Friday, January 26, 2007

Update on Trial of Blogger Kareem Amer

The trial of Kareem Amer, accused of insulting Islam and other charges for his work on the blog, started Jan. 25. The short hearing was adjourned afterwards until Feb. 1.

The trial is attracting the attention of democracy and human rights activists and the international media. Amnesty has previously expressed concern about the trial. Click here for my previous postings on the case.

According to Egyptian activists, the judge was surprised to find a big number of interested people in Kareem's trial. The opening motions concerned the venue and owner of the site that publishes Kareem's blog. This is important, because under Egyptian law, if the blog is published outside of Egypt, Kareem could not be charged on the defamation charges. (Although I suspect either the judge will overlook that or other charges could be brought against him.)

But one of the most interesting moments of the trial, according to witnesses, was following these motions, a man started speaking outloud saying he would bring a "hesba" lawsuit against Kareem. Under Islamic law, anyone can bring a hisba lawsuit if they believe God has been insulted. Two most recent famous "hesba" cases involve a suit against Nasr Abu Zayd, a noted scholar of Islam, and Nawal el-Saadawi. In the latter case, the person claimed that Nawal was a heretic and therefore her husband could not be legally married to her under Islamic law and should be forced to divorce her.

According to the witness, "The man was so emotional. He spoke in a loud voice. He introduced himself as a lawyer. He said he came to stand by Islam for its victory. He recited some parts of Quaran about those who fight against Allah and his profit Mohamed who should have their hands and legs cut. He meant Kareem."

The man was later identified in one source as Mohamed Dawoud, who I believe was the same person who brought the hesba case against Nawal el-Saadawi.


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