DemosNews: My First Political Prisoner
My First Political Prisoner
By: newell

Amr Sharqawi, a blogger from Mansoura province in Egypt. Imprisoned 3 days, beaten, kept without food and water, and thrown in a cell with violent criminals, it was an interesting interview. I heard of him from another blogger, who'd previously been imprisoned, tortured and sodomized. This is my article I wrote about him.

CAIRO: Egyptian blogger Amr Sharqawi was jailed and treated brutally for taking pictures of the Shoura election board, during the alleged vote-rigging.

The harsh treatment has sent a chill through the already edgy Egyptian blogging community.

Amr Sharqawi is a thin, gentle man with spectacles and a soft voice, hardly the picture of a fiery dissident.

"I was taking pictures of the Board of Elections and a policeman hit me and broke my camera,” Sharqawi told The Daily Star Egypt. "They took me to Talkha Station where they beat me some more the first day I was there. They threatened to arrest my whole family.

Sharqawi then claimed that the second day he was placed in solitary confinement without food or water, after which he was moved into a cell for violent criminals.

“The next day they released me without charge,” he said.

He added that while in jail, the police refused requests from five lawyers to visit him and his family were not told his whereabouts.

"I feel alright physically, but psychologically I am still traumatized."

While Sharqawi was imprisoned, numerous Egyptian blogs wrote messages of support and concern.

Ahmed Helmy, the director of Al-Hurriya, a human rights center, told The Daily Star Egypt in an email interview that "22 people were imprisoned, but they were all set free by the end of the day except Amr because he was not from the city [Cairo] so state security needed some more time to complete their investigations."

Repression is not new to the blogging community. While several major incidents dominate news headlines, such as Karim Amer’s sentencing to four years in prison and Abdel Moneim Mahmoud's two-month detention, lower grade harassment seems far more common.

Ahmed Gizawy, who writes the blog "I Love You Egypt," was also confronted by police during the Shoura elections.

"I was taking pictures of the election board," Gizawy said to The Daily Star Egypt, “and I was confronted by an officer who told me that picture-taking was forbidden by an order from the Ministry of Interior. I asked to see the order but the officer told me it was oral. He took my camera and papers and hit me, but I managed to record the conversation, which is posted on my website."

Gizawy had previously been detained for three months while at university for his outspokenness.

Blogger Ahmed Youssef spoke to The Daily Star Egypt of how the police interrogated him for several hours, demanding information about his friends and associates.

Bloggers feel that the harassment has been getting worse, not better. Youssef said, "Now people read the blogs and they are much more influential so the government cares about them more. Before they were not so important so we were less afraid."

Helmy echoed this sentiment saying that bloggers are being arrested and their blogs blocked.

Youssef noted that it seemed as if Islamist bloggers in particular were targeted because, "they are the only ones who actually do anything. The liberals just want to talk and talk, which the government doesn't care about. Because Islamic bloggers want real change, they come for us."

While the bloggers are worried about themselves, they exude a deep sense of pride in what they are doing. When asked whether he would continue writing, Sharqawi laughed, saying, "Of course! As long as I am alive!"

Mido, who writes the blog "Horytna" added, "It is only fear. They can imprison us, kill us, but so what? We will never stop."


© 2021 newell of DemosNews

June 19, 2007 at 3:16pm
DemosRating: 4.67
Hits: 1293

Genre: Politics (Eastern Hemisphere)
Type: Critical
Tags: politics, egypt, bloggers


Anita Spertus   read your article in the daliy star. exactly the info, under...
Shaden   im egyptian, and i heard and read about this story here in C...
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