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Egyptian blogger sentenced

Posted by Richard on February 22, 2007

Egyptian student and blogger Abdelkareem Suleiman was sentenced to four years in prison today. For writing things on his blog that were critical of the Egyptian government and fundamentalist Islam. Outrageous.

This site wants freedom for Kareem When I wrote about Kareem in November, I urged readers to sign a petition (click Help Free Kareem in right sidebar) and to call or write the Egyptian embassy/government. I echoed Tom Palmer and Jason Kuznicki on the need to keep it polite:

It’s enormously tempting to heap contempt upon a country that imprisons people for blogging while urging mercy for Saddam Hussein, a country that takes billions every year in U.S. aid and claims to be an ally, but does everything it can to undermine the spread of democracy and freedom. But Kuznicki and Palmer are right — be respectful and polite. You can curse them under your breath later.

Now that countless respectful and polite pleas, rallies around the world, and at least three petitions have all fallen on deaf ears, I’m inclined to be somewhat less respectful in expressing my displeasure to the Egyptian government. I’m not going to curse them openly — that would still be counterproductive. I think "polite contempt" is the tone I’ll aim for.

For embassy contact information, click the Palmer or Kuznicki link above. For links to other petitions, reports on rallies for Kareem, and other news and information, visit FreeKareem.org.

Here is the press release from FreeKareem.org:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Free Kareem Coalition
+1-617-661-0053
free.kareem@gmail.com

Interfaith Coalition Condemns Jailing of Egyptian Student over Blogposts, Calls on Egyptian President Mubarak to Pardon Abdelkareem Soliman

CAIRO – The “Free Kareem Coalition,” an interfaith group of human rights activists from around the world, condemned the sentencing of Egyptian student Abdelkareem Soliman for expressing his opinion on his personal blog.

A judge in Egypt today sentenced Kareem to four years in prison for the alleged crimes of “defaming the President of Egypt” and “insulting Islam.”

Dalia Ziada of the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information explained that Kareem’s conviction remains the first time an Egyptian blogger has been arrested for writing on his blog. “It sends a chilling message to bloggers of all persuasions in Egypt and across the Middle East. We are not free to express ourselves openly on our websites.”

Kareem criticized Egyptian authorities for failing to protect the rights of religious minorities and women, and expressed views about religious extremism in strong terms.

Bahraini blogger Esra’a Al-Shafei, who launched the website FreeKareem.org to coordinate the international solidarity campaign, noted the basic human rights violation. “I was offended by some of Kareem’s blog writings. But I cannot support his imprisonment merely because he said a few things that insult my identity. Freedom of expression and open exchange of ideas must be respected.”

In November, Kareem was detained after being interrogated by prosecutors. He was held for over two months without trial and has remained in solitary confinement without access to his lawyers.

Kareem’s conviction comes despite global rallies on Kareem’s behalf, including demonstrations outside Egyptian embassies in Washington, Rome, London, Paris, Stockholm, and New York. Over 2,000 people have sent letters to Egyptian authorities demanding Kareem’s release.

Opinion editorials in the Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, and Beirut Daily Star have all also called for Kareem’s release, along with a bi-partisan coalition of US Congressional leaders, European parliamentarians, and Costa Rican representatives.

“We call on the appeals courts in Egypt to listen to international condemnation and do the right thing,” stated organizer Mohammed Shouman. “Kareem’s right to free expression has been violated and his conviction should be overturned.”

In the meantime, activists fear Kareem’s life is in danger and hope for high-level intervention. “We hope President Hosni Mubarak will pardon Kareem and allow him to start a new life outside of Egypt,” noted Al-Shafei. “We won’t be silent until Kareem is safe.”

See www.FreeKareem.org for the latest updates.

Do what you can. At least take a moment to sign the HAMSA petition.

Free Kareem  

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One Response to “Egyptian blogger sentenced”

  1. pito said

    The Italian left,with the foster dimissions of the Pm(the President doesn’t give right to new elections)is trying to delegitimate the NATO in Italy(they want a servant Army and are withdrawing the Italian troops from Afghanistan)

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