Another Crackdown in Egypt
For quite some time I’ve been getting daily updates from a tiny little Cairo-based outfit called The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, sponsored by the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, which was at the forefront of the effort to document what was happening to Egyptian bloggers and democracy activists in the wake of protests by the Egyptian Movement for Change last year. This week, I got the saddest e-mail from the group:
“Blogs and websites under threat Bloggers in danger of imprisonment HRinfo attacked and its executive director in danger of imprisonment.”Apparently, because of the ongoing crackdown on dissenting voices in Egyptian politics, those who merely documented human rights abuses may now be sent to prison. The back story they tell:
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) announced today that it will not be terrorised into giving up its right to sue Judge Abdel Fattah Mourad for violating HRinfo’s copyrights. [GFR: They have charged the judge with plagiarizing 50 pages from a report.]That’s infidelity as in “being an infidel,” rather than as in being unfaithful.
Judge Mourad raised many cases including one accusing HRinfo Executive Director Gamal Eid and bloggers Manal Hassan and Alaa Seif, administrators of http://manalaa.net, of insult and defamation.
Eid was surprised to find that he was accused along with Alaa Seif and Manal Hassan in an insult and defamation case that was raised by Judge Mourad against them. After the prosecutor finished interrogation and ordered the release of the three on their own cognisance, the police continued to detain them for more than 10 hours giving the excuse of finishing procedures, which started at 1:00 pm and ended at midnight!
In addition to the false accusations that the judge is putting forward, the three were surprised to find that the same lawyer who raised a hisba (A sort of a civil case in an Islamic form) against the currently imprisoned blogger Kareem Amer is one of the witnesses brought in by the judge. [GFR: Amer was recently sentenced, despite an international outcry, to three years in prison for insulting Islam.] It is worth noting that the lawyer had previously accused Amer’s lawyers, including Eid, of infidelity for defending Amer.
“The judge violated our copyrights and when we exposed this he filed a lawsuit to block HRinfo’s website and 20 others,” Gamal Eid, HRinfo Executive Director, said.Those who follow the Arab English-language blogs will recall that young blogger Alaa Abd el-Fatah was imprisoned around this time last year in the wake of a protest, leading to the international Free Alaa! movement, which became a cause celebre in the conservative blogosphere. Abd el-Fatah was the proprietor of Manaala.net along with Manal Hassan, the same blog and co-proprietor HRInfo points to, so it looks like it’s the same two people who had problems with the authorities last year now being accused of defamation, even though the name above is different. The plagiarism dispute that kicked off the present conflict is, ironically, over Eid’s book Implacable Adversaries: Arab Governments and the Internet.
See also their release: “Who Is Going To Defend Us? To Silence Its Voice Hisham Mubarak Law Center Is Under Attack.”