November 18, 2011

Egypt: The nude, the male, art and crime

A lot has been written about what is hash tagged as #NudePhotoRevolutionary on twitter. When it became known that an Egyptian woman blogger had posted a nude photo of herself on her blog all hell broke loose in Egypt with conservative forces lashing out at her just as hefty as liberals and leftist. While the latter feared that the good name of the #jan25 revolution could be tarnished by what they regarded shameful nudity, the conservatives of all shades once again saw the end of the world draw near, imminent so to speak, to be expected within hours.

The discussions both on twitter and facebook were of an unusual emotional force and often no insult was spared to make sure the blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy got the message that she had done the worst thing anyone could do - show  the naked woman body to the world. The Coalition of Islamic law graduates even went so far as to file charges against her with the General Prosecutor accusing her of everything in the book - first of all insulting Islam, for - take note - the naked body exposed is - in their eyes - an insult to Islam. Besides that the charges were "inciting indecency", "violating morals" and even corruption, with the Islamic Coalition arguing that the indecent exposure of the nude woman body was corrupting the country. From the point of law a quite new angel at defining the crime of corruption that so far had been more associated with monetary gains. But who cares about the subtleness of languages. Corruption then, so be it.

While it seems that everything has been said on the topic both in the negative as the positive - as there were a few positive comments at least hailing Aliaa for her bravery - not all has indeed been touched upon.

The male nude in Egypt goes unnoticed

For one it is beyond me that the blogpost - which has now seen more than 2.7 million page views - has ignited a firestorm about the showing of a naked female body - while just underneath it is the photo of a naked man (full frontal) sitting on a chair holding a guitar. No one however lashed out at him or even made it a topic that a man was showing of his naked body including genitals. Is that nothing to be frowned upon in a traditionally orientated conservative society? Amazing. Fact is that the Coalition of Islamic law graduates accused Aliaa of all sorts of terrible things for exposing herself and even went so far as to file criminal charges against her - but never mentioned the naked man on the chair with one word. - What am I missing?

Either, dear Egypt, the exposure of the naked body is shameful, indecent, corrupt, insulting (please add ad lib) - or it is not. But it surely can't be all that in the case of a woman and not worth talking about in the case of a man? Is nudity of men in Egypt then in proper order with culture and tradition and not disturbing you at all? One should have thought the critics would have found that just as irritating if not even more. For depicting the male nude must be an insult to all heroic, brave, upright standing men that would never dare to wear shorts let it alone pull them down.

Then why is the naked man underneath Aliaa's photo totally ignored while all comments lashing out at her argue as if her naked body was the only one to be seen on the blog? - Think about how ridiculous and hypocritical that is. Either you accept the exposure of both bodies - or of none. But you do have to make up your mind.

May art be ugly?

What I found just as irritating was the fact that people in their comments reacted as if the nude female body was an invention of decadence born in November 2011. While many argued that the photo was "shitty", had "bad light", was "not even artistic" - the many discussions showed that these arguments only covered up the greater problem of not being able to deal with the exposure of the blogger's body. Aliaa had clearly argued that she was showing her body to retain her freedom in a male dominated society that harasses and fences women in. In taking off her clothes she was protesting against any form of interference and restriction of her freedom. Doing this with a seemingly black-and-white photo in which only her shoes and a flower in her hair were brightly coloured, she clearly showed an artistic expression that should have been both noticed and respected. But every argument was good enough for those protesting to say that her photo was "ugly" - and therefore not art. - Interesting. Since when was art defined by whether we find it ugly or not?

Think about her photo as you will. Define it for yourself to accommodate your uneasiness with what she did. But you will have to accept the fact that art is in the eye of the beholder and nothing that can be defined by whether we like the picture or not. Art's sole job is to express the artist and evoke in the viewer the urge to contemplate, discuss, be provoked or stimulated, captured or turned off. Art's job is not to please you. And in fact great famous art often hasn't been anything you would call beautiful and pleasing. But it was always expressive and alive, controversial - even revolutionary in the true sense of the word - and innovative and experimental. It never fitted in with mainstream society, it never wanted to please and pleasure. For this in the past centuries people had wallpaper. For something alive and worth discussing people had art.

Kirchner did it before

It is not without irony after the storm that went through Egypt these last days and almost with a twinkle in the eye of Apollo, the god of arts, that today the German Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on the world famous Frankfurter Städel Museum. The museum has just seen a considerable reconstruction, is currently boasting impressive exhibitions of modern art and with no little pride shows off it's own treasures of art of the 20th century.

One of these famous paintings the museum owns was depicted in the paper, with a young woman standing in front and looking at it with interest. It was the famous "Standing nude with hat" by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The artist from Germany at the beginning of the last century was one of the founding members of the art school "Brücke" that had set out to radically alter the perception of colour and perspective in art. The results were stunning, irritating to society - and are today considered great art.

The "Standing nude with hat" was painted by Kirchner in 1911 - exactly 100 years before blogger Aliaa decided to depict herself as the "Standing nude without hat". The similarities of these two pictures - the famous painting by Kirchner 1911 and the photo by Aliaa 2011 - are stunning. In both cases the nude woman body is shown plainly, without any exaggeration or eroticism. And in both cases the nude woman wears bright read shoes and is using a chair as a prop.

I do not know if blogger Aliaa ever saw this painting and felt inspired by it. But I know that if Kirchner's "Standing nude with hat" is and was art - despite the irritation it must have caused the very conservative society at that time - you will have great pains in explaining to me why the "Standing nude without hat" by Aliaa is not art - but ugly, shitty, indecent, insulting - yes even a crime.

100 years behind

The only crime that can be seen in all this is that for far too long Egypt has been tyrannized into thinking that women are evil and their naked body as such a tempting crime. It is art's job to confront society with this mistake that in the essence of the reactions is demeaning, hurtful and disrespectful to the woman of Egypt and the world. If Aliaa managed to ignite this with her photo you can call her not only a blogger and revolutionary but an artist in the true sense of the word. For if society cries foul in the eye of controversial art it is only proving one thing - that it was high time for some artist to pull the plug.

Aliaa did this and is now facing dangers that might even touch on her life. But she wanted to do what she did and she knew what she did when she did it. Just like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in 1911. Only that he in the 20th century never had to face death threats as she has to in Egypt in the 21st century now.

Egypt, you are trailing 100 years behind. But worse - with death threats you behave as if it were 500. Let go of the medieval and embrace what is commonly known to be modern times. That then indeed would be a revolution worth talking about.


October 30, 2011

"No military trials for civilians" group on arrest of Alaa Abd el Fattah


We, the Campaign End Military Trials of Civilians, condemn in the strongest possible terms the imprisonment of  prominent Egyptian activist and blogger, Alaa Abd el Fattah and the unjust and illegal system of military tribunals implemented by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) since becoming rulers of Egypt on  January the 28th, 2011.

Today Alaa Abd El Fattah was summoned to the Military Prosecutor's office, accused of assaulting military personnel, stealing military weaponry and inciting violence against the military. On questioning, Abd El Fattah declined to answer the prosecutor’s questions, stating that it is illegal and a clear conflict of interest for the military, as a party accused of a crime, to hold proceedings or adjudicate fairly. He was sent to detention pending further military investigation.

As of today we refuse to co-operate with the military prosecution of civilians and we call on all Egyptian citizens to stand with us.

At least 12,000 Egyptian civilians have been subjected to summary, covert military trials. The accused are often denied counsel, the opportunity to review evidence or examine witnesses; there are limited avenues of  appeal. Eighteen death sentences have been handed down so far.

Abd El Fattah's targeting is only the latest example of the systematic targeting of journalists, media figures, bloggers and activists by SCAF.

Abd El Fattah is being held responsible for violence on October 9th, the night when the Army killed at least 28 peaceful protesters and injured several hundred more. Several respected human rights organisation have attested to this.

Furthermore, it is perverse that Mina Daniel is listed as the first name on the Military Prosecutor's list of the accused. Mina Daniel was killed by military gunfire on October 9th. Abd El Fattah is now being held for fifteen days in prison - which can be renewed indefinitely - by a body which has no legal authority to do so. Twenty eight more are in jail. Mina Daniel paid with his life.

