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Arabisc: Egyptian Blogger Arrested While Arab Bloggers Debate Unity Issues

With most Arab countries waging a war on the Internet, Egypt decided to score brownie points with its bloggers by arresting yet another online writer.

Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, who has himself enjoyed a stint behind bars, reports to us his colleague's ordeal.

أمرت نيابة محرم بك بالإسكندرية اليوم بحجز المدون عبد الكريم نبيل سليمان – 22 سنة و طالب سابق بالسنة الثانية بكلية الحقوق جامعة الأزهر – أربعة أيام على ذمة التحقيق بعد استجوابه فيما ينشره من مقالات رأي على شبكة الإنترنت في عدة مواقع أهمها مدونته http://karam903.blogspot.com

في مارس الماضي قامت كلية الحقوق في جامعة الأزهر التي كان عبد الكريم (الشهير بكريم) مقيدا بها كطالب بفصله بصفة نهائية من الكلية على خلفية كتاباته المشككة في صحة الدين الإسلامي و نقد بعض رموزه, و كانت جريدة الجمهورية قد نشرت وقتها ما يفيد بأن أوراق التحقيق مع كريم في مجلس التأديب – و التي رفض كريم التوقيع عليها لأسباب خاصة به – قد أرسلت نسخة منها إلى النيابة العامة. و بناءا عليه استدعته النيابة العامة في محرم بك بالإسكندرية لاستجوابه.

جدير بالذكر أن كريم كان قد تعرض للحبس من قبل في نفس التاريخ (6 نوفمبر) العام الماضي لنفس الأسباب, حيث اقتحمت قوة من جهاز أمن الدولة منزل كريم واقتادته لمكان مجهول، بسبب كتاباته على الإنترنت لبعض المواقع الإخبارية فضلا عن المدونة ” البلوج” الخاص به

و أثناء التحقيق مع كريم اليوم اعترف بمسئوليته الكاملة عما يكتب و أكد على تمسكه بحقه في حرية التعبير, لكن وكيل النيابة ركز على مناقشة كريم فيما يكتبه و بالتالي رد عليه كريم بتحليلات و استدلالات أذهلت المحقق, وفقا لما ذكرته المحامية التي رافقت كريم في أثناء التحقيق. كما اضطرت المحامية أيضا للتشاجر مع بعض الموظفين في النيابة بسبب استهزائهم بكريم و بحقوق الإنسان.

“Alexandria's Muharam Baik Public Prosecution today ordered the detention of blogger Abdulkarim Nabeel Sulaiman, a 22-year-old former Azhar University law student, for four days after questioning him on material he published on his blog. In March last year, Azhar University's Law College suspended Abdulkarim (better known as Kareem) from the college for writing articles which throw suspision at Islam and criticize some of its symbols. Al Jomhoria newspaper at the time published details of the investigation papers, which Kareem refused to sign for personal reasons. A copy of the investigation was also sent to the Public Prosecutor. Based on this, he was called for questioning. It is worth mentioning that Kareem was previously arrested on November 6 last year for the same reasons. Public Security forces broke into his house and took him to an undisclosed location because of articles he published in his blog. During today's interrogation, Kareem admitted his full responsibility for all that he had written and stressed his right to freedom of expression. But the Public Prosecutor discussed with Kareem specifics of his articles while the blogger rebutted by analysis and information which amazed the investigator, according his lawyer. The lawyer, on her part, had to quarrel with some of the employees there who ridiculed Kareem and human rights,” he wrote.


As is the case with any blogger's arrest, Kareem's detention too brought bloggers from Egypt and supporters from around the world to rally behind the cause, creating an online war zone against the authorities known as Free Kareem!

According to supporters, Kareem's detention has been extended for another 15 days, with allegations against him summed up as follows:
- Spreading data and malicious rumors that disrupt public security
- Defaming the President of Egypt
- Incitement to overthrow the regime upon hatred and contempt
- Incitement to hate “Islam” and breach of the public peace standards
- Highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt and spreading them to the public.

But not all bloggers are supportive of Kareem's plight. Fellow Egyptian Blogger Ahmed Shokeir shows no sympathy for the arrested blogger.

العبث بالدين أيا كان مرفوض في كل بقاع الأرض وما يكتبه هذا الشخص لايدخل أبدا في نطاق حرية التعبير
“Playing games with religion, whatever religion it is, is refused all over the world and what this person writes does not fall within the parametres of freedom of expression,” he said.

