Friday, January 19, 2007

Egypt tries blogger for what amounts to sedition

Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman went on trial in Egypt Jan 18, 2007 for "insulting Islam" and inciting sectarian violence with his blogs. What is interesting, as with American sedition laws in the past, is the fear that writings from a relatively small and "insignificant" source really can undermine religious or political power structures. Blogs can do so when they can be found by so many people with search engines (taking advantage of the mathematics of binary searches), and relatively obscure blogs are often found if they are written well enough. Egypt has arrested a number of bloggers for encouraging democracy. Nabil also criticized President Honsi Mubarak in his blog, which was in Arabic.

Update: 2/28/2007

The Washington Post ran an editorial today, "Blogger on Ice: Once Again, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak shows zero tolerance for secular democartic dissent," at this link. Although Mubarak maintains that he is suppressing radical Islam, actually he is targeting bloggers who fight for democratic reforms in Egypt, including the aforementioned Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman, sentenced to four years in jail last week, partly for "insulting the president". Another such prisoner is Ayman Nour. Mubarak has also jailed more than 800 members of the Muslim brotherhood.

It's interesting to see how those who are in power are so thin-skinned and easily threatened by the speech of others, as well demonstrated in the recent film from Sony Pictures Classics about the East German secret police Stasi spying on a writer, in The Lives of Others.

Update: March 13, 2007:

CNN runs a video about the four-year prison sentence for Kareem, and the news story maintains that this is the first time that Egypt has given a sentence specifically for blogging, rather than for other associated charges.

Art drawings are mine from 5th Grade when we studied Egypt, around 1955. What did a great civilization come to?

Update: March 26, 2007

Goodbye Mubarak Rally, against Constitutional Constraints, Egyptian embassy, Washington DC, March 26. Here is the Nora Younis reference.

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