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Posts Tagged ‘free kareem’

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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Free Kareem!

Posted by Richard on November 10, 2006

In Egypt, they imprison people for blogging about women's rights, freedom of expression, and "secular thoughts":

Egyptian security forces have arrested a student blogger whose writing was critical of Islam and the government, security sources and rights activists said on Tuesday.

Arabic blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, a 22-year-old aspiring human rights lawyer, was arrested in the coastal city of Alexandria on Monday.

His detention was the latest crackdown on political opposition by Egyptian authorities following arrests and beatings at street protests earlier this year, despite calls from Egypt's U.S. ally for political reform.

"The accusations directed against him are that he published opinions aimed at disturbing public order, insulted the head of state and defamed Islam," said Sally Sami, programme officer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo), which is representing him.

Suleiman was the latest of several bloggers to be arrested in Egypt, where news of his detention came shortly after rights group Reporters Without Borders added Egypt to a list of worst suppressors of freedom of expression on the Internet.

His arrest was unusual in that he was arrested solely because of comments made on the Internet, activists said. Other bloggers were mostly picked up during anti-government protests earlier in the year.Several have spent weeks or months in jail.

According to Tom Palmer, Kareem is part of Cato's "Arabic liberal project" — I'm sure that "liberal" in this context means "classical liberal."

Kareem had been previously tossed out of al-Azhar University — described by Reuters as "Egypt's most prestigious seat of Islamic learning" (oxymoron alert!) — for expressing "secular thoughts," and they apparently urged prosecutors to go after him. Jason Kuznicki expressed well how outrageous this is:

A student dismissed from a university for “secular thoughts:” The very act makes the institution unfit to be called a university in the modern era. That it would then inform on the student and cooperate in a government inquiry only makes the situation the more deplorable.

HAMSA (Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance) is gathering signatures on a statement demanding that Kareem be freed — please take just a moment to add your name. For other actions you can take, check the Palmer and Kuznicki links above. For complete background information and the latest news about Kareem's case, visit Free Kareem!

If you call or write the Egyptian embassy or other Egyptian officials, heed Kuznicki's warning:

Please be respectful and well-reasoned in all your contacts with the Egyptian government. Remember that our case is the stronger one, and that only the weaker party must resort to name-calling or abuse. As the ancient playwright put it, the very fact that Zeus must reach for his thunderbolts is proof enough that he has no argument.

Remember also that a man’s freedom is at stake here, not just in the abstract, but in the real world, and what you say might make the difference.

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.

Free Kareem! www,FreeKareem.org

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