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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid