The Ibn Khaldoun meltdown

Saad El Deen Ibrahim is finally admitting that he is on a self-imposed exile outside of Egypt, fearing his arrest by the authorities. Good. I just hoped that he would've informed the Press that the American Ambassador is the one that relayed the message to him from the egyptian authorities and urged him not to come back. But I guess he didn't want to make a big stink about the fact that the egyptian authorities treat him like an american stooge to the point of using the US ambassador- whom I can't believe agreed to this role- to inform him that they wanted him out. No Point in raising a stink. The man, after all, spent too much time in jail for his views as it is. The Problem lies in the fact that while he is abroad, his life-work is getting destroyed back here. The Ibn Khaldoun center is slowly falling apart.

Back in early 2006 I approached Dr. Ibrahim for advice on starting my own Think Thank, and the one thing he warned me against was having a one-man show there. It was right after Al Ghad Party started to fall apart with Ayman Nour going to Jail, and with the Power struggle that took place in Al Wafd Party because Nooman Gomaa wouldn't give up his seat as the party head. Dr. Ibrahim lamented to me that the problem in Egyptian leadership is that the person on top, once they arrive there, they never want to give up control or pave the way for someone to carry on their work, out of fear that those same people remove and replace them. And now we are seeing the same thing happen in  the center of Ibn Khaldoun, Dr. Ibrahim's NGO.

Dr. Ibrahim had a manager for the Center and her name was Ayyat. Ayyat , while not overly competent, knew the NGO in and out and all the contacts, and is effectively the operational manager of the center. Right after Dr. Ibrahim fled the country, the government-sponsored attack dogs newspapers showed bathing suits pictures of Ayyat and made some seriously messed up insinuations about her, which eventually led her to resign from Ibn Khaldoun. With Saad and Ayyat gone, there was no one to take charge (no institutional hierarchy to speak of exists over there), so now Dr. Ibrahim's brother is the one running the place, and doing so firmly into the ground. The man doesn't know the first thing about running an NGO, nor does he understand any of the projects there, so now the interns are the ones who are making all the decisions inside. Add to that the fact that aid for NGO's in Egypt is now simply eroding, because Egypt is now becoming a low-income country instead of a less-developed country, is not making things any easier. The Europeans have already cut most of their funding, and the USAID, I am informed, will be systematically reduced over the next 10 years until it becomes inconsequential to the overall picture. Democracy building in the middle east, after all, is no longer a priority or in fashion. The international left finally got his wish there. Good Job guys. How about a shot for every imperialistic agent of an NGO that closes its door in the next few years due to lack of funding? I am buying!

This is sad because in the world of civil society, the name Ibn Khaldoun carries with it a lot of weight, and soon it will be destroyed. No leadership, no organization and soon no funding, it won't be long till it closes down, unless the man comes back and puts his house in order. That, unfortunately, due to his belief that he would be imprisoned and killed while in prison, doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon. Ibn Khaldoun may not be dead yet, but it might be wise to get out and start washing your funeral cloths. Shouldn't be long now.

Egyptian newspapers strike for a day

Well, Independent ones, anyway. The daily ones didn't appear yesterday and the weekly ones will not publish throughout the week. This is the latest development in the crisis between the Press and the Government.

Egypt's newspapers conducted a silent
protest against the government by withholding their publications from
newsstands on Sunday. Both independent and opposition newspapers joined
forces in the one-day protest against the government's crackdown and
imprisonment of journalists in the country. The move comes as a leading
editor is due to return to court on charges of defamation. The charges
come after his paper, Al Dostour, reported on rumors that President
Hosni Mubarak was ill or possibly dead in August.

"These
newspapers withdrew from the atmosphere of freedom in the victory day
for vague reasons and because of pressures from an unknown power,"
wrote the pro-government Rose El-Youssef newspaper in opposition to the
demonstration.

Pressue from an unknown power. Right. Yeah, don't count on Al Ahram, or Al Akhbar to join the protest either. There sued to be a time- until very recently- they would've, but not anymore! 

A week ago

*Those incidents took place a week ago, when I went to that protest. The fact that I didn't write about them until now is a testament to how busy I am. Apologies for that!* 

"Why are you doing this?", my friend S asked me. "Why are you, of all people, going to today's protest?"

