Egypt Imprisons Blogger

An Egyptian court sentenced 22-year-old blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil to a total of four years imprisonment “for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad and inciting sectarian strife and . . . for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.” Nabil, who wrote under the name Kareem Amer, has been ” an unusually scathing critic of conservative Muslims.” Nabil’s criticism led earlier to his expulsion from Al-Azhar University, where he was a law student. See articles here and here.

10 thoughts on “Egypt Imprisons Blogger”

  1. This situation reminds me of author Elif Shafak’s situation in Turkey. Both Shafak and Nabil are being punished for expressing themselves freely. While Shafak’s life is in danger, Nabil was not only sentenced to prison but also most likely abused: “Nabil, sitting in the defendant’s pen, did not react as the verdict was read and made no comments as he was led to a prison truck outside. Seconds after the door was closed, an Associated Press reporter heard a slap from inside the truck and a scream” (this quote is from both articles on the blog). Again, this is another reminder of how much the First Amendment protects us here in the U.S.

  2. This is why we don’t have an Egyptian version of “Fahrenheit 911”.
    Even nowadays, many people still cannot voice their opinions against the government (or something that the government wants the people to conceive as true). Even when they conceal their identities by using the Internet, the government still have ways to find them and bring them to “justice”.

    It is also interesting that Abdel Kareem Nabil was a law student. Clearly, he is not an advocate of positive law.

  3. How ironic

    The story is “quite the reminder of how much the First Amendment protects us here in the U.S.” It reminds me how I can go online and speak or rather write my mind freely. I like international politics for example, so I think I’ll write about it!
    The “pillars” of U.S.- Egyptian relations remain quite strong considering the $2 billion yearly contribution from Washington. This buddy-buddy alliance has remained sturdy for the purpose of peace and stability in the Middle East, but to what cost? Egypt is not flying solo as the only Middle Eastern country with support from the U.S. Jordan, ruled by one man (A King), and Saudi Arabia (Kingdom) also ruled by one man, exhibit many similar characteristics in terms of their internal policies. Abuses of human rights and violations of liberties are abundant throughout all three countries. The alternatives in these states are not bright either. The back lash against these authoritarian regimes is brewing in the form of religious fundamentalists backing their cause with the initiative of democracy. Right or wrong, it’s politics, and politics are made to serve the interests of their sponsors. While I sit behind my laptop with no fear of having my finger nails torn off next week in a damp and dark cell, my equal in Egypt is being condemned and sentenced by the American, (yes the same America that I live in and love) backed Hosni Mubarak government. It just leaves me to say—- how ironic!

    Further Info about U.S.- Egyptian relations can be found at: http://www.cfr.org/publication/8666/strengthening_the_usegyptian_relationship_a_cfr_paper.html

  4. This makes me wonder how the freedom of speech should be protected within the realm of the Internet. Outside of the Internet, protestors and rioters are protected in the sense that the state should provide ample security for those who wish to express differentiating opinions under the security of the First Amendement. But what is protecting bloggers and Internet enthusiasts outside the US? Apparently nothing and this is a scary thought considering the fact that everything and anything is being transcribed on the Internet.

  5. This is similar to the google situation where google offered its services to China. But the only way they would be allowed to be in China was if they blocked any articles from coming up in a search that dealt with negativity towards China or its history. This was a big contraversay due to the fact that even if these articles against the Chinest government were true, they were still not allowed to come up in a search. This means that Google would be contributing towards the dictatorship of China. As an American company they would be hypocrites. They live in a country that stands for democracy and freedom of speech yet are the main source of limitation of speech. We all know that Abdel Kareem Nabil should not be imprisoned nor should he have been expelled from his university, but unfortunately many other countries don’t agree with the way the United States is governed. If we reacted the same way (imprisoning people) after they insulted the president on an online blog, we would run out of space in jails because they would be overcrowded.

  6. Sadly, I don’t think this is the last time we are going to see citizens in different countries being penalized for expressing themselves and I don’t think that’s going to change for some time. In many nations, allowing people to criticize the government is seen as a threat to the government’s control and power. I vaguely remember reading an article from about a year or so ago where there was a similar conflict with a reporter in China. However, that reporter was known to dislike the Chinese government. The fact that this was just a blogger and not some sort of public critic of the government is pretty scary, considering the severity of his punishment. It’s almost ironic that the internet seems to give such freedom with the flow of knowledge and at the same time, that freedom can easily be taken away…like in this case. I know it’s corny, but I do appreciate the freedom we have here even though I also do take it for granted. My parents always tell me I should be grateful for coming to America, because if we had stayed in Russia, I would not be enjoying the same freedom of speech.

  7. I have read the Arabic blog Nabil wrote which was cited on the two articles attached on the posting of this story. I found out that there was more to the story.
    Nabil’s parents insisted that he would attend Al-Azhar. He rejected their teachings which are based on undeveloped, one thousand year old, Islamic thought. After being expelled from the Al-Azhar University, the story was published in a local newspaper in Egypt. The article, according to Nabil, was extracted from the disciplinary board investigation he had to go through and on which he did not sign. Further, the investigation (still unsigned by Nabil – the person being investigated) was sent to the public prosecutor. Next thing he knows is that he is summoned to face the public prosecutor.
    Nabil mentions that the investigation that the prosecutors were conducting in the case that was triggered by Al-Azhar did not concern the latter. Al-Azhar used the blog written by Nabil against him. But since when was Al-Azhar responsible about cyberspace which did not fit within the boundaries of its educational concern. Furthermore, Nabil adds that this is not the first time Al-Azhar acts as an assistant to the judicial system in Egypt. Nabil says that it has ruined the marriage of Dr. Nasr Hamed Abou Zaid with his wish which ended up in separating the couple. Another case Nabil brings up is the imprisonment of Dr. Ahmad Soubhi Mansour who later emigrated. In addition to various successful attempts by the Al-Azhar to confiscate the publications of a number of authors among them, Dr. Nawal Al-Saadaoui and Ahmad Al-Shahawi.
    It seems to me, from what I read in Nabil’s blog, that Al-Azhar is a major obstacle for Egyptians to overcome in order to reach a state in which freedom of speech and expression are accepted and tolerated. Al-Azhar is rooted within its ancient Islamic dogma, having been named after Prophet Mohammed’s daughter, it fails to accept the progress the world has gone through whether on the religious, political, and social levels. The narrow mindedness of this institution creates the revolutionary spirit I saw in Nabil Abdul Kareem. He ended his blog addressing the Al-Azhar institution, its professors and religious figures, who stood and still stand against all who want to think in a manner far from their superstitions saying: you will end up in the “dustbin of history,” you are going to perish as happened to others.
    Finally, concerning the prosecution, I would say that the Middle East in general has politicized judiciary systems. This is not just in Egypt.
    Concerning the insults to the Egyptian president, I think it is good that he doesn’t have the American people as his citizens because he would not have enough prison cells to fit them all in.

    The information I read in Arabic and translated in my own way into English is from: http://karam903.blogspot.com/

  8. After reading the Silicon Valley article, I have come to the conclusion that this imprisonment is both unreasonable and unnecessary. It is unfortunate that since Egyptians are not protected under a Bill of Rights, they can be imprisoned simply for expressing themselves in a civilized way. By keep a blog under a pseudonym, Abdel Kareem Nabil did not commit any crime. Four years in prison is much to harsh for questioning the authority of government and religion. It would be ludicrous if citizens in the United States were condemned for criticizing President Bush’s foreign policy. If this were to happen in the United States, every late night talk show host would be behind bars.

    In response to antoinethony’s comment, China has a politicized judicial system as well. I read a case last month in the Wall Street Journal where Chinese journalists were being removed from their positions for publishing negative information about government officials. This type of action has been strictly prohibited in the eastern provinces and industrialized and metropolitan areas in China. Journalists have been flocking to the Western provinces to publish this type of material, where the local governments are a little more lenient. Unfortunately, even this is becoming more and more difficult. The case I read about the Chinese judicial system involved the wife of a government official intentionally running over and killing a peasant farmer in a western province on her way home. After paying the judge a 10,000 yuan bribe/fine, the wife was released and the family of the murdered peasant received no justice or compensation.

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