The Tar Pit

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Egypt frees Sadat assassin, Luxor terrorists, blogger still jailed

The Egyptian government has released an assassin of Anwar Sadat and several Luxor terrorists for renouncing Islamic violence; while at the same time holding blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman for denouncing Islamic violence.

Reminds me of the Talmudic line: "he who is merciful to the cruel will be cruel to the merciful."

Ibn ad Dunya at Fustat points to this report from Reuters:

"The leaders and the members were freed last week ... On the second of November," one of the officials said.

One of the freed leaders, Fouad el-Dowaliby, was jailed for life for his involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981, the officials said.

The three other leaders, Nageh Ibrahim, Safwat Abdel Ghani and Hassan el-Gharabawy, were all jailed for life for their links to another Islamist extremist group, Islamic Jihad, that fought the government at around the same time.

That takes care of the "mercy to the cruel" department for the Egyptian government.

Now, Committee to Protect Bloggers, Manal and Alaa's bit bucket, and Miss Mabrouk of Egypt link to this report from Elijah Zarwan at Global Voices Online:.

At 3 a.m. on October 26, plainclothes security agents arrested Abdolkarim Suleiman from his home in the Muharram Bek district of Alexandria, which had been the site of deadly sectarian clashes over the two previous weeks. The security agents, who produced no warrant, searched Suleiman's house and confiscated printed copies of his online writings. Suleiman, who studies Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, has published blog posts and articles against honor crimes, the imposition of the niqab (full veil), female genital mutilation, and against the Egyptian government. He became active in the Kifayah movement in August 2005. On October 22, when rioters in Suleiman's neighborhood clashed with police, Suleiman posted an account of the riots, criticizing the rioters and Islam. Days later, his family says, Abd al-Karim was attacked and beaten up by young neighborhood men. Suleiman's brother, Abd al-Hady, believes Alexandria Security was operating on a tip from neighborhood youths.

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. On Nov. 8, Al-Tunsi again telephoned contacts in Alexandria Security to inquire about the case. His contacts said they would get back to him, but as of 11 p.m. on Nov. 8, they had not.


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 under the terms of Article 98F of the Penal Code (Law no. 29 of 1982 allows for sentences of between six months and five years or fines of between LE500 and LE1000 for “exploiting and using religion in advocating and propagating by talk or in writing, or by any other method, extremist thoughts with the aim of instigating sedition and division or holding in contempt or disdain any of the ‘heavenly religions’ [i.e. Islam, Christianity, or Judaism] or the sects belonging thereto, or prejudicing national unity or social peace”). 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.

Abdolkarim is a Muslim who defended the Copts. Egypt has freed assassins and terrorists. The Talmud rests its case.

An outstanding post from The Big Pharaoh:

El Destoor, a popular opposition weekly newspaper in Egypt, reported the news of Abdolkarim's arrest. As typical of Egyptian/Arab media, there was a twist in the story. The paper, which is staunchly anti-Mubarak, said that the blogger was arrested because the government didn't like how he reported the events of Alexandria (the riots over the church play) and that it considers some of his writings to be "off the script". The paper didn't mention that Abdolkarim's posts against religion might be a reason for his arrest.

I am sure the paper didn't mention the above fact because it knows many people won't have any sympathy for Abdolkarim. Unfortunately, years of dictatorship and the current wave of foul religiosity have made many in our society immune to one of the basic elements of liberal democracy: freedom of speech.

On other hand, it was so encouraging to notice that many of those in the blogosphere who support Abdokarim's release do not agree with his views. There is hope I guess.

From Christians Under Attack:

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.


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.


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.

Also blogging on Abdolkarim are Lost Budgie and Stop and Think For a Minute.

Open thread links:

Outside the Beltway
Don Surber
Political Teen

More open thread links:

Wizbang and Stop the ACLU and Stuck on Stupid and The Uncooperative Blogger ® and Choose Life and BIG DOG's WEBLOG and Basil's Blog and Random Numbers