Karim Amer is a 25-year-old law student — but you will not find him at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. On 6 November 2006, he began a four-year jail term. His “crime” was to publish material on the internet that was critical of both Islam and of Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak.
Amnesty International considers Karim Amer a prisoner of conscience, jailed only for applying his right to express himself, peacefully, through his blogging activity. The United Nations Human Rights Council agrees. Its experts concluded that Egyptian authorities have detained him unlawfully for his online criticisms.
Some Muslims might take offense at Karim’s views on Islam. However, this does not justify prosecution and imprisonment under Egypt’s Penal Code. The offenses in the Code that relate to insulting the President of Egypt and to publishing greatly limit freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The Code provides for jail time for anyone who publishes materials that provoke attacks against a community or “disturbs national peace.”
Amnesty International is further worried that the persecution of Karim Amer threatens other Egyptian bloggers. The internet has emerged as a major forum for expressing views critical of Egyptian authorities and exposing human rights abuses such as illtreatment in police stations.
Karim told his lawyers that on 24 October 2007, a prisoner and a guard punched and kicked him, resulting in bruises and a broken tooth. They took him to a disciplinary cell, bound his arms and legs and beat him. He existed in solitary confinement with little water and one daily meal until 7 November 2007 when they moved him back to the section where they hold petty criminals. No one conducted an investigation.
One year ago, they moved Karim to the political prisoners’ section. He is allowed TV, radio, newspapers, and exercise time. He is also allowed longer visits from his lawyers but in fact authorities have denied them access to Karim since March 2009.
“I oppose everything that can restrain anyone’s freedom of expression… Terrorizing me, ousting me from university, imprisoning me, none of that will affect my spirit. ”
- Extract of letter from Karim Amer, 4 September 2007Please write to Egypt’s president.
- Describe who you are.
- Acknowledge that Karim Amer’s blogs offended him and some Muslims but that the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression demands his release.
- Ask him to launch an independent and exhaustive investigation into Karim’s claims of ill-treatment. Provide a detail or two about them in your letter.
President Hosni Mubarak
Cairo, EgyptStart your letter: Dear President Mubarak
Fax: +20 2 2390 1998 or +20 2 2795 8016
Email: email@example.comSend a greeting to Karim!
Please use his full name when you address the envelope.
Abdel Karim Nabil Soliman Amer
Bog Al-Arab Prison
- Use any type of card or paper except religious cards/greetings.
- Write in Arabic, English, or your own language.
- You may mention Amnesty International and include your return address.
Sample letter in Arabic:
أتمنى أن تسترد حريتك قريباً و نحن نعمل من أجل إطلاق سراحك.
لقد أرسلت خطاب إلى الرئيس المصري أحثه على إطلاق سراحك. و قد طلبت أيضاً التحقيق في سوء المعاملة التي تعرضت لها بالسجن.Dear Karim,
I hope that you will soon be free. We are working towards your release.
I have sent a letter to the Egyptian President asking him to release you. I have also asked for an investigation of the way you have been ill-treated in prison.