10 March 2014

Egypt: Sentencing Author and Rights Activist "Karam Saber" Discloses the Lie of Respecting Human Rights

press release

Cairo: — Today, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expressed alarm on the ruling delivered yesterday, March 11, by Beba Misdemeanor Court, in Beni Suef. The court upheld the verdict returned, on 13 June, 2013, against Egyptian author and human rights activist "Karam Saber"- Head of Land Center for Human Rights (LCHR)- in addition to bail of EGP1000; against the backdrop of the contempt of religion charge and publishing his book entitled "Ayn Allah (Where is Allah?)".

The facts of the case date back to April 12, 2011, when a number of citizens in Beni Suef Governorate filed a communique No. 600/2011 to the attorney general of Beni Suef prosecutions, in which they accused "Karam Saber" of issuing a series of 11 stories in a book entitled "Where is Allah?" that call for atheism, insulting God, and inciting to sedition and bloodshed.

The public prosecution, which undertook the investigations into the aforementioned communique, has asked the opinion of Beni Suef Diocese and Al-Azhar institution about the validity of publishing that book. The diocese said that the author derides the sanctity of religions and the stories are far from the sophisticated literature. Meanwhile, Al-Azhar institution believed that the book destroys the intellectual values of Egyptian society and takes Egyptians apart. Both of Beni Suef Diocese and Al-Azhar have called for the ban of the novel.

The two organizations conceive that the prosecution of authors and imprisoning them because of practicing their literary, artistic or cultural rights is a shame on those who falsely claim their defense of the civil state and respecting rights and freedoms, which became a target for more abuses under the current rule.

The involvement of religious institutions in creativity and opinion cases is a trait of the religious despotism based on the fact that these institutions own the absolute truth and separate in matters concern the freedoms of thought and opinion in religious issues. Such a matter contradict the two principles of rule of law and citizenship; particularly these institutions have an anti-freedom of expression history, specifically the literary and cultural areas.

As well, the sentence on Saber infringes the existing Constitution, as Article No. 67 prohibits any anti-freedom penalty in publishing crimes, which don't concern incitement to violence or discrimination among citizens or prejudicing individuals.

The two rights groups see that the judgment against Karam Saber along with the commencement of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to review Egypt's international commitments pertaining to respecting and enhancing human rights via the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, is a message by current Egyptian authorities to the international community and human rights defenders that the regime will continue its violations.

Finally, both of AFTE and ANHRI call on Egyptian authorities to urgently interfere to discontinue the trials of authors and to enforce the Constitution's articles, which is described as the best constitution in the world. Meanwhile, the regime is the first to infringe it.

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