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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Friday, November 04, 2005

Free Abdalkarim

(scroll down for updates) Posted by Picasa In case you haven't heard already, an Egyptian Blogger got arrested by the egyptian police seemingly for what he wrote. Here is what Alaa, who knows more then I know about this, has to report. Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman is a 21 year-old Egyptian student of law at the Azhar University, Damanhour Campus, a women's-rights activist and a correspondent for Copts United. In addition to writing at Civic Dialogue, he also publishes at a blog he maintains. On Wednesday 26 October 2005, Egyptian State Security took Abdolkarim from his home, and confiscated hard copies of his writings. He is now on his way to an unknown detention. Three Egyptian bloggers visited Abdolkarim's family. The family attributed the state security raid to his writings, although it was not clear if his blogging is directly related. According to his brother, Abdolkarim's relations with Islamist Fundamentalists in his neighborhood of Moharram Bek, Alexandria, are tense. It is possible that the fundamentalists have filed a security complaint that led to his detention. Abdel Karim's writing, if you can't read arabic, is very very critical of Islam. So critical that Big Pharaoh is wondering if he was a convert to christianity or something. Abdolkarim could be a convert to Christianity or someone who left the Muslim faith, and I was stunned when I saw that he posted his picture on his blog. Anyway, he will be in a very serious situation if a case was levied against him. If sent to court, the charge of "izderaa el adyaan" or "blaspheming religion" can be applied leading to his imprisonment. What's interesting is that he went to Al Azhar University and lived in Alexandria, which could mean that the people who did file a report against him are islamists. If that were the case , given the upcoming elections, the recent riots and his connections to Copts-United, it's very well possible that they arrested him as a pre-emptive measure to stop another riot that could be started by the MB in Alex. The egyptian government would never take the side of Free speech against secterian relationships stability. Figuring it's safer to arrest just one blogger who the majority of egyptians would disagree with and with his writing, then to deal with another riot over his right to free speech, which doesn't exist in our country. It kind of makes sense for them to do it, for they have no shame or fixed morals or principles to stand by and defend, and the fact that, again, many egyptians wouldn't mind him getting punished for what he wrote. If you find this statetment to be harsh then please go over to the comments section in Alaa's post and see for yourself what some people had to say about his arrest. Hell, Alaa is being attacked in his comments section for starting the free Abdal Karim campaign. This attitude that some people have drives me nuts, because this is about free speech and civil rights, not about who said what about Islam. We should support him, not because we agree with what he said, but because if we don't rally out and support those who get detained and arrested for writing what they believe in- no matter how unpopular their opinion may be- we will be the ones arrested next. If you violate the rights of one of our own, then it's like you violated all of our rights. I may not agree with what many egyptian bloggers have to say, but if they were in that same situation as AbdelKarim I would be doing the exact same thing I am doing right now, for I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight for your right to say it. This isn't something that should be compromised on, or we might as well all take our blogs down and hide in our homes, waiting for that 3 am visit by Amn el Dawlah like a bunch of scared rats. If you are unwilling to live life like this, as any self respecting human being wouldn't, then you should support the immediate release of AbdalKarim. It is not a matter on which we can compromise. Update: Toman Bay has a different take on the whole thing after reading what AbdelKarim wrote: Following my own principles, I don't think that the government represented in Amn El-Dawla should prosecute the guy (they are doing it for purely political reasons, to appease the masses who may sympathize with Muslim Brothers especially before the parliamentary elections; just as they did when they arrested some rock kids as Satan-worshippers, to balance their crack-down on Islamist terrorists in the mid-90s), and his freedom of expression should have been protected; but you won't see me walking in any rallies supporting him, as he and similar enticers (whether Muslims, Christians, or Jews) are as much a menace to freedom of expression as Amn El-Dawla is. I respectfully disagree of course, because at the end of the day what he did was write an article. He wrote words, opinion, of what happend. That could never even measure against getting detained for writing something, especially in a country like Egypt where he has no rights. Here is the AP story on what happend. Egyptian police have detained a blogger for his anti-Islamic and anti-government writings and confiscated his books and copies of his articles, his family and other bloggers said Thursday. Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a 21-year-old law student at Al-Azhar University, was arrested on Oct. 26. His whereabouts are not known. "A group of seven police officers knocked at the door at 3 a.m. and asked about Abdolkarim,'' his mother, who identified herself as Yousseria, told The Associated Press by telephone from Alexandria. [...] "He is stubborn, he has ideas that contradict the true religion and he posts that on the Internet, serving no one but himself,'' his mother said when asked about his writings. Seliman belongs to a pious Muslim family - his parents were performing umra, or a minor Islamic pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, just days before his arrest. He is also a student of Al-Azhar, the world's highest seat of learning for Sunni Muslims. Another blogger, Malik Moustafa, closely followed Seliman's detention and accused followers of the fundamentalist Islamic Salafi movement in Alexandria of being behind the arrest. Moustafa said the arrest followed articles in which Seliman accused the Salafis of inciting the latest sectarian tensions in his neighborhood of Mouharm Bay. Seliman was detained three days after posting an article to his blog commenting on the violent riots that erupted when thousands of security forces clashed with streams of angry Muslim worshippers in front of a Coptic Christian church over a play put on by Christians deemed offensive to Islam. [...] In addition to his anti-Islamic writings, Seliman posted several articles blatantly attacking Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak regime and describing it as a "symbol of dictatorship.'' See, This gives me more of a reason to be supportive of his release. The same could easily be said about me. I mean, I have never gone as far as he did in his articles, because I don't believe what he said in them to be true, but I have been both critical of things that have been done in the name of Islam and of the regime before. I would make an equally easy target for them as he did. But if we let them have the easier targets first, then it's only a matter of time before coming after the rest of us. You know? There is something fishy about this guy though: He had his face, name and telephone number up on his blog. He was practically daring them to come after him. I am not one to blame to victim here, but I can't figure out why he would do such a thing. There is a fine line between courage and stupidity, and from his writing he doesn't seem to be stupid to the degree that he can't imagine someone to recognize him or come after him for what he wrote. Hmm..... Update: Mostafa Hussein has more information on this: In an email sent on the day of his detainment he wrote to Milad, in response to a survey about Egyptian bloggers that he doesn’t mind his name being mentioned in it. He says that although what he writes is considered very sensitive by many. Freedom of expression is in jeopardy if religion is going to be considered a red line. He says in the email that he was once attacked by some thugs as a reaction to what he writes and publishes. Almost everyone in the blogosphere do not support his opinions at all. Yet, a lot stand against his detention by security forces. Malek says (Arabic) that such acts weaken the images of Islam. As a civilised debate would reconstruct all his invalid opinions. Other believe in his right for a free trial. While some see that this is totally against freedom of speech. However, the comments of some anonymous posters and non-bloggers consider his detention a right thing and that the security forces did a good job. Accusing the bloggers who started the campaign, that they are trying to blindly copy Western democracy. Ibn abdel aziz warns (Arabic) that the security forces might be dividing the blogosphere, when they take away someone outspoken against Islam, Muslims would cheer. If they detain a radical Muslim; secularists and Christians would cheer. One by one they would divide bloggers. Indeed. Update: InstaPundit is on the case and wants his readers to cause trouble.


At 11/03/2005 11:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to his blog site, but alas I can't read Arabic. Is there an English version. The freedom of speech should not be infringed anywhere. The freedom to speak is the number one tool used to combat societal wrongs. Without that tool it is impossible to correct the problems through peaceful means. As a side note, It is people like you Sandmonkey, Big Pharoh and Karim that keep people like me from hardening my heart towards the Middle East.


At 11/04/2005 02:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work on getting his story out. People on the forum at http://www.faithfreedom.org are talking about this, this is how I was led here.

At 11/04/2005 03:55:00 AM, Anonymous Chaya said...

I just tried posting this and a new popup box appeared. If this appears twice, it was unintentional. I discovered you yesterday on Nonie Darwishe's site. You and she are amazing! So, when I saw this story on the Jerusalem Post web site, I immediately came here to tell you about; but I see you have already posted it but throught you would be interested in knowing that JPost has picked it up. I suggest contacting Reuters and Associated Press plus other newsoutlets: CNN, Fox News, Sky News. All of your readers should do the same. I'm a 58 year old lady in Israel who teaches English as a Second Language.

Nov. 4, 2005 0:45
Egyptian blogger detained for anti-Islamic posts
CAIRO, Egypt

Egyptian police have detained a blogger for his anti-Islamic and anti-government writings and confiscated his books and copies of his articles, his family and other bloggers said Thursday.

Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a 21-year-old law student at Al-Azhar University, was arrested on October 26. His whereabouts are not known.

"A group of seven police officers knocked at the door at 3 a.m. and asked about Abdolkarim," his mother, who identified herself as Yousseria, told The Associated Press by telephone from Alexandria. She said the police searched the house, confiscated Seliman books and copies of his articles, which he posts to his blog.

Police declined to comment when asked about Seliman's detention.

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At 11/04/2005 05:06:00 AM, Blogger Tomanbay said...

