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Egypt activist given 6 months for insulting Morsi

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An Egyptian opposition youth activist was on Monday sentenced by a Cairo court to six months in prison for insulting President Mohamed Morsi.

Ahmed Duma, who was tried for calling Morsi "a criminal and murderer" during a television broadcast, was also ordered to pay a fine of 200 Egyptian pounds (22 euros).

The activist blogger can be released on bail of 5,000 pounds (550 euros) pending a decision by an appeals court.

Duma is the first anti-Morsi activist to be sentenced to a jail term, according to human rights groups.

Dozens of Duma supporters gathered outside the courthouse during the hearing, chanting slogans against the president and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood from which he came, an AFP journalist said.

His trial took place after a complaint by a member of the president's Freedom and Justice Party, who said that he felt personally insulted by what Duma had said about Morsi.

The official MENA news agency said Duma was accused of spreading "false information and rumours in a television programme" and for describing Morsi as a "criminal and murderer who escaped justice".

Duma said his remarks were "political criticism" and were not intended to insult the president, MENA reported.

Morsi, elected in June last year, has been accused of suppressing or seeking to suppress opponents and journalists who criticise him by accusing them of defamation.

In April, Morsi ordered the withdrawal of the complaints filed in court by his office against journalists accused of publishing "rumours" about him.

Human rights lawyer Gamal Eid says there were four times more complaints about insults to the president" during the first 200 days of Morsi's presidency than under the Hosni Mubarak's entire 30-year rule.

Most such complaints do not come directly from the parties involved but from "citizens", and the presidency denies being behind any of them, citing the independence of the judiciary.

In September a Christian teacher was sentenced to six years in jail for insulting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed and Morsi on Facebook.

Famous television satirist Bassem Youssef has also been targeted for allegedly insulting Islam and the head of state, and was questioned for several hours in March before being released.

Youssef's weekly satire programme Al-Bernameg (The Show) has spared few public figures of merciless critique.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130603/egypt-activist-given-6-months-insulting-morsi-1