Well-known bloggers living in France and Reporters Without Borders activists demonstrated in front of Egypt's stand at the world tourism trade fair in Paris today in protest against the four-year prison sentence imposed last month on the young Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, who signs his blogs as "Kareem Amer."
The protestors attached "censored" computer mice to the stand, brandished photos of the detained blogger and unfurled banners that said "Egypt = Internet enemy."
"We want to express our solidarity with Kareem and to show that French bloggers feel concerned by free speech violations, even when they take place abroad," the bloggers said. "We also want to encourage the French blogosphere, which is one of the most dynamic in the world, to actively support this young man. We could all be in his place if we lived in Egypt."
The bloggers taking part in the demonstration were :
Gilles Klein (www.pointblog.org), Natacha Quester-Séméon (www.memoire-vive.org), Pierre Etienne Pommier (ipol.fr), Carlo Revelli (www.agoravox.fr), Hélène Legastelois (http://monblogdefille.mabulle.com), Christophe Grébert (www.monputeaux.com), Pierre Catalan (http://pierrecatalan.hautetfort.com), Cai Chongguo (http://caichongguo.blog.lemonde.fr), Laureen Martin (http://leblogmedias.rsfblog.org/) and Mry (http://mry.blogs.com).
Suleiman ("Kareem Amer") was convicted on 22 February of "inciting hatred of Islam" and insulting President Hosni Mubarak. Reporters Without Borders regards his four-year prison sentence as a threatening message to the entire Egyptian blogosphere, which has emerged in recent years as an effective bulwark against the government authoritarian tendencies. For more information on this case: http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=273
Reporters Without Borders activists also demonstrated today in front of the Cuban and Tunisian stands at the tourism trade fair, placed black stripes on Cuba's stand to symbolize prison bars and festooning Tunisia's stand with police barrier tape.
"We chose these countries because they are all enemies of press freedom and leading tourist destinations," Reporters Without Borders said. "We did this to draw the plight of the local journalists to the attention of the millions of holiday-makers who travel each year to Cuba, Egypt and Tunisia. Tourists need to know what is going on behind the scenes. Behind the beaches and palm trees, journalists and bloggers are imprisoned, news media are harassed and families are intimidated."
In the most recent Reporters Without Borders annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Egypt was ranked 133rd out of 167 countries, Tunisia was 148th and Cuba was 165th. These countries are considered as "enemies of the Internet" by the organization. A cyberdissident, Mohammed Abbou, has been jailed since march 2007 in Tunisia.
Other countries represented at the Paris tourism fair by their tourism office or their national airline are also frequent violators of journalists' rights and press freedom. They are Algeria, China, Libya, Maldives, Russia, Syria and Vietnam.
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