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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Egyptian Blogger Gets 4 Year Prison Sentence

An Egyptian blogger has been sentenced to four years in prison by an Egyptian court due to the content of his writings.

Karim Amer is the first Egyptian blogger to be tried for writing blogs criticizing Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities, President Hosni Mubarak and the religion of Islam. Charges against Amer included "spreading information disruptive of public order and damaging to the country's reputation," "incitement to hate Islam" and "defaming the President of the Republic."

"This sentence is yet another slap in the face of freedom of expression in Egypt," says Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy program director of human rights group Amnesty International. "The Egyptian authorities must protect the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, even if the views expressed might be perceived by some as offensive. Amnesty International considers Amer to be a prisoner of conscience who is being prosecuted on account of the peaceful expression of his views."

Egypt is a top receipient of U.S. foreign aid.

"The Egyptian authorities must repeal legislation that, in violation of international standards, stipulates prison sentences for acts which constitute nothing more than the peaceful exercise of the rights of freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion," adds Hadj Sahraoui.

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