Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blogger jailed for denouncing terrorism in an Ally on the War on Terror

The Egyptian judgement condemning Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman to 4 years of prison for expressing his opinions in his blog has received wide coverage on the international press, and it shows, again, the lack of uniformity in rules affecting freedom of expression on the net and the dubious commitment of the US government to spreading democracy. The Egyptian blogger's crime consisted of denouncing a Muslim university for promoting radical ideas, comparing the Egyptian president to the Pharaohs (for his dictatorial manners) and saying that one of the companions of the prophet Muhammad was a terrorist. While it clearly can be argued that some of those comments are offensive to some people, the right to say what people think, freely, is supposed to be an essential part of a democratic society, which the current US administration supposedly is embarked on promoting (especially in the Middle East). In order to carry out such a noble task, the American government looks for allies in different regions and one of them is Egypt. Furthermore, the blog makes some explicit references to people promoting some forms of radicalisation that leads to terrorism, and the US has kidnapped and sent people to detention facilities or to be tortured abroad for less than what Suleiman denounces.
To be fair with the US Administration, the ambivalence and almost hypocrisy is not only American. During last November, at the Internet Governance Forum held in Athens, there were many voices demanding a censorship-free Internet, but it is interesting to see that some of the same voices will be probably heard in the future 4th IGF, which will take place in Egypt with Suleiman probably still in jail. Will I also forget this blog and that blogger when going to Cairo in 2009?

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