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Congress Investigates Plight of Jailed Egyptian Blogger
When Kareem Amer was detained by Egyptian police last November, the 22-year-old student could not have imagined his case would become an international incident. But now Congress is on the case.
The prosecutors interrogating Kareem demanded he recant opinions expressed on his blog. Kareem refused; he was placed in solitary confinement; and a judge sentenced him to four years in prison for “insulting religions” and “defaming Egypt’s president.”
At a recent Congressional hearing in Washington, HAMSA Outreach Director Nasser Weddady, testified about Kareem’s case and threats to other Egyptian bloggers.
“Blogging is the new frontier for free expression – and government repression,” said Weddady. “The uncensored space of blogs enables young Egyptians of diverse backgrounds to publish their thoughts for a global audience. But there has been a dramatic rise in harassment of bloggers, some of whom are now closing their blogs.”
Nonetheless, bloggers from around the world have united behind the “Free Kareem” Campaign. “Over 8,000 people have signed petitions calling for Kareem’s release,” Weddady noted. “The campaign organized rallies outside 12 Egyptian embassies around the world and generated international media coverage of Kareem’s case.”
Basic rights like free expression are not guaranteed, Weddady explained, but rather only given by authorities when citizens submit. Kareem was jailed simply because Egyptian officials felt his opinions crossed a red line.
Weddady asked Congress to intercede with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “The mistake made by one judge can be corrected by President Mubarak,” noted Weddady. “Surely the president of Egypt is not bothered by the blog of a random student.”
More updates on Kareem’s case coming soon.