Archive of ‘causes’ category

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. 


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… 


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! 


Dr. Yoram Meital, Chairman, The Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy, Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel has just responded to our petition:

Dear Petitioners:
have received your petition of complaint regarding Dr. Mohamed Mosaad
Abdel Aziz's recent presentation on "Political Weblogging in Egypt" at
our recent conference on Reform, Resistance, and Conflicts in the
Middle East. We take all comments regarding our efforts to bring open
discussions within the topic of reform and resistance very
seriously. The blogosphere is an important and valuable element within
reform and resistance discourse.

am not an expert on the Egyptian blogosphere, but I am aware that it is
expansive and quite pluralistic, representing a wide spectrum of
Egyptian society. I was significantly impressed by the useful work of
Egyptian bloggers during the last elections for both the parliament and
the presidency. I gave expression to this in my recently published
article “The Struggle over Political Order in Egypt: The 2005
Elections,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Spring 2006), 257-279." 

Now, allow me to correct your claim that Dr. Mosaad was intentionally invited to express criticism on the Egyptian blogosphere. This claim is a total misunderstanding of how this academic conference was organized. The
Herzog Center is a non-partisan institute, and the views openly
expressed by conference participants reflect their views only. 
idea to discuss the Egyptian blogosphere has evolved from a keen
appreciation of this growing media in Egypt. A colleague, Dr. Mike
Dahan who specializes in weblogging in the Middle East, recommended Dr.
Mosaad, and the later was invited to speak on the issue of "Political
Weblogging in Egypt". The title of his lecture and the abstract sounded
promising. Quoting Dr. Mosaad,

"In Egypt, weblogging is thriving and is mainly political.  It has been argued that blogging gave a floor and voice to a large and previously silent sector, that used cyberspace to share information, raise significant but ignored issues, pose questions,create discourses, extend new political relations and affiliations and organize political
campaigns and activities. I argue, nevertheless, that weblogs are dominated by urban petit bourgeois young activists, who reflect the dominant social hierarchical structures,
tend to recycle tired discourses and turn the potentially creative cyber-space into a reflection of the traditional political public sphere in Egypt. This is not to say weblogging has had no value. Weblogging has undeniable political contribution. The paper will portray how political weblogging has failed to challenge traditional political structures and processes in Egypt."

Some of Dr. Mosaad's arguments did, indeed, come to me as a surprise. I was
not alone in criticizing him during the conference. I was not convinced
by his analysis of the political situation in Egypt, and the role of
new media. Dr. Mosaad's central point
of criticism was that HE has lost hope that blogging could make a
difference in Egypt's political arena.
However, like all of our
participants, I respected Dr. Mosaad's right to present his claims
freely. I am surprised that many among the respondents to your petition
supported a call to defame Dr. Mosaad, instead of formally taking issue
with his claims. 

I would like to express my keen appreciation of the Egyptian
blogosphere community; and to assure you that, like many others, I hold
the efforts and sacrifices of Egyptian bloggers in high esteem.

Sincerely Yours,

Dr. Yoram Meital
The Chaim Herzog Center for
Middle East Studies and Diplomacy
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

My response:
Dr. Meital,

Thank you for your prompt response reagrding this
issue. As you can imagine, this incident has inflamed many people, none
more than myself, due to the serious defaming to egyptian bloggers that
took place on the panel and in the Israeli media.You may not be aware
of this, but one of our own is currently at trial for charges such as
"defaming the President on his website" and is looking at a 9 years
prison sentence come January the 25th. Others are facing constant
harassment from the egyptian police and state security, not to mention
the insults and insinuations about us in the state-sponsored media. The
Egyptian bloggers are fighting on many fronts dear sir, so to have
someone who doesn't even know us or seems to have done any proper
research on the topic, come out with such statements, well, it becomes
hard not to consider it another attack and take issue with it.