We demand that Alaa Abd El Fattah be freed immediately, that military trials of civilians be stopped and all those sentenced thus far be released or at least retried before civilian courts. We support all of those who similarly refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the military prosecution.

This is not the new Egypt we have fought and died for.

For more information please visit:
or contact us :


October 16, 2011

Video proof: SCAF is lying about APC crushing protesters

Just a week ago to the day a peaceful march by Copts to Maspero, the State TV building in Cairo, turned bloody when military police attacked the demonstrators with sticks, guns and armored vehicles - leaving 26 Copts dead.

On Wednesday the SCAF gave a press conference in which lies were heaped high by the Generals Emara and Etman trying to hide the killing of peaceful Egyptians by their own army. Even though videos were already circulating on the internet showing how heavy armored vehicles - Army Personnel Carriers (APC) - were running over people, the SCAF strictly denied this saying first that the soldiers driving the APC were "clearly trying to avoid people" - later even going so far as to insinuate not soldiers were driving the APCs crushing protesters but possibly civilians. - No explanation of course was given how any civilian could have taken over a heavily armed and locked APC and why any civilian who should have managed to do that would run over his own fellow protesters and kill them.

The extent of lying to which the Generals of the SCAF are prepared to go to hide the guilt of this massacre is beyond belief.

Watch these four videos now on the internet to see how in the eyes of the SCAF General Emara the APC drivers were "clearly trying to avoid people". If ramming right into them by swerving to the side onto an island - or if ramming right into them by running them down heads on in full speed is "clearly trying to avoid people" - then we better not ask what deliberate attacks would look like. How they could be worse however remains one of the many secrets of the SCAF.

APC driving over island in middle of street crushing many protesters

Zigzagging trying to hit protesters - (and soldiers beating at protesters behind cars)

APC crushing protesters - shown from above

APC crushing protesters - shown from street

Ten people at least were crushed to death in these running over attacks with APCs. Their bodies with faces distorted beyond recognition were brought to the morgue of the Coptic hospital were autopsies were performed. On late Monday night they were honoured in a big funeral. Their families are traumatized and shocked over this loss.

The army - instead of admitting to the guilt - has taken the cases away from the General Prosecutor and announced that only they themselves would be allowed to hold any investigation in this matter. Anyone can see what that is leading to. - Justice? Truth? - Definitely not.

Let Egypt never forget these murders by soldiers against their own people and stop the lie that the army and the people are one hand. An army that kills the people it is supposed to protect betrays its country. And the SCAF will have to face accountability for all this. Their lying must be stopped once and for all.

May they never get away with this. Never. - Don't ever let them.

To the martyrs of Maspero - R.I.P.

October 12, 2011

The SCAF press conference on the Maspero massacre

Read this documentary of the SCAF press conference today on the massacre of demonstrating Copts at Maspero on Sunday. 25 protesters were killed by gunshots or crushed to death by armoured army vehicles deliberately running them over - as video footage proves.

No truth was to be expected from this press conference. And alas - no truth was presented. This press conference for long will remain in the memories of Egyptians as the worst hour of lying by the SCAF.

Read the documentary by activist tweeps

(Contributors: @acarvin, @alaa, @Amiralx, @cairowire, @Egyptocracy, @ElFoulio, @FarahSaafan, @Gsquare86, @hackneylad, @jmayton, @Linaattalah, @Manar_Ammar, @MattMcBradley, @mosaaberizing, @nadaskandar, @Nadiaglory, @nfm, @Omniaaldesoukie, @RawyaRageh, @Sarahcarr, @sharifkouddous, @simonjhanna, @Zeinobia)


General Etman does it again!

ahramonline, Tuesday 11 October 2001:
In a statement to the BBC, Major General Ismail Etman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has denied reports that military police used live ammunition during the Maspero clashes on Sunday.

Etman’s statement contradicts eyewitness accounts and primary autopsy reports that show protesters were killed by live ammunition.

A clever man once said: "I never trust statistics I haven't forged myself." To a certain degree you could think this was the attitude of the SCAF as well, because they clearly don't trust a truth they haven't fabricated themselves. And fabricate they do with all might.

When peaceful protesters were arrested at Tahrir on Feb 26 the army showed them on State TV shortly afterwards declaring them publicly to be "thugs".

When there was truly no evidence to thuggery from protesters arrested on March 9, the army brought in masses of weapons from its depot, laid them on a table, made protesters stand next to them and took photos to prove the protesters had been armed. Looking at the masses of weapons on the table, the protesters each would have had to drive a lorry across Tahrir to be able to have so many knifes and guns in their possession. (Hint to the army: If you fake, don't overdo it!).

When protesters where run over by the army and real thugs - (remember: "one hand" theory) - on April 9, rounds of ammo were shot to such an extent that one could hardly bear the sound when watching a video the next day, secretly taken from a balcony above Tahrir. Yet when the speaker of the SCAF had to respond to the protests against this, he found the invaluable words: "No shots were fired."

Watch this little jewel and learn what it means if the SCAF says, no shots were fired. (Caution: Please turn down the volume of your speakers or it will blast you away).

The fabrication of stories and the distortion of the truth seems to be a running thing in the SCAF family.

When the blogger Maikel Nabil was sentenced to three years prison with hard labor and a fine on April 10, none of his lawyers were present. For the court had told them and Nabil in the session that day that no verdict was going to be handed down and that the court was adjourned to April 12. When the lawyers arrived at court the next morning on other cases, they had to learn from the papers published there that Nabil had in fact been convicted on the evening of April 10 in his and the absence of all his lawyers. The lawyers protested strongly against this violation of judiciary conduct.

A few days later General Etman, speaker for the SCAF, had to answer questions in a talk show of ON TV. When asked about this violation, Gen. Etman never even flinched. "All lawyers were present when the verdict was handed down", Etman said and repeated it even after talk show host Yosri Fouda got visibly confused, knowing very well, that six independent lawyers had testified to the opposite. But "No shots were fired"-Etman stuck to his story come rain, come shine. Not only the talk show host was stunned at this performance.

It is not, that Gen. Etman is lying. Someone who lies is deliberately not telling you the truth. But that is not what Gen. Etman does. Etman does not not tell you the truth - instead he tells you a fictional story that has nothing to do with reality. He is like a man standing in front of a 10-story brick building waving his arms in excitement and telling you: "The SCAF has made all this into a nature reserve. No buildings, no obstructions. As you can see - only green meadows with butterflies and birds!" You'd look at the man and you wouldn't say he is lying. You would think instead: Get a doctor. Quick. The man needs help. And its urgent!

How someone who actually needs a doctor comes to speak for the SCAF and disclose a reality of meadows with trees and birds - when in fact and clearly for everyone but him to see he is standing in front of a 10-story brick building - is beyond comprehension. And is this not an insult to the intelligence of the army to let someone tell such fiction discrediting the army by this? Is Gen. Etman not in fact "offending the army" with this behavior and should the SCAF not therefore immediately have to be brought in front of the military prosecutor with three years jail sentence at least? - Well, from the logic of the SCAF, yes. To represent the army with such fabricated stories is nothing short of an "insult to the Armed Forces of Egypt".

But more so - and this the SCAF does not understand - it is an insult to the people of Egypt. Because clearly in letting Gen. Etman recount such fictional tales as reality the SCAF sends out the message that it deems the people of Egypt to be stupid enough to buy these stories, stupid enough to believe the tales of green meadows and birds and trees while everyone is in fact standing right in the middle of high-rise buildings. The only one who does not (want?) to see the buildings, is Gen. Etman and the SCAF. The people - take note - see the obstructions clearly. And nothing Gen. Etman can invent, will ever change that.


October 08, 2011

Britian and Germany demand release of blogger Maikel Nabil

Both the British and the German government have demanded from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) the immediate release of blogger Maikel Nabil who has been on hunger strike for more than 40 days and is in serious danger of dying.

