The Middle East: Blogging & Prison

Blogging against Islam or the nation-state is dangerous territory – and that fact is too well known by Kareem Nabeel Sulaiman.

Global Voices Online reports today that the Egyptian blogger, the first in his nation to be sentenced to prison for making negative remarks through the medium:

“The 22-year-old former Al Azhar University student was charged with defaming Islam and insulting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The sentence was criticised by bloggers, writers, human rights activists and campaigners for free speech from all over the world, who demanded his immediate release.

Fellow blogger Freedom for Egyptians posts an article discussing Kareem’s ordeal. […]”

(read the rest at GBO)

But while this sorry case may be the first in Egypt, it isn’t the first in the region – nor is it the harshest sentence. In 2005, the Iranian government sentenced blogger Arash Cigarchi to 14 years, according to Human Rights Watch. A BBC report on the sentence says that Cigarchi was charged with “spying and aiding foreign counter-revolutionaries,” – translate: he criticized the arrests of other online journalists. This set off a chain of other criticism and ensuing arrests, including a three year sentence for cleric Mojtaba Lotfi and 18 months Mojtab Saminejad (Reporters sans frontieres).

Blogs have become the pinnacle of free and personal expression, uninhibited by overhead costs, advertisers, time, or (for better or worse) notions of objectivity – but all of this can be crushed by an intolerant and fearful government. We should be wary of this in our own nations, and lend our support to those who are struggling. Best of luck to Kareem in his appeal, and freedom to the caged voices of Iran.


2 Responses to “The Middle East: Blogging & Prison”

  1. 1 fitnessfortheoccasion March 11, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Hear hear. We should call this kind of cowardice out loudly.

  1. 1 Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Egypt: Reactions Pour on Blogger Kareem’s Plight Trackback on March 12, 2007 at 2:52 pm
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