Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, September 07, 2007

U.S. Congressmen urge Mubarak to release imprisoned blogger

In a bid to pressure the Egyptian government to enhance freedom of expression and religion, Congressmen Trent Franks and Emanuel Cleaver issued an open letter to President Hosni Mubarak, calling for the release of student blogger Kareem Amer, according to Daily News Egypt.

Amer, 22, was sentenced in January of this year to four years in prison for insulting Islam and President Mubarak.

“The ability to discuss and even criticize one’s religious beliefs is an important aspect of freedom of religion and expression. If Egypt is to be a model of democracy in the Middle East, it must first be a country where these rights, which are fundamental in any democracy, are flourishing,” Franks and Cleaver said in the letter.

As co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on International Religious Freedom (TIRF), Franks and Cleaver also stressed the need for the Egyptian authorities to investigate the alleged rise of Islamic extremism at Al-Azhar University and attacks on Coptic Christian communities in Egypt; topics Amer addressed on his blog.

Furthermore, following several security crackdowns on outspoken Egyptian bloggers in the past year, Franks and Cleaver urged Mubarak to protect freedom of expression for all Egyptian bloggers and “ensure Egypt’s vibrant blogging community continues to thrive without persecution.”

Franks and Cleaver’s letter to Mubarak is not the US Congress’ first attempt to take action in the case. Earlier this year, Franks spoke to the Egyptian Ambassador in Washington Nabil Fahmy, and urged him to “look into the case of Amer.” Members of the US Congress also submitted a bipartisan letter to the ambassador in January, demanding the release of Amer. On March 12, Amer lost his court appeal and began his prison term.

But his supporters still pin hopes on foreign governments and rights groups to take continued action in the case.

For the full article, click here


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