16 September 2012

Egypt: Pressing the Charges of Insulting the Religion to the Activist 'Albir Saber', Is a Serious Violation to the Freedom of Expression

Photo: Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien
Egyptian protestor sets police car on fire.

press release

ANHRI denounces the illegal arrest and the physical assault inside the El-Marg police Station of the activist "Albir Saber Aiad". He was assaulted in the presence of the officers of the police station. Moreover, ANHRI denounces pressing the charges of insulting the religion to "Aiad" by the prosecution and issuing an order to renew his imprisonment for 15 days due to investigation.

Number of El-Marg people gathered in the place where the political activist and the blogger "Aiad" lives, on Thursday 13, 2012, in front of his house. They were gathered due to a rumor saying that "Aiad" posted the movie of ridiculing the prophet on his wall on "Facebook". The gathered people chanted slogans incited the murder of "Aiad", as they threatened that they will break in his house and incinerate it. That made his mother, who lives in the same house, to call the police. After a while the police reached the place, after about an hour, then she was surprised when the police inspected the house and confiscated the computer of "Aiad" and some of the CDs, before they took him to El-Marg police station.

In El-Marg Police station "Aiad" was surprised when they turned him from a victim into a defendant. The police record stipulated that the police force arrested him as a result of a report made by the people against him of insulting the religion without naming who filed the report. "Aiad" said that he was taken to the cells of the police station. Then one of the officers incited against him by saying he is someone who insults the religions and swear at the prophet, as a result of that he was physically assaulted and had an injury by a cut in the neck by an sharp device. After that Alber appeared before the North-Cairo prosecution, which pressed the charges of insulting the religion to him. The charges were based upon a video posted on the Internet, since 4 months ago, in which he was comparing among number of religions and criticizes some of the understandings related to it. The prosecution ordered of his confinement for four days due to the charges pressed against him. On Sunday September 16, 2012, the prosecution renewed his imprisonment. In addition "Aiad" mother was threatened by some of the people of the place which led her to leave her house fearing for her life.

ANHRI said that "the series of events happened to "Aiad" involves several number of violations to his right and his family rights. He was arrested in violation to the law which does not allow the arrest of any citizen but in case a warrant or in case of caught red handed, which did not provide in the case of "Alber" who called the police for his protection. The charges were fabricated through a fabricated report who do not include the name of who filed the record. The police officers crossed their responsibility and duty in protecting "Alber" to inciting against him which endangered his life. At the end the prosecution the legal procedures failures and accused him of insulting the religion due to an old movie, which do not contain any justification to press such charges against him in the penal code".

ANHRI added that "Alber's case is a model of the recent furious attack on the freedom of conviction, opinion and expression. Such attack involves preachers, politics and public figures, in antagonizing the society against the people of other believes and who have critical opinions who exercise their freedom of expression about their opinion and beliefs through peaceful means which are guaranteed by the constitution and law. Such law and constitution guarantee that who use his right of expression shall not be harmed because of their believes or opinions."

ANHRI calls the Egyptian authorities to exercise its normal role in protecting "Aiad" and his family. It also must protect their right f getting back to their home after being forced to leave it. ANHRI calls for the investigation of the circumstances of the caught "Aiad" and violations of the law. It also calls to investigate with the responsible officer of arrest and the police officers of El-Marg, due to the incitement facts and the assault on "Aiad. ANHRI calls the prosecution to release him and drop all the false charges pressed against him.

ANHRI said "in the beginning of the journey to build the second republic after the first popular revolution, the first of its kind in Egypt, the people chanted calls for freedom and human dignity. It is not acceptable that the freedoms and the fundamental rights of the citizens to be violated. It is unimaginable that some people's life will be endangered and prosecuted due to exercising their right to freedom of belief and expression".

ANHRI said that "the civil society powers should bear their responsibility to address the people who seek to spread the climate of hostility toward freedom, they should unit to call the ruling authorities to compile to the constitutional declaration and the international treaties and covenants signed by Egypt, which stipulated the necessity to protect the rights of the citizens in the freedom of belief, opinion and expression".

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The Arabic Network for Human Rights denounced the arrest and physical assault of Albir Saber Aiad, a blogger and activist who allegedly posted a film on Facebook mocking the ... Read more »