I looked at her silently for a second, as if I am not able to comprehend the question. What exactly did she mean by "you of all people"? And then I rememberd, yeah, flaming Libertarian going to a solidarity with workers' protest. Yeah, I guess that should raise some eyebrows.

I  looked at her and said: "Well, because I am a capitalist, babe. Those people worked, and they deserve their getting their pay. That's all there is to it.", and she looked at me and shrugged, as if saying, "I think what you are doing is stupid!".

Yeah, You are probably right, I thought to myself. But then again, I wasn't totally honest about my answer. What I said was a truth, but not the whole truth. But I wasn't going to explain now. It was almost 9 m, and my ride was here.

It's time to embark on some civil disobedience.


We, me and M., arrive at the Parking lot right next to the AUC. That's the rendez-vous point with Gimmy , H., her boy, and whomever else was coming to this thing. M. and H. were dressed in jeans and male shirts, looking like female british factory workers. I guess if you are a capitalist chick going to a worker's protest, this is what You wear.

The news we heard so far wasn't very comforting: The Talaat Harb square is , again, a War Zone. Police Cars everywhere, plainclothed police Officers lining up the streets, and everybody is afraid to start the protest by themselves. For the life of me, I do not understand their insistence on always protesting in either Tahrir Square, Talaat Harb square or the Press Syndicate. I persoanlly don;t get it. Why not have a protest in Heliopolis? Or Dokki? Or Maadi? Why always Downtown? God knows the State security knows how to completely control the area and squash the protests with ease now. It almost feels like folly. Like we are children and we are about to play Police and Protesters. Where we playing today boys? The Talaat Harb Playground? Fantastic. Let's all go to Al Borsa Cafe after it's all over and talk about how we managed to waste the last few hours, while smoking cheap Shisha. Yeah!

I call Nora to see where she is, and she informs me that she is in the Ghad Party headquarters, an apartment in a Building in Talaat Harb sqre, and that they are having "inside the apartment Protest". The Police is standing in front of the building's door and are letting people in, but not letting them out. So, what now? We decide to go anyway, but we had to wait a couple of minutes cause a bunch of other people were coming first. In the meantime, Gimmy starts mock wailing while holding his cellphone: "Nawarah, this is not the time for this stuff". I ask him what's up, and he shows me a text message she sent to his Phone: " 'Peacefull protests are the best way to neutralize causes and trick the people' Malcom X.- I fear for every one of you, because you are doing something no one else is doing and you have no one covering your backs but GOD!"

Oh Boy! 

At that moment 3 other guys passed by and shook hands with Gimmy, and stood with us, also seemingly going to the Protest. Someone pointed at one of them and told me that this was "Egyptian Leftist"- the guy who designed this greeting – and he was in the classic egyptian half sarcastic, half Jovial mode, informing us that 4 people were arrested already for this protest. I asked him which group they belonged to, and he tells me "The Ghad Party".

To which I respond, mischievously, "Good riddance", and he laughs and says : "Absolutely. If anyone is to be arrested, let them be the capitalist liberals."

At that moment I extend my hand to him and say "We haven't met before. Hi, I am the Sandmonkey!" He looks at me for a second, and then starts laughing immediacy, says"That's you? Been wanting to meet you for a while now!" and shakes my hand, without a hint of hostility.

This is gonna be fun!


The atmosphere is tense as we are heading out to Talaat Harb Square. Gimmy is very much a “usual suspect” with a very known face to the Downtown Police. We kept teasing him and asking him to walk 3 meters away from us so when the Police arrests him, they wouldn't arrest us as well, to which he runs towards us and hugs me laughingly saying, "No, not getting arrested alone". And as if the Gods wanted to test us, I get a text message from Nora that asks me to pick up Salma from the place close to Talaat Harb square. Now Salma is another very very known face, and walking with Gimmy and Salma is like wearing a sign saying" arrest me now!". Oh fuck it. What difference will it make, right? So, once we all arrive to Talaat Harb square, me and Gimmy split from the group and go get Salma, who was at a Candy store with a female friend and this tall bald dude with glasses, who looked like a walking foriegn journalist cliche. We walk with them  to Talaat harb and the police, once they see them, completely ignore Salma and Gimmy and pounce on the Journalist looking guy, telling him to get out of here and pushing him away. Salma immediately starts fighting with the Policeman, trying to pry his arm off the bald dude, which in turn made more policemen gang up on them. I froze in my place, looking at the scene and not doing anything.

