Saturday, November 05, 2005

Egyptian Blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman Arrested by Egyptian Authorities

I have received this e-mail from Curt, and I would like to share it with you. Another blogger is being jailed, and we need to stop this before you find YOU are the target of the next arrest.
by Curt on November 2, 2005 08:07PM (PST)

From Amr:
Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman is a 21 year-old Egyptian student of law at the Azhar University, Damanhour Campus, a women's-rights activist and a correspondent for Copts United. In addition to writing at Civic Dialogue, he also publishes a blog.

On Wednesday 26 October 2005, Egyptian State Security took Abdolkarim from his home, and confiscated hard copies of his writings. He is now on his way to an unknown detention. Three Egyptian bloggers visited Abdolkarim's family. The family attributed the state security raid to his writings, although it was not clear if his blogging is directly related. According to his brother, Abdolkarim's relations with Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood of Moharram Bek, Alexandria, are tense. It is possible that the fundamentalists have filed a security complaint that led to his detention.
The Committee encourages the Egyptian government to free Abdolkarim immediately. We will try to get some contact information forthe Egyptian authorities responsible for his incarceration so members can press directly for his release. In the meantime, contact your country's ambassador to Egypt and the Egyptian ambassador in your country.

UPDATE (11/3 a.m. PST): According to Amr, who is working with Alaa to free Abdolkarim, he was first incarcerated about five or six days ago. He and other Egyptian bloggers visited yesterday to determine that he had in fact been detained.
Abdolkareem is not the most popular (blogger) because of his attack on Islam, which qualifies in the mind of many as hate speech (he is not helping himself by his writing style). We confirmed State Security took him (no court order. They are using the ill-reputed Emergency Law, our much-older version of Patriot Act). We still have no idea of his whereabouts. It makes a great deal if there is a legal step taken before he is moved from State Security to a detention, where he can stay for months.

In all cases, a lawsuit of 'religion contempt' means he will be jailed for about five years. It is very important to locate him and act before the process starts.

There is no legal situation in Egypt. It doesn't really matter. All that counts is how much pressure you are able to put early on.

There is no legal situation in Egypt. It doesn't really matter. All that counts is how much pressure you are able to put early on.

Abdolkarim's criticism of Alexandria was direct hate speech against Muslims and Islam: We will not rid ourselves of trouble before we rid ourselves of Islam. He studies law in the Azhar, the Islamic university.
Others, of course, might question the notion that criticism constitutes "hate speech."

UPDATE (11/3 noon PST) via Global Voices:
Update: According to Alaa, both digressing and MalcomeX (Arabic) visited Abdel Karim's family to help but Baheyya reports (and Alaa confirms) that he may be in for a tough ride as he was very outspoken against Islam (Arabic).

Update: Abdolkarim emailed another blogger, telling him how he doesn't fear getting his name published in a survey, as he beleives that the sensitive posts about religion he writes about should not be behind red lines. He also said that he fears the consequences and that he was once attacked by some thugs hired who attemted to beat him. [via: Mostafa]
More information here and here.

Good context from the Arabist Network:
This arrest no doubt comes in the context of the recent sectarian riots between Copts and Muslims in Alexandria. This blogger is Muslim and a student at Al Azhar. In recent weeks his blog has been devoted to events in Alexandria and has included several rather scathing attacks on those Muslims who had rallied against the controversial play.

State Security likely arrested him as a precautionary move. Someone like Kareem Amer does not fit the mold, and this always makes state security nervous. Amer wasn't arrested because of what he was writing. He was arrested because of who he is. Had he been a Copt railing against Muslim extremism it would never have caught state security's attention. But because he's Muslim and an Azhari, he is more dangerous. Amer was arrested because state security doesn't want to have to deal with the fall out if some radical decides to stab him for his inflammatory writings.
UPDATE (11/3 4:30 p.m. PST): Here is the only MSM coverage I can find so far. It provides some additional information.
Curt is a member of team of concerned individuals that have undertaken the cause of allowing bloggers to have freedom from fear just for expressing their views. If you do not have any idea what it is like to not be able to say what you think without fear of prison, I recommend you visit The Committee to Protect Bloggers, CPB. Thank you.

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