Nabil was arrested on March 28 and sentenced in absentia of both him and his lawyers to 3 years in prison for 'insulting the army' with a critical blogpost. He had truthfully reported on countless human rights abuses by the armed forces against unarmed protesters after the January 25 revolution. Nothing he wrote was not known and published on the internet before, but since Maikel Nabil had refused military service last year the army obviously wanted to get revenge. A gross violation of the principles of the Egyptian revolution that the SCAF pretends to protect and support.

On 4 October an appeal from Maikel Nabil's lawyers was to be heard in military court in Cairo. But although it was known that Nabil was in the state of dying from the hunger strike the session was adjourned by the military judge because files he needed had not been laid on his table by the administrative clerks of the court. Something neither Maikel Nabil nor his lawyers could be held accountable for. Already an unbelievable shame that such poor preparation of a vital court session was allowed to happen it was an ever bigger shame if not to say a crime to postpone the court session because of this in knowing that Maikel Nabil could die any day.

Both the British and German government have now urgently called on the Egyptian SCAF to release Maikel Nabil and allow him a fair trial in front of a civilian court, to which he is entitled.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP said:

"I have serious concerns about the treatment of Maikel Nabil Sanad, an Egyptian blogger sentenced to three years imprisonment on 10 April by an Egyptian military court. Maikel Nabil Sanad has been on hunger strike since late August and his health is now deteriorating.

"We have raised concerns about Maikel Nabil Sanad’s treatment as well as the issue of trials of civilians in military courts and the continued State of Emergency with the Egyptian authorities. We continue to urge the Egyptian authorities to repeal the emergency law.

"Freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, is fundamental to building a democratic society and we will continue to follow the human rights situation in Egypt closely."

The spokesperson on human rights for the German government, Markus Löning, said:

"The news of the live endangering condition of jailed Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad is seriously disturbing. In the name of the Federal Government I urge the authorities to suspend the jail sentence of Maikel Nabil immediately and to let a civilian court in a fair trial review the verdict handed down on 10 April by the military tribunal.
The large number of trials against protesters and activists in military tribunals is alarming and is not in accordance with the rule of law.
The Egyptians went to the streets to fight for dignity and democracy. All authorities are called upon to respect this and to do everything in their power to promote Egypt reaching its goal of a true democracy."

Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have continuously called for the release of Maikel Nabil and have pointed out that the Egyptian SCAF carries the whole responsibility should Maikel Nabil Sanad die in prison from hunger strike. The SCAF so far has refrained from reacting to the worldwide appeals to stop this gross violation of human rights.

With the continued revenge they take on the blogger they once more prove that the principles of the Egyptian revolution, for which 850 Egyptians gave their life, obviously mean nothing to them. The US must seriously reconsider funding such human rights abuses annually with the amount of 1.3 billion Dollars  in military aid to a SCAF that clearly does not respect international humanitarian law.


September 14, 2011

ساعد فى تحرير مايكل نبيل - الأمر أسهل من ما تتصور

مايكل نبيل مضرب عن الطعام منذ 23 أغسطس وأكمل الإضراب بإضراب عن الماء والدواء لمدة أسبوع بدءا من 30 أغسطس، وأنهى إضرابه عن الماء بعض إصابته بمغص كلوى ولم ينهيه عن الدواء وسيضرب عن الماء مجددا يوم 9 أغسطس تضامنا مع الدعوة للتظاهر.
لم يستطع أهله مقابلته، وقد دخل فى غيبوبة ثم دخل مستشفى السجن، وبعد ذلك أخرجوه من المستشفى.
حياة مايكل فى خطر. فقط القوة العظيمة للمتفهمين لمدى قوة التضامن فى بحر مئات آلاف المساهمات تستطيع إنفاذه.

أرجوكم تصرفوا الآن! الأمر أسهل من ما تتصوروا.

بحسب الإجراءات العاجلة لمنظمة العفو الدولية ومطالب مراسلون بلا حدود وهيومن رايتس ووتش ولجنة حماية الصحفيين, تستطيع كتابة 5 رسائل سهلة لأشخاص داخل مصر الذين يستطيعوا فعل تأثير على إذا ما كان مايكل نبيل سيتم إطلاق سراحه أم لا. كل النصوص التى تريدها موجودة بالفعل. كل ما عليك فعله هو نسخها فى ملف وورد أو برنامج للإيميل وإرسالها.

إنقاذ الحياة لن يكون أسهل من ذلك. تأكيدا على أنكم لا تتسامحون مع الحكم على حرية التعبير فى مصر الجديدة بعد الثورة التى تعتبر حيوية بكل رئيسى.

أرجوكم تصرفوا الآن لمساعدة مايكل نبيل على التحرر قبل أن تسوء حالته الصحية أكتر بكثير وربما يعانى من إصابات بالغة وممكن أن يموت.


September 04, 2011

Help free Maikel Nabil - it's easier than you think

Many years ago amnesty international had a slogan on their banners that read:

"100.000 persons think: One person alone can't make a difference."

100.000 persons thinking that - will achieve nothing - while 100.000 persons understanding they are an impressive force - will achieve a lot.

In the case of the imprisoned blogger Maikel Nabil this force can decide over life or death. Because Maikel has been on hunger strike for almost two weeks now - and on thirst strike for six days. Three days ago he went into a coma and was transferred to the prison hospital. His family is not allowed to see him, no one is getting information about his health and what exactly they are doing to him in the prison hospital. Maikel's life is in danger and only the massive force of many understanding how powerful their one contribution in a sea of hundreds of thousand contributions is, can save him.

Please take action now! It is much easier than you think.

In accordance with the Urgent Action by amnesty international, the demands of Reporters Without Borders, the Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists - you can write five easy letters to the person's in Egypt that can make an impact on whether Maikel Nabil is set free or not. All texts you need are there already. All you need to do is copy them into your word doc or mail program and send them off.

Saving a life couldn't be easier. Making a point, that you do not tolerate the sentencing of freedom of opinion in the New Egypt after the revolution couldn't be more vital!

Please act now to help get Maikel Nabil free before his health deteriorates even more and he might suffer serious injuries or possible death.

Here you find the texts you need for your action.

August 23, 2011

Egyptian blogger Nabil jailed by army starts hunger strike

On March 28 at night the army arrested blogger Maikel Nabil for blogging about the army and documenting the atrocities against peaceful protesters. Two weeks later and against all international appeals and outcries Nabil was sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labor and a fine of 200 L.E. for "offending the army". No appeal by human rights groups or even the U.S. government - a firm ally of the Egyptian army - could alter this and he was immediately transferred to prison.

Human Rights Watch called the sentence
"the worst strike against free expression in Egypt since the Mubarak government jailed the first blogger for four years in 2007".
Yet the SCAF found no fault with this, sending a clear signal that it couldn't care less about freedom of expression in Egypt. Amazing, as it is the same SCAF that put up a Constitutional Referendum to vote on, containing explicitly freedom of expression and opinion. In a press conference with General Mamdouh Shaheen and General Ismail Etman it was pointed out that the Constitutional Interim Declaration that resulted from the referendum prevents arrests or detentions without legal basis and ensures freedom of the press as well as freedom of belief and opinion.

Does the SCAF not read its own declaration? How then fits the arrest and sentencing of a blogger into their own declaration? - The SCAF doesn't answer.

On April 8, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and Member of Congress Frank Wolf wrote personally to Field Marshal Tantawi, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, asking him not to sentence Nabil but set him free.

Despite this letter from the U.S. Senator and the Congressman, Maikel Nabil was sentenced only two days later to a prison term of 3 years - and - which is even more astounding - in a secretive way behind the backs of his lawyers and in violation of legal procedures while he was not in court. He has been in jail ever since.

Design by Kirolos Nagy / @Kiroz_

Strong protests show now reaction from SCAF

"The sentence is not only severe, but it was imposed by a military tribunal after an unfair trial", said Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch. And Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW warned: "This trial sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era."

Reporters Without Borders were shocked at the sentencing of Maikel Nabil: "The circumstances of this blogger’s arrest and the conduct of his trial demonstrate a complete lack of consideration by the military for the most basic principles of international law."

But the Generals of the Army are unwilling to abide by such laws. To them criticism of the army is a crime that must be punished. Since Maikel Nabil's arrest and conviction several journalists, bloggers, twitter and facebook users have come under surveillance, have been summoned to the military prosecutor and threatened with military trials. Strong protests from activists in Egypt and abroad have so far managed to stop the military going through with their crackdown. But all the national and international outcries over the blogger's sentence have so far shown no reaction from the SCAF.

Now Maikel Nabil has started a hunger strike today protesting against his treatment and the attack against freedom of opinion that is guaranteed in a Constitutional Interim Declaration the SCAF itself is not willing to respect. The hope remains that this time more activists will show solidarity with Nabil hopefully having understood by now that when one blogger is thrown in jail, others may soon follow. It could be them - it could be us - it could be you - tomorrow.

Design by Kirolos Nagy / @Kiroz_

August 22, 2011

Members of EU Parliament urge Ashton to speak out against military trials of civilians in Egypt

An alliance of Members of the European Parliament from all parties have written an urgent letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton demanding of her to express the EU‘s deep concern about the many unlawful detentions of protesters in Egypt as well as the ongoing military trials of civilians.

Marietje Schaake, MEP (ALDE), who is one of the MEPs that initiated the letter to Ashton, stated: “Civilians have the right to transparent and fair trials before independent civil courts, and should not be tried at all for merely speaking freely or for peacefully assembling.”

Against the background of statements made by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which accused several youth movements and individuals of inciting violence and creating unrest and has sentenced thousands of demonstrators to years in prison by military courts without access to a lawyer, the MEPs spoke of a „chilling effect of the large-scale military inquisitions on free speech“.

Franziska Brantner MEP (GREENS), co-initiator of the MEPs alliance, pointed out: “The Egyptian authorities’ commitment to the democratic transformation of their country would be much more credible if freedom of speech and civilians’ rights to a fair trial were fully respected. Egypt’s leadership in the Arab world and beyond depends on the ability of the Egyptian authorities to protect and uphold the values of the January 25 revolution.”

(To read the lettter in high quality click on the pages)

August 18, 2011

Egyptian military plays foul on Amr El-Beheiry

Unbearable news come tonight from the military court that deals with the appeal of Amr El-Beheiry, a young Egyptian man who took part in a peaceful demonstration in February at Tahrir square, got arrested by the military and sentenced to 5 years in jail in a quick trial in absence of any lawyers. - That in itself was a gross violation of international judicial standards and nothing short of a violation of human rights.

Amr El-Beheiry, who has been torn from his life by the military now for already 6 months, jailed in the notorious Wadi El Gedid prison where he was badly beaten and abused, appealed against this unfair verdict in March. Today - 5 months later - the court has announced the first date for the appeal hearing - May 1, 2012!

What must Amr feel tonight? How devastated must he be without hope that his normal life will be restored again? For reasons beyond comprehension the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) just is not listening to all the appeals by Human Rights Watch, amnesty international and many human rights organizations and activists in Egypt to retry Amr and set him free. With the setting of the appeal date to May 2012 they have condemned Amr El-Beheiry to 15 months imprisonment - before his appeal is even discussed for the first time!

What kind of judicial procedures are these where the rights of a prisoner are so grossly violated, where his justified demand that the verdict is investigated is ignored for such an unbearable stretch of time? Unfortunately in military trials the verdict can not be appealed with regard to contents but merely with regard to procedural flaws. But these have been more than evident in his case because his quick trial without hearing the witnesses and without allowing for a defense are violating all procedural requirements of a fair trial as laid down in international agreements.

Only yesterday Human Rights Watch has pointed out that the broad jurisdictional basis of the Code of Military Justice in Egypt is incompatible with international human rights standards because it allows for military trials of civilians without any subject-jurisdiction limitations. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the expert body that provides authoritative interpretations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party, states categorically in its recently issued General Comment No. 34, on Article 19 on Freedom of Expression, that, “States parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.” By this standard, article 184 of the Egyptian penal code, which criminalizes “insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts,” is incompatible with international law and must be amended accordingly.

All this does not help Amr El-Beheiry. His military jailers ignore international standards and all appeal to fairness from Egyptian activists and human rights groups. For Amr this day is the crushing of all hopes that he will after all be retried and set free, as others have been in the last months. Why the SCAF is so determined to destroy this young man's life is inexplicable. But it will fuel the hatred even more the SCAF has already garnered for its notorious violation of human rights standards while at the same time pretending to be "with the people of Egypt".

Is the SCAF with Amr El-Beheiry and his family? Hardly, or they would not torture them to this extreme. There is no excuse whatsoever for treating an innocent young man in this abhorrent way while disregarding all efforts by the people to restore freedom and dignity to the battered soul of Egypt.

Let us fight for Amr El-Beheiry's freedom each day anew. Let us not accept this delay of the appeal date. Let us not look away and forget him, for his plight stands exemplary for the plight of more then 10.000 Egyptians that have been tried by the military in unfair military court trials since January 25 with little or no hope to regain the freedom they once went out in January 2011 to fight with their lives for.

Did the SCAF fight with their lives to free Egypt of its dictatorship - or is the SCAF proving day by day that they have been and are part of the dictatorship? - They did not fight with their lives. They watched from the comfort of their privileged seats. And whether they are just a continuation of the dictatorial regime - well that is something for them to answer.

With keeping Amr El-Baheiry in jail and ignoring all calls for a fair retry they might once again have given us the answer. It's not a pleasant one, so much is certain.


This is Amr's story:

Amr El Beheiry, was arrested on Feb 26 at night at Midan Tahrir. Although - as is proven by many witnesses - Amr was peaceful and unarmed, he was arrested by the military because of ‘possession of weapons‘. They beat him severely - then had to notice that in fact he was not having any weapons on him. Bruised and battered Amr was released. Bad luck to be victim to such a mistake.

Shortly after his release the protesters decided to leave Tahrir for home. Amr with others got into a car but they did not get far. Still within looking distance of those they had just parted from, the car was suddenly busted by another group of army personnel, the occupants dragged out and arrested. Amr - who clearly had done nothing - again was in the hands of the military.

At the military court - in one of those notorious quick trials that no one was allowed to attend -  he was sentenced to 5 years in prison although he had done nothing and no arms existed that he was said to have carried. The testimonial from Prof. Leila Soueif, who had been at Tahrir and had witnessed the abuse against Amr and could prove that he was abducted from the car, had no weapons and not done anything, went into the trash. Because - who at a military trial is remotely interested in the truth? No one.

So the injustice began and has not stopped ever since. While the verdicts against protesters arrested on March 9 were held back and not ratified and those protesters in the meantime came free, the verdict against Amr El Beheiry was for unknown reasons ratified. That shut the door for him, for now the military could not release him like the others without losing their face.

There is no justification for such an act of injustice as this. If other protesters could be set free that were just as peaceful as Amr El Beheiry there is no reason in the world why this young man must serve a 5 years sentence! Just so the SCAF can keep its face?

Amr El Beheiry has been imprisoned now since Feb 26 - that is six months already - and he is still in prison although he is as innocent as the other protesters that have been released!

SCAF - how long is this unbearable injustice supposed to continue?  

Retry Amr El Beheiry now!
Don't delay his appeal hearing any further
and set him free!

Amr El-Beheiry in better days: in freedom

August 08, 2011

Amn El-Dawla is Still Going Strong

When activists in March stormed the Cairo HQ of the notorious Amn El-Dawla, the State Security, and then went on to storm outposts in Cairo and Alexandria where heaps of shredded files were piled up all over the buildings - it was clear: The Security Forces had done everything in their power to destroy as much evidence as possible. Having shredded thousands of files they were convinced that nothing could be traced back to them and they would be safe. Well - the scenario was not new. 20 years ago the same thing happened in Germany when the Berlin wall came down and the just as notorious Stasi - the East German Security Force - was dismantled. Since then the Germans with their renowned efficiency have found incredible methods to restore even the worst shredded documents. So it was clear that the Amn El-Dawla and its officers were facing hard times and would have to answer painful questions and even face trials if - yes, IF the new governmental forces of Egypt were interested in restoring the documents and clearing up the past.

Shredded files at the HQ of Amn El-Dawla in March

A little after the storming of the building the Amn El-Dawla officially was resolved and replaced by the Amn El-Watani with the Interior Ministry (MOI) promising justice and assuring that those officers that had tortured prisoners were going to be sacked. The files, the MOI said in addition, would be restored as much as possible.

That was in March and after that not much more was heard on the matter from the Ministry. The feeling grew that the promises were not going to be fulfilled, that justice would not come, torturers would not lose their jobs and that the MOI would not truly show interest in restoring the files - for whose destruction the officers of Amn El-Dawla would actually have to face jail terms.

The renowned German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" now reported in its Sunday edition yesterday on the Amn El-Dawla and what became of the high hopes we all had in March. It tells of the victims who still get no justice, shows that those that tortured have still nothing to fear and that the suspicion - the MOI would not really be interested in restoring the files - was not unfounded.

Egypt should read this, know this and debate this. For if the past of the notorious Amn El-Dawla with its brutal terror against innocent Egyptians is not wholly cleared up and brought to light - Egypt will not be able to restore her dignity, the wounds will not heal and the desire for justice will be replaced by a desire for revenge. Even in the turbulent times of today the transitional government with the Ministry of Interior is obliged to fulfill the promises it made in March. If there is no honest attempt to try those who committed crimes and to restore the files that were destroyed the people will once more turn against the regime. For then the new is in fact nothing else but the old. And the people will have nothing to lose anymore.

This revolution did not take place so that criminal organizations of the past can continue their work in the dark and sweep evidence under the carpet. If this is allowed to happen a fear will grow: that the officers that tortured in the past will torture again in the future. Because no one is stopping them. Do not allow this to happen. It would be fatal for the democracy of Egypt. And it would be an inexcusable blow for the victims of brutal torture by the Amn El-Dawla.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 7 August 2011

Three years jail for fasting and prayer

Under Hosni Mubarak, many Muslims have been arrested as potential Islamists. Even ordinary policemen were afraid of the Secret Service. The Egyptian State Security has not dissolved even after the revolution. It has only changed its name. The victims are angry - and powerless.

by Jochen Markett, Cairo

At last he can tell his story. Get rid of all the things they did to him. Raise his voice after this endless silence. When he starts talking it sounds as if he has not used his vocal cords for six years. And if now that he can speak again he does not want to stop. "My name is Mahmoud Lotfi," he says. "I was a prisoner of the State Security Amn el-Dawla from 14 July 2002 to 4 August 2005." Visibly shaken, trying to focus, he sits in the sparse conference room of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights in the Cairo district of El-Manial. The upholstery of the chairs are broken, foam pours out. The brown-checkered carpet is not only ugly but also dirty. They did not even place a glass of water on his table.

But to Mahmoud Lotfi that does not matter. For him it is crucial that he can actually come here after the Egyptian revolution and talk openly. Unlike in the previous six years when he had to appear every month at the Security Police and was warned not to disclose anything. But now here he has lawyers who work for human rights - for his rights. "I was in prison for no reason," he says. "I was just a Muslim who prayed and fasted."

His torturers hung him upside down from the ceiling

This is not only his version - even several Egyptian judges saw it that way who declared him innocent a total of 17 times during his detention. And yet the security police never released him. They acted according to their own rules. In his family home in Helwan, south of Cairo, three officers had arrested him without warning and had driven him to Lazoghly, one of the notorious prisons of the Amn el-Dawla, the security police. Only gradually during the interrogations he realized what they wanted from him. They accused him of being a radical Islamist maintaining contacts with the terrorist organization Jama'at Islamiyya.

Under Hosni Mubarak, who staged himself in the fight against Islamists as a partner of the West, this could happen to many Muslims - quite arbitrarily. Sometimes agents went into a store and asked for cigarettes. If the seller said his religion forbade him to sell cigarettes, they arrested him - as a potential Islamist. An estimated 25.000 political prisoners were locked away in the nineties by the Amn el-Dawla. The Egyptians say even the regular police officers were afraid of their colleagues from the state security. The security officials believed they were not bound by any laws.

Mahmoud Lotfi is now 46 years old. His grizzled gray hair makes him look older. Lotfi opens a button on his light blue shirt and rolls up his sleeve. Stripes are visible on the wrist. There they had tied his hands behind his back and bound him to the door - tearing up his tendons. Then he pulls up his left trouser leg revealing his bandaged knee. The bandage seems almost harmless - in contrast to the story behind it: His torturers hung him upside down from the ceiling for two long hours burdening his body still more with a gas cylinder.

Many employees of state security have kept their jobs

The results can be seen in the medical certificates that he has spread on the table: "meniscus tear" and "osteoarthritis of the knee" can be read there. An expertise from the Cairo University Hospital, another is from Houston, Texas. And as if this would not prove his credibility enough Lofti suddenly begins to mimic the endured torture. He lies down on the floor under a chair. He tells very upset that he had to undress completely and sleep for nights in this position. The food they pushed across the floor - and sometimes they electrocuted him.

They - that are not some anonymous intelligence officials. Mahmoud Lotfi can identify the full names of four security policemen who tortured him repeatedly, including two senior officers. He knows exactly where they work today. One was transferred to Cairo airport. All others are still holding their old jobs. Like thousands of colleagues.

NGOs estimate that at least 75 percent of employees have kept their jobs at state security. Only the name of the authority has changed. The Amn el-Dawla - State Security - was officially dissolved in March and immediately replaced by the Amn el-Watani: National Security.

The shredder running at full speed

This is reminiscent of the amazing last few months of the German Democratic Republic, GDR. On 17 November 1989 the Ministry for State Security was converted to the "Office for National Security." But there the parallels basically end. For soon activists in the GDR occupied the security head quarter and never left it anymore. In Egypt in March activists too stormed some buildings of the Amn el-Dawla. But only a few hours later the military special forces expelled the unwanted visitor. The activists were able to save some documents that they published on Facebook as "Amn el-Dawla Leaks". And some films that they took inside can be seen on the video platform Youtube. A breathless and shaking camera woman is heard, then the viewer sees it himself: in stairways and hallways mountains of paper scraps are piled up several meters high. The shredders had obviously been in full swing.

Publicly the Egyptian Interior Ministry says it wants to restore the documents. It even got itself advice from Germany: In March, Herbert Ziehm from the Bureau of Security Documents (Stasi-Unterlagenbehörde) came to visit Cairo. In an interview at the Ministry of the Interior the director for information Hani Abdel-Latif inquired about the German methods to restore shredded paper. There was not much more he wanted to know of the German experts. And since this "friendly reserved conversation" Herbert Ziehm has not received any more calls from the Interior Ministry. Disillusioned he states: For clearing up the past „the cooperation from government agencies is essential. I cannot see that here.“

"You have destroyed my life"

Yet there would be so much to clear up. Mahmoud Lotfi tells of four fellow inmates who died because they were not adequately treated. He himself survived - but how: Whenever he needed medication it turned out to be very expensive. His family, which he could usually see only half an hour per month, had to bribe security officers, paid them ten times the price. And even then they left him waiting for a month before giving him the drugs. Lotfi now urgently needs to be operated on his back. But he is afraid that the risky surgery might damage his spinal cord. He can only work a few hours a day and only while sitting. And his family? He lowers his voice. Whispering he says that his wife has left him. They don‘t have children. What remains for him? He looks down. "There is no future. They destroyed my life.“

The security police does not care about the fates of their victims. Wrongs should remain under wraps. A few weeks ago the Amn el-Watani invited NGO representatives for a talk. The officers distributed leaflets and showed a Power Point presentation about all the things they want to do in the future for the country. But one in the audience rather wanted to talk about the past, calmly. He spoke up and said he was quite willing to forgive. What he earned was not recognition but lack of understanding from the officers: "Why should you forgive us? We're a whole new organization!"