Someone besides me asks me "We are not gonna do something?".

Without turning around, I hear myself saying "I don't plan on getting arrested today, do you? No? Then keep still. We don't want to give them any excuse for them to use violence against us."

The Police wasn't arresting the three though. The Police simply was pushing them away from Talaat Harb. The Talaat Harb protest wasn't gonna happen. They were pushing the people away from the square. I look at Gimmy and ask him: "The Press syndicate?"

He sighs, shakes his shoulders and says: "Yeah, guess so!".

And we head out there.


The Scene at the Press Syndicate is the same as every protest: A hundred people standing on the stairs, the Police has barricades surrounding them, and are letting people in but not letting them out. The usual Kefaya players are also there: Oh Look, there is George Ishac, and here is Kammal Khalil. The Kefaya Theathre group doing an encore of their favorite show. As I walk in I realize how many of the old players are not there: Alaa and Manal are in Italy, Sharqawy, Malek, Droubi and the Brothers Gharbeia were nowhere to be found (they probably had better things to do), Hossam is in California, Elijah is somewhere between Bangkok and Hanoi, and Issandr is god knows where. Even the foreign journalists have changed, and all the old crew is gone and replaced by newbies. Egypt is no longer news worthy, and our cause is now almost forgotten.

The Protest goes on, and gets bigger and with every moment I miss my favorite Marxist Trotskite revolutionary more, so I decide to call him in Cali and keep him updated. There was news after all: A Lebanese journalist named Jano Charbel got arrested, which I found out later was Hossam's friend and neighbor. There were also rumors that some guy in Mahalla got shot and killed by the Police, but no one could confirm it. I was more distracted by the presence and arrival of 2 ambulance cars and a firefighting truck. I started harboring hopes we might get hosed. Now that should be interesting, I think to myself as I am sitting on the stairs and resting my back on the wall of the syndicate. And for a second there, you get the appeal of the place. This is our Freedom Zone. This is the place we get to scream and shout and exercise our rights of free speech. I decide to get into the spirit of things and start chanting and clapping with the rest of the protesters.

No wonder they need to confine us to this place, freedom of speech is infectious.


Gimmy came over  accompanied by a dutch journalist and introduced her to me. We shake hands, and she asks if she can ask me a few questions, and I agree. This is how it went:

Z: So, you shut down the blog for a long time because the Police was after you, right?

Me: Well, that was a reason for why I shut it down, that's true. 

Z: Yet you opened it again last month. What happened? They stopped harassing you?

Me: Well, things were quiet for the first few month, and I decided to move on and get involved in a couple of other projects. But around the last week of august I got a phone call from my father, asking me why a man in a suit came over and asked our doorman questions about me. Questions regarding if they see me here often, where I work now, stuff like that. The guy told the doorman that he is asking those questions because I was being "considered for a  very prestigious position" and they wanted to do background checks on me. This, of course, is bullshit. They were snooping around me , again, when I didn't do anything and completely "behaved" myself for the past few months. So I figured, I am damned either way, so fuck it,  I will blog again.

Z: Ok, so what brings you to this protest? This is not usually your scene.

(Why does everyone keep asking me that?)

Me: Well, part of it is because I believe the workers are right. They are owed money and they didn't get paid for over a year, so they have every right to protest the way they are. But that's not the full reason. The reality is, I haven't gone to a single protest ever since the constitutional amendments one, and you know how horrible that one was. And it has gotten worse ever since that day. Ayman Nour is still in Prison, the brothers Sadat are all out of the Parliament, Saad el Deen Ibrahim is all but virtually exiled out of the country, with the Egyptian government sending him a message using the american ambassador Riccardione to tell him that Egypt isn't safe for him anymore, and now we have 4 editors in chief of independent anti-Mubarak newspapers who are facing trial and jail sentences. And NOBODY CARES. We are pretty much heading towards a very dark period, so I came today to see if there is a glimmer of hope left, and be a part of it. Cause, what else is there to do?


