This is a question that many people ask us, and we would like to address it here on the website in case anyone else has similar concerns or reactions.
There are many people who are going through horrific and unimaginable experiences in prison. Many of these people don’t deserve what they are going through. We do realize this unfortunate fact, we never denied it nor do we consider Kareem more important than the many others in similar positions.
However, you must understand that this campaign was primarily initiated by Kareem’s friends, who are Muslims, the very people that Kareem actually offended through his writings, and was later supported by people who can relate to Kareem through personal experiences. A lot of us are now emotionally attached to this case. Offended as some of us are, we know the fact that Kareem is harmless and that what he is suffering through is incredibly unjust. Prison is a place people go when they commit crimes. Kareem committed no crime, unless you consider honesty, individual liberty and freedom of expression a crime.
As for the claim that the Western media is paying particular attention to Kareem and are treating him as a “special figure” because of his anti-Islam stance, this is hardly the case. At first, members of the campaign were directionless. We didn’t know what to do or where to go for help regarding our friend. No one was paying attention even while the news was out. It was thanks to our cries for help that the media began monitoring and documenting the case, and it had very much to do with us being highly accessible through phone, e-mail, or even physical presence in order to inform the rest about what was happening and why. Many of us also write op-eds in order to maintain this much needed interest within international media outlets. It is due to effort, not any “conspiracies” regarding “hidden ideologies,” which is what some readers claim.
We invited the media because it was our way of reaching out to the world and asking for help. Sure, perhaps the content interfered with a certain number of publicity, especially from extreme right-wing sources, but this is not the case for most of media reports.
We worked hard. We are still working hard. We will always work hard, and we cannot be blamed for that. It is not an error, it is something that the rest of you should apply in your own campaigns. Many hours each day, we as a team worked on gaining public awareness through rallies, media sources, PR work, letters, we take the time to answer 90% of the e-mails about the case.
The first rally for Kareem started with 3 young people. It inspired a worldwide movement. The first website for Kareem started out with one contributor and writer. It is now written and maintained by a tightly-knit team. The first report about Kareem did not gain any attention and no one cared much for it – but consistency was the trick. Please don’t assume that the media has no interest in the others, if you feel that any other person deserves this much attention then follow our lead and do something about it. Sacrifice your free time, your work hours, your sleep, and your security for it. This is what many of us did, which is why it lead to the attention. We believe that if any person or team put this much effort, huge movements could result due to it, so we strongly encourage others to do the same.
Again, as Muslims, we certainly do not agree with what he said and the manner in which he said it in, however we do feel the need to protect his basic human rights for the sake of all of us. For the sake of human rights in this region. And most importantly, for the sake of a good person and a supportive friend.
The reason why we put so much time and energy in Kareem is because he does in fact represent human rights. If Kareem is pardoned, we feel that Egypt’s decision-makers (who set in example for many other Arab states) will think twice before imprisoning a person for his or her opinions. If Kareem is pardoned, this could influence media laws in the region and ensure basic liberties. If Kareem is pardoned, many others would not be afraid to express their opinions, which is important for a society to grow intellectually. And finally, if Kareem is pardoned, this would restore hope, security, and stability in the future of Arab and Muslim youth. We need that hope, and to us, Kareem represents it.
Even if Kareem isn’t pardoned, the campaign will still go strong because responsible decision-makers will still think twice after they realize how much media attention cases like this can receive and how much damage it could cause the country’s worldwide reputation. This is why we work hard for Kareem. Not because he is MORE important or more worthy of media reports, but rather because he does represent the others in similar positions. And people will be reminded of this case should any similar cases arise involving people just as harmless and innocent, people who only wish to speak their minds.
We are not against Egypt. We are against Egypt’s decision to imprison this brave blogger. We are not against Islam. We are against silencing those who oppose Islam.
We are aware of the others. We do care deeply about the others. But with Kareem, many of us stood up and said, “enough is enough.” We encourage you all to lead similar campaigns to those you know. Your friends, family, or even strangers you admire. Campaign for them and ensure their safety if they are going through similar issues. Don’t wait for us or the others to do the work for you; you take action, and you be the change that you need in this world. It’s very possible, and our team is proof of that.
If you would like to do more for others, you can start by requesting for our help in starting up your campaign. The Free Kareem Coalition is now providing free domains and hosting to any campaign that needs it.
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