to the AP, Christians and human rights groups have expressed concerns that prosecutions for insulting religion will increase under the rule of Morsi's Islamist party.