April 02, 2011

Today a blogger - tomorrow ?

Ok, so you think the arrest of blogger Maikel Nabil has nothing to do with you. Why should you speak out in his favour and demand his freedom?

You say that you don't like his pro-Israel views. You feel that his criticism of the army is wrong because the army "is our friend" and besides we don't want to irritate them to keep it nice and quite. And anyhow - what has it got to do with you? You don't know him.

Well, it has a lot more to do with you than you think. Because - believe it or not - tomorrow it might be you.

No! you say. You would not utter harsh words against the army. And you are not writing blogs. This is only about bloggers, very outspoken critical bloggers, is it not?

You wish.

On Wednesday this week the Supreme Council of Armed Forces presented the Interim Constitutional Declaration. In a press conference with General Mamdouh Shaheen and General Ismail Etman it was pointed out that the Declaration prevents arrests or detentions without legal basis and ensures freedom of the press as well as freedom of belief and opinion. - Only two days before this Maikel Nabil was arrested for making use of his freedom of opinion. And one day before declaring the right of freedom of opinion by the SCAF Maikel Nabil was sentenced to 15 days jail pending charges for "offending the army" - because he had made use of his right of freedom of opinion. When convicted he is facing three years in jail.

You are sure this has nothing to do with you?

Let me try and explain again: The arrest of Maikel Nabil by the army for expressing his opinion in a blog is a violation of the Interim Constitutional Declaration that the army issued only one day after disregarding his freedom of opinion by putting him in jail. Work it out for yourself. What worth has a Constitutional Declaration if its essence is violated already while it is published?

The days when bloggers or activists where arrested for expressing their critical views on political wrongdoings belong to the Mubarak-era that ended on Feb 11 when the dictator finally stepped down. From then on the army vowed: "The demands of the revolution will be met!" But did you ask during the revolution for bloggers or journalists or activists to be arrested when they express critical views on the army? I never heard that demand in Tahrir, did you? Why then is the army continuing to arrest bloggers as if Mubarak never was toppled? And what does that mean for you tomorrow? What if you express a critical view on the street, in a café, on a campus, at work? Will you too be in danger of losing your physical freedom because you made use of your constitutional freedom of opinion? What makes you so sure you won't? The Interim Constitutional Declaration is not going to save you. It didn't save Maikel, why you?

When the Nazis took power in Germany any form of criticism was crushed. Freedom of speech and opinion existed on paper, but those making use of it landed in jail or worse in concentration camps. One of them was Martin Niemoeller, an evangelic priest who was critical of the Hitler-Regime. He was arrested and tried then re-arrested and deported to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. Hitler personally decided that Niemoeller was to be killed. The only thing that saved his life was someone speaking up for him - who was not in his position, not endangered as he was, not even living in the same country: the British Lord Bishop George Kennedy Allen Bell. When he got to hear of Niemoeller's situation he raised his voice, went public and made the case known accross the world. Niemoeller stayed in the concentration camp, but the Nazis did not dare kill him anymore. For they knew now -  the world knew.

After the war, when he came free, Niemoeller wrote famous words about the time before his imprisonment that now should ring loud in our ears when we ponder on whether we, of all people, should speak up for Maikel Nabil and his freedom - that in truth is not only his freedom but our's too:

When the Nazis arrested communists I remained silent - for I was no communist.
When they put the socialists in jails I remained silent - for I was no socialist.
When they came to detain the unionists I did not protest - for I was no unionist.
When they came to fetch me - there was no one left who could have protested.

The arrest of Maikel and the demand of his freedom has to do with you. Trust me. Much more than you should like to think. Because who will protest for you when the Maikel Nabils of Egypt are in prison?


(follow me on twitter if you like at @jonamorem)

Egyptian pacifist Maikel Nabil Sanad arrested for insulting the military
Reporters without Borders shocked at arrest of blogger Maikel Nabil


What you can do to help Free Maikel Nabil!

There is not much time. The military court has postponed the trial only until Sunday, April 3. We have to fear that Maikel Nabil will be sentenced tomorrow if we don't take action immediately!

1. Armed Forces
Post a comment on the Facebook Page of the SCAF and demand that Maikel Nabil is set free. Point out that the freedom of speech and opinion is guaranteed by the Interim Constitutional Declaration!

2. Cabinet
Send a message via twitter to @Cabinet_EG and ask them to support the demand to set Maikel Nabil free.
Post a comment on the Cabinet's Facebook Page  الصفحة الرسمية لرئاسة مجلس الوزراء المصرى
Write a mail to PM Sharaf pm@cabinet.gov.eg - On the web-site of the Government the Prime Ministers says: “It will be a pleasure to receive your communications through this e-mail." Give him the pleasure.

3. Join the Facebook Group  Free Maikel Nabil Sanad الحرية لمايكل نبيل سند
Post comments, show your support, get friends to join, so the number of followers become impressing for those who think they can detain Maikel Nabil without facing resistance.

4. Write to Hillary Clinton
Send a message to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton via the website of the US State Dept. and ask urgently for supporting the demand to free Maikel Nabil. The US Dept. on Wednesday issued a statement saying the US was deeply concerned about the arrest of Bahrain blogger Mahmood. The next day Mahmood came free. - Now we need the same support for the Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil! The US must make sure it is not paying the army of Egypt for arresting bloggers and violating the right of freedom of speech!

Good luck to him. Good luck to us all.


  1. EGYPT: Trial against detained pacifist blogger and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad adjourned to Monday 4 April


  2. YES! Prayers for Maikel Nabil!!! Kindly use Niemoller's exact quote from 6 Jan 1946.:First They came... - Pastor Martin Niemoller
    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  3. @Pina Lago - sorry, but your quote is not the exact quote but one of many variations made up later to fit interests. The quote I have used is the original in its exact form as verified by Niemöller himself.
    If you want to know more about the many misuses and wrong variations of his original quote that are roaming around (and are able to read German, for in that language the quote was made), go to the official Martin Niemöller Stifung at: