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Gloomy Day for Freedom of Expression in Egypt
Tough sentence for four years against Kareem Amer
Cairo - 22 February 2007
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) condemns the tough sentence announced by Moharram Beik Misdemeanor Court in Alexandria against the secular blogger, Kareem Amer. Amer was sentenced for four years in prison with conventions of disparaging religion and defaming the Egyptian President.
Moharram Beik Court held a session earlier today to announce its verdict in the charges filed against Amer. HRinfo and Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) submitted their defense memorandums to the judge who decided previously not to allow a session for verbal defense. The judge Ayman Okaz sentenced Kareem Amer - who was present in the court room - for four years in prison; three years for disparaging Islam and one year for defaming the president. The court, then, dropped the third charge of broadcasting statements which may disturb the public order.
"It is a gloomy day for all the advocators of freedom of expression not only in Egypt but also in the whole world," Gamal Eid, HRinfo Executive director said. "When a young man is punished for having secular views in a country claiming respect to citizens' right to freedom of expression, it is a catastrophe. The democratic countries all over the world have already expelled such charges from their laws".
HRinfo decided to appeal the sentence of imprisonment against Amer as soon as possible. HRinfo will also continue its campaign to release him, in order to prevent his unprecedented imprisonment to be copied on other secularists and advocators of freedom of expression in Egypt. Particularly that this sentence is completely contradicted with articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was signed by Egypt since almost quarter a century ago.
"On one hand, disparaging religion is a stretchable and generalized charge. It should not be subject to personal beliefs and points of view. On the other hand, the charge of defaming the president has already been cancelled from the regulations of all democratic countries, because it imposes restrictions on the right to political criticism and contradicts the right to freedom of expression," Eid said.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information calls upon the live forces of human rights organizations, journalists, and advocators of freedom of expression in Egypt and all over the world to intensify their solidarity with Kareem Amer. That is in order to obligate the Egyptian state to rule according to stated laws, not according to the views of religious men or the executive officials of law.
More information on Kareem Amer's case: