Assuit, Egypt - An Egyptian court sentenced a Christian man to one year in prison on charges of blasphemy and insulting Islam.

The Misdemeanour Court in the city of Assiut in southern Egypt, found Romani Saad, a Coptic lawyer, guilty of defaming Islam's holy book, the Koran.

The court also ordered him to pay a bail of 500 Egyptian pounds (about R720) to stay out of jail pending a hearing on an appeal against the verdict.

Saad was not in court when the ruling was issued.

Christians, who account for about 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million population, are alarmed by the rise of Islamists after president Hosny Mubarak's overthrow more than two years ago.

The number of court cases against Copts accused of blasphemy has increased in recent months. - Sapa-dpa