Freedom of Expression attacked in Egypt, Egyptian Blogger Detained
The regime of Egypt is again not surprising us with another ugly act by detaining Egyptian blogger/writer Nabeel Abdul Kareem (Abdolkarim) (21 years old)who has a blog under “Kareem Amer” in Arabic.
The Egyptian Copts in the US have protested in front of the UN headquarters calling for the release of the Egyptian blogger. Egyptian bloggers of different backgrounds who are agreeing and disagreeing with Abdolkarim launched a campaign to defend freedom of expression.
Egyptians blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah opened a heated platform and debate to discuss the first detention case of an Egyptian blogger. Alaa reported in his blog that 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 location. 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. There is a big question mark here.
I have read Abdolkarim’s last blog on the Alexandria sectarian violence. Kareem has been a witness to this violence. He wrote his testimony on those black days in Egypt. Detaining him is considered an intimidation or assault on a witness.
In his article, he called for the rejection of hatred in Islam to non-Muslims, hinting to the position of the Egyptian Copts. He witnessed himself the sectarian violence in Moharm Bik district in his home city of Alexandria. He gave in his blog an example how some Islamist thugs burned a liquor store owned by an Egyptian Copt while at the same time allowing a Muslim man to sell alcohol.
The Egyptian government made continuous attempts to suppress any media coverage or voices that highlight the tension between Egyptian Muslims and Copts. Abdel kareem’s blog refers to how the majority of Muslims regards Copts as second rate citizens and therefore deprived from full citizenship. That was said in many other places. Many believe that Copts are infidels and followers of the US. Part of the hatred to the US is projected on the fact that the US protects Copts. That’s how some tend to think and that was reflected in the comments I read on the blogs written about Abdel kareem.
Kareem believes in subjecting Islam to reason, which I believe is normal. His sin is that he touched upon a big taboo which is regarded as such by many extremists. Many Westerners find that calling for the detention of Muslim thinkers or reformers for believing in subjecting Islam to reason is a strange concept, because Judaism and Christianity were subjected to reason thinking at some point in their history. Many of us remember how little comprise Christianity had when we remember Jeanne D’Arc but we forgot to remember that Christianity went through different phases to evolve into its present form. However, “true” Muslims believe that Islam is so perfect that cannot be questioned or subjected to reasoning. I am still wondering. What is the definition of such an elastic word like “true”? (However this is not the issue here) The divergence on subjecting Islam to reason will remain a conflict among Muslims, because many Muslims believe like Abdolkarim however, with different levels. Their problem lies in that their Muslim societies do not allow them to question Islam, because, they will be discriminated against as a result. They do not follow the culture of the herd. And in case, they dared to talk, their destiny will be like Abdolkarim or any other fashions of oppressions. I believe that the worst case scenario of living is not to live as part of your society because you think different; when you are not different you are step further.
Many western media tend to focus on Islamists' news, promoting their ideology and making them as if they are the real spokespersons of Islam. It seems as if they help them to degrade the values of humanity. At the same time, westerners fail to voice the opinions of the progressive and liberal Muslim thinkers, who could be the true reformers of Islam. A balance must be struck here. While we attack Islamist extremists, Muslim reformers must be promoted in their countries and not suppressed. Abdolkarim is among hundreds of like-minded progressive Muslims; he is not the first and will not be the last.
I recognize that many renowned international organizations are concerned about how freedom of expression is treated in the Middle East. Their concern is in place, however the international organizations and the international communities should walk an extra mile to combine the right of freedom of expression with protecting progressive Muslim thinkers.
The reason why I may sound like making their protection an international responsibility is that the regimes in Middle East are sometimes treating their Muslim citizens as the Islamists treat progressive Muslims. Governments in the Middle East fail to promote and instill freedom of expression in their societies. They may ratify international agreements to show willingness to cooperate at international level, but it is actually the chameleon treatment we experience in our societies in the Middle East. State security apparatus detains and tortures Abdolkarim for what he wrote and if he was left to walk freely in the street, he will be killed by Islamists after a release of a fatwa (religious ruling) to spill his blood, so what is the difference between the two of them? This is the perfect way to silence free citizens who believe differently or want to join the free world to believe or disbelieve. The state uses the system to terrorize citizens who dare to talk and extremists release fatwas to stab you with a knife. What a perfect way!
In the developing world in the Middle East: Libya has sent a blogger to prison for 18 months who criticized the government on the Internet. In Egypt, blogger/writer Nabeel Abdul Kareem is detained with no police records or right to legal counsel for a blog on sectarian violence in Alexandria. In Tunisia, an internet writer who spent a year and-a-half in prison for editing an irreverent website critical of president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali died in Tunis on March 13, at the age of thirty-six, of a heart attack. On the other hand, I recently read that the US is currently trying to integrate the bloggers into the political process because of their emerging influence.
Waiting for a response and action from international community, human rights international organizations and the international community of bloggers to defend of Nabeel Abdul Kareem in the face of our government, state security of Egypt and the Islamists.
First Photo by RSF (Reporters Without Borders)
International Bloggers respond:
Gateway Pundit (USA)
The Tar Pit (Jailing of EGyptian blogger) (USA)
The Tar Pit (How to contact for help)
The Tar Pit (Detained Egyptian blog missing)