News / Middle East

Imprisoned Egyptian Blogger's Hunger Strike Fights Military Rule

Noel King

An imprisoned Egyptian blogger will continue his hunger strike though his lawyer says he has been granted a re-trial by Egypt's military court. Michael Nabil was sentenced to three years in prison in April for insulting the Egyptian army. His case has become a rallying point for some Egyptian activists who say country's interim military government has little regard for civil rights.

Blogger Michael Nabil has been granted a re-trial. But he will again be tried in front of a military court - a venue that his lawyers and supporters see as unfair. Nabil is a civilian, they say, and should be tried by a civilian court.

What's more, Nabil is charged with insulting the army. And in Egypt, members of the army are now the country's interim rulers. After President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February, several high-ranking military officers formed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces - or SCAF - and assumed power in Egypt.

Nabil's lawyer Negad el-Borai says there's no way Nabil can be assured a fair trial in a military court.

"Yes, its a military court," said the lawyer. "This is a problem. Because they charge that he insulted the higher commander of the SCAF, Field Marshal Tantawi, and he's a military person and this is a part of the problems in this country. For a long, long time, we call for stop sending the civilians to the military court, but nothing happened."

Egypt's Supreme Council says military trials are necessary. They say Egypt is more dangerous following the Arab Spring protests and they want to keep social disarray in check and prevent crime rates from soaring.

In the immediate aftermath of the Egyptian uprising, members of the army were viewed as heroes by many here for their refusal to turn on the protestors who marched in Tahrir Square.

Michael Nabil was one of a few Egyptians to publicly criticize the military in the weeks after the revolution.

Shahira Abouelleil works with the Egyptian advocacy group No Military Trials For Civilians. She has been advocating on Nabil's behalf. She says Nabil's mistake was that he criticized the army at the wrong time.

"Now, what happened was, he wrote a blog and this blog was about the army and their role in the revolution and their role post [after] the revolution," said Abouelleil. "The blog was called "the Army and the people were never one hand." It was a famous chant in Tahrir that we used to chant. We used to say the army and the people are one hand. And that blog was obviously critical of that chant and of that notion."

Today, it is more common to see and hear Egyptians criticizing the military - in newspaper editorials, on television and in cafes. Many Egyptians are upset that the ruling military council has not made clear when it will hand over power to a civilian government.

Elections for a lower house of parliament are scheduled for November 28. But presidential elections may be delayed until 2013.

Army soldiers run after Egyptian Coptic demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt, October 9, 2011.
Army soldiers run after Egyptian Coptic demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt, October 9, 2011.

On Sunday, the military clashed with Egyptian Coptic Christians in downtown Cairo. At least 25 people were killed. Observers say the military attacked a peaceful Coptic protest. The military has denied the charges.

Nabil is a Coptic Christian and some analysts have observed that his re-trial may be an attempt to appease an angered Coptic minority. But his lawyer disagrees and credits media attention - and Nabil's own refusal to end his hunger strike.

Even with the promise of a re-trial, says el-Borai, Nabil will continue to refuse food. "No, he refuses to stop his hunger strike," said the lawyer. "I'm so afraid he lose his life if he continue like that. But I think that if he live even for a week, something like this, I think we will save him. Because I believe the new trial will declare him innocent."

El-Borai may be optimistic that the new trial will free Nabil. But he says it is unclear when Nabil's new trial will take place. And he says as long as it takes place in a military court, Nabil's case is part of a disturbing trend in the Egyptian justice system.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs