My PJM piece on Abdel Karim is up

Here it is!

Comments

  1. Very well written, SM. Too bad there wasn’t better news to be shared.

    Just please be careful! It’s not as if they aren’t watching you.

  2. SandMonkey-can you provide English translations of the blog entries you describe in your editorial? I’m sure many of us would like to read them and possibly post them on our own blogs here.

  3. Excellent article, SM!

    Please consider The Freedom Fighter’s Journal to be your stalwart ally in the struggle against Islamofascism!

    Cheers, Ronbo

    P.S. You have a lot guts, kid!

  4. Nice piece, SM. However, I beg to differ on one point. In a system of government like Egypt’s, i.e., personal authoritarian rule, there’s really no such thing as legal precedent. President Mubarak is the law, and it doesn’t matter what the courts do. If he doesn’t like what they say, he ignores them, fires them, sidelines them, etc. So establishing a legal precedent is irrelevant. It’s the law until Mubarak says it isn’t. Later in your piece you called it for what it is – a warning, a shot fired over the bow of the Egyptian blogosphere. But they could have arrested every blogger in Egypt ages ago – they didn’t need Abdel Karim’s conviction to get busy.

  5. Nice report. Rotten situation.

  6. For all those who are looking for a translation of what Kareem said, I have provided a link. It’s an article written by Ahmed Salib (read muslim convert to Christianity) about a year ago. It’s a lengthy analysis that I highly reccomend but I’ll copy and past the parts he translatated.

    This is REALLY powerful stuff and shows you how truly unjust his imprisonment is. And it sadly goes to show you the level of fundementalism on the Egyptian street when you consider people are calling for his beheading for his comments. And the people that know him and who have met him describe him as gentle and shy!

    It’s important to know that Kareem lives in Moharram Bey (a district in Alexandria) and witnessed first hand accounts of the Alexandrian Riots that took place outside St. George Church. Accounts had it at 5000 people with the rioting going on for a couple of days with Christians taking the worst of it.

    http://www.annaqed.com/english/under/expelled_from_al_azhar_for_exposing_the_truth.html

    ——————————————

    “The Muslims have taken the mask off to show their true hateful face, and they have shown the world that they are at the top of their brutality, inhumanity, and thievery.
    They have clearly shown their worst features and have shown that in dealing with others they are not governed by any moral codes.

    From what I have seen yesterday of the events at Maharram Beh, which were quite shameful, and have shown me more facts that they have tried to cover over the centuries.

    They have indicated that Islam is a religion of peace and forgiveness, but their true face has been uncovered to show barbarism and thievery and fanaticism and not acknowledging others, and attempting to remove them from existence.

    Some may think that the actions of the Moslems does not represent Islam and has no relationship with the teachings of Islam that was brought by Mohamed 14 centuries ago, but the truth is that their actions is not different from the Islamic teachings in its original form when it has urged people to deny others and hate them and kill them and take their property, things that they know well but they try to deceive people by falsely defending the teachings of Islam by extremists and they are hiding from the truth and they prefer living a lie.

    I have seen with my own eyes the thugs as they break into our Christian brothers’ stores after the whole area of Maharram Beh was completely out of control of the government authorities, and I saw them as they ransack the contents of the store right and left, amidst cheering and shouting extremist Islamic slogans, and I saw them stealing the money from inside the drawers of the cash registers and splitting it among themselves as if it is justified by being owned by what they call the infidels and the worshippers of the cross.

    I saw them break into a liquor store owned by a Coptic merchant Labib Lotfy and I saw them smash everything they can get their dirty hands on, including the refrigerator and the scale and the boxes and liquor bottles. I saw some of them stealing liquor bottles so they can get drunk after a hard day’s work against the Coptic infidels.

    It is worth mentioning that although some people may think that this Christian-owned liquor store was particularly targeted because the owner is selling the forbidden alcoholic beverages that is forbidden in Islam, but another liquor store in front of the Christian-owned store happens to be owned by a Moslem merchant, and none of the thugs dared to attack, as they did with the Christian-owned store. Now you can see the hateful sectarian actions.

    What the Moslems did yesterday in a very vulgar and criminal and horrible way proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that they don’t acknowledge others or their rights of existence or their rights to live with the freedom of expression and also consider them less than them, and these actions should be fought and exterminated for is it right to leave these horrible human beings to do what they want and kill, destroy, steal, and burn??!!

    The Islamic teachings that was brought by Mohammed 14 centuries ago should be faced with courage and boldness, we should expose and show its faults and warn humanity of its dangers. We should, even though we are different –look with reason to these teachings that urges people, human beings, to become monsters that don’t know anything in life except killing and looting and plundering and raping and pillaging.

    We should stand courageously and boldly against these teachings that became a plague on humanity and is not supported except by extremists like bin Laden and al Zarqawi and al Zawaheeri and the thugs that assaulted our Coptic brothers and burned their homes and stole their properties, and tried to assault their religious men and destroy their churches.

    We should take off the religious and sectarian gown and look at matters in a more humane way. We should hold trials to all the acts of terrorism and extremism, that our Islamic history have kept their names and their criminal actions starting with Mohamed ibn Abdullah and his company of murderers like Khalid ibn el Waled and Omar ibn el Khattab and Saad ibn Abbi Waqqas and Moiizah Bin Shaabah and Samra bin Gandab and the kings of Beni Ummaya and Beni al Abbass and al Osman, and ending with the Moslem criminals of the modern day that became more famous than movie stars and singers.
    We should show the world the truth of these criminals that unfortunately have become role models for our youth and our children and our women. We should expose their false teachings and show the world that they are a big danger that should be exterminated and removed from its roots.

    Before you put on trial the people that are responsible for the crimes that occurred on Black Friday in Maharram Beh, you should first put on trial the dirty teachings that caused them to go on a rampage of stealing and plundering and looting.. put Islam on trial and sentence it and its symbols with a figurative execution so that you can be sure that what happened yesterday will never be repeated again.

    For as long as Islam exists on this planet all your efforts to end wars and disputes and upheavals will fail because Islam’s dirty finger will be found behind every catastrophic event to humanity.”

    Ahmed Salib goes on to say in his article:

    “I am very surprised that it’s taken all these months for Abdelkareem to be expelled from Al Azhar, which is not only the biggest Islamic university in Egypt, but in the entire Islamic world!

    There are two things to consider before taking sides, however. First, if Abdelkareem is so anti-Islamic, why should he waste his time at a school that is dedicated to Islam? Here is what his blog said this week about the matter:

    “I am not sad! Would one be depressed and sad when he recuperates his freedom? As I was being investigated, I discovered- for the first time- that being a student at El Azhar University means I was a slave owned by it.

    Would I be sad because I recuperated my freedom? Would the slave be depressed when he manages to forcibly extract his freedom from the grasp of that who considered himself a master? Would he who wins over injustice, slavery, and intellectual restriction cry? I extracted it from them as they were bargaining with me over it.

    They were expecting me to deny or evade responsibility of my free and courageous opinions – they were awaiting for me to give birth to a second personality during the investigations – but how preposterous!

    The University of El Azhar is a racist university, with all that the word “Racism” entails. Its Imams and scholars always decry countries of the West, which reached a high caliber in terms of human rights, for having been racist countries at one point of their history.

    Would those turbans void of brains remove the speck from their eyes first before blaming others for actions carried out centuries ago? It is a racist university for; in spite of the fact that it is a public university financed by all Egyptian taxpayers – Muslims and Christians alike – it only accepts Muslim students! Isn’t that racism?

    It is a racist university because it separates male and female students and places them in separate campuses. It even goes as far as banning its female students from studying certain specialties. Isn’t that racism? If there is one thing for which I would like to thank that university of El Azhar, it is for having showed me its unveiled face that I would not have been able to witness had I not been one of its students.

    I thank it for having opened its doors to me so I could see the laboratories of brain-washing and two-legged bombs, where an innocent kid becomes a rotten swamp after a couple of years, from whom emanates the odors of hatred, violence, and rejection of the other! ”

    As you can see, powerful stuff!

  7. Good on you, Sam… I think quite a few of us are in our think-tank right now, trying to figure out a way for us, as individuals, to do something about this situation.

    Most newspapers up here had a small article in the foreign section, no more, about Kareem today. As stated earlier, I’m working on a nasty letter to be sent to various newspapers – they might not print it, but if enough of us write them, at least a few of us will get through…

    Start typing everyone!!!

  8. My reaction is posted here:

    http://ronbosoldier.blogspot.com/2007/02/first-award-freedom-fighter-of-week.html

    I will join my fellow American Bloggers in asking the USA government to put pressure on the Egyptian government to secure his release. Since his safety cannot be secured in Egypt inside or outside prison, I think he should be allowed to come to the USA in exile.

    Cheers, Ronbo

  9. great writeup SM.
    There are so many fundamentalist propagandists who cry about “injustice” so often, but they in turn ensure that injustices like this are carried out. It only serves as another illustration to show where the inablity to look at one’s own behavior that is so prevalent in the Middle East comes from.

  10. SM, I’m a big advocate of freedom of speech, but if I were in Egypt now, I would sign off with the following message:

    Goodbye folks. If you want to see any more posts, I recommend you de-Nazify Egypt and ensure a non-Nazi government that protects human rights instead of violating human rights is in power.

    In the meantime, I can tell you I will do whatever I can in order to do the above. Unfortunately priority must be given to states that have enemy governments, and I don’t think it is possible to get to Egypt before the Republicans lose the presidency. I’m so sorry. I wish I had a magic wand to fix all these problems. Instead, all that is available is the US military, which is in fact capable of doing the job if we can only keep the Republicans in power and focussed.

    Here is my plan:

    http://antisubjugator.blogspot.com/2007/01/war-plan.html

  11. Holly crap! You are part of Pajamas now?!

    You know you are destitute for greatness… or prison… hopefully greatness!

  12. The story made Perez-Hilton.com
    http://perezhilton.com/upload/2007/02/since_weve_been_gone/kermit-jailed.jpg

    and cnet.uk
    http://news.cnet.co.uk/software/0,39029694,49287975,00.htm

    Hope the appeal goes well. Kareem’s article is extremely informative. I’m saddened that Egyptian authorities consider honest reporting more serious than the crimes reported upon. Your authorities are seriously out of touch.

    Oh—love the “surprise” appearance of that kidnap victim to try to steal the limelight during the trial. Can anyone say “Staged?” “Rigged?” C’mon authority dudes: we know that tactic. What a set of neanderthals!

  13. As the tired adage goes, “all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing”… but at the same time I pray that the price for your personal bravery and action is not too high. Please let those of us who have the priviledge to live in free countries know if there is anything we can do to help make a difference.

    May God bless your efforts and keep you safe!

  14. Sam this is an excellent piece! Do you mind if I quote portions of it over on GNB? (providing the link to PJM for the rest of course). BTW folks there is a site that is fighting to get Kareem’s sentence over-turned http://freekareem.org. They’ve got petitions up and buttons if you’ve got a website…time to get active! :)

  15. Nice piece SM. You say that in prison he’ll either go crazy in solitary confinement or get ripped to pieces by the jail house piranhas.

    There might be a third possibility, and that if they bring in other bloggers to keep him company in his cell. Who might that be… hmmmmm?

  16. Jebus_Cripes says:

    boo hooo.
    He is not the first one and will not be the last one. Why aren’t you all crying or making noise about the 1000s of other who are imprisoned because of BS charges?

  17. There’s a comical discussion over the the Guardian (UK). They seem to think their legal system is above such things. But the fact is they’ve narrowly defeated (for now) a law which would certainly punish people for what Kareem said. Freedom of expression is under assault all over the world.

    Whether you call it insulting Islam, incitement to racial hatred, incitement to religious hatred, or Islamophobia, it’s still just an effort to make words illegal. Words don’t magically make otherwise decent people do anything unless there is an underlying truth someone is trying their best to conceal. And that’s exactly what’s going on.

  18. Perhaps roughing up that university official who laid charges against this blogger would send a message too – it can work both ways. You mess with mine, I’ll mess with yours.

    I can’t get over how sub-human some Muslims are and think. These are just words this blogger wrote, he didn’t kill anyone – oh wait, I forgot, killing is good, words are bad: a bunch of bloody mentals.

  19. Jebus_Cripes says:

    Newsflash:
    There is no such thing as free speech, there is always some sort of control. Whether or not you want to belive that is entirly up to you.
    Give me a break with all that free speech and freedom of expression crap. you just like to take any opportunity to condemn muslims. Fine by me.

    Jebus Cripes, your lord and savior

  20. Islam is a virulent cancer upon the earth and there is no cure. It will rage on untill it turns the entire planet into a stinking swamp of death.

    Big Pharoah, in one of his last posts, looked forward to the day that Islam would be reformed as Christianity was. Never happen. Christianity was founded as a religion of love and tolerance for the other. It eschewed politics and this is a cornerstone of Christ’s teachings. The Roman church turned it into a political movement and THAT is what had to be reformed. Islam was founded and begun as a political weapon of dominance and enslavement and is incapable of reform.

  21. Jebus_Cripes says:

    Well done Scott, thats exactly what I wanted hear.
    While I disagree with you, I certainly respect your honesty.

  22. Egypeter Says:
    February 23rd, 2007 at 6:23 pm
    For all those who are looking for a translation of what Kareem said, I have provided a link.

    Thank you, Egypeter. Exactly what I looked for. I’ll translate this and post in on eurabia.cz with a link to the petition.

  23. This is outrageous! Where can people can talk honestly and hold a civilized discussion? Spread the words about his arrest, protest to Egypt embassies, boycott Egypt products, and write to your MPs.

    Just do something! If they can do with Kareem and get away with it, we’re going to be next.

  24. It’s all about control. It’s about some guy who has been given too much freedom to say what he likes on this thing called a blog. They have to control that too.

  25. Agree with the others: Nice piece SM!

    Now it’s time to get active. I just sent a letter to the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs demanding that he takes action in order to get Kareem released – the Danish readers should send a copy (or an improved version…) of this letter themselves – it is on my website. Fogh probably should be sent a copy as well. The egyptian embassies should be drowning in letters as well – if they think this will affect the income from tourists they will know something like this doesn’t happen without consequenses.

  26. Very informative, well-written post… the only fact I question is in the intro where you’re introduced as a “popular” egyptian blogger. ;- )

    This is very sad and frightening. I hope Abdel remains safe, and I hope you remain safe.

  27. Sandmonkey-I notice you have tagged the latest Kareem posts as “shameless self promotion.” Stop pretending you really care about him or any other Egyptian for that matter. You already made it quite clear here:

    http://www.sandmonkeyblog.com/2006/11/23/blogger-ramy-siam-is-finally-released/

    that Kareem wasn’t expressing his thoughts so much because they were his thoughts but because he saw them as a means to an end. In other words, his “free speech” was deceptive. He thought he could get out of Egypt if he just insulted the country enough. Why didn’t he explore other options? Like chatting up some foreign woman through the internet to get her to fall in love with him and get him a visa to her country? Or study hard for his degree so that he got high marks and then could get a scholarship to study abroad for a master’s degree? Why in his own personal quest to get abroad, did he have to drag the entire country through the dirt?

  28. carrots, “He thought he could get out of Egypt if he just insulted the country enough. Why in his own personal quest to get abroad, did he have to drag the entire country through the dirt?”

    Carrots, the solution to someone saying things that aren’t true is to use your freedom of speech to COUNTER everything he says. People are allowed to make up complete rubbish if they want. The solution is to expose them as being WRONG, not JAIL them. So far I’ve only seen him jailed. I haven’t actually seen anyone bother to counter all the things he said. I wonder why that might be?

  29. 25. US:

    Thanks for the draft – I’ve sent a copy of your letter to our foreign minister with my signature… Let’s hope it’ll make an impact!

    Maybe I’ll mossy on down to Kristianiagade 19 and put a little sign on the door of the egyptian embassy…!

  30. I find the charge “contempt for religion” to be especially interesting. The crime is not “blasphemy” or “contempt for God” or even “athiesm.” And, indeed, he could not be convicted of any of these. This man has reverence for God. His contempt, written out very plainly, is for people who have abandoned the good teachings God gave us — and who call that abandoned behavior religion. These people have committed the sin of scandal, by inducing others to sin through their evil actions and teachings.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13506d.htm
    and all he has done is point it out.

    There is an unintentional truth in the charge, and it does not reflect well on Egypt at all.

    The people interviewed on the street may be less at fault. They in all likelihood have not read the blog. They have, however, very likely heard what the clerics had to say about what he wrote.

  31. Paul-Have you any personal first-hand knowledge of what is taught at al-Azhar? Have you ever met any of its students or professors? Do you have any personal grounds or knowledge that they emerge from the university as a bunch of brainwashed terrorists or beasts? Have you ever even been to Egypt?

    If you knew people who attended the university, and their professors, as I do, you would know that Kareem’s words do not ring true. In fact, they are pretty laughable. Graduates of Azhar certainly come out better versed in their religion than the average person, and the university has to be commended for fulfilling this role, but that doesn’t necessarily lead them to become wild fundamentalists. In fact, the opposite is usually the case. As one graduate once told me, after all those years of religious studies and no girls around, they move in the other direction once they are away from it.

    The ones who don’t think for themselves are those who blindly jump on the Kareem bandwagon without taking the time to investigate his motives or the truthfulness of what he argues. You can defend the principle of free speech, but when that speech consists of falsehoods and manipulative words, you must be careful to also not give credence to that aspect of it.

  32. I thought this was a very interesting story. Egypt is well known for its slavery of the hebrews in ancient times… are its bloggers the new slaves? my message to you, in the words of the great method man: release yo delf!!

  33. Who cares what they teach at Azhar. They clearly are not standing behind one of their students who is in jail, not for inciting violence or doing such but merely writing his opinions.

    So don’t tell us about thinking for ourselves because it’s clear that some don’t have the ability to even think. Critical thinking would be asking too much.

    Telling anyone they “must be careful” is fascism.

  34. @SM, nice column.

    Does everyone know the expression, “the canary in the coal mine?” Bloggers are like the canary in the coal mine.

    Coal mining is a dangerous business. One of the dangers is that toxic gases can leach out of the rock and, if there is no warning, kill the miners.

    Many years ago, coal miners came up with the idea of bringing a bird down with them. The bird’s job was to sing. As long as the bird kept singing, the miners knew that the air was good. If the bird stopped singing and died, the miners knew that the air was bad and that they needed to get the hell out of the mine before they passed out and died.

    Bloggers are like the canary in the coal mine. They identify problems while those problems are embarassing – but not yet fatal. Intelligent governments let such creative forces highlight important issues – allowing the governments to do something about the problems – rather than sweeping the problems under the rug until they BECOME fatal.

    Extremist Islamism, brainwashed sectors of the population, civil violence and official corruption are problems that can prove fatal to societies if allowed to spin out of control. The bloggers who call attention to these problems are not doing it to harm their countries; they love their countries very much.

    Rather, the bloggers are discussing problems in the hope that these problems will be fixed, to the benefit of their society as a whole.

    Jailing the bloggers is like trying to kill the canary. Silencing voices of patriotic dissent and intelligent skepticism may create quiet for a little while, but this quiet is frequently a false quiet – the quiet before the storm.

    If the bloggers didn’t care about the wellbeing of their countries, they wouldn’t bother to speak out about them.

    I hope that the Abdel Karim is released on appeal.

  35. Most of the Egyptian coalminers are unable to hear the canary. Because the canary sings in English, on the internet. Only half the Egyptian population can read at all, of those, the vast majority are not on the internet, and of those who are, most are not capable of reading English.

    Egyptian bloggers blogging in English have an inflated sense of their importance and relevance among the miners. Egyptian bloggers blogging in Arabic slightly less so. If you want to make a difference to the miners, you have to get away from your computer screen and get out among the people and talk to them.

    To RW, who said who cares what is taught at Azhar? If you don’t care to find out, then what gives you the right to criticize it? Would it hurt you to know?

    You probably won’t believe this, I got my bachelor’s degree from what is considered to be the university most supportive of free speech in the world, Berkeley. And I know a number of graduates of Azhar and professors. In fact, my husband is a graduate of Azhar. Now, if Azhar taught closemindedness and intolerance, do you think someone like me would have married someone who graduated from Azhar or someone from Azhar would have married someone from Berkeley?

    It’s a long story and I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that my husband and his classmates were not entirely happy with certain aspects of their education at Azhar (actually they were unhappy they were having to share certain facilities with students at another university because their own were not ready yet) and they protested in a respectful manner, boycotted classes for four months, and took the university to court, and won-and got what they wanted. No one went to jail and no one got kicked out of the university. The classes that came after his treat his class like heroes for what they achieved. So don’t tell me that bloggers are the only canaries. Students who organize themselves without saying stupid things can get what they want too, even at Azhar.

    If Karim was unhappy with being forced to study at Azhar, then why didn’t he get together a group of other students like himself, and taken the public universities that do not accept Azhar school graduates to court? He dreamed of being a lawyer, yet he did not even try to go the legal route? He would have had a very valid case in my opinion, since there may be subjects Azhar school graduates want to study that aren’t available at Azhar University. I really do think he could have made a valid case of it. But he achieved nothing for himself and others in his position in this regard by posting trash talk on the internet.

  36. Heh Carrots:
    Is this true or false about Azhar? — “It is a racist university for; in spite of the fact that it is a public university financed by all Egyptian taxpayers – Muslims and Christians alike – it only accepts Muslim students!”

    Is this true or false about Azhar? — “It is a racist university because it separates male and female students and places them in separate campuses. It even goes as far as banning its female students from studying certain specialties.”

    From an earlier SM post, and as a woman educated at Berkeley, why in the world are you living in an area where this is…normal?!? “The Egyptian Mufti just issued a fantastic new Fatwa: He said that it is Halal (permissible in Islam) for any female who lost her hymen for any reason to do the operation to have their hymen re-instated. …that the Islamic religion calls for Shielding yourself from Scandal (El Satr), and if a re-hymenization operation will do that, then Islam allows it.”

    I’m stretching the point now but humor me. Let’s say you’re a female student at Berkeley. You think re-hymenization is a good thing, like the Mufti guy, so you write about it and condemn Berkeley for not supporting your idea. Let’s say you’re smart enough (like your husband) to get a group of like minded students to go along with your idea and as a group, condemn Berkeley for not supporting it. Berkeley would probably expel you…but you wouldn’t go to jail.

    Azhar could have expelled Kareem, but he probably shouldn’t have gone to jail. Why? He’s an eloquent and talented writer. And appears to be a humanitarian. Perhaps he’s the muslim that’s “advertised” to us here in the states as what a muslim is supposed to be…but alas, not what we SEE with suicide bombers and mufti dudes and their severe bent for persecuting women.

    Why do I care? Because it IS the foks like Kareem (the rebellious youth) that will launch Egypt into the 21st century. Not the illiterates and neanderthals. When Egypt kills off her artists and writers… all you have left is an authoritarian a**hole who keeps Egypt’s population illiterate and unenlightened. I may not totally agree with Kareem’s opinion, but I LOVE HIS PASSION about his experiences.

    Finally, as a Berkeley educated woman married to an Azhar educated man, why don’t ya’ll join Kareem’s appeal process and at the very least, push for him to be politically and religiously exiled to the USA? We need his talent…and he need’s our freedom.

  37. This gives me a sick feeling in my stomach for the future of the world. :( Stay strong, Abdel Kareem.

  38. “It is a racist university for; in spite of the fact that it is a public university financed by all Egyptian taxpayers – Muslims and Christians alike – it only accepts Muslim students!”

    Azhar for the vast majority of its 1000 year history, was not under the control of the Egyptian government. Now it is under the thumb of the prime minister and the president. It did not get funding from the government either. The president could not appoint the mufti as he does today-he was chosen by his peers. There are some that think that Azhar coming under the government’s control has been a negative thing for Azhar and that it should be independent again and not rely on the taxpayers’ money. There is a lot of criticism that the mufti is forced to make rulings that support the government. I suggest you take a look at this:

    http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/758/fo1.htm

    The Copts have their own independent seminaries that do not take taxpayers’ money. And yes the government does discriminate against Copts but in that respect they are freer than Azhar itself is allowed to be.

    “It is a racist university because it separates male and female students and places them in separate campuses. It even goes as far as banning its female students from studying certain specialties.”

    Separating male and female students into separate campuses is not racist in and of itself. It originally was an all male institution. In the early 1960s there was a big reform of Azhar, non-religious subjects were offered for the first time. Women were also given their own faculties at this time. It is true that some of the faculties available to males are not available to females, and I agree that is unfair, especially because graduates of Azhar schools are only allowed to attend Azhar University. However, there is a historical reason for that partially in that the proportion of girls in schools in general in Egypt was less and therefore the number entering the university was less as well. Many families also are unwilling to allow their daughters to travel to attend the university in Cairo and since there are fewer branches of Azhar than there are of other universities they just don’t go to university. And since there is less demand, there are less faculties. And developing faculties takes time and money and that is half the reason my husband and his classmates took the university to court, the facilities they needed weren’t ready yet and they were men.

    Where I really see the problem is that the other universities in Egypt refuse to offer Azhar school graduates places. Parents choose to send their children to Azhar or public schools and that determines their future. Those girls or boys who want to study subjects not offered at Azhar at all are not allowed to attend these other universities. People who would allow their daughters to attend a university close to home do not have that option. So really I think the fight has to be against those other public universities for discriminating against Azhar graduates.

    However, I will tell you that they also are flexible. My husband and his classmates were actually studying part of their course at a nearby public university, alongside women and many Christians. The problem they had was not with these other students but that the professors in this other university discriminated against them because they were from Azhar. They managed to get themselves transferred to other branches of Azhar that had the facilities they needed. And believe it or not, because there were so many of them, they were split into two groups, half went to study in another boy’s faculty, and the other half of these males believe it or not, were sent to study with the girls in a girls’ faculty! Nobody had a problem with this as the education provided in the girls and boys faculties was equal. There are both male and female professors in both the boys and girls faculties. Azhar schools are mixed sex too before the high school level.

    Now, there is a girls’ only faculty at one of the public universities, Ain Shams (but no boys only faculties). I went there once to meet a professor who teaches there, and while waiting for her, I overheard a couple professors, male and female, discussing the benefits of female only faculties. They were arguing that they would concentrate better on their studies. In Egypt, where marriage is all important for just about anyone, the girls were more likely to achieve a higher level of education than if they were distracted by boys who might just want to marry them early and have them sit home or for parents that otherwise might not feel comfortable allowing their daughter to continue their education. Within the culture, girls’ faculties are a way for girls to get further with their education than their families might otherwise allow. So it is a positive thing in that respect.

    There was an institute right behind where I lived in Cairo, kind of like a junior college. It had classes for boys and girls on separate days. One of my coworkers went to this institute in the early 80s and told me the place used to have joint classes but it was just one big pickup joint, no one was really studying at all. It had such a reputation that guys from all over Cairo would come to pick up the girls there. The girls would cheat on their exams by writing the answers on their legs while wearing miniskirts and the instructors would be staring at their legs but did nothing about the cheating. It’s no wonder they switched to single sex classes.

    As for your point about the hymenization thing, well first of all Dar al-Ifta which issues fatwas is not a part of Azhar University. They are both part of Azhar but they are separate branches of it.

    You must also understand what a fatwa is. A fatwa is not a blanket rule for everyone. Fatwas are issued in response to a specific question from a specific person. You may be able to apply a fatwa for another person to yourself, but maybe not, if the circumstances are different. They are an opinion of an individual based on their interpretation, not a law. If one wishes to disagree with a fatwa, as long as they can provide evidence to support their argument as the original fatwa issuer has done, they can certainly come to a different conclusion.

    There are several schools of Islamic jurisprudence and they certainly do not agree on things and may actually not see eye to eye at all because they rely on different methods of deduction. My favorite example is about dogs. Most schools consider dogs to be dirty, their saliva to be polluting, and if one comes in contact with a dog, his prayer will not be valid unless he cleans himself. But the Maliki school considers the dog to be pure, there is no harm in touching a dog, drinking from the same vessel as a dog, petting a dog. While most people follow one school or another, it is perfectly acceptable to pick and choose from different schools.

    Islam is not monolithic in that there isn’t one central authority for deciding things like there is in the Catholic Church. There’s a lot of room for differing interpretations and those differences are respected.

    By the way, I just wanted to make a comment about the Azhar education system and that is those who study at Azhar for degrees in non-religious subjects not only have to carry a full course load identical to the secular public universities, but also have courses and exams in religious subjects as well.

    I’m not going to say that Kareem should go to jail. I consider him a young, immature, naive guy who really didn’t give a lot of thought about the best way to achieve his goals. He managed to offend and insult and unfairly attack people. He didn’t do good for anyone, especially himself. Whether it was against the law or not, I think he needs to grow up. We all made mistakes, he made a mistake, and I believe there is a chance he will learn from his mistakes.

    But as others have said, he did break the law as it is written. I don’t think there can be any doubt about that. And whether you agree with it or not, he got the penalty that the law required. He knew what the law was and he knew it could apply to him, Every day, people break the law left and right in Egypt blatantly and get away with it. Meanwhile, completely innocent individuals go to jail for crimes they do not commit. And I think that is unacceptable, and something has to be done about that so that the law is the law. Putting pressure on the government to free someone who is guilty according to the current law is not the solution. There are enough special cases where people get released because of who their father is or because they bribe someone or whatever. That isn’t fair. And so I cannot just say he should be released because of…whatever. If Egyptians themselves feel that the law under which Karim was convicted is unjust, then they need to put pressure on the government to change that law so that no more people suffer the same fate. Focusing on releasing Karim does not mean it won’t happen to someone else again. If anything should be fought for, it should be changing the law itself.

    Too many Egyptians just throw in the towel and say they are powerless to do anything or as the bloggers do, they chase after foreign pressure. I wonder how many of those who are upset about what happened to Karim have even considered going to their local member of parliament and telling them how they feel about the law itself that has been applied to Karim. Whether the votes were rigged or not to get them into office, those MPs are supposed to represent them. So make sure that they do. Start treating your elected representatives like one is supposed to treat an elected representative. That is what democracy should be-not foreign pressure, protests at embassies, etc.

    And would I support Karim being given asylum in the US. Absolutely not. Ideally I wish the US immigration laws were much stricter. Not in the number of people admitted, but the standards applied, although in practice that might be impossible. Too many people, Egyptians especially, make a mockery of the US immigration system. They cheat, they lie, they do all kinds of dishonest and illegal things to get a visa and those who follow an honest path often have to wait for years or never get one. If as Sandmonkey has suggested, Karim wrote a lot of these things solely because he wanted asylum abroad, then I don’t think he deserves it. Because he intentionally got himself persecuted to be eligible for asylum. If he gets asylum, how many more will try the same trick?

  39. Lutoklawski says:

    While I agree with some of your points, carrots, and it is interesting to hear what comes from your side:
    You still don’t manage to convince me why Kareem should be arrested, and why these people should not fight against it.
    So be it, the guy wrote pure BS about this university, his critisism of Mubarak and Islam was terrible, un called for, out of place and all that shit. But still, why should he go to jail, and not just be expelled? (Even though that would be wacko) The reason why people make so much fuss about this, is clearly because it’s happening in Egypt, wich has a fairly good reputation and history. If it happened in North Korea, wich already have gone to the birds regarding these issues, it would not be that sad.
    But this is Egypt, and I find it very sad.

    I don’t buy the argument that “in their culture critique on Islam and authorities is bad and should be punished. That’s what works for them.” I do think there are some yes and no’s that’s above the culture relativist issues. Human Rights is one of them. Heck, human rights should apply to everyone anytime.

  40. I never said I thought he should have gone to jail. Whether he needed to be expelled is questionable, if some other university had been willing to take him he probably would have happily gone his way. I think jailing him is making a mountain out of a molehill actually, but I also believe in the rule of law (notice I didn’t say culture). That said, seeing how frequently lawbreakers are allowed to get away with their crimes in Egypt, and knowing how many people have been imprisoned who never broke any laws, now that he has been convicted of a crime under current Egyptian law which it seems is a correct conviction under said law, it is really hard for me to support a campaign to release him. It’s calling for ignoring the law itself and releasing the individual without regard for the law. That happens too much already in Egypt. There’s got to be a point where one stops trying to work around the laws and instead seeks the reformation of the laws themselves if we really want to move forward. There are thousands of others like Karim. Fighting for one person will not help those others. What did all the efforts for Saad Eddin Ibrahim or Ayman Nour lead to? It got the former out of jail, eventually, but the system remains the same.

    Look up Mumia Abu Jamal-I believe that he was wronged-but in spite of a very active campaign on his behalf for years and years in the US, he still sits in prison in Pennsylvania on death row. In the meantime, more states have banned the death penalty or considered banning it due to more general efforts in that regard or particular cases where the cause for stopping the death penalty was clearly obvious.

    I think focusing on individuals ignores the bigger picture and the greater good. Even if the government caves into pressure to release him, they may turn around and arrest someone else the next day. Efforts would be better spent paying attention to the forthcoming constitutional changes to replace emergency law.

    There’s something else I wanted to add-I don’t think asylum in the US is even an option-as the US can’t invite someone for asylum-they already have to be in the US to get it:

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/32076.htm

  41. carrots dropped this pearl earlier:

    “Islam is not monolithic in that there isn’t one central authority for deciding things like there is in the Catholic Church. There’s a lot of room for differing interpretations and those differences are respected.”

    I don’t think kareem’s differing interpretations were respected when they threw him in jail, and beat his ass up on the way there.

  42. @carrots:
    That’s true. But information passes among the more educated and powerful figures, who do sometimes take action to fix things out of a sense of embarassment.

