An Egyptian blogger has been jailed for four years for insulting Islam and his country’s President.
It is the first prosecution of its kind in that country and highlights the fact that there are millions of bloggers around the world writing in fear of arrest and detention.
Abdel Kareem Soliman’s crime was to use his weblog to criticise Egypt’s top Islamic institution, the al-Azhar university, as a “university of terrorism” that suppressed free thought. He also referred to Pesident Hosni Mubarak as a dictator.
The 22-year-old blogs under the name Kareem Amer and his prison sentence has been condemned by human rights groups as “unnecessarily harsh”
We should all be worried at such treatment and the erosion of free speech.
But we should also be concerned that the country that has jailed this blogger remains a close ally in the “war on terror” – a fight for democracy, as we’re constantly being reminded by its chief protagonist.