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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora