Egypt: Detained blogger assaulted and asked to convert to Islam in exchange for his freedom

The lawyer of the arrested blogger Hani Nazeer still not allowed to visit his client. However, the Christian blogger Nazeer managed to contact The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information revealing that he was assaulted and asked to convert to Islam in exchange for his freedom:

He and other inmates had been beaten by prison officers and had their heads shaved by force. Nazeer said that he has now been registered as a criminal detainee, which puts his life in danger as he will be imprisoned with drug dealers and murderers… He earlier complained to ANHRI lawyers that he was being pressured to convert to Islam in exchange for his freedom

Nazeer has been arrested for almost a year, as in 1st October 2008 he was taken from his house in Qena (Upper Egypt) with the help of the church and a wide welcome from local Muslims.

According to the ANHRI, the controversy began when some young Muslims were browsing Hani's blog Karaz Elhob (Love Cherries) and found a link to another site containing an electronic novel called “Azazil's Goat in Mecca” which included an attack on Islam. This novel is written by an anonymous author under the name of “Father Utah” and came in response to Yusuf Zidane's famous novel “Azazil,” which was considered by some conservatives as offensive to Christianity. Hani's village thought he was the author of the story.

For the time being, Hani's blog has no posts; all his articles seem to be removed. The arrested blogger used to criticize both of Muslims and Christians ‘fanatics’ and mixing religion with politics.

Nazeer has been detained in Borg El-Arab prison in Alexandria, a place used to detain bloggers such as Musa'ad Abu Fagr, who was beaten up in his prison cell and Kareem Amer who has been subjected to severe torture which resulted in multiple injuries in addition to a broken tooth. Kareem Amer was deprived of the right to report the incident and of the right to document these injuries in a medical report. Two other bloggers were reported to have been tortured in Borg El-Arab like Kareem El-Beheiry and Mohammad Maree.

In order to scare them, and the rest of the egyptian blogsphere, bloggers are usually detained with criminals, or confined in isolation. However, this strategy failed to scare the Egyptian blogsphere which became actively engaged in protesting prison abuses and incommunicado detention.

These crimes against bloggers have occurred within the frame of the systematic phenomenon of torture all over the Egyptian police stations and prisons.

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