Alexandria, Egypt An Egyptian blogger was convicted Thursday and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egypt's president, sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, had been a vocal secularist and sharp critic of conservative Muslims in his blog. He often lashed out at Al-Azhar - the most prominent religious center in Sunni Islam - calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of encouraging extremism.
Nabil's attorney, Ahmed Seif el-Islam, said he would appeal the verdict, adding it will "terrify other bloggers and have a negative impact on freedom of expression in Egypt." Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of nine years in prison.
His conviction brought a flood of condemnations from international and Egyptian human rights groups, as well as fellow government critics on the Internet.
Judge Ayman al-Akazi sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad and inciting sectarian strife, and another year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt, a top U.S. ally in the Mideast, arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to the pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was put on trial while other bloggers were freed.