Two hours had passed, it was around mindnight, and the Protest had grown in numbers, partially because more people were coming in to join, and partly because the Police wasn't letting anybody out. We started joking that we will spend the night on the stairs, and have our Sohour here. I started taking a poll, asking people if they feel like ordering Food Delivery. We figured we will call Gad for Falafel sandwiches, since it's Ramadan and all. I even went to the guards and asked them if they would allow the passage of food to us, since it seems we are gonna be here till tomorrow and we might need to have a sohour cause it's Ramadan and all. The Police soldiers laughed and said they would let the food pass, no problem. Sweet.

Just as we are actually preparing to take the order, we noticed that the Police was starting to let some people out, but the majority of which were carrying kids. I had seen some of them coming in with children and I didn't get it at first, and now I did. They bring the children with them, so that they can use them as an excuse to get out. Unfuckinbelievable. Anyway, more people were alerted that they were allowing some people to exit, so they started moving towards the exit as well, and the entire situation became intensely crowded, with the people pushing and shoving each other, and the Police letting like 3 people out every 5 minutes, enjoying how much we are pushing and shoving each other every time in adjustment.

I was leading the way, and when the door finally opened to let some people out, a woman cried that she is suffocating. So getting her out became a priority, so I also screamed that we have girls and pushed M and H to the front, so they all got out and the door closed again for another 5 minutes. Ignoring the guy who was elbowing me and the 3 trying to push me against the barricade, I could see M and H talking to the police Officer and pointing at us. Then the door opened again, and they pointed at me and told me to get out. So I pushed my away out, knowing that Gimmy is right behind me, to find them closing the opening in his face. The Police Officer pointed at him and said: "Anybody but him. He kicked me in an earlier protest. Don't let him out".

Fuck.

I went and spoke to the ranking Police Officer ( a different one), imploring him to open the gate to let the rest of our group out. He told me that I can point at them and let only 3 out. I agreed. As I was about to chose the rest of my group, including Gimmy, the police Officer said "On one condition. Not that one" pointing at him. Looking at him, I muttered "I am sorry", and started pointing my friends out. Suddenly everybody knew my name and started shouting at me to choose them to get out as well, so I started pulling everybody that I could out, bringing out 8 people instead of 3 until the Police removed me and shut the gate again. The Officer looked at me and said : "I said only 3", to which I responded "yeah, but they are all my friends and its Ramadan. Happy Ramadan to you", so he shooed me away, and told me to start moving or else we will all get arrested for real. So we started walking towards the side street we came from, grouping together the original group with the extras I pulled out. The three of them knew Gimmy. We started debating what we should do, so I decided to call him and found him answering: "Yes, they let me out. I am coming right now!". So we told him where we were, and when I started seeing his sillouhette coming towards us I started running towards him, except that he wasn't answering my calls. Instead he was starting to move faster, almost running, and pointed towards me with his hand to stay away.

And then he suddenly broke into sprint and went into a side street…

…and then I noticed 4 other big men that were behind him, who suddenly started sprinting and ran behind Gimmy as well.

Gimmy was being chased! 


I ran towards the group, telling them to start moving. They asked me "What's wrong? Where did Gimmy Go?"

"He ran this way. He is being chased by 4 plainclothed police officers", I respond.

"But why? They let him out!" M. said.

"So that they can beat him up later away from the media." One of the three joining us said. He then looked at his two buddies and said, "Let's go after them, to make sure he is ok!" and they started running towards that side street, and then stopped suddenly, when they saw a gorup of girls they knew, and started chatting with them. Probably telling them heroic stories about the protest they just got out of. The rescue Gimmy Calvary got shut down by a 3 protester groupies. The Kid was on his own.

"Let's run and get the car", I said to M. as I started pulling her away with me.

"What the fuck are they doing? Is this the time to pick up chicks? Weren't they gonna.."  

"Well, they saw a chance to score Punanni and they took it over helping their friend M. Ok? We are gonna have to get him. So LET'S RUN."

She looked at me for one second and then she started sprinting, and I am with her and the rest of the group behind us. I call Gimmy, and ask him for his location. We agree to rendez-vous at Talaat Harb square again, because its crowded and they wouldn't be able to secretly beat him up there. Not to mention, numbers in strength. In 3 minutes we bumped into him and I look for the 4 guys and I don't see them. He lost them. Relief washes over me, but we are not out of the woods yet, so we immediately head to the cars to go home. On the way there, Gimmy gets a phone call from the 3 guys who were supposed to come to his rescue, asking him how he is doing and if he was ok. They then asked him if he wanted to join them at the Borsa Cafe, cause everybody who was in the protest is there.

