Saturday, November 05, 2005

THE EGYPTIAN BLOGGER who was arrested on 26 October has generated scarcely any interest in the mainstream media so far. But here are a few posts from another Egyptian blogger with more info and links. At the moment Technorati is listing 53 blog posts about him, but there are probably more, since it often takes a day or so for Technorati to cycle through.

Glenn Reynolds also points to a petition from the Committee to Protect Bloggers which asks for Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman's release. I've signed it. I hope you will too.

In addition, on Friday I sent the following note to the Egyptian Embassy in London (
Dear Sir,

I write regarding the reports that Egyptian blogger Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman was arrested in Egypt on 26 October for publishing blog posts that criticized Salafi Islam and the Egyptian Government, and that his whereabouts are currently unknown.

If the reports are accurate, this is a serious human rights violation and is particularly disturbing from my personal perspective given the announcement today in Al-Ahram Weekly of an upcoming international conference on Coptic studies to be held later this year in Sohag.

I am a lecturer at a British university and one of my research specialties involves ancient biblical pseudepigrapha written in numerous languages, including Coptic. Thus, this is the sort of conference I might well wish to attend. However, given that I have criticized the Salafis and the Egyptian Goverment on my own weblog, I would fear for my personal safety in Egypt after hearing the report of Mr. Seliman's arrest.

Is this really the sort of publicity you want for your country? I urge you to release Mr. Seliman immediately, drop all charges against him, and henceforth respect his human rights to criticize both his own government and religious traditions with which he disagrees.

Sincerely yours,

James R. Davila

Please feel free to write a note of protest to the Egyptian Embassy in your country. In the USA the e-mail address of the Egyptian Embassy is If you live in a country other than Britain or the USA, you can find the relevant e-mail address easily through Google.

Please do be polite (abusive letters are counterproductive) but also firm. The main points are that Mr. Seliman's right to free speech (whatever one thinks of his views), including the right to criticize his government and religious views with which he disagrees, should be respected and he should be released without charge immediately. My understanding is that there is not a right to free speech in Egypt, so this should be presented as a universal human right. You may want to point out also the very negative international publicity that is arising from reports of this incident. Feel free to poach any of the language in my e-mail if it applies to you.

I encourage you to do this. Such messages do make a difference and could be very important in this case. Thanks.

Okay, now back to ancient Judaism and related matters.

UPDATE: There's good news and bad news (see here too). Only the good news is pretty bad too. Do send that e-mail.

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