On 22 February 2007, internet writer Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, also known as Kareem Amer, was sentenced to four years of prison for defaming President Mubarak and insulting Islam. This is the first prison sentence handed down to an internet blogger in Egypt and raises important concerns about the restrictions placed on freedom of expression in this country. The sentencing of Kareem Amer is in complete violation of his right to free expression guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory.
English Pen strongly condemns this sentence and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Kareem Amer. We also express grave concern over his physical safety, as he has received numerous death threats. We strongly urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is adequately protected. PEN further calls on the Egyptian authorities to revise its Press and Publication laws and articles of the Penal Code on insult and defamation, believing that such laws, carrying disproportionate criminal penalties are being used throughout the world to silence legitimate dissent.
According to PEN’s information, Kareem Amer was summoned to appear before the office of the Public Prosecutor in Alexandria on 7 November 2006, after posting articles critical of Islam on his web log. He was charged with ‘incitement to hate Muslims’, ‘defaming the President of the Republic’ and ‘insulting Islam’ on 18 January 2007. He was held on renewable two-week detention orders, and his trial began on 25 January 2007.
Kareem Amer is a former al-Azhyar University student and is known for his secular views and his critical writings about Islam and Egypt’s highest religious authorities published online. This is not the first time that Kareem Amer has been detained for his critical writings. He was held for 12 days in October 2005 for his articles on Islam and his coverage of sectarian riots in Alexandria. These articles also led to his dismissal from al-Azhar University in March 2006 after its disciplinary board found him guilty of blasphemy against Islam.
Please send appeals:
Condemning the four year prison sentence placed on Kareem Amer, who was peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression;
Expressing concern at the conditions of Kareem Amer’s detention, and seeking assurances that he is being treated humanely and given full access to medical care and family visits;
Urging the Egyptian government to clearly implement the international standards set out by the ICCPR to which the state of Egypt is a signatory and repealing laws violating these standards.
Appeals may be sent to:
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 Dr Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Nazif
2 Maglas El Shaab St
Fax: 202 795 8048
It may be most effective to send the above appeals via the Egyptian representative in London:
HE Mr Gehad Refaat Madi
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
26 South Street
London W1K 1DW
Fax: (020)7491 1542
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/egyptinternetbloggerabdelkareemnabilsuleimansentencedtofouryearsinprison/