I beg to differ slightly with the opinion of the majority of blogers on this one. Please read my opinion here:

At 11/04/2005 05:09:00 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

Someone comenting at Manal and Alaa's blog post suggested that a particular essay by Karim, here, might have prompted his arrest. It is in Arabic. Has anyone seen an English tranlation?

If someone would want to translate it, I would be happy to post the translation.

At 11/04/2005 05:10:00 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

Whoops, here the url for the essay:


At 11/04/2005 05:35:00 AM, Blogger Mister Ghost said...

Sadly, there's very little free speech where Islam is concerned.
I was thinking that the US could cut a deal with the Egyptian government and bring him over as a political refugee which he is - it's hard to believe his life won't be severely endangered, no matter what the outcome of the trial/imprisonment.

At 11/04/2005 08:15:00 AM, Anonymous Melissa in NorCal said...

I will pray for his safety and well-being.

At 11/04/2005 08:45:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Dusty, let's just say that he calls muslims to be barbarians and insults everyone in islamic history from Mohamed until the current islamic leaders. The boy seems to have a huge chip on his shoulders towards the religion.

At 11/04/2005 08:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to Instapundit and LGF for posting this story. I'm going to write to my newscasters and see if they can offer a helping hand.


At 11/04/2005 10:01:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

Writing against Islam (or any other religion) should not be a crime. In Britain, you could write a blog full of negative or even obscene comments about Jesus and Christianity, and nobody would take any notice. What you cannot legally do is incite violence against members of any religion. Was this guy telling people to physically attack Muslims? If not, there is no reason to arrest him. He didn't stab anyone, nor did he encourage anyone else to stab anyone.

At 11/04/2005 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

This is what you get arrested for in Britain.

At 11/04/2005 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

This is what I sent to the Egyptian Embassy here in the States:

Dear Sirs,

I would like to visit Egypt this summer, but I will not do so if your government is jailing people who are simply voicing their personal opinions.

I have just learned that you arrested Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, an Egyptian blogger and college student.

I understand that the tourist industry is the most profitable industry in Egypt.

If you do not release Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, I will not only not fly to Egypt on my vacation but I will also tell everyone I know to BOYCOTT Egypt as a travel destination.

It's your decision.

Freedom of speech is essential for any TRUE democracy.

Jeffrey Schuster
New York
United States of America

If any other Americans would like to contact the embassay, here's the url:

Egyptian Embassy in the US.


At 11/04/2005 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

BTW, if you think emails can't make a difference, you're wrong.

Remember when Peter Arnett did that interview with Saddam Hussein while the Iraq War was going on? Remember how Arnett told Saddam that the Americans were almost finished?

I had just gotten home from teaching when I heard that interview. I sent off around fifteen emails to MSNBC within half an hour and then a couple hours later, to my shock, the newscasters read one of my emails on air and said something like, "We hear you, Jeffrey." I kid you not. My wife almost fell off the couch.

A TON of emails make a difference.

Since that evening, NO ONE has heard from or cares to hear from Peter Arnett. Peter Arnett? No one even remembers his name any more. His career as a journalist is TOAST.

Let the Egyptian government know how you feel. And kick 'em in their pocketbook if you have to.


Jeffrey from New York


At 11/04/2005 11:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Jeffrey. I will contact the Egyptian Embassy as well.


At 11/04/2005 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


The "contact us" link on the embassy website is in the upper right-hand corner, very small and inconspicuous.


At 11/04/2005 11:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I went inside the tomb and got the same info: embassy@egyptembdc.org. It's the email you sent to, correct?


At 11/04/2005 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...


That's the embassy for DC. That's fine. I sent an email to both the one in DC and the one here in NYC.


At 11/04/2005 03:46:00 PM, Blogger CEP said...

Thanks for the Egyptian Embassy link! Here's what I just wrote them:

Dear sirs,
I am a graduate student at Georgetown University, a registered-to-vote American citizen, and a blogger. I understand from reliable news sources that Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a blogger studying at Azhar University, Damanhour Campus, has been arrested in connection with his expression of an unpopular opinion, not because of any effort at promoting illegal behavior. I find your government's behavior in this matter contrary to democratic principles and a real barrier to intercultural/interreligious understanding, not to mention unwarranted and unethical. I will be writing to my representatives in Congress about this issue. In the meantime, I do hope that you will release this individual from detention. The world is watching.

At 11/04/2005 04:00:00 PM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Yesterday, I wrote emails to my House Reps and Senators. I suggested that they get together with other Texas representives and senators and file a formal letter of protest to the Egyptian Government.

