Roger L. Simon

Free Abdel Kareem!

The pseudonymous Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey of Rantings of a Sandmonkey has an extremely moving article in Pajamas today about the sentencing of his fellow Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Soliman. Abdel Kareem (also spelled Karim) was given four years for “contempt for religion” and “insulting the president”. He could easily be killed in jail by a religious fanatic, according to the Sandmonkey, if he doesn’t go crazy in solitary first.

It’s frustrating to read stories like this. You want to do something, but you don’t know how. I quickly clicked onto the websites of Human Rights Watch and PEN (of which I was once the West Coast president), hoping they could do something, but found no references to Abdel Kareem under either spelling. Maybe I missed something. I checked Atrios and the Daily Kos as well, but nothing there either about their fellow blogger. Perhaps they are unaware of what is happening. You would think this was a situation that would transcend domestic politics – the guy’s going to the slammer – but so far apparently not. Lots of stuff on Kos though about how Giuliani’s numbers can’t last and how he’s going to implode. Sounds a little like some commenters on here.

Me, I’m more worried at the moment about Abdel Kareem. I have visited Al Azhar where he was a student until he opened his mouth and have some sense of what level of cojones that took. More than almost any of us have. And speaking of cojones, feminine division, I am just finishing Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. I had read the first fifty pages a while back and just picked it up again. Now I can’t put it down. I think it’s some kind of masterpiece – one of those works like Nadezhda Mandelstam’s Hope Against Hope that gives you a true glimpse of what it’s like to live under totalitarianism. Interesting that they are both written by women.