Egyptian blogger stands trial
Cairo, Egypt ? An Egyptian blogger went on trial Thursday on charges of insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife with his Internet writings. Egypt’s first prosecution of a blogger came as Washington has backed away from pressuring its Mideast ally to improve its human rights record and bring democratic reform.
Abdel Kareem Nabil often denounced Islamic authorities and criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his Arabic-language blog. He has been in detention since November and faces up to nine years in prison if convicted.
Egypt has arrested a string of pro-democracy bloggers over the past year, sparking condemnation from human rights groups.
Nabil’s trial in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria began two days after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Mubarak, seeking support for a new American strategy on calming violence in Iraq.
But unlike past visits, Rice made no reference to reform, instead praising the two countries’ “important strategic relationship – one that we value greatly.”
In 2005, the Bush administration made Egypt the centerpiece of what it called a policy priority of promoting democratic change in the Arab world.
Thursday in court, Nabil was charged with inciting sedition, insulting Islam, harming national unity and insulting the president, a court official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of court rules.
Defense attorneys asked for time to review the indictment and the trial was adjourned until Jan. 25.