In recent months, every criticism of Islam in the West has been met with accusations of hatred (often “incitement” as well), and with the demand that one should just stop all of that. “Tolerance” and criticism are now mutually exclusive, lest someone be insulted.
But have restricted rights to free speech for the sake of avoiding “insults” made Egypt a kinder, gentler, happier, and more compassionate society? No, quite the opposite, and the West should take note as the Organization of the Islamic Conference seeks a “legally binding institutional instrument” at the UN to protect Islam from insults.
The climate of fear created over absurd and arbitrary laws does not make anyone “nicer.” It just cows them into submission, and paves the way for a less open, more brutal society as laws that are inherently abusive of human rights lend themselves to further abuse. Add to that the sense of entitlement to rule and to use violence to maintain Islamic rule that permeates the letter and spirit of Sharia (which informs Egyptian law even where the letter does not), and brutality is all but assured.
CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian blogger has been released after serving four years in prison on charges of insulting Islam and the president, a human rights group said on Wednesday.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil, 26, known as Kareem Amer, was in bad health and was beaten by security officers before his release on Tuesday. The Interior Ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Amer, a student at the state-run religious al-Azhar University, was arrested in 2006 on charges of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak in his blog posts. He was sentenced to four years in prison and expelled from the university.
“Kareem was released on Tuesday morning and his health is bad but he is safe now,” Gamal Eid, head of ANHRI, which represented Amer at court, told Reuters.
“He was detained for 11 days beyond his court sentence and beaten by officers who did not give any reasons,” Eid added.
The first blogger to face trial in Egypt for online content, Amer was first released on November 5 from Alexandria’s Borg el-Arab prison where he stayed for four years.
But he was immediately re-arrested by state security for 11 days without charge and beaten, ANRHI said.
“His situation has gotten worse after he was detained despite completing his sentence,” said Eid.
Amer was unavailable for comment but Eid said the blogger would speak to the media in a few days.
International human rights groups had protested Amer’s detention beyond his court-sentence and called for his release.