Away from Egypt, which has kept us busy for three posts now and moving to other topics, plans are well underway in the Arab blogosphere to have a common platform for Arabic bloggers to express themselves – if only Arabs learn to agree instead of disagree the whole time.

Haitham Sabbah, a Jordanian Palestinian blogger writing from Bahrain, writes about the issue.

من المضحك المبكي هو ما نراه ونسمعه هذه الأيام عما يجري خلف الكواليس في عالم المدونات العربية (بالأخص المكتوبة بالعربية) عن نشوء اتحادات، وتجمعات، وروابط (جمع رابطة) وسقوط وفشل أخرى، واتهامات بسرقة أفكار، ونشوء وإعلان كلٍ من هذه وتلك هنا وهناك دون أن نعلم بها، إلخ…
“What I find funny and sad at the same time nowadays is all that I am hearing about what is happening behind the scenes in the Arab blogosphere (especially blogs written in Arabic) about the establishment of unions, groups and federations for Arab blogs, and the demise of some of those gatherings and the failure of others as well as accusations of plagiarism and the the formation of unions which we don't know anything about, etc,” wrote Sabbah.


Sabbah
lists a number of projects to bring Arab bloggers together, including an initiative launched by Al Jazeera to form Bloggers Without Borders, and the ongoing war between different bloggers hurling accusations at each other and claiming to be the first to come up with the idea of a common portal for all Arabic bloggers.

فأنا لست ضد قيام تجمعات وروابط واتحادات، بل على العكس، كنت ولا زلت أعمل على تجميع المدونين العرب في أطر فاعلة، وليس فقط كتلك ذات الشعارات الأزلية التي لا تسمن ولا تغني من جوع. وليست تلك الغير مدروسة والتي يقودها من هم أجهل بالمدونات والتدوين.

في المقابل، فعالم المدونات الناطقة بالعربية ملئ بالأفكار والنشاطات الهادفة والذكية، ولا ينقصها سوي الدعم المادي أو المعنوي من هنا وهناك لتطويرها. فيا ليت الأموال التي صرفت وتصرف على مشاريع مثل “رابطة مدونون بلا حدود” المدعومة من الجزيرة، ليتها صرفت وتصرف على هذه المشاريع. ولذلك يذكرني بفكرة كـ “المرصد” التي كتب عنها احجيوج وغيره من المدونين العرب النشطاء والجادين، وأفكار أخري لا مجال لذكرها الآن. فمثل هذه الأفكار وحدها التي تستحق الدعم والعمل على إنجاحها، وليس تلك التي تنشئ وتعلن وهي نفسها غير مؤهلة بالحديث باسم المدونين العرب.

“I am not against the setting up of such gatherings and unions. On the contrary, I have worked and will continue working on bringing Arab bloggers to work together in an effective manner and not just under slogans which mean nothing much to anyone. My projects are not like those which have very little thought put into them and which are run by people who know nothing about blogging and bloggers. The Arab blogosphere is rich with ideas and activities which are smart and interesting and which only lack financial and moral support to develop them further. I just hope that money used or being used for projects like Bloggers Without Borders, which is supported by Al Jazeera, will be spent on such projects. This reminds me of an idea called the Observatory, which Hijouij and other serious Arab bloggers wrote about. These are projects which deserve support and efforts to ensure their success and not others which are formed and launched while at the same time not qualified to speak on behalkf of Arab bloggers,” continued Sabbah.

Hijiouj gives us his two cents on the project, linking us to Joha, who has a full idea of the scheme.

Joha explains his masterplan as follows:

