Ms .45's mp3/bureaucratic/gaming blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Free Monem!

A while ago, I posted about the arrest of Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer on charges of "insulting Islam" and "defaming the President". Recently, a level of absurdity has been introduced as the authorities arrested Muslim Brotherhood activist Abdul Mon’em Mahmoud, presumably on charges of being a member of the illegal Brotherhood. Human rights activists suspect Monem was probably arrested for writing about torture and illegal detention in Egypt, which makes sense given that the Egyptian authorities don't evenly and equally enforce the ban on the MB. The government uses the Brotherhood when it sees fit, and squashes them when it suits.

One important reason that Western bloggers, human rights activists etc should support Monem is that he and other Muslim Brotherhood writers have spoken out in support of Kareem, despite Kareem's open contempt for Islam and Islamists. This indicates that at least some MB members are starting to "get" why freedom of speech and liberal democracy exist. It's not just because we want to insult Mohammed and have orgies! If we (ie The West) want Islamists to start behaving themselves and showing respect for democratic principles, we are obliged to offer carrots as well as sticks. Co-operating with Islamists on human rights issues, whilst still firmly criticising them when they fall down on these issues (ie anti-Jewish, anti-Coptic sentiment) will send a firm , consistent message of Western values, which are largely compatible with Islamic values.

In addition, there is a far greater human rights issue here. The Mubarak regime targets all opposition, not just Islamists or leftists. Even quite middle-of-the-road political parties have difficulty registering to operate as parties, and they have to apply to the government to register. In the West, parties have to apply to a government-funded body to register, and they may be forbidden/delisted for various reasons, but (for instance) left wing parties don't have to apply to the conservative party for permission to operate, nor right wing parties to the Labour party.

In Monem's case specifically, I don't yet have words of a petition or a specific campaign for him, but the Free Kareem! guys have stepped up to the plate on his behalf with news of his detention, and if you wanted to fire off an angry letter to the Egyptian Justice Minister, they have details right here.

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