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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid