Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More Information on Abdolkarim

More information via Global Voices and Alaa - follow those two links for the full text; the information is from the HR lawyer and bloggers in Alexandria who are following the case of Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman.

Repeated attempts by family members and Alexandrian human rights lawyer Mohammed Khaled Al-Tunsi to get more information on Suleiman’s case from Alexandria Security have met with no success.

On Nov. 6, security agents returned to Suleiman’s house and told his family that he was being held in an unspecified detention center for political prisoners. They did not specify on what charges he was being held. … Since Security agents visited the Suleiman house a second time, the Suleiman family has been less willing to talk about the case. …

Suleiman is either unlawfully detained or has been detained under the Emergency Law. …

Alexandria Security now has two options: They can either detain Suleiman under the provisions of the Emergency Law that allow detention without charge of individuals deemed to be a threat to public order, or they can charge him with defaming religion or exciting sectarian strife … [which] allows for sentences of between six months and five years or fines of between LE500 and LE1000 …

Suleiman’s defenders grant that his October 22 post held Islam in contempt and, given the background of sectarian strife in Alexandria, could be read as “prejudicing national unity and social strife.”

The latter option would play better in Egypt, where the Emergency Law is unpopular and Islam is popular, but would risk turning him into a cause celebre abroad, particularly among religious conservatives in the United States.

Detaining Abd al-Karim under the terms of the Emergency Law carries its own risks: In his campaign for reelection this summer, President Hosni Mubarak promised to suspend the Emergency Law in favor of a counterterrorism law and to pass legislation reinforcing citizens’ right to a fair and speedy trail. Invoking the Emergency Law, particularly in such a high-profile case so soon after the election, would give lie to these promises of reform and would also surely raise eyebrows abroad.

Nowhere did Suleiman call for violence against Muslims. Nor did any such violence follow his post. There is little to suggest that his blog was widely read in Muharram Bek, a working-class neighborhood where economic constraints make Internet use rare. Suleiman himself does not own a computer and maintained his blog from a local Internet cafe. Suleiman was not responsible for the violence in his neighborhood, nor will his detention solve the problems that led to it.

The question of the legality of Suleiman’s detention aside, Egyptian officials conducting a cost-benefit analysis of Suleiman’s continued detention must conclude that it’s not worth it. His detention has already attracted significant attention from local and international human rights groups and media. Particularly on the eve of the World Summit on the Information Society, where Egypt has the opportunity to present itself as a regional leader in attempts to foster an information society, Suleiman’s case has the potential to cause more trouble for the government than it’s worth.


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