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Worldwide protests against Kareem Amer's imprisonment
Published in Daily News Egypt on 10 - 11 - 2008

CAIRO: Human rights activists and democracy advocates around the world protested and criticized the imprisonment of Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer, who was sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and defaming Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
On Thursday Nov. 6, which marked the second anniversary of Amer's arrest, demonstrations were held in several world capitals calling for the blogger's release and criticizing Egypt's violation of the citizen's right to freedom of expression.
The demonstrations were organized by the Free Kareem Coalition, an online "campaign to free the brave Egyptian blogger, according to the website.
Holding up banners and posters with phrases such as "Shame on Egypt and "Respect Human Rights, human rights activists stood in front of Egyptian embassies and consulates in New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Rome and Brussels, among other cities worldwide.
Pete Eyre, organizer of the rally in Washington DC, told Beirut-based website MENASSAT that their event was a "success.
"There were 18 people who showed up to help spread the word about Kareem and vocalize their opposition to government-imposed censorship. Foot traffic in the area was moderate, and we handed out around 350 flyers, he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Soviet dissident and democracy advocate Natan Sharansky strongly criticized the Egyptian authorities for Amer's imprisonment.
"Freedom of speech is an inalienable right. Suppressing that right contravenes human decency and makes a mockery of the democratic ideal.
"We strongly condemn Egypt's brazen assault on human liberty. Repression and autocracy must be castigated in no uncertain terms. Aid to a regime which denies its citizens basic rights is both counter-productive and immoral. We call on the Egyptian government to immediately release Kareem Amer and the many dissidents who bravely speak out in the name of freedom, said Sharansky, who is currently, chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at Jerusalem's Shalem Center, in a statement to the press.
Twenty-four year old Amer, who was expelled from Al Azhar University, was arrested on Nov. 6, 2006 in his hometown, Alexandria. He was sentenced to three years in prison on Feb. 22, 2007 for his blog entries, which the court considered to be insulting to Islam and defaming to President Mubarak.
At the time, Amnesty International described his arrest as "a slap in the face of freedom of expression in Egypt.
He is currently serving his sentence at Borg El-Arab prison on the North Coast in Alexandria. Amer has served half of his sentence, which makes him eligible for release if the state decides.
Last Thursday, Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, visited Amer and was reportedly appalled by the conditions of the prison, saying that detainees are harassed by the police officers.
"There are no laws governing this prison, any new state security officer can run it by his own laws. This is a matter of shame to the Ministry of Interior, which leaves prisoners as the victims of officers who have no respect for the law, Eid said in a statement released by ANHRI


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