PEN Egypt supports the demonstrators and demand full freedom of expression

Statement by Egypt PEN

18 February 2011

Egypt PEN reiterates its support for the Egyptian Youths’ Revolution and their calls for free expression along with political and economic reform. The first stage of this revolution is over. Before we move on, this is the time to send our condolences to all those families whose children were sacrificed while struggling for the liberation of our country from a corrupted regime that had usurped power for 30 years. We, of Egypt PEN, associate ourselves with their demands.

The Youths’ Revolution unified the people of Egypt in Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt around the common goals of reconstructing our society and addressing the unacceptable levels of inequality and poverty in the country. This can only be accomplished through the restoration of full freedom of expression, which means freedom of the mass media – whether print, radio, television, or Internet. We call for the end of all forms of censorship of creativity, the end of book seizures, and an end to the censorship of dramatic works. We call for the abolishment of all penal laws that imprison people on grounds of their political or religious views. All of this can only be accomplished with the ending of the Emergency Laws.

The Youths’ Revolution has demonstrated that both free expression and ideas based on facts are powerful weapons when people are faced with oppression. What has been lost over three decades cannot be restored over night. However, we call upon the Council of the Armed Forces to uphold the promise of the Youths’ Revolution by adhering to the principles of free expression and transparent democracy.

Eqbal Baraka
Egyptian PEN President

2007: Egypt: Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman – follow up

Oslo, 10. April 2007

His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Republic of Egypt
Heliopolis, Egypt
Fax: +202 390 1998

Your Excellency,

As Chair Writers in Prison Committee of  Norwegian PEN, I remain seriously concerned about the numbers of writers and journalists sentenced or facing charges for their writings in Egypt. Writers, journalists and civil society activists remain at risk of detention, trial and imprisonment solely for peacefully expressing their views.

The renewal of the Emergency Law in April 2006 is widely regarded as a means to silence critics and maintain strong restrictions on freedom of expression and religion
Egypt’s press is one of the most influential and widely-read in the region but despite a pledge made by President Mubarak in February 2004 to decriminalise offences committed by journalists, laws which allow imprisonment for defaming the president, state institutions and foreign heads of state remain in place.

The Writers in Prison Committee Norwegian PEN protests the detention of Internet writer Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman (aka Kareem Amer), and all judicial proceedings against journalists and writers in Egypt solely for their writings. International PEN considers Kareem Amer to be detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Trusting that you, Your Excellency, will take immediate action, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Elisabet W. Middelthon/sign.                                             Carl Morten Iversen
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN             Secretary general

Copies to:
His Excellency Cr Mamdouh Muheiddin Marei
Minister of Justice
Magles El Shaab St, Justice Bldg
Cairo, Egypt, fax: +202 7958103
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
Egyptian Embassy in Oslo, Norway

2007: Egypt: Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman

Oslo, 15 March 2007

His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Republic of Egypt
Heliopolis, Egypt

Fax: +202 390 1998

Your Excellency,

As Chair of Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, I protest the four-year sentence given to Internet writer Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known under the pseudonym of Kareem Amer. We are convinced that he has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression, and Norwegian PEN calls for the charges to be dismissed and Kareem Amer to be released immediately and unconditionally.

I also protest the decision of the Court of Appeal to allow a civil suit against Kareem Amer on charges of ‘insulting Islam’. I am serioously concerned about him, and I seek assurances that he is being treated humanely in detention.

This is not the first time that Kareem Amer has been detained for his critical writings. He was held for 12 days in October 2005 for his articles on Islam and his coverage of sectarian riots in Alexandria. These articles also led to his dismissal from al-Azhar University in March 2006 after its disciplinary board found him guilty of blasphemy against Islam.

I am reminding the Egyptian authorities of their obligations to protect freedom of expression as laid out by Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, as well as President Mubarak’s pledge in February 2004 to decriminalise defamation.
The Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN protests the Alexandria Appeal Court’s decision to uphold the four-year prison sentence handed down to Internet writer Abdel Kareem

Yours sincerely,

Elisabet W.Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN

Copies to:
His Excellency Cr Mamdouh Muheiddin Marei
Minister of Justice
Magles El Shaab St, Justice Bldg
Cairo, Egypt

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
Egyptian Embassy in Oslo, Norway