[Marxism] Egypt Says Twitter Post by Liberal Was Crime

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 20 07:49:23 MST 2014

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I 
was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not 
a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

--Martin Niemöller

NY Times JAN. 19, 2014
Egypt Says Twitter Post by Liberal Was Crime

CAIRO — A prosecutor on Sunday charged one of Egypt’s most prominent 
liberal intellectuals with insulting the judiciary because he posted a 
message on Twitter criticizing a court ruling against three American 
nonprofits that promote democracy.

The intellectual, Amr Hamzawy, a political scientist and former 
lawmaker, was charged along with two dozen others — including liberals, 
Islamists, and the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim 
Brotherhood. Coming a day after the adoption of a new Constitution, the 
charges offered a glimpse of how the military-led government may apply 
the Constitution’s porous free-speech provisions and suggested that it 
may intensify its pressure on dissenters.

The crime of insulting the judiciary is a longstanding element of 
Egyptian law that inherently violates Western norms of free expression. 
Mr. Morsi, who is already on trial on several other charges, was charged 
on Sunday because, in a speech as president, he accused a judge of 
colluding in electoral fraud.

But the case against Mr. Hamzawy stands out because of his stature as a 
leading liberal, the ephemeral nature of his Twitter message, and the 
inconsistency of punishing him for a criticism many others also made.

“It is absurd,” said Samer S. Shehata, an expert on Egyptian politics at 
the University of Oklahoma. “He is a liberal, longhaired, intellectual 
type, the best of a particular type of intellectual in Egypt, who poses 
a threat to no one.”

“This is just another example of the government trying to silence all 
criticism and dissent in Egypt right now, whether it is Islamist or 
liberal,” Dr. Shehata said. “Anyone who would question the current 
rulers is subject to this kind of persecution.”

When a nationalist euphoria gripped Egypt after the military takeover 
last summer and the new government began a bloody crackdown on Mr. 
Morsi’s Islamist supporters, Mr. Hamzawy was among the few liberals to 
speak out, even calling the military’s actions a form of fascism.

But the charges filed against him on Sunday date to early June, when a 
judge convicted 43 employees of five Western-backed nonprofit groups of 
receiving illegal foreign financing and plotting to destabilize Egypt. 
Three of the groups — the National Democratic Institute, the 
International Republican Institute, and Freedom House — are financed by 
the United States government with a mandate to help promote democracy.

The court ruled in June that the groups’ true aim was to “undermine 
Egypt’s national security and lay out a sectarian, political map that 
serves United States and Israeli interests.”

“The U.S. — fearing democracy ushered in by Egypt’s popular revolt — has 
used funding to take the revolution off its path,” it said.

“Funding is a new form of control and dominance and is considered a soft 
colonialism that is less costly than military arms,” the verdict 
continued, accusing the United States of seeking “to shake the security 
and stability of the receiving countries that are meant to be weakened 
and dismantled.” (All the defendants either fled the country or received 
suspended jail sentences.)

American officials disputed the charges, noting that the United States 
spends far more supporting the Egyptian military, $1.3 billion a year, 
than on nonmilitary aid to Egypt, about $250 million. Also, almost every 
independent rights group in Egypt has relied on foreign financing in 
violation of previously unenforced laws.

Mr. Hamzawy scoffed at the ruling. “Verdict in case of foreign funding 
of CS shocking, transparency lacking, facts undocumented & 
politicization evident,” he wrote on Twitter, using initials for “civil 

Many people who later backed the military takeover made similar 
statements at the time. And on Sunday, after Mr. Hamzawy was charged, 
Twitter users began reposting his message in a gesture of solidarity.

Mr. Hamzawy, who has been heavily criticized here for raising alarms 
about the crackdown on Islamists, responded in newspaper columns, “I am 
paying the price of being a true liberal.”

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