A message from RenÃ© Wadlow, Main Representative, and David G. Littman, Representative, of the Association for World Education to the United Nations Office in Geneva:
Appeal to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour: Help free Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman
On 15 February, the day that demonstrators around the world will protest against the continued imprisonment of Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman, a 22-year-old student arrested on 6 November 2006 for criticizing the Egyptian government — and also accused of posting criticism of Islam on his personal website — the Association for World Education is appealing to you as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to condemn his continued imprisonment and to call on the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against Mr. Soliman, also known by his online handle, Kareem Amer.
This is not the first time he has been arrested. His writings also led to him being expelled from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University earlier in 2006. Since his arrest over three months ago, he has been kept in solitary confinement and has been denied access to his lawyer and to his family. Several Middle Eastern human rights organizations have expressed concern for his life, and the recent TV revelations of the customary torture practised in Egyptian prisons on almost anyone arrested has heightened these fears.
The Egyptian Government has cracked down on Internet freedom and at least seven cyber-dissidents were jailed in 2006. Last June, a State Council administrative court endorsed an information and communications ministry decision allowing the authorities to block, suspend or shut down websites considered a threat to “national security.”
Kareem, the first person prosecuted in Egypt for Internet-based journalism, has stated that he believes women and men should be treated equally; that Islamic extremism is gravely hurting Arab society; and that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.
The Internet has made possible the dissemination of these ideals to a global audience. For that reason, some in Egypt evidently feel threatened by Kareem and others who, like him, are not afraid to speak their minds in upholding, courageously, the principles clearly enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants, which have been adopted and ratified by the Government of Egypt.
Protests will take place today worldwide in New York City, Washington, DC, Ottawa, London, Paris, Rome, and Bucharest. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have all condemned his imprisonment, which strike at the basic roots of the human rights covenants. Other human rights defenders have spoken up in his defence, and for the universal human rights principles directly involved.
The Association for World Education calls on you, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to raise your voice for Egypt to free Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman now.
RenÃ© Wadlow (Main Representative) David G. Littman (Representative)
(Association for World Education to the United Nations Office in Geneva)