You stated that you were surprised how so many people have
supported the call to defame dr. Mosaad instead of formally taking
issues with his claims, and I am asking you: what claims? If you read
the petition you would find numerous factual errors in his statements
that could be proven by anybody with access to google and 20 minutes to
spare, especially regarding the nature, size and socioeconomic
backgrounds of egyptian bloggers. If you are referring to his claims
that the egyptian blogsphere is now reflecting the traditional
political public sphere, well, even that statement is misguided at
best. None of the traditional political forces in operation in Egypt,
even the so called opposition parties, have raised the issues that we
have raised or even pursue them after we brought them into the
spotlight. Egyptian bloggers from every political background actually
do attempt to discourse and have more than once abandoned personal and
ideological differences to work together for the common good, something
that not even the political forces in your country does, let alone
ours. There is nothing to take issue with because the man simply
doesn't know what he is talking about. Saying that publically is not
defaming him, it's actually a step to stop him from defaming us.

Now, I never personally believed that he was invited to your
conference to defame us, but what I couldn't fathom is how was it
possible for him to get invited as an "expert", when a simple online
search would have shown how disconnected and insignificant he is to the
egyptian blogsphere. In your e-mail you just answerd my question: Dr.
Mike Dahan invited him, which explains so much to me, since Dr. Dahan's
knowledge of the Israeli blogsphere parallels that of Dr. Abdel Aaziz
knowledge of the egyptian one: ignorant and shallow. This is the same
man, if I am not mistaken, who publically stated that the Israeli
blogsphere is irrelevant and is primarily comprised by 14 year old
girls who write personal diaries. As someone who have seen the Israeli
blogsphere's attempts to reach out to their lebanese counterparts
during last summer's war and how it gave Irsael and Israelis a human
face to a world population that generally demonizes them, it would be
easy to see how I would disagree with his assessment of the israeli
blogsphere as well.

That being said, I have only one thing to ask of you in the
future Dr. Yoram as a perosnal favor: Please don't take anybody's
recommendation for an "expert speaker", especially when it comes to
something as rapidly evoloving as the blogsphere, before researching
that person online first. Otherwise you are jepordizing your
conference's credibility and intentions, something I am sure  a great
academic such as yourself would not be very keen on.

And again, thank you for your prompt and thoughtful response.
I really appreciate that you took the time to explain to us your point
of view, and we keep waiting on Dr. Abdel Aaziz to do the same.

Best Regards,


The Abdel Aaziz petition

*To the Egyptian bloggers who want to add their names to the petition, please leave a comment in the comments section and link to this* 

To whom it may concern.

It has come to our attention that someone named Mohamed Mossad Abdel Aziz participated in a conference hosted by Ben Gurion University on January 9, and that he represented himself as a former Egyptian blogger who was thoroughly knowledgeable about the Egyptian blogosphere. The purpose of this letter is to address the many erroneous claims Dr. Abdel Aziz made in his presentation.

Dr. Abdel Aziz claimed that there are about 100 Egyptian bloggers, that he knows all of them and that they all come from wealthy or very wealthy families that are based exclusively in Cairo. He portrayed them as a bunch of out of touch upper class Egyptian elitists, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The Egyptian blogosphere is both huge and pluralistic. In fact there are more than 6,000 Egyptian bloggers and they come from a variety of social, ethnic, political and economic backgrounds, and from all over Egypt (from Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Al Mansourah, Al Sahraqiyah, etc.)

We do not gather each month in Cairo WiFi cafes and spend the equivalent of one year’s salary for a poor Egyptian, as he claimed. We never actually gather anywhere once a month, and no gathering of Egyptian bloggers has so far claimed to include the entire Egyptian blogosphere, since that would be almost impossible due to its size and diverse geographical locations. We also find it incredibly funny that some people would believe that there would be a café in Cairo big enough to host a meeting of 100 bloggers once a month. Oh sorry – 101, since Dr. Abdel Aziz would be joining us there, given that he knows every single one of us and all.

The portrayal that he gave of the Egyptian blogosphere, on the podium given to him at that conference, is nothing short of insulting. It showcases the massive ignorance of this so-called expert. The Egyptian blogsphere includes activists, writers and commentators who have done more work on the ground to try to solve the problems facing us in Egypt and the region than this guy has ever done.

Amongst us are bloggers who have been jailed and tortured for their political beliefs and positions, others who are still harassed by the authorities to this day, bloggers who have won prestigious international bloggers’ awards (Egyptian blogs have won both the BOB and the Weblog awards this year), poor bloggers, rich bloggers, secular bloggers, religions fundamentalist bloggers, pro-peace bloggers, anti-Israel bloggers, Christians, Muslims and Baha’i bloggers, bloggers who write in English, French and Arabic, bloggers who support the government and others who totally oppose it, bloggers from Egypt and from ex-pats countries who reside in Egypt. It’s a melting pot of individuals from all walks of life, not the elitist coffee club that this man claimed it is.