He wants the death penalty for his tormentors

Participating at this talk too was former police officer Ihab Youssef. In 2007 he resigned from his job and has been fighting ever since with his organization "People and police for Egypt" for a better relationship between the people and the security forces - without success. Now after the revolution the state security must finally change dramatically, he says. "Our fear is that in the near future the methods of torture will be back." Youssef complains about the lack of information from the authority. "How do they want to deal with the files for example?" In conversations the representatives of the Amn el-Watani had tried to calm him. They would check all the files and classify them. "But by what? And if they discover illegal acts of their employees how will they deal with that?" To this Youssef has received no answers. The Egyptians would not take this any longer: „The desire for revenge grows.“ In July thousands demonstrated in major cities across the country because they fear that the perpetrators who are responsible for hundreds of demonstrator's deaths will go unpunished.

For Mahmoud Lotfi the quench for justice has become a purpose in life. "The president and his sons are now in prison. Then these insects from the state security surely will also be brought there," he says. He wants the death penalty for his tormentors. Lotfi knows that this fight can be very dangerous for him. But the determination in his voice makes it clear that his will is much greater than the fear. "I am ready to die for it.“

Text: F.A.S.

July 13, 2011

MOI: Hosni Mubarak still President of Egypt!

It is easy these days to be angry with Mansour Essawy. The Interior Minister of Egypt has is very own way of seeing and saying things, as Prime Minister Essam Sharaf only learned a few days ago. When Sharaf in a televised address to the nation stated that all police officers accused of having killed protesters were to be dismissed from their jobs, Essawy‘s answer was unmistakably clear: „F#%&#@/*!“, the Interior Minister said in humble politeness. „Who are you to think you have anything to say!.“ Essawy had a point. Sharaf is only Prime Minister of Egypt and head of the Cabinet. What right could he possibly have to boss the Interior Ministry around!

Some - typically of course those that have studied law and politics and never fail to believe they‘re clever - came up with the feeble excuse that the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) was part of the Cabinet of Egypt. And as the Prime Minister was head of the Cabinet ... But we knew of course that that silly argument could not hold.

In a breaking discovery today it was finally exposed why Mansour Essawy rightfully knows that Sharaf as Prime Minister has nothing to say. On the web page of the Ministry of the Interior the truth is revealed. Far from what we think we know and believe - Hosni Mubarak is STILL president of Egypt! - Ha! - Take that, Sharaf!

Not only does the “Mubarak Academy“ still exist - much more we learn from the web page of the Ministry of the Interior:
“Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday met ...“
Not that we would learn who he met. This is naturally top secret and any disclosing of this information would seriously harm the national security.

But of course we wonder - because we are only humans after all - who the President we all thought was toppled met on Sunday? The German doctor from Heidelberg? Or the forensic expert Seba3y perhaps? (Surely wanting to go over the autopsy report he would publish after Mubarak‘s death - it is always good if you settle on the details before you die.)

Yet we don‘t know. Interior Minister Essawy won‘t let on. All we know is that good old Hosni Mubarak - didn‘t we sense this all along? - is going strong and is - according to the Ministry of Interior - still the President of Egypt!

Five months after February 11 this comes somewhat as a surprise to the world and international observers reading the MOI web page. And it shows us how stupid we‘ve been all this time asking for some idiotic justice or trials of Mubarak or anything else blatantly fantastic. You can‘t put a president on trial, buggers! The President is enjoying immunity from prosecution in every civilized country. And hey, do you mean to say Egypt isn‘t civilized? - There!

While we are dreaming of some judicial consequences or melt our butts on the summer hot tar of Tahrir square the Minister of the Interior, Mansour Essawy, informs us that the President of Egypt - Hosni Mubarak - is busy on Sunday meeting with whoever the President thinks right to meet. Makes you look awfully stupid in your  silly little tents in Midan Tahrir, doesn‘t it?

Well, there‘s more to come to prove you really missed the show. Did you read the Important News on the MOI page regarding protests? No? Do:
“The supreme council of the Armed Forces warned Friday 18/2/2011 against protests staged by some factions, saying they are hindering interests and production, and creating serious economic circumstances.“
You realize of course how important this news is on Wednesday 13/7/2011 - that‘s why the MOI put it right up front on the page so you won‘t miss it.

What you might miss however is the notice on the bottom of the page, although it is not less important to all Egyptians:
“The occasion of the completion of enrollment in the new electoral tables 01-31-2007 and the start of the presentation of the tables on the citizens to make requests and appeals to security directorates with effect from Thursday the first in February 2007 until the end of the month will be presentation of the election to the citizens for consultation“
Disregarding the somewhat innovative use of the English language you better make sure to dot down this important date in your calendar: Presentation of the election to citizens for consultation will ONLY be on until Feb 2007! So you really better hurry. - Of course, to make it, you might want to get yourself one of those warp machines catapulting you back in time. They‘re currently sold out at amazon. But do check back for new stock soon.

Totally without any hint of a date - that makes clicking the switch on time machines difficult - put it on ‘past‘, put it on ‘future‘? - comes the notice next to it on bottom right telling us that Mansour Essawy is overseeing the start of human rights training of field officers working in departments or police station. It will be a long training no doubt as it is also a very long Acaademy, but sadly we are left with no indication in just what decade this training will begin. Or is it already over and we just missed it? We miss a lot these days, you know (check President), and shouldn‘t be surprised.

To close off your informative trip around the grand web page appearance of the Ministry of the Interior of Egypt (that you support with your taxes - a heart‘s delight!) - you might want to click the button on the left bottom reading: „Wanted person“ to check whether you're wanted in Egypt or not. Unfortunately this button is inactive at the moment, so don‘t be too disappointed that your name does not appear. Hey, you might be a well known activist, ok, ok - but since you are NOT mentioned here, it can only mean that you are NOT wanted in Egypt. And that in itself is a clear sign coming from the MOI, don‘t you think?

Mubarak by the way, we deduce from the inactive button, is also not wanted in Egypt, despite rumours otherwise. - But then, what‘s new? Who ever wanted this President in the first place? - Honestly, looking at the fantastical web page of the Ministry of the Interior of Egypt we learn a lot.

And PM Sharaf really can‘t say Mansour Essawy didn‘t get it. No sir. Essawy is far cleverer and better informed then all of us and sees a president where we don't. But then, he's the Minister of the Interior. Serves us right.


July 02, 2011

Save Youcef Nadarkhani facing execution in Iran!

Terrible news come out of Iran where a person's life is not worth much under the despotic regime. A 34 year old father of two boys can be executed any minute now just for asking that freedom of religion - guaranteed under the constitution of Iran - is respected.
 iran map 1 300x275 Full Story of Youcef Nadarkhani
In 2009 the government had decided that all children must be taught about Islam - including children of religious minorities like Christians. Youcef Nadarkhani, who worked as a pastor in the town of Rasht, went to the school of his sons and protested this based on the Iranian constitution which allows for freedom to practice religion. As a result, the secret police called him before the political tribunal in Rasht on October 12, 2009. At that time he was arrested, charged for protesting and has been in prison in Lakan (seven miles south of Rasht) ever since. - Later the charges changed to apostasy (renouncing Muslim belief) and evangelism to Muslims (which apparently later was dropped).

Youcef Nadarkhani has spent many months in solitary confinement. To put pressure on him to abandon his belief they decided to arrest his wife in order to place more pressure on him. On June 18th, 2010, Fatemah Pasindedih was arrested and placed in prison in Lakan. During this time their boys went to live with a relative. Both Youcef and his wife Fatemah were threatened by authorities that their children would be taken away and given to a Muslim family. Youcef was not swayed to convert to Islam, so his wife was put on trial without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison. An attorney was later hired and the sentence appealed. The sentence and conviction were overturned and she was released.

On September 21 and 22, 2010, Youcef was put on trial before the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan and verbally given the sentence of death.

On October 29, 2010, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom asked President Barack Obama to press Iran to release Yousef.

A written verdict needed to appeal was delayed and then delivered on November 13, 2010, by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal. It stated that Youcef Nadarkhani is to be executed by hanging for apostasy. Twenty days are allowed to appeal the sentence with the Supreme Court of Iran.

The verdict was appealed to the Supreme Court, but on June 28, 2011, it was learned that the Supreme Court reached a decision. The third chamber of the Supreme Court in Qom upheld his conviction for apostasy and the death sentence. He will be given another chance to recant and convert to Islam and - if he does not comply - he will be executed. If the sentence is carried out, Youcef would be the first Christian executed for religious reasons in Iran in over 20 years.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights considers the decision of a person on his religion a human right legally protected by the „International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights“ that was signed by Iran:
„The Committee observes that the freedom to 'have or to adopt' a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views [...]

Article 18.2[6] bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.“
Youcef Nadarkhani could be hanged at any time. This is the way that the Iranian government operates with executions. They do not give advance notice and it is done in secret. His life is in imminent danger.


Please help to save the life of Youcef Nadarkhani! 

His sons Daniel (9) and Yoel (7) and his wife need him. He has been in jail already for almost two years. If he is now executed the family will be devastated!


1.     Spread the word. - Tweet, blog, facebook and email information on this case to all you know and ask them to spread too (you can send the link to this blog or any of the links included here). The only thing that can save Youcef Nadarkhani's life is worldwide pressure!

2.     Contact media people you know and ask them to pick up the story and report on it so that his case receives worldwide attention!

3.    Contact any Iranian Embassy by mail or fax and ask Iran to lift the verdict and set him free! Be polite in your message but stern in the matter pointing out that Iran has ratified the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" guaranteeing the right of each person to choose and change his religion. - Choose an Embassy

4.     Contact your government and urge them to intervene on behalf of Youcef Nadarkhani's life! Do this by mail or fax to be quick as time is short.

5.   Contact U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here and urge her to try and intervene to save Youcef Nadarkhani's life!

Note: Religion is not an issue. It doesn't matter what you believe in. No one should be killed for having his belief. A world were people are executed for believing in a God they trust is a horrible place to live in. It is up to us to change that - Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists ... - let's be one!

It can be a matter of hours or a matter of days until they hang Youcef Nadarkhani! - Worldwide attention must be brought to his fate! 

Therefore please act as quickly as you can to help save the father of two young boys so that the family won't be destroyed and the children won't have to grow up fatherless!


UPDATE - July 04

Iran's Supreme Court is said to have halted the execution of Youcef Nadarkhani for the moment sending the case back to the court in Rasht, lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AFP. Under the condition that Nadarkhani recants and converts to Islam the death sentence would be lifted. This was told to the lawyer by phone. He has not seen any written confirmation on this yet. Human rights experts familiar with Iran's practices of such cases warn to say the death sentence has been annulled. If at all it has only been temporarily suspended under the condition of conversion to Islam. If Youcef Nadarkhani refuses to recant and remains loyal to his Christian belief the death sentence is pending and he can be executed any day without any prior announcement.

Meanwhile the lawyer himself has come under pressure. As Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AFP he has been sentenced by a court in Teheran yesterday to 9 years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the  Islamic regime". The lawyer said he had been criticised for having cooperated with the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, an organisation founded by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, as well as for giving  interviews to foreign radio stations. He has 20 days to lodge an appeal, he said.


UPDATE - July 06

The U.S. State Dept. has expressed its dismay over the reports that Youcef Nadarkhani faces death by execution if he does not give up his Christian belief. "If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990", U.S. State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland pointed out.
"While Iran’s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass, and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing.
We join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them."


UPDATE - July 07

John Baird, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, expressed his government's concern over reports that the Iranian judiciary may follow through on its sentencing to death of Nadarkhani for apostasy.

In a statement, Baird said:
"Canada calls upon the Iranian court to respect its obligations under international human rights law, including the right to freedoms of religion and belief, and the due process of law." 
Baird stated that if the court decides on capital punishment, "it would be the first execution based on an individual's choice of religion or belief since 1990. Iran has consistently persecuted minorities for their religious beliefs, including the seven leaders of the Bahá'í community whose imprisonment for practicing their faith was increased to 20 years."

Baird added:
"Freedom of religion or belief is a universal human right that Canada has championed at every opportunity in international forums. In the recent Speech from the Throne, our government renewed our pledge to create an Office of Religious Freedom to monitor and combat precisely this type of persecution around the world.
Canada hopes that the international community will join in this call to pressure Iranian authorities to uphold the fundamental rights, to which every person is entitled."

UPDATE - July 13

The written ruling from the Iranian Supreme Court has finally been delivered to Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's attorney. According to Iranian sources it does not annul the death sentence. It appears that although the written ruling upholds the death sentence, the judges would like clarification from the lower court that Nadarkhani truly was a Muslim prior to becoming a Christian. If he was, and does not recant, then he will be executed.

Youcef Nadarkhani said that he never really believed or genuinely practiced Islam.  He said he was simply born into a Muslim family but did not accept it himself. Despite this statement the death sentence was still applied.

Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries: "At this point, the most likely outcome appears to be a re-trial later this year, perhaps in the fall. It is important to remember that the Supreme Court did not annul the verdict that was based upon the fatwas of the Supreme Leader. Youcef Nadarkhani remains under the death sentence at this time."


UPDATE - July 15

A petition in favour of Youcef Nadarkhani has gone up on the internet asking the international community to speak out on his behalf publicly to save Youcef Nadarkhani‘s life. This is a much needed tool to force Iran to reconsider the death sentence imposed on the father of two young boys.

“We the undersigned URGENTLY demand that the international community act forcefully to compel the Islamic Republic of Iran to IMMEDIATELY and COMPLETELY vacate the illegal death sentence against Youcef Nadarkhani for "apostasy".

He is a prisoner of conscience sentenced to die for nothing more than peacefully practicing the religion of his choice. The regime's conditional "suspension" of the sentence, contingent upon Pastor Nadarkhani "repenting", is itself an illegal act of cruel pressure to force Pastor Nadarkhani to renounce his faith.

This entire case not only violates legal and human rights covenants to which Iran is a signatory state, but it is an intolerable affront to the very norms of modern civilization which form the raison d'etre for the international community's institutions.


Sign petition


UPDATE - July 18

An unofficial translation of the Iranian Supreme Court’s decision on the verdict to execute Youcef Nadarkhani has been published on the internet by Present Truth Ministries (PTM). It demands of the lower court to undertake investigations in order to find out if Nadarkhani had been a believing Muslim prior to becoming a Christian. If so, the Supreme Court decided he must be executed.

In the name of Allah

To the lawyers of the accused (defendant)
To the local court
To the state court of Gilan Section 11

December 5, 2010

Issued by section 27 Supreme Court Judge Morteza Fazel and Azizoallah Razaghi

Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32 years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad, at the age of 19.

He has often participated in Christian worship and organized home church services, evangelizing and has been baptized and baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. He has been accused of breaking Islamic Law that from puberty (15 years according to Islamic law) until the age of 19 the year 1996, he was raised a Muslim in a Muslim home. During court trials, he denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam. He has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim.

During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir -olvasileh (one of Khomeni’s books about Sharia Law and Khamenie’s and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi’s fatwa) His sentence was appealed by his attorney and sent to the supreme court.

The Supreme Courts Response

In the name of Allah

June 12, 2011

This sopena states;

We know that Mr. Nadarkhani has confessed that in his heart and in his actions he has denied being Muslim and converted to Christianity and has advertised and encouraged other Muslims to convert to Christianity. And because of advertising and pastoring a church repeatedly professed his Christian faith and denied the prophet Mohammad and the 12th Imam and denied the entire Koran and truth of the Koran.

His case was forwarded to the supreme court (Judge Fazel) and according to Part 2 of article 265 of the Islamic Republic Criminal Law, this case received by and must be returned the state court of Gilan Section 11, and further investigated to prove that from puberty (15 years) to 19 he was not Muslim by his acquaintances, relatives, local elders, and Muslims he frequented. He must repent his Christian faith if this is the case. No research has been done to prove this, if it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented, the execution will be carried out.
Signed by Morteza Fazeli and  Azizollah Razaghi

Now the lower court will have to re-examine the case and interview relatives, friends and people of his village in order to determine whether or not Youcef Nadarkhani was a practicing Muslim from the age of 15 to 19. If the court thinks this to be proven and Nadarkhani does not give up his Christian belief, the death sentence will be carried out.

Currently it is not known when the lower court will start with its re-examination and interrogation of witnesses. For now Nadarkhani remains in prison, where the father of two young boys has been held already for almost two years.

It is vital to note that Nadarkhani will not be executed on the basis of Iranian law that does not know a penalty for ‘apostasy‘. The death sentence is based on a fatwa by the deceased Ayatollah Khomeni and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi - disregarding the fact that the constitution of Iran guarantees the right of everyone to choose their religious belief.

That a man in the 21st century is still in danger of getting killed for his belief is unbearable.

June 20, 2011

A man's view on sexual harassment

Sexual harassment of women in Egypt has become a horrible plague. The reports of cat calling, whistling, grabbing, groping to really getting violent and tearing at clothes in Cairo's streets is shocking to say the least. It seems all control of a male dominated society is lost if women are harassed to this extent while just walking through the streets of their city. In broad daylight mind you. It does not even have to be dark for harassers to do what they think is their right - the verbal or physical attack on a woman they see walking by.

While it would be interesting to know how much women are harassed in Assiut, Minya, in Beni Suef, Asswan or Hurghada, it is definite that in Cairo at least the sexual harassment of women escalates above all bounds. And men let it happen. That is the problem.

Because if men would not let it happen, harassers would not stand a chance and the attacks on women would stop. So why do men not interfere knowing this phenomena is prevalent all over town?

To find this out, one has to take a look at the men that are behind this ugly practice. There are three groups of men contributing to harassment in Egypt, each in its own special way.

Firstly there is the uneducated, primitive group that simply thinks women are there for their common pleasure, men that fail on empathy and understanding and just let themselves be guided by their very simply urges (how can a man be guided by brains when the guidance deep below is stronger!). Those men actively harass and in their private thinking find excuses for their behavior by stating women want it this way, women actually crave for it, women can't do without it (and without men) and women dress accordingly thus sending out signals of willingness (that no man can resist).

You don't have to be a psychologist to know these guys urgently need help.

Then there is the second group of men, fairly educated but strongly conservative and mostly religiously blinded that dare perhaps not to harass themselves, but if not encourage it excuse it for almost the same reasons as the first group. They suppress their women in their homes, declare themselves the masters of everything feminine in their family and condemn any woman that chooses to walk on her own - be it in society or on the street.

This group is dangerous because it gives the attackers of the first group a mental backing, a shielding behind which to attack. Through their suppressing, women-hating stance they create a social environment in which the attacker-group does not have to feel guilty. After all they are just carrying out what the others support too.

The third group of men is educated, calls itself liberal and says it is against harassment of women - mostly anyway - and accepts that women even take part in a revolution. As long as they don't steal the show and are willing to return to their places once the battle is successfully won and the gravy pots are being dished out and the booty is distributed. There of course they don't necessarily find women should partake. They don't all openly say it, but if you look close enough you will find their attitude is not as woman-friendly as they like you to believe.

This group allows harassment to happen because its men do not actively show solidarity with women when they are treated as minor, as inferior, as less important - to a revolution, to politics, to society. Under the shroud of liberalism basically hides a pretty paternal and chauvinistic attitude and when women really need help, these guys won't budge - later saying: I wasn't asked loud enough - I was busy running politics - I wasn't the center of the action (as a man!) - so how could I possibly know you wanted my support?!

Fail. One can only say.

It is these three strong groups in Egypt's society that make sexual harassment of women possible. It is the harassing man on the street - single or in a group - that gropes, it is the cab driver that looks away, the family father that laughs when his son misbehaves, the revolutionary that does not actively protect because his own interests are higher rated than those of a woman molested in his vicinity. If all these men would not partake, women in Egypt would be safe. They are not.

What possible ways could there be to cure the society of these evils coming in multiple forms of men?

Well, for the first group the remedy is clear: Working and living conditions that allow for a decent life combined with education, education, education. As long as poor living conditions are combined with illiteracy leaving young men stranded with a defunct ego and bulging sexual urges - the harassment of women will never stop. The foremost task of every government therefore must be to improve the living conditions of the poor, to better educational standards and ensure children get an education in the first place, to work together with NGOs and trusts to curb illiteracy as fast as possible. In a society where almost half of the population is illiterate it is almost impossible to get any sense into (male) heads.

The second group can only be reached if in society awareness is raised that the suppressing of women in homes must stop, that the belief is wrong that women are only half as much worth as a man - no matter what any old religious book might say about this - that women have to obey their male masters, that only males are allowed to decide on the future of female family members, that woman cannot be allowed to shape their own country for various most idiotic reasons that are best not even repeated here.

Again this can only be achieved by education, education, education. But this time not only in form of schooling to curb illiteracy. The teaching that is needed here must come from imams at the mosques, must come from the priests in their sermons just as much as from ministers, politicians, journalists, judges - society as a whole. Only if the atmosphere of suppression in the country is curbed and women are allowed to breath freely will there be a chance that the harassement-allowing male will vanish into oblivion.

More than half the Egyptian society is below the age of 25. Don't tell me there isn't a true chance to make this happen if the young only take things in their hands and demand the change in society they said they were initially demanding in Tahrir square.

All this will of course only work if the so called elite of a society plays along, joins in the same tune and is truly willing to change the society - from bottom to top - into a society fair and respectful to women. These elitists are not asked to get their hands dirty or their clothes torn while attempting to rescue women in dark alleys from attacking harasser. Forget it. Nobody asks you to be brave. You say you have brains? That is enough. Use it - and leave the rest to those who know how to work with their hands.

But use your brains you must. Just bathing in the glow of a revolution, in the memories of bullets flying that you stopped virtually with your determination and vicious glances will not be good enough. That is not helping women in this country at all. In fact it is rather shocking to see that some of the most disturbing comments failing on women's rights and solidarity come from literate, well off-to-do, young revolutionaries dreaming more of having sex as a reward for their heroic fighting than understanding the real issue at hand. While in those 18 days in Tahrir the sexual harassment commonly known on the streets of Cairo was not prevalent, now too in revolutionary circles of young men a respectful attitude towards women and their rightful demands is often lacking.

The last of the three groups has to do its job alone. No one can help. While the first needs to be supported by the government and institutions fighting illiteracy, low wages and poor housing conditions - the second needs support from those that shape societies awareness - the religious leaders, the role models, the media - the third has brains enough (or should have) to do the job on its own: Listen to women and their horror stories of what happens to them each and every day on the street; let it sink in just how bad this truly is, how degrading, how disgusting, how hurtful and bad for anyone's self-esteem; show empathy and mean it by using the helpful trick of imagining it could have happened to you (yes it could, there is even male-harassement, so why not on you?) - and stand by the women when they need your support most. In the street, in the office, in the media, in court, in parliament - and in a protest march when women shout out the pain this causes them - and even then have to fear to be attacked by men of the first group - because you of the third group let it happen.

Some men of this third group let it happen because they have witnessed that they themselves could get attacked and verbally harassed. When women demonstrated for their rights on March 8 in Tahrir square, a small number of men stood by them and tried to ward off the attacks from harassing males. Soon came the ultimate dreaded horror question, uttered with a low growling voice: "Why do you defend these women? Are you faggots?"

From what I know, those that were there stood their ground and were undeterred. Others however of the third group pretending to be so open minded, so liberal and understanding, crouched on hearing that word and decided to not get involved. For just imagine someone would say such a ghastly thing to them in public!

Welcome to the club boys! When you crouch on that idea - you finally have unknowingly begun to feel what it is like to be sexually harassed. It happens to women every day. And they still have to go on. And if you feel bad being the recipient of such a verbal attack - then you learn the hard way how a woman feels who crouches just like you, who is hurt just like you, and who has no one to help her in this situation - if you don't get it a grip on yourself!

Don't mess up the revolution and what it achieved by now ducking away in cowardice. Big liberal revolutionary words and postures help no one put an end to women's plight in the streets of Cairo or elsewhere. No story you tell how great you were in the fight for freedom will impress anyone if you don't prove that you understand what freedom really means. Because only if the sexual harassment of women stops can the society truly say of itself: We are proud to be Egyptian!

There's work to be done, men of Egypt, for all of you. Stop fantasizing, stop suppressing, stop dreaming - just go and do it! The women need you. Don't fail them. Half of society is the best half you have. Get that into your heads.