Egyptian blogger gets four years in prison for contempt of religion.

From Hot Air….This is just crazy. Please take the time to check out the links. You can spend an hour reading up on this story. Religion of Peace and Tolerance?

He used to study law at Al-Azhar University, one of the world’s highest authorities in Sunni Islam whose leaders have been known to endorse suicide bombings against U.S. troops in Iraq. Then he started criticizing religion, so last year they kicked him out and, to make sure he really learned his lesson, filed a criminal complaint against him. The blogger, Abdelkareem Nabil Suleiman, wrote about his impending arrest at the time:

I started studying at Al-Azhar in accordance with my parents’ wishes. Despite my later absolute opposition to Al-Azhar and religious thought, and despite my fiercely critical writing on religion’s infiltration into public life, and religion’s control over people’s behavior and their relations with others… freeing myself from the bonds of being a former Al-Azhar University student was not… an easy thing…

It seems that Al-Azhar’s ‘blessings’ to its students are not limited to preventing them from completing their studies far from Al-Azhar. What happened to me, and what is going to happen to me in the coming days, clearly proves that Al-Azhar’s ‘blessings’ will not leave in peace a student who tries to rise up against the university and oppose things he is forced to learn there – things that contradict reason and incite to violence against people of other beliefs – until he stands at the edge of his grave… or until he enters the prison gates. And it seems that this is what I am about to deal with in the coming days…

He was arrested in November, tried this month, and today the verdict came down: guilty of contempt of religion, insulting the president and spreading false information. I’ve written before about Egyptian bloggers and how, although there’s only a very few of them blogging about politics, they’ve exerted extraordinary influence in the country by exposing gruesome torture by the state police and mass sexual harassment of women on the streets of Cairo after Eid. (Their latest expose is only a few weeks old.) Moreover, according to the Beeb, “Bloggers also play an important role in Egypt’s small pro-democracy movement. They advertise in advance the times and venues of political protests, and then post pictures and accounts of how the police dealt with the demonstrations.” I’ve written about that, too.

In short, they’re becoming a major headache for Mubarak. He had one of the country’s most popular bloggers, Alaa Abd al-Fatah, arrested last year but released him after 45 days due to the uproar. WaPo wrote about the incident and declared blogging a “fast track to prison” in Egypt. Today’s verdict bears them out, albeit with a twist — it’s Al-Azhar that sought this conviction, so Mubarak gets to send a message to his critics while hiding behind Islamic robes.

Go sign the petition at the Free Kareem site. It won’t get Mubarak’s attention, but it might get the State Department’s, especially now that we’ve got ourselves a trend.

Update: No sooner do I post this than the Blotter breaks news of another score.

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2 Comments

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