    Would you prefer that things like the molestation riot in Cairo be suppressed little secrets that even the Egyptian press won’t report? How healthy is that kind of thing for the society? Well, Egyptian bloggers broke that story, and let us hope that the Egyptian government, at some level, is trying to make sure that nothing like that riot happens again.

    I’m not saying that bloggers are Gd’s gift to mankind. They have a constructive role to play, however, particularly in societies with more authoritarian governments.

    Regarding your other comments. (1) Your comments are very interesting in informative. Thank you for sharing them. (2) I never claimed that bloggers are the ONLY canaries. (3) It sounds as though the education system over there badly needs reform (e.g. universities not taking Azhar students). (4) I understand what you are saying about rule of law. In many cases I have raised similar points. Any society in which laws broadly cease to be obeyed becomes anarchy, which does not protect anyoe’s freedom or right.s. However, civil disobedience has a place too, as a means of changing laws. Rosa Parks broke the law by sitting at the front of the bus. It led to the end of legalized segregation in the American south. Should she have been jailed for breaking an evil and obnoxious law? What about people who hid Jews during the Holocaust. This was against the law. But the law was evil and they are heroes for having broken it. Ultimately, if the law is made with the consent of the governed, it must be followed. If the law is made without that consent, then although MOST laws should still be followed in order to prevent a slide into anarchy, the ethical decision as to whether or not to follow a particular, unjust law can be much trickier. (5) He broke the law as it is written. He is in jail for it. The problem is not specifically that he fell afoul of the law, but that the law is innately injust in the first place. So I think your point is that those calling for his release should rather be calling for the laws to be CHANGED. Right? (6) Carrots, have you or your husband gone to your MP to ask that these kinds of laws be changed?

    To some other commenters: there is nothing sexist about all-boy or all-girl schools as long as people are allowed to choose between single-sex and mixed schools, and as long as the schools are not themselves sexist. Single-sex schools exist all over the world, especially for kids aged 12-18. Parents who choose to send their kids to such schools tend to cite the same reasons that Carrots overheard, plus other benefits e.g. in many cultures, removing the boys may be the best way to get girls to participate actively and confidently in class and/or to end sexist favoritism on the part of teachers.

  43. carrots Says:”I think jailing him is making a mountain out of a molehill actually, but I also believe in the rule of law (notice I didn’t say culture). That said, seeing how frequently lawbreakers are allowed to get away with their crimes in Egypt, and knowing how many people have been imprisoned who never broke any laws, now that he has been convicted of a crime under current Egyptian law which it seems is a correct conviction under said law, it is really hard for me to support a campaign to release him. It’s calling for ignoring the law itself and releasing the individual without regard for the law. That happens too much already in Egypt.”

    Except, as you point out, Egypt does not really have the rule of law. What it has is the rule of the Ruling Party. Egypt is a lesser version of the Leninist “Party-State”. Justice is whatever the Party wants – regardless of what the law says. Which means that if someone needs to be jailed, they will be jailed. If someone needs to be let off or out, they are let off or out. There is nothing even remotely legal about a Party-State. So the question is not whether you support the rule or law or not, but whether you support the Ruling Party or not. If you do, then you do. If you don’t, you don’t. Either way you have to accept that justice is whatever the Party says it is and if enough pressure is put on them, they’ll say Nasir was a Jew or Begin was a hero of the Muslim nation.

    carrots Says:”There are thousands of others like Karim. Fighting for one person will not help those others. What did all the efforts for Saad Eddin Ibrahim or Ayman Nour lead to? It got the former out of jail, eventually, but the system remains the same.”

    I disagree. Civil society can assert itself against the Party State if the Party State is weak and hesitant. Notice that Egypt does bow to the organised intimidation of the Muslim Brotherhood – they have allowed the judicial system to be used to harass the MB’s enemies. Why can’t Liberal Democrats, for once, shake off their spinelessness and also mobilise to push the Party?

    carrots Says:”Look up Mumia Abu Jamal-I believe that he was wronged-but in spite of a very active campaign on his behalf for years and years in the US, he still sits in prison in Pennsylvania on death row.”

    There is not the slightest evidence that Mumia was wronged. He does not even deny shooting the policeman. His lawyers make a very carefully worded series of claims they must know are lies in order to make him look as if he is innocent. But he is not. However this has nothing to do with Egypt as the US is not a Party-State and has never tried to be.

  44. carrots Says:”You probably won’t believe this, I got my bachelor’s degree from what is considered to be the university most supportive of free speech in the world, Berkeley. And I know a number of graduates of Azhar and professors. In fact, my husband is a graduate of Azhar. Now, if Azhar taught closemindedness and intolerance, do you think someone like me would have married someone who graduated from Azhar or someone from Azhar would have married someone from Berkeley?”

    Considered by who exactly to be the most supportive of free speech? There has been a convergence of the hard Left and the Far Right Islamists in the West. Berkeley, which has led in the attack on free speech on campus in the name of political correctness, is the natural home of people who like the Islamists. Just as one of the 7-7 bombers in London was married to a British student from SOAS who wears the niqaab. It is a coming together of hatred for the traditional West. I would not expect someone from al-Azhar to marry someone from Kent State, but Berkeley would be a meeting of minds.

    carrots Says:”But he achieved nothing for himself and others in his position in this regard by posting trash talk on the internet.”

    And we see exactly how far your commitment to free speech goes – nowhere. Trash talk? What exactly did he say that was trash talk? If I cut the word “Muslim” and replaced it with “Christofascist” a la Edwards’ bloggers, would you have the slightest problem with the sentiments Karim expressed?

    It is too early to say what Karim has achieved, but if nothing, his self sacrifice has raised awareness of the problem of Islam and the Islamists. The PC liberals in the West can go on re-stating that the problem is the West, but the more that we see what Islam means in practice, the more shabby that petty deception looks.