Needless to say, although Dr. Abdel Aziz claimed in his presentation to be personally acquainted with all of us, the fact is that not one of us has ever heard of him and it took us days to find this man's blog, since he is that obscure. Messages about what he said at this conference have been sent and forwarded to every Egyptian blogger mail group there is, and there has been a very angry reaction from all over the blogosphere to this man’s remarks.

The fact that he was invited to say these things at an Israeli conference in a respected university does not lend the conference organizers any credibility. If anything it appears that you have invited this man with the objective of tarnishing the Egyptian blogosphere on purpose, since the organizers could very easily have conducted some basic research on the Internet in order to discover that this man is a fraud and has no connection with the Egyptian blogosphere whatsoever.

Now, more on his allegations….

None of us are hired journalists who write for opposition newspapers and then use blogs to write the insults that our editors won’t allow us to write. However, the opposition press in Egypt has written about the political efforts and achievements of Egyptian bloggers more than once. For example, they wrote about us when we exposed the mass sexual assault on women that took place last Eid, It wrote about us when we organized the first Egyptian campaign sexual harassment in Egypt; it wrote about us when we exposed police torture and brutality in Egyptian police stations, which led to the indictment of at least three police officers; and the international media covered our campaign to free the bloggers Alaa, Sharqawi and Malek from jail after they were arrested and detained for being involved in political demonstrations, not to mention the current campaign to free the Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Soliman from jail as well. The list goes on and on.

We are on the ground, we do necessary work, and we will not allow our reputation to be tarnished by some anonymous academic who does not know us and has never met us. We very much regret that a charlatan who falsely claims to represent us seduced some unfortunately gullible Israelis, but that is not our mistake or responsibility. The people who gave him the podium to speak may have had some good intentions, but they now seem like active participants in a campaign to tarnish us and sully our reputation.

We do intend to make this matter public, and we won’t rest until a formal apology is issued to us from the organizers of that conference.


The Sandmonkey

The Arabist


Nora Younis





Lasto Adri *Blue* 

Eman M 




Statler & Waldorf 





Ibrahim ElSayed





Hany George

Wa7da Masrya



Dina Fahmy 



Good News: Nazanin exonerated

I don't know if you have been following the story of Nazanin Fatehi, but it's the iranian girl who when she was 17 had 3 men try to rape her and her 16 year old cousin, so she ended up stabbing and killing one of them in self defense. The Iranian courts, however, didn;t see it this way, and sentenced her to death by hanging. An international campaign to save her life was launched, with more than 330,000 signatures on her online petition alone, and it seems to have finally bore fruit: The court of appeals has exonerated the now 18 year old girl, altough they are demanding that she pays the family of her killer blood money, because apparently killing has was an excessive form of self defense for trying to rape her*. Annoying till the end those iranian judges seem, but nevertheless, the girl is no longer getting hanged nor charged with anything, and if that's not good news, I don't know what is.

* If a girl is raped in Iran, she needs to come up with witnesses that testify that the sex wasn't consentual. Otherwise, she would be just testifying that she had extra-marital sex with a male, and she would be punished and flogged for it. Nice, huh? Yay for Islamic Sharia courts!

Yesterday's demonstration against sexual harrassment

The start of the demonstration. You can see Mohamed Abdel Kuddoos leading the demonstration, which is significant, since he is an MB member, and they always maintained that the veil will protect girls from harrassment. His presence here signifies a at least a tiny shift in that view. The demo had a number of noteable females present, like:

Hend Al Henawy

Mona Al Tahawy

and Nora Younes.

The AUC kids start arriving.

The Protest got bigger!

Picture of the people from the other buildings watching us.

The Police started besieging the protest, but they didn’t do anything to harm anyone. It was an intimidation tactic more than anything, prompted by the shift in chants from just anti-sexual harrassment to anti-government. But for all intents and purposes, it was a success. Thanks to nerro who started this entire thing and to everyone else who helped.

There will be a second one November 14th, in front of the movie theatre that the attacks started at. Details on that later!

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