[Marxism] Egypt Says Twitter Post by Liberal Was Crime
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
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
NY Times JAN. 19, 2014
Egypt Says Twitter Post by Liberal Was Crime
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
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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