مرصد المدونين العرب
طبعا هذه تسمية لشيء لم يوجد بعد وإنّما هو ما يقترحه عليكم ‏جُحَا.كُمْ لكي يرى النور في أقرب وقت ممكن وقد سبق أن أشار ‏إلى ذلك قبل أشهر قليلة. لماذا مرصد؟ لأنه سيرصد ما يمكن أن ‏يُصيب (لا سمح الله) هذا المُدون العربي أو ذاك، من مكروهات: ‏أوّلها، المضايقة الأمنية التي قد تبدأ بحظر التدوين وصولا إلى ‏الحجز والاعتقال (فقط أن يكون سبب ذلك حرية إبداء رأي دون ‏تجريح شخصي أو إساءة معنوية لأي كان) وقد سبق أن حدث ذلك ‏في أكثر من بلد عربي مع أكثر من مدون ومدونة.. وثانيها هو ‏التوقف عن التدوين بسبب المرض (عافاكم الله) أو الوفاة (أطال الله ‏أعماركم ومعكم جُحَا.كُمْ)
“The Arab Bloggers Observatory. This is the name of something which hasn't seen light yet but it is what Joha.com suggests should take off as soon as possible. It is something I have written about a few months ago. Why an observatory? Because it will record all that happens to Arab bloggers beginning with harrassment by the security apparatus which usually begin with blocking sites and could escalate to arresting bloggers. This has happened in more than one Arab country and with more than one blogger. The second thing it would register is the end of blogging because of sickness or death,” explained Joha.
لن يكون المرصد لا جمعية ولا اتحاد ‏ولا رابط يربط أي كان بأي شيء، وإنما فقط اتفاق بين عدد ‏مناسب (نحو 10 مثلا) من المدونين والمدونات العرب على مساحة ‏الخارطتين العربية والمهجرية. في أن يتبادلوا خبرا مؤسفا ما، ‏يخص مدونا عربيا ما، يحصلون عليه عبر شبكات معارفهم من ‏المدونين أو من غيرهم ممن لهم صلة قرابة أو صداقة أو معرفة ‏قريبة من المدون المختفي.
“This observatory is not a society or a federation or a group which links anyone to anything. It is just an agreement between an acceptable number of bloggers (about 10 for example) from Arab countries and those abroad, who will exchange bad news regarding Arab bloggers, whether through their network of Arab bloggers, or friends or relatives,” he said.

Hjiouij agrees with the idea, saying that an Observatory would be better than a union for Arab bloggers.

اقتراح جحا.كم هو إنشاء مرصد للمدونين العرب يهدف إلى رصد ما يمكن أن يصيب المدون العربي من مكروهات، ذاتية من قبيل المشاكل الصحية، وخارجية من قبيل المضايقات الأمنية.

أهم ما يميز الفكرة، في نظري، هو أنها ستحل مشكلة الرابطات والاتحادات التي ينادي بها بعض المدونين ويرفضها مدونون آخرون بسبب مشكلة الوصاية. فهذا المرصد سيحقق ذات الأهداف التي تنادي بها تلك الجمعيات، وهو في نفس الوقت لن يكون له أي سلطة أو تمثيلية، وحتى لن يكون هناك نظام للعضوية.

المرصد سيكون بمثابة مدونة مفتوحة (أو ويكي) يمكن لكل المدونين المشاركة فيها بنقل ما يتعرض له المدونون عبر العالم من مشاكل والتخطيط لبدء حملات مساندة لهم. ستكون هذه المدونة تحت إشراف مدونين لهم تجربة في العمل الحقوقي واحتكاك بجمعيات المجتمع المدني، وهم كما قلت لن يكون لهم أي سلطة، فدورهم لن يزيد عن التأطير والإشراف على حملات الدعم المحلية

“Joha's suggestion is to set up an observatory for Arab bloggers which aims to register all the problems which effect bloggers such as health problems and harrassment by the security forces. What makes this project stand out in my opinion is that it will end the issue of federations and unions which some bloggers are calling for and which are opposed by others because they are worried it would put them under scrutiny. This observatory will fulfil the objectives of those gatherings without imposing restrictions on bloggers. There will also be no system for membership. The observatory will be an open blog or Wiki which all bloggers can access and participate in by registering all the problems bloggers come across as well as planning campaigns for them. This observatory will be under the supervision of bloggers with a legal background as well as those involved in community projects. They will not have any authority though as their role will not exceed supervising local campaigns,” he wrote.

Sounds great! What do you think? Will Arab bloggers be united under one web address, which promised to plead their cause?

  • http://www.larbi.org Larbi
  • Pingback: Free Kareem! » Global Voices cover Kareem’s case

  • http://eclectchap.blogspot.com/ button

    Please post item in mini-blog that blogger nabil in Baghdad is reporting that his neighborhood which may be (Sunni) Adhamiyah has been subject to heavy mortar attack. This has not been reported in any mainstream media I’ve been seeing perhaps because there are no Jews involved ;-) Nabil is blogging under combat conditions and his pay scale should be raised to reflect this. I’m heartsick about it; I wish Centcom would step in and put a stop to this attack.

  • iconoclast6

    those of us committed tp understanding and tolerance must support self-expression. Most importantly, we must continue to support each other, even where philosophical differences exist.

  • http://Developing Scott

    I am looking for bloggers to start a website with. The site will consist of their personal experiences for western audiences to know what is going on in the middle east and to make them aware of how their regimes treat people. If anybody is interested or knows anybody who is interested please e-mail me at scotthardenbergh@gmail.com

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