Islamic extremists are increasingly taking advantage of social media platforms to falsely implicate Christians in blasphemy cases by creating fraudulent posts.
According to Open Doors USA, a nonprofit Christian persecution watchdog group, terror cells across the Middle East are utilizing Facebook to carry out their destructive plans. They first hack into the Christian user’s Facebook account, then post a message insulting Islam. If authorities become aware of such posts, the user is arrested and charged with blasphemy.
Case in point—26-year-old Egyptian Christian Fady Youssef Todary noticed that someone had hacked into his Facebook account and posted a derogatory message toward Islam. He quickly posted a video to his feed explaining the situation and apologizing for the offensive message.
But the anti-Islam message had already spread, and nearly 100 people raided Todary’s family home in Minya, south of Cairo. His parents fled to a relative’s home, while Todary, his wife and daughter escaped just minutes before the mob broke in and destroyed everything in the home.
Police eventually arrived and arrested some of the attackers, but a few days later, authorities returned and arrested Todary, along with his 19-year-old brother and two uncles. Todary and his family members have since been released, but Todary still awaits trial on blasphemy charges.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has stated that Egypt has the harshest blasphemy laws in North Africa, warning that most blasphemy laws are “vaguely worded” yet carry “unduly harsh penalties for violators.”
Article 98 of the Egyptian Penal Code prohibits “making use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or sect following it, or damaging national unity.”
With 90% of Egypt’s population identifying as Muslim, this law has largely been used to persecute Christians.
Michael Bosch, an Open Doors analyst, said this trend is a real cause for concern. “First, Christians are accused of insulting or threatening Islam. Next, they are attacked, their properties destroyed, and sometimes they are driven out of their houses. Then the authorities intervene, calming down the situation by arresting and prosecuting Christians for the alleged ‘crime.’”
Barnabas Fund, an international Christian aid agency, reported that Islamic State has hacked the Facebook accounts of at least 60 Egyptian Christians since mid-2017 in order to insult, threaten and spread propaganda.
Egypt is ranked 16th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.