By AP fileBy AP fileAn Egyptian Copts church in the city of Damietta has joined protests against a law that criminalizes insulting religion and seeks to crack down on the activities of the Coptic Church of Egypt (CCE).
The decree that goes into effect on Tuesday will make it a crime for any Coptic Christian to insult the Quran or any other holy book, while also requiring those who distribute or publicly display religious symbols to pay a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,050).
Citizens will be able to petition the governor to change the law, according to a statement from the government-appointed National Assembly.
Egyptian lawmakers passed the law last year after weeks of deadly attacks on Coptic churches and mosques by Islamic State militants.
The Islamic State group has targeted churches in Egypt and other predominantly Muslim countries as part of its violent campaign to erase the country’s Coptic minority from its image.
The latest law is seen as a response to a series of deadly clashes between Copts and Muslims in Cairo in October, in which at least two people were killed.
Egypt’s Copts are a Muslim minority, but Christians, who make up about 40 percent of Egypt’s population, have long held strong religious and political views.
They also make up one of the fastest-growing groups in Egypt, according the United Nations.