The Tar Pit

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Jailed Egyptian blogger located, outlook dim

Updates, contacts and roundups on Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman of Alexandria, the Egyptian blogger arrested and missing following posts he'd written that were critical of aspects of Islam. The Committee to Protect Bloggers reports some good news, that Seliman's whereabouts are now somewhat known, though his prospects otherwise are not good:

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has spoken to Abdolkarim's aunt. She said Abdelhadi Seliman, Karim's brother, was told at the Bab Sharqi police station that his brother is, in fact, currently being detained. There are two detention centres in the vicinity of Alexandria, but it is not clear yet which one he is in.

Human rights activists in Egypt think that by detaining Abdolkarim, State Security is protecting itself from the results of whatever trouble he may find himself in by clashing with the Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood. They also said the best chance for Abdolkarim is to get him out of "emergency-law" detention and into a court to be tried for "religious contempt," for which he may receive a sentence of between six months and five years. The activists are hopeful that his young age and the recent sectarian strife events in his neighborhood would result in a short sentence. Abdolkarim, they say, is not coming out this year

The CPB suggest e-mails to Egypt's Interior Minister, Habib Ibrahim Habib El Adly at

Another key contact would be the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr. Tarek Mohamed Kamel Mahmoud, whose email is Here's the Ministry website.

Also, Curt from the Committee to Protect Bloggers has started an online petition, Free Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, attached to the following:

Dear Minister,

You have taken into custody Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a blogger who was frequently critical of Islam and the state of Egypt. We are writing to ask you to immediately free this young man. His detention is bad for Egypt.

Egypt has a long, honorable tradition of critical thought that goes back to the famous library at Alexandria (where Abdolkarim is from) and beyond. Please continue that tradition of free thought in the service of an informed populace by freeing Abdolkarim.

Many who are signing this petition are critical of his criticisms, but believe it is healthier for the state for people to air those feelings rather than to let them fester. After all, both Egypt and Islam are larger than the thoughts of one man.

There has never been a blogger arrested in Egypt before. Respectfully, we believe that this is a step in the wrong direction, a step unworthy of Egypt.

Nice bit of understatement. What are the Egyptian authorities thinking? Iraq Blog Count asks:

Does Egyptian PR realise, I wonder, that they are creating a blog hero and martyr by detaining a critic at this time of month and year. The blogsphere, for all it's vibrant diversity, is filled with willfull obstinance. Some find solace in intractable pessimism, others like mules insist on green pasture. All take pride in their falls. An arrest for a blogger is nothing short of sainthood.

Exactly right. Egypt is smoking cigarettes at a gas station with the arrest of Seliman during Ramadan. How does an arrest like this help sell the case that the Islamic world will ever be capable of ruling without oppression? By appeasing its resident Islamofascists?

There are lists of Egyptian embassies around the world here and here.

Egypt's U.S. Embassy:

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the United States
2310 Decatur Place NW Washington D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 895-5400 Fax: (202) 224-4319/5131

Jim Davila over at PaleoJudaica has posted his own e-mail to the Egyptian Embassy, with good thoughts on how to approach Egyptian authorities:

Please do be polite (abusive letters are counterproductive) but also firm. The main points are that Mr. Seliman's right to free speech (whatever one thinks of his views), including the right to criticize his government and religious views with which he disagrees, should be respected and he should be released without charge immediately. My understanding is that there is not a right to free speech in Egypt, so this should be presented as a universal human right. You may want to point out also the very negative international publicity that is arising from reports of this incident.

Egypt's U.S. consulates:

The Egyptian Consulate General in San Francisco
3001 Pacific Ave. San Francisco, California 94115
Tel. (415) 346-9700 / 346-9702 / 346-7352 Fax (415) 346-9480

General Consulate of Egypt in Chicago, United States of America
500 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 1900 Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: (312) 828 9164/828 9163/828 9162.  Fax: (312) 828 9167

General Consulate of Egypt in Houston, United States of America
1990 Post Oak Blvd Suite 2180, Houston, TX. 77056. 
Tel: (713) 961 4915/961 4916.  Fax: (713) 961 3868

Permanent Mission of Egypt to The United Nations in New York, United States of America
304 East 44th Street, New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 503 0300.  Fax: (212) 949 5999

Also blogging on Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman are Miss Mabrouk of Egypt, Sabbah's Blog, My Newz 'n Ideas, and Riding Sun.


Dennis Dale at Untethered gets off a good rant:

An Egyptian blogger insidiously unmindful of Salafist propriety was captured by Egytian police. The blogger had posted a report on police clashes with Muslims bravely defending the one true faith from blasphemous infidel Christian thespians by surrounding a church and stabbing a nun.

"He is stubborn, he has ideas that contradict the true religion and he posts that on the Internet, serving no one but himself" said the mother of the delinquent young man.

Also, Fayrouz at Iraqi In America has a long post and discussion.