A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced seven Egyptian Christians and a controversial U.S. pastor to death in absentia for involvement in a movie that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, state media said.
The Christian Egyptians, including the film’s maker, are all in the United States and were not present at the trial. The American pastor, Terry Jones, heads a small congregation in Florida.
During the trial, the judges were shown clips of the film — the “Innocence of Muslims” — and footage of Muslim protesters in Libya outraged by it, MENA news agency reported.
Egyptian courts usually hand out the maximum punishment — execution in this case for a blasphemy verdict — and send the decision to the state’s top Islamic scholar to get his approval, which is always granted.
If the defendants do return to Egypt, they could get a new trial.
The movie, in which Muhammad is depicted as a buffoon and pedophile, sparked fury across the Muslim world. In Libya, Islamists killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi.
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