By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
CAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News)– Wednesday a judge in Egypt's Minya Criminal Court sentenced the first Egyptian to legally challenge his official religious status to five years in prison and a fine, according to Morning Star News.
Bishoy Armia Boulous – formerly Mohammed Hegazy — a 31-year-old Christian, received the sentence and a fine of $70(US) for "disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information" after documenting the unrest in Egypt from the incessant attacks by Muslims against Christians, attorney Wagdy Halfa said.
However, Halfa said that the real reason Boulous was charged and sentenced was because he abandoned Islam and became a Christian.
Boulous became a Christian in 1998. After his conversion, he was arrested numerous times by the former State Security Investigations Service. Boulous' wife and their two children now live incognito in Europe.
Religious freedom is guaranteed under Egyptian law, but its limited by sharia, which can override national law. While sharia encourages conversion to Islam, it's impossible for a Muslim to legally convert to Christianity. In January 2008, a court ruled against Boulous on the grounds that sharia forbids conversion from Islam.
In April 2010, an appeals court suspended Boulous' case indefinitely.