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08 November 2006

Egypt arrests student blogger for defaming Islam

medium_kareem.jpgCAIRO: Egyptian security forces have arrested a student blogger whose writing was critical of Islam and the government, security sources and rights activists said

Arabic blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, a 22-year-old aspiring human rights lawyer, was arrested in the coastal city of Alexandria on Monday (local time).

His detention was the latest crackdown on political opposition by Egyptian authorities following arrests and beatings at street protests earlier this year, despite calls from Egypt's US ally for political reform.

"The accusations directed against him are that he published opinions aimed at disturbing public order, insulted the head of state and defamed Islam," said Sally Sami, programme officer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo), which is representing him.

"It is becoming more and more obvious that the government is not keen to reform or allow true democracy where differing opinions can be voiced."

Security sources did not detail exactly which comments prompted authorities to hold Suleiman, who his lawyers said was expelled this year from al-Azhar University, Egypt's most prestigious seat of Islamic learning.

Suleiman has criticised al-Azhar's dominance in religious thought and said Muslim clerics were partly responsible for sectarian strife that followed a knife attack on Christian worshippers in Alexandria in April, according to Gamal Eid, executive director of HRInfo.

Suleiman was the latest of several bloggers to be arrested in Egypt, where news of his detention came shortly after rights group Reporters Without Borders added Egypt to a list of worst suppressors of freedom of expression on the Internet.

Egypt joins 12 other countries on the list including Cuba, Myanmar, Iran and Turkmenistan. RSF said it was also concerned at an Egyptian court ruling that an Internet site could be shut down if it posed a threat to national security.

Suleiman was due to appear before prosecutors on Wednesday.

His arrest was unusual in that he was arrested solely because of comments made on the Internet, activists said. Other bloggers were mostly picked up during anti-government protests earlier in the year. Several have spent weeks or months in jail.

Separately on Tuesday, security forces arrested two more members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, in a widening clampdown on the Islamist movement, security sources and the Brotherhood said.

The two members had sought to run in trade union elections. On Sunday, Egypt had detained 29 people, all but seven of them Muslim Brotherhood members involved in contesting trade and student union elections.

The arrests followed protests by Brotherhood members and sympathisers last week inside Egyptian universities against decisions by university administrations to block Islamist candidates from running for student union seats

POSTED BY /www.stuff.com


HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam - Three Vietnamese-American Christian extremist were convicted on terrorism charges Friday after being accused of trying to take over radio airwaves and call for an uprising against Vietnam's communist government.

A judge sentenced the Americans and four Vietnamese to 15 months in prison, with credit for time served. They all are expected to be freed within one month, and the Americans required to leave the country within 10 days of their release.

The defendants had been jailed without charges for more than a year, prompting Washington to pressure Hanoi to move forward swiftly and fairly.

President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plan to visit Vietnam next week for the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Both countries had been eager to resolve the case before Vietnam's biggest-ever international event begins.

The defendants faced punishments ranging from 12 years in prison to execution, but prosecutors sought lesser terms, saying the defendants had repented and had no previous criminal records.

It is highly unusual for Vietnam to give a lenient sentence for national security crimes, especially in such a high-profile case. But the quick resolution to the diplomatically sensitive trial could end a distraction from APEC and Vietnam's entrance into the World Trade Organization, which was approved this week.

All on trial were accused of plotting to smuggle radio equipment into Vietnam to broadcast a call for a revolution to topple the government.

An indictment said the scheme was hatched by the Government of Free Vietnam, a California-based organization that the Vietnamese government considers a terrorist group.

It is one of many anti-communist groups founded by Vietnamese refugees in the United States. Many of its leaders are soldiers of the former South Vietnamese Army who fled Vietnam after the war ended in 1975.

The Government of Free Vietnam group is run by Chanh Huu "Tony" Nguyen, who is wanted in Vietnam for failed plots to bomb the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand and buildings in Vietnam.

Nguyen, a permanent U.S. resident, was arrested at Vietnam's request in April while traveling in South Korea. He was held for three months before being released to the U.S.

Presiding Judge Vu Phi Long said the crimes were "particularly serious and encroach on national security" and deserved severe punishment. But he said the defendants deserved leniency because they had expressed remorse, had no previous criminal records and were politically naive.

He said they had been dragged into the scheme by Chanh and his associates.

Prosecutors say the defendants convicted Friday set up an adoption agency in Cambodia as a front to disguise their plans. Authorities seized their equipment, including 14 radio transmitters, which had been smuggled into the southern Vietnamese province of An Giang.

Those found guilty Friday were: Thuong Nguyen Foshee, 58, of Orlando, Fla.; Le Van Binh, 31, of Tampa, Fla.; and Huynh Bich Lien, 51, of San Gabriel, Calif.; Vietnamese nationals Tran Dat Phuong, 65; brothers Ho Van Giau, 59, and Ho Van Hien, 38, and Cao Tri, 35. Cao Tri is also a U.S. resident.

Under questioning from the judge, some of the defendants acknowledged carrying radio equipment to Cambodia on behalf of the Government of Free Vietnam, while others described themselves as employees at an adoption agency.

Lien said she was not a member of the Government of Free Vietnam, but had gone to work for USIM, a charity in Cambodia that helped arrange adoptions of Cambodian kids for Americans. She said she knew Chanh was associated with USIM but that all she did was help take care of children.

Two representatives of the U.S. consulate attended the trial.

On display near the court house entrance were two tables covered with radio equipment the defendants had allegedly planned to use.

The case has attracted attention from Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who raised the issue with the Bush administration and reportedly blocked a key vote in Congress that would normalize trade relations between the former foes.

The vote is of great importance to Vietnam. Without it, U.S. companies will not be able to enjoy all the benefits of Vietnam's new WTO agreement.

Bush had been hoping to get the bill approved before he came to Hanoi for the APEC summit. Resolution of the terrorism case might increase his chances, although Congress will only be in session briefly before he departs next week.

Posted by: Brad Edley | 10 November 2006


Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:20)

Contradicted by:

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Romans 2:13)

Posted by: Contradictions in the Bible | 10 November 2006

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