Sad anniversary for Egyptian blogger who was sentenced one year ago

Sad anniversary for Egyptian blogger who was sentenced one year ago

“Kareem Amer is a scapegoat. They wanted to make an example of
him. Since then, several bloggers have been forced to close their blogs
or remove entries. Rumours have even been spread about some of them,
accusing them of being Christian converts, homosexuals or criminals, in
order to be able to arrest them and hold them for almost two months, in
some cases. (…) It’s by blogging that you attain freedoms in Egypt.
It is the bloggers who tackle taboo subjects and post articles that no
other media would dare publish.”


Reporters Without Borders received the above message from Wael
Abbas, a Cairo-based independent journalist and blogger. A warrant was
issued for his arrest after he posted photos on his blog ( http://misrdigital.blogspirit.com/
) that showed two policemen tearing the Egyptian flag during a
demonstration in spring 2006. In January 2007, he was one of the people
who posted videos of policemen torturing detainees. The footage was
later used by the authorities to sentence one of the policemen to three
years in prison.

Reporters
Without Borders firmly condemns the way the authorities behave towards
bloggers and it reiterates its call for the release of Abdel Kareem
Nabil Suleiman, a blogger also known by the pseudonym of Kareem Amer,
who was sentenced on 22 February 2007 to four years in prison – three
for “inciting hatred of Islam” and one for defaming President Hosni
Mubarak.

“Kareem Amer should not have been obliged to become the
symbol of repression of the Egyptian blogosphere,” the press freedom
organisation said. “He should have been able to continue blogging on
the situation in Egypt. He was arrested and sentenced to four years in
prison for an entry posted on his blog. We call for his release and we
appeal to Internet users to ensure that the straggle of Egypt’s
bloggers is heard.”

Kareem Amer has been mistreated at Borg El
Arab prison, 40 km outside Alexandria, where he is serving his
sentence. In letters to his lawyers he has spoken of being “shut in an
isolation cell for 10 days” and of “physical torture hushed up by the
prison doctor, who has altered my medical record.”

Arrested for the first time in October 2005 for posting anti-religious comments on his blog ( http://www.karam903.blogspot.com
), he spent 18 days in detention and his computer hard drive was seized, but he was not charged.

He
was arrested again in late 2006 and was tried four months later by
Alexandria’s Moharram Bek court. At the second hearing, on 1 February
2007, he was accused of apostasy by Mohamed Dawoud, a lawyer appearing
in an independent capacity, who called for the “maximum sentence for
him who has insulted, God, His Prophet and the Koran.”

Before his second arrest, Kareem Amer often contributed to discussion forums on websites such as http://www.rezgar.com
. His goal, after finishing his studies, was to create a human rights
NGO, one that defended Muslim women against all forms of discrimination
and violence. He was awarded the Reporters Without Borders / Fondation
de France prize in the Internet category on 5 December 2007.

Reporters
Without Borders wrote to the Egyptian justice minister on 22 January
2007 asking him to intercede on behalf of Kareem Amer. The organisation
also urged the United Nations not to let Egypt host next year’s
Internet Governance Forum. No answer was ever received to the letter
and the forum is to go ahead in Egypt.

Sign the petition to call for his release : http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=21993
Write a message to him (Wiki) : http://egyptconnect.wikispaces.com/

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