Abdel Karim's trial is tomorrow, and I have to say that I can't think of anything else. Whatever transpires tomorrow, it's implications and consequences will affect every blogger in Egypt, and could lead many of us to change or close down our blogs. It is that serious.
The situation is as follows: the egyptian government is going after Abdel Karim with 3 charges, each equaling 3 years in prison: 1) religious disdain, 2) Insulting the President and 3) attempting to flare secterian strife and disrupt public secuirty. The total expected sentence is 7-9 years in prison, which besides being grossly unfair, it also marks the first time that such charges were applied against statements made on the internet/ blogs. The implications for that are clear: A legal precedent will be set for the persecution and imprisonment of bloggers for what they write on their blogs, and the state will use it against its critics and detractors in the Blogsphere. The very flexible and indefineable nature of the charges allows them the freedom to go after anybody for anything. Define insulting the president; or define disdain for religions, hell or even trying to flare secterian strife or disturbing public security. Does calling Mubarak's policies stupid or describing his as an autocrat count as an insult? Does criticizing the Jihady mindset or being anti the boycott over the danish cartoons make you disdainful of Islam? Does reporting secterian clashes an attempt to flare secterian strife? Is showing police torture victims an attempt to disrupt public security? Do you people see where this is going?
And you know that the regime will use this to go after all the bloggers who have been embaressing it for the past year, especially those souls who blog in their real names, Like Wael , Malek , Hosam , Sharqawi , Alaa , Nora and the list goes on and on. Hell, the first one I would imagine them going after the moment they have the legal precedent is Wael. He embaressed them way too many times and pissed off too many people in the hierarchy of state security to be left alone. I estimate him to be the first, but probably not the last. I mean, why stop with him? No good reason not to go after the rest of us, with a nice media campaign running in state-owned papers about those damn bloggers who only care for defaming the country and who must be the agents of foreign powers aimed at disrupting the peace in the country. And the people will believe. I mean they believe in the freakin Maadi serial killer, why not believe this shit?
All in all, I have to applaud them on chosing Abdel Karim: he is perfect for this. Stupid, infalmmatory and utterly indefensable. He is to egyptian bloggers what Saddam is to arab leaders: there aren;t any excuses for him. He is the one who repeatedly shot himself in the foot over this, and now he is in shit and he can drag us all down with him. And that's not even the worst part: even if Abdel Karim gets cleared of all charges, he still has to go through conscription, the military draft, and if he goes in he will not come out, not alive or in one piece anyway. Word of his writings and views will reach the barracks and every simple soul there will try to get brownie points with god by beating the crap out of him. Hell, some even could find good excuse to kill him, since he already declared during the police interrogation that he is no longer a muslim. That's apostacy, and that's punishable by death, and some overzealous dude from the country side or upper egypt might take it upon himself to deliver the islamic punishment for apostacy on Abdel Karim. And I wish this is an overstatement.
So what's the solution? Well, as far as I can tell, there is only one solution left: For Abdel Karim to plead insanity.
If he pleads insanity, then he isn't responsible for his actions or what he wrote, and under egyptian law can not be liable to any of the charges against him. All it would take is a bribed psychologist who will write a report stating that Abdel Karim is a disturbed yet harmless individual (it would cost less than 100 dollars) and he is off the hook. He doesn't go to jail, there is no legal precedent against bloggers and any defaming campaign would have serious problem gaining credibility without such a scapegoat. He couldn't be used to attack us because, well, according to the law he is crazy, and it would be sweet revenge on a government that covers up any crime made by a muslim against a christian by claiming that the attacker is crazy. And the very best part: Crazy people are exempted from serving in the military. Abdel Karim would get his military exemption, be able to get a passport and get the fuck out of dodge and seek assylum in any other country as he had always dreamed and wanted. Everybody wins.
The question is: Is that the strategy of his lawyer tomorrow? If not, then what possible defense does he have readied up for this case? How is he going to get Abdel Karim out of this one?
Guess we will find out tomorrow. I am going to Alex to attend the trial myself. Will let you know.
Let's just hope for the best!