The case of Abdel-Monem Mahmoud, a blogger and member of the Muslim Brotherhood is the second of its kind in Egypt, a country where press freedom has greatly deteriorated in the past few years, according to a report released by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) on May 3, International Press Freedom Day.  The report, entitled “Backsliders,” listed Egypt in seventh place, after Ethiopia, Gambia, Russia, DRC, Cuba, and Pakistan.  Following Egypt were Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Thailand.

Abdel Kareem Soliman was the first blogger to be arrested in Egypt.  He was sentenced in November 2006 to four years in prison for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak.  His trial lasted five minutes.

Monem is quite a different personality from Soliman; a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he was previously arrested for “belonging to an illegal organization” when he met with Brotherhood members to organize an anti-war rally.  Monem is a devoted human-rights activist, and was among the first to go to Darfur to speak with high-ranking officials there.

He also spoke out about the arrest of fellow Egyptian blogger Soliman, despite his personal disagreement with Soliman's statements against Islam.  In a post written on March 7, 2007 (originally in Arabic) in Monem's own blog, Ana Ikhwan (“I am a brother”), Monem defended Soliman, saying:

To begin with, I disagree with the opinions of Abdel Kareem, but I believe that it’s unfair for the security forces to treat him this way, punish him for his personal opinions, and sentence him for his so-called “contempt for the president.” I believe that this behavior is unfair to a young man who, along with his friends, will not change his ideas simply because he fears punishment at the hands of the security forces.

The post, translated to English by Fatima Azzahra El Azzouzi, is here.

More coverage on the case of Abdel-Monem Mahmoud can be found at the Free Monem site as well as at Global Voices Online.

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