Today’s Washington Post tells the story of a man sitting in a jail in Egypt for doing nothing more than dare to criticize a government institution on his blog:
A former college student, Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman, is sitting in an Egyptian prison, awaiting sentencing tomorrow. His alleged “crime”: expressing his opinions on a blog. His mistake: having the courage to do so under his own name.
Soliman, 22, was expelled from Al-Azhar University last spring for sharply criticizing the university’s rigid curriculum and faulting religious extremism on his blog. He was ordered to appear before a public prosecutor on Nov. 7 on charges of “spreading information disruptive of public order,” “incitement to hate Muslims” and “insulting the President.” Soliman was detained pending an investigation, and the detention has been renewed four times. He has not had consistent access to lawyers or to his family.
Soliman has criticized Egyptian authorities as failing to protect the rights of religious minorities and women. He has expressed his views about religious extremism in very strong terms. He is the first Egyptian blogger to be prosecuted for the content of his remarks. Remarkably, the legal complaint originated with the university that had expelled him; once, it was a great center of learning in the Arab world, but it has been reduced to informing on students for their dissent from orthodoxy.
No attention has been given to this story in the American media, which considering that Egypt is supposedly an American ally, is shocking in itself. More attenion needs to be paid.
As the Post authors put it:
Whether or not we agree with the opinions that Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman expressed is not the issue. What matters is a principle: People should be free to express their opinions without fear of being imprisoned or killed. Blogging should not be a crime.
Cross-posted at The Liberty Papers