On 22 February 2007, internet writer Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, also known as Kareem Amer, was sentenced to four years in prison for defaming President Mubarak and insulting Islam.
Almost three years later, Amer, now 25, a former al-Azhyar University student, well-known for his secular views and his critical writings about Islam and Egypt’s highest religious authorities, continues to be held in violation of his right to free expression at Borg El-Arab Prison in Alexandria.
Kareem Amer was arrested on 6 November 2006 after posting articles critical of Islam on his web blog (www.karam903.blogspot.com) and was charged with ‘incitement to hatred of Islam’ and ‘circulating rumours threatening public order.’ His trial began on 18 January 2007, and on 22 February 2007 he was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of ‘disparaging Islam’ and ‘defaming the Egyptian president’. The charge of ‘broadcasting statements that could disturb public order’ was dropped. The Court of Appeal upheld the four-year sentence on 12 March 2007.
Reports suggest that Amer has been subject to beatings and ill-treatment whilst in detention. According to a lawyer from the Arabic Network for Human Rights, who visited Amer on 30 August 2008, he was in a poor state of health. Amer reportedly had to follow the strict rules that apply to political prisoners during visits, despite the fact that he remains detained in the criminal prisoners, where he is treated without any consideration of his rights as a political prisoner. Reports also suggested that the prison administration did not allow him to go to the prison yard, and that fellow inmates harassed him under orders of the prison administration.
However, according to the Free Kareem Coalition, an interfaith alliance of young bloggers and college students committed to the principles of freedom of thought and freedom of speech, Kareem recently informed his lawyers that he is now in good physical and psychological shape; that he is well-fed, and is not mistreated by prison officials. We nevertheless firmly believe that he is being held in violation of his right to free expression and therefore continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release.
On 14 March 2007, Kareem Amer, was awarded the Index / Hugo Young Journalism Award. This award ‘given in memory of Guardian columnist Hugo Young, goes to a journalist who has shown an outstanding commitment to journalistic integrity in defence of freedom of expression.’
On 23 March 2009, Amer was adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. He is also an Honorary Member of both English and American PEN.
For more information on this case, please see www.freekareem.org
Amer’s sentence is due to expire on 5 November 2010. Although the authorities customarily grant a release request after three quarters of a prisoner’s sentence, Kareem’s hearing has been repeatedly postponed and is still pending.
English PEN urges its members to write to the Egyptian authorities and the Egyptian Ambassador in London calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Honorary Member Kareem Amer in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Egypt is a signatory.
His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Republic of Egypt
Fax: 202 390 1998
His Excellency Cr Mamdouh Muheiddin Marei
Minister of Justice
Magles El Shaab St
Fax: 202 7958103
His Excellency Mr. Hatem Seif El-Nasr
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
26 South Street
London W1K 1DW
Fax: 020 7491 1542
*** Please do let us know if you send an appeal, and certainly if you receive a response from the Egyptian authorities.***
If you are interested in sending letters of support to Kareem Amer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/prisoners/abdelkareemnabilsuleimankareemamer/