Blogger jailed for insulting IslamRead the rest at the site of the Scottish newspaper The Herald.
NADIA ABOU EL MAGD, ALEXANDRIA
An Egyptian blogger was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Egypt's president, sending a chill through internet writers who fear a state crackdown.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, 22, a former student at Al Azhar University, an Islamic institution, used his blog, or web log, to voice secularist views and criticise conservative Muslims. He also lashed out at Al Azhar, Sunni Islam's leading religious centre, calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of encouraging extremism.
His conviction was condemned by Amnesty International and other international and Egyptian rights groups and stunned fellow bloggers.
"I am shocked," said Wael Abbas, who reports police abuses and other human rights violations. "This is a terrible message to anyone who intends to express his opinion and to bloggers in particular."
A court in Alexandria sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and the Prophet and inciting sectarian strife, and another year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.
Nabil was led outside to a prison van. Seconds after the door closed, a reporter heard the sound of a slap and a shriek of pain from Nabil.
His lawyer, Ahmed Seif el-Islam, said he would appeal, saying the ruling would "terrify other bloggers and will negative impact on the freedom of expression in Egypt". Nabil had faced up to nine years in prison.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them connected to the pro-democracy movement. Nabil was arrested in November and while other bloggers were freed, he was prosecuted - a sign of the sensitivity about his writings on religion.
The judge said Nabil insulted the Prophet with a piece he wrote in 2005 after riots in which angry Muslims attacked a Christian church over a play deemed offensive to Islam.
"Muslims revealed their true ugly face and appeared to all the world that they are full of brutality, barbarism and inhumanity," Nabil said of the riots.
Of course, that's not really barbaric and inhuman. The young man must be disoriented in one way or the other. That's just part of their culture. Who are we to judge? Specifically we as Germans. And didn't the Arabs give us the numerals? (Well not really, but it SOUNDS so good, doesn't it?) We are so arrogant in our Western hubris! Of course, if I'd say now that the pope is a dotty old idiot to seriously believe that a piece of wafer can turn into the body of Christ under certain circumstances I will go to prison and beaten up as well, wouldn't I? So who are we...
Ooops sorry -- wrong film!