Egyptian Blogger Kareem Loses His Appeal

Some bad news. Yesterday Egyptian blogger Abdul Karim Suleiman lost his appeal against his four year conviction for insulting Islam and Hosni Mubarak. From Reuters:

An Egyptian appeals court on Monday upheld a 4-year jail sentence against a blogger convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel-Karim Suleiman, 22, last month became the first Egyptian to be jailed for his writing on the Internet in what human rights groups and bloggers described as a dangerous precedent that could limit online freedom in the country.

“This was not a verdict issued on a legal basis,” said Gamal Eid, a human rights activist and one of Suleiman’s lawyers. “This is a religious verdict similar to those of the Inquisition,” he told Reuters.

The court in the port city of Alexandria also allowed a group of Islamist lawyers to file a separate lawsuit against Suleiman demanding compensation on the grounds that his writings had harmed them as Muslims.

A photographer working with Reuters said the Islamist lawyers criticized Suleiman’s lawyers during the proceedings for defending him.

“You are an infidel,” one of the Islamist lawyers shouted at a member of Suleiman’s defense team after the trial, sparking a shouting match between the groups.

Before anyone declare him a chimp, it might be worth remembering Kareem decided to stop posting at Copts United as he felt they limited his criticism of religion solely to muslims and not copts as well.

That anyone should face a stretch in jail for criticising religion or their head of state in the 21st Century is an absolute disgrace, let alone someone in a country to which the US gives a good billion dollars a year in aid and has offered to host the United Nations’ Internet Governance Forum in 2009.

I’d be interested to hear just how Kareem’s writings have “harmed” anyone.

Incidentally, RSF have more including this, in true HP commenter style:

Meanwhile, Alexandria appeal court president Abdel Fattah Murad yesterday brought a complaint against the Egyptian government, demanding the closure of 21 websites that “attack the President of the Republic.” Local sources told Reporters Without Borders that the website of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the very popular blogs Baheyya and Gharbeia were among the sites concerned.

What to do? Well. Get yourself over to the Free Kareem Blog which has some ideas about better things to do than spank your keyboard in frustration.

Thanks to FFE for the heads up.

Oh, and do I need to mention what a Google search of the Socialist Worker website with either “Karim” or “Kareem” brings up? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Still fighting the good fight I see.