'Depravity' Trial of Defrocked Egyptian Monk Due Saturday
A defrocked Coptic monk accused of "practicing depravity in a place of worship" goes on trial Saturday in a Cairo court, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.
The ex-Coptic monk allegedly ran a sex-and-blackmail ring, and was at the center of a media firestorm after his alleged antics made front-page news duing a period of Muslim-Coptic frictions.
No judicial official was available to confirm the report when contacted by AFP.
According to MENA, the prosecutor has also accused the monk of "disturbing public order, of damaging national unity and social peace and of inciting sectarian discord."
The case of Barsoum Al Mahraqi sparked riots in the Coptic community after the independent journal Al Nabaa published in June an article headlined Monastery Transformed into Brothel.
The article was also published by an associated newspaper, Akher Khaber.
Young Copts in Cairo and Upper Egypt rioted after reading the An Nabaa article, which graphically described the alleged sexual antics of the monk who turned out to have been defrocked years ago.
The venue for the sex scandal was the southern Egyptian monastery of Al Moharraq and where Mahraqi was shown by the paper in a compromising position with a woman.
The Coptic church says that the former monk had been defrocked in 1996 for "abandoning the traditions of the Church and monasticism."
The Coptic community numbers 5.8 million members of a population of 66.5 million, according to official statistics, but more than 10 million, according to church estimates, said AFP.
The editor in chief of the two journals, Mamdouh Mahran, was sentenced in September to three years in prison for breaching the public order and inciting confessional violence.
In July, an administrative court ordered the closure of the two newspapers for "false allegations concerning a holy place" and "damaging national unity" – Albawaba.com