As far as my personal feelings about free speech, SM is in line with me. Except that if their (hate speech) is/are directed at my family, the USA or Texas, you had better be ready for a fight and bring your lunch.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 11/04/2005 04:37:00 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

Papa Ray, I wrote to my senators too. McCain may be a pain in the backside, but he won't like this one bit, and Kyl is really starting to draw some water in the senate.

I asked them to look into this and I intend to get a lot of other Arizonan to do the same. This young man has a right to his opinion, he's not calling for insurection, he's presenting his opinion and asking people to think. Even if you don't agree with what he has to say, the world is better for looking at things from all sides.

At 11/04/2005 04:58:00 PM, Blogger newc said...

The idea behind blogs was to get people talking. That, after all, could solve communication issues. The Government's should not mess with it if they know what is good for a civil society. My thing is this; let people hammer it out online so the streets will be safe for the kids. It is a possible peaceful resolution - even more so when every voice has a chance to be heard. It is that easy.

The internet is a tool, and I doubt GOD would be angry about what this Man wrote - especially if it is a "Perception" of a "Perception" of God that got him in trouble with Pious people of The Book.

What Kahonas he has too. Bless his heart.

At 11/04/2005 05:06:00 PM, Blogger sadiq said...

I'm all for the freedom of speech, but it's not a universal freedom. Here in America it's protected by the first amendment; no first amendment, no free speech. I don't know Egyptian law, but I'd love a lesson in civil rights in Egyptian society.

But referring to counter-institutional speech, it can be dangerous. Especially to the entrenched institution. Us Americans have done things to censor free speech in the past, and we're likely to continue to do it in the future. It's much easier to censor speech in a totalitarian state than in a democracy, and heavy handed tactics are much more accepted in many places. Here, instead of "disappearing people" (as my daughter is fond of saying) we like to use more subtle tactics, like smear campaigns and information overload.

The top-down dissemination of information in traditional media made it very expensive and difficult to get ideas out to an audience. With the Net, however, any dummy with a computer and a phone line can reach an audience of potentially hundreds of millions. Old institutions in America are being shaken up by this new structure as honest-to-god journalists are being replaced by pundits and the public is still trying to cope with the paradigm shift. And we're a country that elevates free speech to a God-given right! I can't imagine how much tension is being placed on regimes who are less open than ours, now having to deal with this new "threat" to their institutional power.

Think of this; twenty years ago, the Egyptian government controlled radio and television transmissions, as well as much of the print media. If you wanted to discuss the problems of society and try brainstorm on how to address them, you had to go to the sook and find other people sympathetic to your cause. And how many people at your sook fit that description? Now, you have MUCH greater access to that kind of community, and it transcends borders. In a lot of ways that's good, and in a lot of ways that's bad.

Before the internet, the Muslim Brotherhood managed to organize a plot to assassinate Anwar Sadat. Ayman Al-Zawahiri was in their organization. And they did it without the internet, cell phones, or satillite uplinks. Now, he's the number 2 guy in Al-Qaeda (or the number 1 guy, depending on who you ask) and they're recruiting on the Net.

I personally think they're fighting a losing battle, both Mubarrek and Al-Zawahiri. They're trying to contain the decentralization of power, and I think that it's a wave they're going to have to ride or they'll be buried under it. The Net will change the world as surely as the Gutenburg press did, and people in power will find new ways to adapt to the paradigm and reconsolidate that power. If they hold on to their old techniques of control, however, they'll find the ground has slipped from under them.

Of course, that applies to America as well.

At 11/04/2005 07:42:00 PM, Blogger thewiz said...

Mister Ghost had a great idea, that he needs to be given political asylum. If he is released, his life will be in jeopardy. Write to congressen and ask them to not only get him free but to get him asylum here.

SM, He probably posted his pic, phone # and addy because he wants to be a martyr to freedom. He has decided that its time to take a stand and even die for what he blieves in. Don't know him at all but he may be doing this out of conviction but it may be some psychosis that he has that needs fed. Either needs attention, desires immortality, or is one angry dude.

At 11/05/2005 05:04:00 AM, Blogger Tomanbay said...

well I agree with your comment on my post. as I said I went on some sort of a hyperbole; you can't equate his writings with what Amn El-Dawla is doing; they're on two completly different levels. I guess I was just echoing what some bloggers and commentators were saying ; that it is really difficult to take that guy as a martyr for freedom of speech. But he should have had this freesom anyhow, and we can't be selective in how we apply principles. I am just not that psyched up for him, thats all

At 12/22/2005 01:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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