  45. 43 said “(6) Carrots, have you or your husband gone to your MP to ask that these kinds of laws be changed?”

    No, and I wouldn’t. Simply because one has to choose one’s battles. The issue of free speech to be perfectly honest is not one that has an effect on our day to day life, our family our friends. It’s not something anyone I know ever expresses any concern about. There are other issues that have nothing to do with free speech that would effect us in our particular situation very directly and which I know are of great concern to people. And those things I am in a position to speak authoritatively on because I actually have a PhD related to them and it is the focus of my career. So definitely next time I am in Egypt, if there were an issue that I felt strongly on and which I can speak confidently about, I definitely will be visiting the local governor and a certain high appointed official to discuss these issues with them. I fact I already do correspond with someone within the government and discuss related issues with him because I know him to be a like minded individual and also someone who can and is having some positive effect on what is done there. But as he once told me and others (Egyptian and foreign), what they need at least in his particular department is not just criticism but offers of help and suggestions about what can be done. Now, I’m sure that doesn’t apply to all aspects of the government but if in that respect I can make a difference and it is welcome then that is where I should put my efforts.

    Not the MP though, because the issues that effect us most are ones of a policy nature, not a legal nature, and parliament is not where the decisions in question are being made that effect us, at least not at this time.

  46. Carrots exemplifies what is wrong with man kind in general. For a breif moment in time men (a few, but enough) were willing to shout out, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

    No longer. We are worms. Concerned only with our immedidate pleasure and pursuing contentment. Egypt will never be free because you don’t deserve freedom. We have chosen security over freedom as Benjamin Franklin warned against.

    Unfortuneately once the Left completes their takeover of the West (not long now) we shall follow you for we are as craven as any these days. George Orwel was right. His timing was just wrong. Brave New World here we come.

  47. carrots Says:”The issue of free speech to be perfectly honest is not one that has an effect on our day to day life, our family our friends. It’s not something anyone I know ever expresses any concern about.”

    Rights are like air – you only miss ‘em when they are gone. Of course it is no one you know has expressed any concern about – you went to Berkeley and your Husband is an Islamist. Both groups being noted for their efforts to shut people up. But freedom of speech *is* an every day issue when you don’t have it. Go to China and learn for yourself.

    carrots Says:”And those things I am in a position to speak authoritatively on because I actually have a PhD related to them and it is the focus of my career.”

    Even though that PhD came from Berkeley some people around here may think that is impressive. So what was the subject of your doctoral thesis?

    carrots Says:”But as he once told me and others (Egyptian and foreign), what they need at least in his particular department is not just criticism but offers of help and suggestions about what can be done. Now, I’m sure that doesn’t apply to all aspects of the government but if in that respect I can make a difference and it is welcome then that is where I should put my efforts.”

    So he wants to be left alone to go on brutalising ordinary Egyptians but would like some Aid money – preferably in cash I expect. You bought this line? Wow. What on Earth makes you think you can make a difference to a State you do not seem to understand and a culture, no offense intended, you seem to willfully misunderstand?

  48. carrots, “Paul-Have you any personal first-hand knowledge of what is taught at al-Azhar?”

    Nope.

    “Kareem’s words do not ring true. In fact, they are pretty laughable. You can defend the principle of free speech, but when that speech consists of falsehoods and manipulative words, you must be careful to also not give credence to that aspect of it.”

    I don’t even care if they’re true or not. He has an absolute right to say it. You should be protecting his right to say it. And if it isn’t true, you should debate him. Answer every single one of his points. And then let him respond to your points. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. That’s how we make advances, and get to the truth. Healthy debate. People like you who support shutting down freedom of speech are simply evil. We are currently engaged in an epic battle between good and evil. You’re on the wrong side of that war and you are going to lose.

  49. 45 – HeiGou. You rock.

    Carrots: Thank you for the insights. I don’t agree with you but you offer an interesting and informative dialogue. Thanks again.

    I guess I’m going to leave it at this. If Kareem is sodomized, brutalized, or murdered in prison, I just don’t think what he did warrants it. Those of us withthe really big brass ones are going to have to find SM a new country.

  50. BrooklynJon says:

    carrots,

    Mumia is a cop-killer. Death is too good for him.

    bj

  51. BrooklynJon says:

    “You probably won’t believe this, I got my bachelor’s degree from what is considered to be the university most supportive of free speech in the world, Berkeley.”

    Is it possible to laugh out loud while rolling your eyes? This Princeton-educated individual just proved that it is! What a hoot!

  52. BrooklynJon Says:”Mumia is a cop-killer. Death is too good for him.”

    BrooklynJon Says:”Is it possible to laugh out loud while rolling your eyes? This Princeton-educated individual just proved that it is! What a hoot!”

    You see, there is no point pointing out the truth about Mumia because you are dealing with a Moonbat. Even Mother Jones published articles that accepted he was probably guilty:

    http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2000/02/mumia.html

    This one covers all the evidence:

    http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/19/11/News/feature.html

    The guy deserves to fry. I’d deport his supporters to Egypt.

  53. Well, I don’t know if anyone is still looking at this post since it has scrolled down, but the lawyers for Kareem are appealing the ruling, and a court hearing is now set for March 12th. If anyone has a list of addressed, phone numbers, URLs, etc, where we can make a ton of NOISE in his behalf, PLEASE post it. Thanks.

    EGYPTIAN BLOGGER APPEALS 4 YEARS PRISON SENTENCE
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1171894525729&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  54. BrooklynJon says:

    Hei,

    I’m not such a very big fan of the death penalty myself. But “Free” Mumia? Are they kidding? If the slogan was “Convert Mumia’s sentence to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole!” I might even carry a placard. But if anyone deserves to fry, he probably does.

    bj