February 24, 2007 |
An Egyptian court sentenced a blogger to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egypt's president. The trial of Abdel Kareem Soliman is the first time a blogger has been prosecuted in Egypt. Soliman used his blog to criticize Egypt's top Islamic institution al-Azhar, and the blogger also called President Hosni Mubarak a dictator.
A human rights group called the verdict: "very tough" and a "strong message" to Egypt's bloggers. The 22 year old Soliman was tried in his home city of Alexandria, where he blogged under the name Kareem Amer. Soliman was a former student at al-Azhar, and he called the institution "the university of terrorism", saying that the institution suppressed free thought. The university expelled Soliman in 2006 and pressed for his prosecution and trial. During the five minute court session the judge pronounced Soliman guilty of insulting Islam and inciting sedition, he also received one year of his sentence for insulting president Mubarak. Egypt has arrested a number of bloggers, but all previous defendants have been freed.
Amnesty International said the ruling was "yet another slap in the face of freedom for expression in Egypt". Fellow blogger Amr Gharbeia told the BBC it would not stop Egyptian bloggers from expressing opinions as "it is very difficult to control the blogosphere". There have been no comments on the case from Egyptian officials.
I feel bad for the guy, and am only glad I don't have to write from a place that will imprison you for free speech. It is difficult enough to express one's self even in a free society. I cannot imagine being told I would have to go to prison for calling my old High School Principal an escaped Nazi war criminal, or saying that President Bush is a "yes boy" for his big business buddies and only wishes he were smart enough to be a dictator.
Here in the USA we have a Fuhrer, uh I mean President, who is elected by the people and for the people (which people I am not sure of). It is fun to be able to kid around or quip at elected officials. I think that some people just do not have a sense of humor or are very uptight about their status. In places like Egypt, I expect tensions are of a more dire nature than in other places.
I think they should let the guy go and take away his keyboard for three months or something. 4 years in an Egyptian prison, can you imagine what this poor guy is going to have to tell other hardened criminals? What are you in for? "I yelled nah nah-nah-nah-nah-nah at my old school!" He is going to be popular I bet, holy cow! The last time bloggers were interned they were harassed and routinely tortured, for blogging!
This is what happend the last time activists were imprisoned in Egypt. The bloggers were eventually released.