An Egyptian court sentenced a blogger to three months in prison on Thursday for “insulting the interior ministry” and “deliberately provoking others using the internet.”
Ahmed Anwar had posted a video posted to YouTube last year which mocked the Ministry of the Interior.
Tanta Economic Misdemeanour Court, which is responsible for crimes that deal with the internet or other communication tools, sentenced Anwar to three months in prison and a LE10,000 fine.
The video, titled “The Relationship Between Marwa, the Ministry of the Interior and Deteriorating Security” focused on a ceremony held by the ministry honouring several singers and actors who had “raised policemen’s morale.”
In a joint statement, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) and the Arab Network for Human Rights (ANHRI) on Thursday stated that “this cruel verdict comes days after the Egyptian authorities announced that the people voted “yes” to a constitution which includes in Article 71 the inadmissibility of any penalty depriving liberty in crimes committed by way of publication or publicity, making this judgement a violation of the constitution, requiring its cancellation.”
The statement alleged that transitional authorities are not tolerating any critical voices who call for reforming security institutions and the trial of corrupt regime icons.
The statement mentioned other bloggers who faced charges of jail sentences including leaders of the 6 April Youth Movement Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, and other prominent political activists such as Ahmed Douma, Mahienour El-Masry, Hassan Mostafa, Mona Seif, and Alaa Abdel-Fattah.
The legal affairs director of Gharbiya security directorate filed a complaint against Anwar over the video, and the prosecution issued an arrest warrant for him on 17 March 2013, referring him to the Tanta Partial Court on 27 March.
“The Tanta court then referred me once more to the Economic Misdemeanour Court due to their lack of jurisdiction,” Anwar told Ahram Online on Thursday. His appeal against the verdict will be heard on 2 February.
AFTE and ANHRI called on the government to drop charges against Anwar and to “reform the Egyptian police, instead of prosecuting its critics for the weak performance in providing security to the Egyptian street,” the statement said.