An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced three Coptic Christian teenagers to five years in jail for contempt of Islam after they were seen in a video mocking Muslim prayers.
A judge in the central Egyptian province of Minya also sent a fourth defendant, aged 15, to a juvenile detention center for an indefinite period.
Defense lawyer Maher Naguib said the four had not intended to insult Islam in the video, but merely to mock the beheadings carried out by jihadists of the Islamic State group.
The video was filmed on a mobile phone in January 2015 when the three teenagers who were sentenced to five years were aged between 15 and 17.
Their teacher who is also seen in the video has already been sentenced to three years in jail.
The four teenagers were still free as of Thursday and Naguib said he planned to appeal the judgment.
“They have been sentenced for contempt of Islam and inciting sectarian strife,” Naguib told AFP.
“The judge didn’t show any mercy. He handed down the maximum punishment.”
In the video, one teenager can be seen kneeling on the ground and reciting Muslim prayers while others stand behind him, laughing.
Egypt’s constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognized by the state — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Copts, who comprise up to 10 percent of Egypt’s 90-million population, are the Middle East’s largest religious minority.