Monday, November 14, 2005

Detained Egyptian Blogger


ORIGINAL POST 11/03/2005
I just arrived back from Dallas. I received the following message from Egyptian blogger, Alaa:

Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman is a 21 year-old Egyptian student of law at the Azhar University, Damanhour Campus, a women's-rights activist and a correspondent for Copts United.

In addition to writing at Civic Dialogue, he also publishes at a blog he maintains.

On Wednesday 26 October 2005, Egyptian State Security took Abdolkarim from his home, and confiscated hard copies of his writings. He is now on his way to an unknown detention. Three Egyptian bloggers visited Abdolkarim's family. The family attributed the state security raid to his writings, although it was not clear if his blogging is directly related. According to his brother, Abdolkarim's relations with Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood of Moharram Bek, Alexandria, are tense. It is possible that the fundamentalists have filed a security complaint that led to his detention.

Charles Levinson wrote on Arabist Network:

This arrest no doubt comes in the context of the recent sectarian riots between Copts and Muslims in Alexandria. This blogger is Muslim and a student at Al Azhar. In recent weeks his blog has been devoted to events in Alexandria and has included several rather scathing attacks on those Muslims who had rallied against the controversial play.


The other day, I was discussing the subject of minorities and the Alexandria riots with an Iraqi Baha'i. We both appreciated growing up in Iraq. Even though we both were minorities, we never experienced physical or verbal attacks like we've read about in Alexandria.

For more details, check Committee to Protect Bloggers.

Sandmonkey wrote:

This attitude that some people have drives me nuts, because this is about free speech and civil rights, not about who said what about Islam. We should support him, not because we agree with what he said, but because if we don't rally out and support those who get detained and arrested for writing what they believe in- no matter how unpopular their opinion may be- we will be the ones arrested next. If you violate the rights of one of our own, then it's like you violated all of our rights. I may not agree with what many Egyptian bloggers have to say, but if they were in that same situation as AbdelKarim I would be doing the exact same thing I am doing right now, for I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight for your right to say it. This isn't something that should be compromised on, or we might as well all take our blogs down and hide in our homes, waiting for that 3 am visit by Amn el Dawlah like a bunch of scared rats. If you are unwilling to live life like this, as any self respecting human being wouldn't, then you should support the immediate release of AbdalKarim. It is not a matter on which we can compromise.


He said it so well.

I sent an e-mail to the Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. this afternoon. The more protest e-mails we send, the better. At least, we're notifying the Egyptian government that we know what happened to Abdolkarim.

Curt Hopkins from committee to Protect Bloggers started a petition to free Abdolkarim. It takes a few moments of your time to sign the petition. I hope you do it:

Free Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman petition

Abdolkarim is a free man again. Here's the translation of his latest post (Via Committee to Protect Bloggers):

(I have been released) after 18 days, six of them spent at Alexandria State security office of AlFarana, and 12 in Tora Farm Prison in Cairo. I am fine now and cannot but thank everyone who stood next to me, either friends or people who have never known me, but are my brothers in humanity even though we may not necessarily agree intellectually. I am deeply thankful for them and wish them the best. I promise to write soon about my stay at the Tora Farm Prison and the people I met there.

الحمد لله على سلامتك ياأخ عبد الكريم

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