It’s just over 6 months since Abdul Kareem got sentenced to 4 years in jail for blogging. There’s a website in support of him. You can also read a wikipedia entry although there is a caveat at the head of the page saying
This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality.
.. He was arrested by Egyptian authorities for posts on his blog that were considered to be anti-religious and insulting to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. On February 22nd, 2007 in his native city Alexandria. Kareem Amer was sentenced to three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and one year for insulting the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Not neutral? Maybe the very mention of the sentence contravenes “neutrality”. Presumably because no sane person would think this was OK?
(If only he had just been the officer in charge of a military unit charged with war crimes, he’d be free today.)
It’s one thing – and a very pleasurable thing it can be, too – to insult Baptist evangelists from the comfort of the Atheist Blogroll. However, if you live in the Middle East, challenging Islam in your blog posts is definitely hazardous to health .
The campaign website is maintained by Kareem’s friends who disagree with what he said about Islam but still uphold his right to express his views. Unlike his family apparently.
What did his family say about all this?
Days before the jail sentence, his family publicly disowned him, and his father called for applying the Sharia on his son by giving three days to repent, followed by having him killed if he did not announce his repentance.
Give them a bit of leeway for trying to protect themselves, as I imagine they are under a fair bit of pressure to distance themselves from their wayward freethinking offspring. But still. A father who thinks his son deserves a death sentence for publishing a few challenging words is definitely so far off the scale of harsh that you would need to invent a new scale. And he’d still fall of the edge.
Disappointingly, the only UK politician mentioned as having spoken out about Kareem is from the UK Independence Party*. Euro-MP Derek Clark, raised the case in the European Parliament.
If you live in the sort of country where you might get arrested or your dad might call for your execution, Reporters sans frontieres have a page about how to blog anonymously without putting yourself in the firing line of your state’s repression.
(You can’t say this blog doesn’t give out any useful information.)
* If you’re not from the UK, there is/was (?) a joke political party called the Monster Raving Loony Party (It’s alternative comedy- it’s not funny, to steal an old Ben Elton quote.) UK Independence Party are generally considered less serious and even less funny than the MRLP. UKIP tends to substitute comical zenophobia for the MRLP’s standard slapstick approach. Luckily, they are completely unelectable and spend their time in internal squabbles. It is enough of a shock that they must have a Euro-MP, let alone that he seems to have actually spoken sense in the European Union.