God I hate Downtown activists! 


Two days later, the Mahalla strike was over. The workers were victorious. A settlement with the state-owned company was reached, and they were going to get paid their rightfully acquired salaries and profit shares. The moment the news broke out that the Mahalla workers got their rights, 2 other workers Protests broke out in Domyat  and Tanta. The workers saw that this government , for the first time ever, responds to pressure, and they are taking full advantage of the opportunity. Good for them. 

Yeah, we are heading towards some seriously dark days, but glimmers of hope still exist! 

Kefayah Demonstration tonight

Tonight @9 PM, Talaat Harb Square, to protest the jailing of the 4 Opposition Newspapers editors in Chief and in solidarity with the Mahalla workers protest. I know it's a thursday night in Ramadan and all, but, like, you can always smoke shisha later. Be there!

Jordan Bows to Big Brother

Some seriously sad news coming from the one country in the region that seemed adamant to leave Freedom of Speech alone. Too bad!

Round 2

For those who are not familiar with this case, please go here , here , here , here and here for background information. For those who are, this is what happend today:

Today was the first session of the case at the new court, the sixth district court, to cover the case of Judge Mourad against the 21 websites. The Judge was supported by the Hesbah lawyers of the AbdelKarim case (they are trying to add his blog to the list of banned websites), and our side was supported, by, like many many many people, including the government. Imagine that. The Ministery of telecomunication sent a lawyer that was, for the lack of a better word, excellent. But more on that Later.

Judge Mourad presented his case, which was a whole lot of Bullshit. His first line of argument was that he was being attacked and slanderd by those evil websites, which is something that could happen to any Judge (Hint hint, presiding Judges, hint hint), and that he faces a very organized campaign of attack and slander against him since day one. His case then became that those websites and organizations insult the Quran, God, The President and the country, and some of them are funded by "foreign sources" that give them "bags of dollars" to help them continue to defame the country. He asked the court to demand from the NGO's a detailed account of where their funding comes from and then presented posts and pirnted webpages to support his claims. He also demanded that the court makes the sessions private and not allow publishing anything in the newspapers on the case.

Then our side striked back.

Gamal Eid from HR Info presented the plagarsim document, and made a very elequont case that this is very much a private vendetta thing and an attempt by the Judge to hide his plagarism, and has nothing to do with defending Egypt. He also wanted the Judges to ignore the gag order and continue nmaking this case as public as possible, since the man just publcially defamed them in court.

The Government Lawyer made a very detailed argument that a) It's practically impossible to block a website, since there are proxies that can access it, and b) That it makes no sense to block every website someone defames somebody on, and made the analogy that if a wrietr in a newspaper insults someone in his writing, the newspaper doesn't get shut down and c) that the Judge has no business telling the government which websites to block and which not to, and that if thatd oor gets opend, everyday someone will demand the pulling of a website, and they do not have the time, energy or respources to investigate every single one and block it , given that they know how futile it is. 

 The Judge then announced that he will make his decisions on the demands known at the end of the session, then came out with a decision to move the next sesion to the 5th of may and to ignore the Judge's demand for a gag order. The thing that makes you very optimistic is that the Judges seemed to really know the case and what's at stake and weren't exactly friendly to the Judge. So there is hope and a very good chance that this case could be very well thrown out.

After the session was over, a small but heated argument started between The Hesbah Lawyer and Alaa and Gamal Eid, given that the Lawyer was a witness at a police report accusing Manal and Alaa of insulting Judge Mourad the last hearing. This is bullshit, because, well, Manal wasn't even there. She had left at 10 am and the scuffle that took place last hearing where the alledged insulting happend, occured around 1:30 pm. The Hesbah Islamic lawyer, with his beard and all of his Koran spouting skills, is a liar and Alaa told him that to his face. Not that it matters of course. The man has no conscience!

It feels weird though to be on the same side of the government. Not sure that I am going to get used to that feeling. 

Oh well..

The blogger’s trial, session 2

I am off to court right now. The second session of the trial to block blogs in Egypt is today. Let's see what the Judge has in store this time for us!

One by one

As we speak, Alaa, Manal, and Gamal Eid, the head of HR-Info are being held in the Dokki Police station, thanks to Judge Mourad. The asshole Judge filed an unsabstinated and malicious police report accusing them of insulting him in public, which isn;t true (hell, the man assaulted a blogger in front of the courtroom without provocation, something I saw with my own eyes). However, since they were called in for investigation, they have to be released by the police. In order to get released, a senior Officer needs to authorize their release, and not one was present. So, they transferred them to the Dokki Police station in order to find a senior officer to release them, only to find, you guessed it, no senior officer there to do it. This means that they may have to spend the night at the Dokki Police station until tomorrow comes and a senior Police Officer comes along and releases them. As Alaa put it in his latest text message, they "are in limbo"!

We are in for one hell of a year! 

Update: They are being moved now to the Giza secuirty department, and hopefully they will be released there! 

DC Anti-Mubarak Demo on Monday

 

If you are in the area, please make sure to pass by for me. If you have a blog, please repost this. Also, tell your friends who live nearby! If you have any questions, go here and ask Nora!

The art of creating the Abdel Karim legend

For those who are paying attention, it is happening as we speak!

Breaking News: 21 websites, including blogs, sued

This is going to be a tough year for a lot of people.

I have no confirmation of this yet, but I was informed by Amr Gharbeia that the blogging Judge is suing the government to get them to block 21 websites, some of which include the blogs of Gharbeia and Bent Masreya and the websites of HRInfo and Kefaya. The official reason behind his lawsuit is that those websites defame Egypt, but the real reason might be a bit different. Amr had discoverd that the man had plagarized almost 1/3 of his book's content from his website and others, which, surprise surprise, include Bent Masreya and HR Info. Here is HR Info's campaign against the man for plagarizing. The man seems to be taregting websites that exposed his plagarism. There is nothing so far about this alleged law suit. However, the moment I get confirmation I will let you know.

Update: Confirmation was obtained from the head of HR Info. The story goes something like this: Judge Mourad didn't like the websites exposing his plagarism, so in order to sielnec or bargain with them, he filed a lawsuit accusing them of extorting him by spreading false claims about his plagarism. He did that thinking that the websites and blogs would budge, but they didn't, so now , as a back up plan, he is filing a lawsuit demanding that the government shuts them down because they "defame Egypt". This is why he added a bunch of websites like Kefaya and Yehia Megahed's blog to the list. I have no idea who the other 16 websites are and neither does anyone else at the moment. But once we get them, it will be clear who else he is targeting. I don't think this blog is on that list, but I am still waiting for confirmation!

The Egyptian embassy responds

To world criticism of Andel Karim, in this Op-Ed piece. It's quite amusing, because they completely ignore the "Insulting the President charge". Or maybe that's part of the sanctity of religion that we put first before free speech.

Hmm… 

Egypt Linkdump

Sweden reverses an expulsion order against an egyptian former terror suspect. With the story of Abu Omar out, who could blame them?

The Egyptian government lashes out against critics of the AbdelKarim verdict. After all, how dare those HR people have a differing opinion than that of the egyptian government? Blasphemy!

But it's not all bad news. Ibrahim Eissa beat the case against him and overturned the verdict of one year in jail for insulting the President. Abdel Karim's appeal court case is on the 18th of March y'all. Let's hope we hear good news then as well!

Al Zarwaa is no longer on TV, and I am pissed off. This was a great channel. Utterly psychotic. They showed explosions and dead bodies and terrorist acts in the making and ran videos of how great and brave Saddam was. Now that's reality TV for ya. And what even sucks more is that the egyptian government pussy footed around it. Instead of taking a stand against terrorism by announcing that they banned the website for its psychotic content, they claimed "technical problems" were the cause for the shut down. Wussies! 

The Shia are not having fun in Egypt, or so says this story. I believe it. It's just the sign of things to come! 

And finally, a story about the strikes the workers been waging and their victories. Knowing how shitty their wages are (less than 40 dollars a month) and how badly they are treated, this heartless capitalist says: Good for them. Keep it up guys and more power to ya! It doesn't seem like the strikes will end soon!

My PJM piece on Abdel Karim is up

Here it is!

Breaking news: Abdel Karim gets sentenced

4 years in jail. 3 years for disdain for religions and 1 year for insulting the president. I am on my way back from there right now. I will have a report up in PJM and will be on BBC's world have your say talkin about it. Stay tuned! 

Abdel Karim family disowns him

Abdel Karim father announced today that he is disowning Abdel Karim, and that he would like to see Sharia Law applied to his son, in which he would have 3 days to repent at the end of which if he is not repentent, he would be killed. The Father also announced that he intends to disown his son publically in court- accompanied by his Koran-memorizing 4 other children- the day of the verdict in order to "lift the pressure" that the civil society and human rights organization maybe imposing on the Court. He also called the Human Rights organizations who are fighting for his son's freedom "Chimps Rights Organizations" since "they are defending a Chimp like AbdelKarim" who is emulating the west in "their thinking and opinions". Nice, eh?

Why do I have the feeling that this court session will be a circus? 

A twist in Abdel Karim’s trial

The AbdelKarim's trial is becoming surreal.

Guess what the head Judge of the Alexandria court of appeals- the court Abdel Karim's case will go to if he gets a guilty verdict- does on his spare time?

He blogs.

The discovery was made by Gharbeia (link in arabic) and it gets better. The dude wrote a book on the legal bases and defintions of blogging. A freakin book! This is the Boss of any Judge that will take Abdel Karim's case in court. One wonders how will that affect the verdict exactly!

This is becoming so interesting!  

Abdel Karim Trial update

Today's trial highlights:

1) The Islamist Lawyer returned today, and gave a fiery speech-interjected with tears- against Abdel Karim that got the people all riled up. However, since the dude is neither part of the persecution nor the defense, it's all just theatrics with no real subsatnce or value. However, he was joined today by 5 more Lawyers who wanted to also sue Abdel Karim. It's a suing party! 

2) The Judge asked the Defense what would happen if he didn't grant them their demand for a telecomunications engineer who would examine the physical location of the servers. The Lawyers said they would withdraw from representing Abdel Karim on the grounds of an un-fair trial. The Judge then announced that the trial will be resumed on February the 22nd and that he would give his answer to the defense's demands and the verdict all at the same day. He said also not to prepare for an oral argument, but rather write him a memorandum of what their argument will be instead.

3) Understanding that the Judge pretty much rejected their demands, the defense lawyers are expecting a harsh verdict next week on Abdel Karim. They are also preparing for the appeal, figuring they had a better chnace at Appeals court than they do at this one. Let's hope so. 

Strategy

I know I didn't write about my visit to Abdel Karim's trial last week, but that's because others did, and there isn't that much of a difference between my experience and theirs. However, what I can offer is insight to what is going to happen tomorrow when his trial resumes. 

Here is the deal: Abdel Karim Lawyers used a very interesting defense strategy: They asked the court to appoint an expert on telecommunications to find out where the Razgar website server is located. The idea is that if it's located outside of Egypt, then the publishing of the articles happend also outside of Egypt, which would mean that the Egyptian courts are operating outside of their jursidiction. It's a similar argument to that used by Yahoo's lawyers in the famous Yahoo Nazi memrobilia case. The Judge said that he will think it over, and delayed it all for a week to do just that.

The fact that he only delyaed the case for a week means one of two things: 1) Either the higher-ups couldn't come back to him with instructions on how to act in regards to those demands or 2) He actually wants to figure out all that website/server stuff before making a decision. If he allows it, then the lawyers may have a chnace of a case here, and the trial would take at leats a 3 week hiatous until such an expert is dispatched. If he doesn't allow it and asks the defense to proceed with their defense without that demand met, then the lawyers will withdraw their representation and resign from Katim's defense as a form of protest. That's the game plan tomorrow!

The thing is though, if this demand isn;t met, then the Judge will very likely issue a verdict tomorrow. When I asked the lawyers what they thought the sentence will be, they told me that they think that he will get convicted for the disdain for religions charge and get acquited on the other two charges. This is based on 2 reasons: 1) The evidence for that specific "charge" is huge, unlike the other two and 2) there hasn't been a single case of acquittal in a disdain for religions trial yet. People accused of that always end up in jail. Always.

So I guess we know tomorrow!

Till then… 

Consequences

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!